Would you pay US$40 a month for a subscription to your favourite news site? A total of 800,000 people said yes to Nikkei.com, one of Japan’s most successful subscription-based news services. Taihei Shigemori, deputy general manager in Nikkei’s digital transformation office, shared how Nikkei tends to retain its paid subscribers even after admitting he first thought US$40 dollars a month was too high.
During the INMA Asia/Pacific News Media Summit last week, Shigemori explained that Nikkei’s subscription strategy is based on what they call the 4 Ps: product, price, place, and promotion.
Nikkei’s core value is always its journalism.
“The digital transformation of our newsroom to digital first has always been our most important element,” Shiegemori said. Nikkei learned a lot from watching how The Financial Times in the UK moved toward this model and knew that’s what they needed to do. It started with building a great app to make it easier for readers to form habits of coming to their site.
With that $40 monthly price tag, they wanted the digital product to cost the same as their physical newspaper.
“If the value of your product is the same, then you should keep the price,” Shigemori said. “This made it easier internally to get the understanding and the cooperation of our print sales team and newsroom itself.”
While other companies focus on getting readers from elsewhere on the web to their sites, Nikkei’s focus is for people to go to its site directly.
Nikkei developed its own original engagement index they refer to as F(route)V, which they call their North Star metric. It stands for frequency and reach.
“We use F(route)V when we evaluate campaign results, product improvements, and even content, which is always a tricky one,” Shigemori said.
Shigemori says his main focus now is on Nikkei’s ID strategy. Where most companies have two tiers — free users and paid subscribers — Nikkei has three tiers:
- Its 800,000 paid subscribers
- 4 million registered users who have limited free access.
- Nikkei ID membership, where 10 million users get a single sign-on across all of Nikkei’s platforms and services.
Moving forward, this data is allowing Nikkei to launch new services more easily and see what is working and what isn’t. He says until now, they didn’t have a good way to connect the user experience across all of their different services, which isn’t very customer-centric.
“It’s critical to provide our customers with much integrated, one stop, and convenient user experience based on its customer journey,” Shigemori said.
Their plan is to keep news reading at the core and provide a better experience as readers move from events to learning to personal finance. Nikkei finds itself at the beginning of this journey and Shigemori vows to report back to INMA as they go.