2020: Süddeutsche Zeitung passes digi subs milestone

Investigative journalism pays off for Germany’s leading quality daily as it hits 100,000 digital subs in January, writes Editor in Chief Wolfgang Krach.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | January 27, 2020

Based in Munich, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) is best known for its investigative journalism and in-depth political reporting.

The editorial team has won a number of prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2017 for the Panama Papers – an investigative cooperation with international news organisations coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Focus on digital revenue paying off

In January 2020 we reached the historic milestone of 100,000 digital subscriptions, evidence that the longstanding and increasing focus on its digital revenue model has paid off.

Established in 2011, SZ’s digital edition has shown substantial growth while more recent products like an on-site paid-content service are becoming more successful as well.

A wide range of journalistic formats like newsletters, longreads and podcasts offer special entrance points for different reader groups.

In 2019 we successfully introduced a new pricing model with three different subscription options. The basic subscription includes access to all articles in a stream-based format that suits mobile-first-readers best.

The enhanced weekend subscription contains the downloadable digital editions on Friday and Saturday and the digital sports issue.

The All-in-One subscription offers access to all of Süddeutsche’s digital publications including special editions on topics like climate change or future economy.

This success story is based on a digital-first and subscriptions-first strategy carried out through joint efforts by the editorial staff, product management and software engineers.

Internal workflows and organisational structures such as the news desk have been reformed with a special focus on the best and exclusive stories that are fundamental for SZ’s paid-content model.

A dedicated “text marketing” team staffed with journalists and analytics-experts promotes this unique content on all digital publication channels to attract readers and convert them into subscribers.

Articles that convert

The mix of articles that converts best includes exclusive investigative topics like the China Cables as well as long essays on social topics and reports on smarter living.

Simultaneously, the product development team has optimised important processes that help readers use SZ’s digital products and become subscribers like minimising loading time on apps and websites or improving the navigation and user experience.

If you want to get an impression of what we are doing – go to:

Wolfgang Krach is Editor in Chief of Süddeutsche Zeitung and is on the Board of the World Editors Forum.

WAN-IFRA External Contributor

Share via
Copy link