These efforts include a vigorous onboarding programme for new subscribers throughout their first 100 days to encourage them to keep coming back to the DN site. This process also helps make them aware of all the benefits of subscribing, including free access for a friend or relative, Diario de Navarra’s newsletters (some 20 in all) and, of course, the latest articles.
“For us, it’s very important these 100 first days,” says Estefanía Nicolás, DN’s Director of Digital Strategy, Marketing and Sales. “We have to make sure that they come, if not every day, almost every day. If they don’t use the content, they are going to unsubscribe, and we are going to have a high churn rate.”
DN launched its paywall five years ago, at a time when they were relatively rare in Spain.
“For us, the paywall was a kind of soothing strategy for our newsroom because in 2016, our newsroom, as most newsrooms, had the feeling that we were giving our work away for free online,” says Fernando Hernández, who oversees DN’s Arts and Leisure section. “When we started a freemium and then a dynamic paywall, we now know that everybody must pay in some way: seeing the ads, or subscribing, or participating in events, to pay for the news content.”
Experimenting with pricing offers
They are now experimenting with the numbers of articles different categories of readers are allowed to access before hitting the paywall as well as different pricing offers.
The regular price of a digital-only subscription to DN is 99 euros a year, and there are options of 30 euros for three months, or 11.99 euros for one month. However, most subscribers, well over 90 percent, opt for the annual rate, Nicolás says.
Those who subscribe to DN’s print edition also have full access to the website and digital replica editions as part of their subscription package.
Nicolás notes that while DN does run some special, short-term promotions, such as one for Father’s Day that offered readers a one-year subscription for 75 euros, the second year onwards is usually priced at 99 euros.
“With certain heavy users, loyal users, we are offering them 75 euros a year forever. That price is working very well,” she adds.
These offers are made to individual users based on their consumption during a certain period of time and offered when the person is logged onto the site for limited time periods, for example giving them 24 hours to take advantage of the offer.
One thing DN has not done, however, is to use very low priced offers such as “1 euro for six months,” as some other publishers have.
“We know that we are expensive because we compare our price with other newsrooms here in Spain,” says Nicolás. “Some others are only half as much, but we don’t want to lower the price. We prefer playing with it and offering you something special because you are special. But we don’t want to lower it, because otherwise, it’s very difficult to make it higher.”
The publishing house recently set itself the goal of increasing its number of digital-only subscribers to 5,000 by the end of this year.
Focusing on specific audiences, sections
As part of the effort to grow their digital base and get more readers moving through the funnel from registering to subscribing, Diario de Navarra is among the nearly two dozen news publishers in the current edition of Table Stakes Europe, a programme conceived primarily for local and regional news organisations to help drive digital revenue growth by re-focusing on audiences. Now in its second year in Europe, it is a collaboration of WAN-IFRA and Table Stakes architect Doug Smith in partnership with the Google News Initiative Digital Growth Programme.
For DN, their overall goal is to move from a generalist audience business approach to segmented audiences business solutions. DN also aims to shift from being dependent on revenue from its print newspaper to a revenue structure that has multiple formats and where digital is a strategic one.
DN is initially concentrating their efforts on two main audiences as well as two areas of coverage.
The first audience they are focusing on is Families, says Fernando Hernández, adding that this is one they have already been working on for some time. For example, they are using specific editorial products, such as a weekly newsletter that launched in 2019 and has now been published more than 100 times.
In addition, DN has run regular events such as an Expo Family Fair with commercial stands and activities for parents and children. Also throughout the year and under this brand, they offer round tables, book presentations, and so on, he says.
Hernández notes that DN has recently more tightly defined the focus of its audience for this area from families in general to parents who have children enrolled in compulsory education, which in Spain is for children from six to 16 years old. This equates to around 9,000 households in their market area.
As a goal, DN aims to get 3,000 subscribers to their newsletter, (up from a current 2,000) in eight weeks.
To do this, they are sending messages to parents, taking SEO actions, as well as creating specific contents, Hernández says.
The second audience group DN is highlighting is professionals.
“We’re rebooting DN Management, our brand that is oriented to professionals,” he says.
For DN’s purposes, professionals are defined as people who hold middle and upper management positions, as well as certain types of self-employed workers, such as some lawyers and doctors, for example. There are around 16,000 professionals in DN’s target audience in Navarra, Hernández says.
The goal with DN Management is to produce more content beyond wire services and press releases, and serve it to their web readers so they don’t have to wait for the print newspaper, he says.
To do this, they are refining the way they use an in-house developed tool called DNLive, which he described as a simple way to send content to their CMS, as well as to improve control of which content is created by their newsroom, as opposed to articles from wire services or press releases.
The next area, opinion, is a core one for DN, Hernández says. He notes they had relaunched it last autumn on their website to improve its visibility. As part of this, the op-ed team revamped articles on their website and also created two new newsletters.
In the first stage, he says the goal was to improve how they showcased the op-ed content in social media, and they have been successful with this. Now, they are working on setting the goal for the second stage, and for this, their plan is to get to know that audience better.
“We want to use Table Stakes methodology to know who our opinion readers are, and enhance how we reach them and use the reactions from readers to design new products,” Hernández says.
DN uses a commercial software tool called Echobox to automatically post all their content on Facebook and Twitter. However, they have started keeping some specific articles from being automatically posted in order to fine tune how they are presented on Facebook, or to use quotes from them on Twitter as well as to create adapted or nuanced headlines.
When DN redesigned the opinion section of their website, they conducted a study among readers and found that more than 75 percent of readers liked the op-ed section. In fact, he says, it was the highest rated section in the newspaper.
DN’s fourth course of action has to do with their arts and leisure section, which is called Diario 2. This is also the section that Hernández Morondo himself oversees, and has a team of nine people in total.
The first goal for revamping the section was to increase the number of stories from DN’s journalists, and that has been achieved. Now, the aim is to increase the number of pageviews across the articles in the section.
“Every day we have one or two stories that are achieving a great deal of attention and others that are receiving little visibility,” Hernández says.
The goal is for every story DN publishes to get at least 1,000 pageviews, he adds.
As part of this process, they have created a checklist with a basic set of questions to help reporters when they start developing their stories to see whether they should include elements like video or a photogallery in order to produce more engaging content.
“We are laying the groundwork to provide our reporters with a better digital understanding,” he adds. “They all have access to a dashboard with data for them to understand where the traffic comes from, and I believe we are accomplishing quite a bit.”
“All the goals that are defined will help us to overcome the challenge that we have set ourselves and is now something strategic that will run during our three year plan. It will not run only for one year, but for three years and is now something strategic for our company,” he says.
“We hope that our early wins will help us consolidate this whole methodology across the organisation. We want to replicate it across other sections and areas,” Hernández adds.
Our free report about Table Stakes Europe’s first year, “Becoming Audiences First,” is available in English, French, German and Spanish. For more information, and to download the report, please click here.