“Over the past two years, the average age of our digital subscribers has decreased from 45 to 38,” Patrick Hamsch, Deputy Head of Media at Sweden’s NWT Media told participants at WAN-IFRA’s recent World News Media Congress in Taipei.

Furthermore, during that same period, the proportion of digital subscribers between ages 18 and 29 has gone up – from 12 percent to 38 percent. This has had a significant impact on digital revenue.

Hamsch has been instrumental in the digital transformation of NWT, which has a staff of 220. He is responsible for 16 newsrooms, the marketing department, print products, editorial development, and customer service.

Growing digital subscribers becomes vital

“Two years ago, 95 percent of our revenue came from print, resulting in a print-to-digital ratio of 19:1. Today, the ratio has shifted to 7:3,” Hamsch said.

Digital revenues have increased substantially, growing 65 percent compared to 2020, he added.

While the overall figures still favour print, their print revenue has been rapidly declining, so growing the number of their digital subscribers has become vital for NWT.

See also: How Sweden’s Bonnier News amassed 2.2 million subscribers

“This is our main problem. We were losing connection with readers, subscribers, and people under 45 in our areas. Moving into 2021, we could see that we faced a couple of challenges as we analysed our situation. We had weak results with young target audiences and digital subscribers,” Hamsch said.

Also, there were no active collaboration among the editorial, marketing, data, and product development departments. Furthermore, the newsrooms were disconnected from the subscription strategy, he said.

A strategy with clear objectives, team for reader revenue

To overcome these challenges, NWT created the following six-step strategy, Hamsch said.

Learn more about the needs, interests, problems, and passions of younger audiences: This helped in creating content, activities, campaigns and offers for people under 45.

Produce relevant content to the right person in the right channel at the right time: This helped NWT reach people under 45 through its digital platforms and social media.

Educating/recruiting staff members: The emphasis was on knowledge, competence, and experience in catering to the needs of the target group (under 45). Existing staff members were trained, and recruitment was based on these criteria.

Clear objectives: The objectives concerning young audiences, reach, new subscribers, page views, loyalty, and engagement were pursued on a weekly basis.

Collaboration between newsrooms and the marketing department: NWT calls it Premium Team, which signifies a collaboration among reporters, digital editors, and marketing coordinators working on strong journalistic ideas or events. They are involved in the planning, production and publication processes, and share collective responsibilities.

New organisation for reader revenue: Everyone working with digital reader revenue is part of this team. This means they can have shared objectives and activities.

“Premium Team has been a major success for us. We have completed over 200 Premium Teams projects since last May, with all 16 of our newsrooms collaborating closely with our marketing department. The results are amazing,” Hamsch said.

Digital conversions among younger subscribers are at an all-time high. The majority of the readers reached with Premium Teams are under 45 years of age.

Focus areas for 2023-2024

Enhance journalism to reach a broader audience and increase sales.

Boost engagement among readers, especially readers/subscribers aged 30 to 44. (This target group is crucial because they are in the midst of their careers, managing family responsibilities, relocating, purchasing homes and exhibiting a distinct form of loyalty compared to those aged 18 to 29).

Increase loyalty among paying subscribers by focusing on live sports, podcasts and other formats to help reach a broader audience.

Moving forward, NWT Media will concentrate on new creative journalism, breaking news, helpful and guiding journalism, as well as investigative journalism, Hamsch said.

Retention strategy

As it is for most publishers, retaining subscribers is also a major issue for NWT.

“That’s a big challenge,” Hamsch said. “I think it is key to keep working on our journalism and to create a long-lasting relationship.”

“It’s about the content. It’s about journalism. If we want to establish a strong relationship with young audiences, you need to learn as much as you can about these audiences,” he said.

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