How publishers in France and Germany are placing the ePaper in the center of their digital strategies

Every quarter at Twipe, we host a roadmap session for our customers. The session highlights what’s coming down the pipeline and shares certain stats about our platform, but the biggest reason we host this session is so our customers can learn from each other.

We believe the media industry can be successful through cooperation with each other, not competition, which we also encourage with our Future of News community.

The quarterly customer roadmap sessions are an exclusive outlet for frank and open discussions with publishers across Europe and the US. While these conversations are kept private, three of our customers have agreed to share some insights from the cases they presented in our last session.

Join us today as we learn from Neue Westfälische, Le Parisien, and Kölner Stadt Anzeiger about ePaper best practices.

Bridging print readers to digital with the ePaper

Heiko Lindecke, Chief Revenue Officer of Neue Westfälische in Germany shared how they have successfully created new digital reading habits with print subscribers, thanks to the ePaper. Since joining the Twipe platform at the end of 2017, Neue Westfälische has seen more and more readers switching from the print newspaper to the ePaper every year. However it was in 2020 that this really accelerated. During the pandemic, the revenue from their ePaper grew significantly, 35% better than forecasted at the beginning of the year. Now 15% of their sold circulation comes from ePaper subscribers.

To understand the way in which the ePaper can help bring print readers to digital, they surveyed readers who already made the switch to understand their decision making process.

Three main reasons why readers preferred ePapers stood out:

  • Content: Readers preferred the ePaper because it had more content, such as an evening edition, a Sunday edition, more local editions, as well as magazines.
  • Price: The ePaper was also less expensive than the print newspaper.
  • Availability: Finally, unlike the print newspaper, subscribers can access the ePaper wherever they are.

This switch from print to ePaper is also beneficial for Neue Westfälische. There is a better cost to income ratio, due to reducing the need for delivery workers. There’s also less of a concern of delivery interruptions due to holidays for example. Finally, they are able to better track the reading behaviour of digital readers.

It is also interesting to note that the German market is different from most other countries when it comes to how the ePaper is positioned in the subscription offering. While most other countries offer the ePaper at no additional cost to subscribers, many German newspapers have the ePaper as a paid add-on. Clearly readers are willing to pay for the ePaper, something other countries can learn from.

Using the digital edition to grow subscribers

In France, the second biggest newspaper Le Parisien set an ambitious goal: grow to 200k digital subscribers in 2025, starting from less than 10k in 2017. Over the past 5 years since we started working together, they have already grown their subscribers significantly. Sophie Cassam Chenaï, Digital Director at Le Parisien explained that the team was a bit late in the digital transformation game, as they only started to focus on it in the past two years.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Le Parisien refreshed their editorial strategy, launched new products, and started new marketing efforts. On the editorial side, projects with potential for high conversion were prioritised; this meant focusing more on long reads, investigations, profiles, and opinion pieces. It was also important to focus on local news, providing journalism that was not available from other sources.

Furthermore, Le Parisien refreshed their digital product strategy, because they believed they needed to have the best in class digital products to convert new subscribers. They also now have 20 newsletters which reach over a million subscribers, and account for a promising portion of new digital subscription conversions. These initiatives were supported with new marketing offers, such as a premium paywall and different offers for reader types.

One of the most important initiatives to convert new subscribers has been the digital newspaper. Last year they brought the digital newspaper into the newsflow app, in an effort to channel readers to their content via a unified app for Le Parisien.

This became the most downloaded newspaper app in the French AppStore. While the app only accounts for 10% of all digital traffic, it is responsible for 50% of digital subscribers. The digital newspaper will be updated again later this spring with an expanded archive to further help the team reach their ambitious subscriber target.

Leveraging the ePaper as a key pillar of digital growth

In Germany, DuMont offers quality journalism to inhabitants of the Rhineland, including titles such as Kölner Stadt Anzeiger. We have been collaborating to achieve business growth for DuMont titles since 2016. To ensure the organisation can continue in its digital transformation and convert new subscribers, they have identified three key pillars of digital growth: ePaper, premium content, and advertising revenue.

Stefan Hagel, New Customer Marketing Lead at DuMont​, shared how the team at Kölner Stadt Anzeiger has invested in their ePaper strategy. To further increase the value of an ePaper subscription, they offer extra services such as an early edition published the night before at 8 PM, access to 15 local editions, digital-only edition on Sundays, and six extra digital magazines each month.

The digital edition is viewed as a product with constant investment due to its strategic importance, so future planned improvements include a dark mode, better accessibility for visually impaired subscribers, and differentiated access for various subscription levels. The team also leverages Twipe’s EngageReaders technology to better understand their ePaper readers. Furthermore, the Readers@Risk module helps them to identify subscribers who will likely churn, before they are actually lost.

Similar to Neue Westfälische, print subscribers of Kölner Stadt Anzeiger are encouraged to utilise the ePaper as a bridging product for new digital reading habits. This reflects another key strategy the team has identified for success: learning from other publishers.

At Twipe we are proud of how our Future of News community enables collaboration between publishers. Next week we will be sharing what members of our Future of News community can look forward to this year, make sure to subscribe to our community mailing list to receive future articles in your inbox.

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