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Premium content, proper messaging are the subscriptions formula at El Nuevo Día

By Mauricio Romero

Bogota, Colombia

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El Nuevo Día is a 51-year-old daily newspaper that has become the reference media outlet in Puerto Rico, both in the island and for Puerto Ricans abroad.

In a recent INMA members-only Webinar, Joana Santiago, director of market and business intelligence at GFR Media, which gathers media outlets El Nuevo día and Primera Hora, explained how the communication model focused on digital subscriptions has worked for them.

“El Nuevo Día is the only paid media outlet in Puerto Rico, which means an opportunity and a challenge to continue increasing the number of subscribers,” Santiago said.

The media company began its digital subscription model in 2017, a strategy that has had its ups and downs. The impact Hurricane Maria had on the entire Puerto Rican population and media outlets is one example.

Messaging to motivate audiences to subscribe is based on four pillars: Registrations, paywall, subscriptions, and retention.
Messaging to motivate audiences to subscribe is based on four pillars: Registrations, paywall, subscriptions, and retention.

After the hurricane, the media company resumed a solid digital subscription strategy in 2019 thanks to being selected to take part in a programme by the Google News Initiative.

Currently, the digital newspaper has 20,552 subscribers and is on track to achieve the its goal of subscriptions and revenue this year, in addition to 59.9 million unique users last year, a number that exceeded the goal of 50 million users set for 2020.

The company’s goals are to increase the number of reader and subscriber interactions through its editorial products, as well as to meet established KPIs thanks to a multi-disciplinary group made up of members of the editorial, marketing, audience, and technology departments.

Other tasks include enhancing subscriber experience to increase long-term retention and satisfaction, as well as supporting print and digital subscription goals to generate more revenue.

These strategies and objectives are focused on strengthening the brand’s positioning as the reference newspaper in Puerto Rico with strong emphasis on investigative and opinion journalism: “These topics are the ones that are generating the most subscriptions. It’s what they pay for, according to subscribers,” Santiago said.

Hybrid paywall model

Unsubscribed readers of El Nuevo Día can read up to 10 general articles at no cost; after reaching that number, the Web site prompts them to subscribe.

On the other hand, the articles in the Business section offer only five articles at no cost per month before the paywall activates.

So far this year, the paywall has brought 135 subscriptions from archive readers, 200 from general news consumers, and 826 from premium content users.
So far this year, the paywall has brought 135 subscriptions from archive readers, 200 from general news consumers, and 826 from premium content users.

If the feature belongs to the digital archive or has been published for more than 30 days, the paywall is displayed (it previously was 90 days but, after they saw it had the potential to bring in revenue, they reduced the publishing time to 30 days).

Exclusive articles for subscribers are not accessible to the general public and are, according to Santiago, the ones that bring the most subscribers, followed by the business readers, then the general ones, and finally those of the digital archive: “It all adds up to the pot,” he said.

Neysha de Jesús, audience and marketing manager for the group, explained that messaging to motivate audiences to subscribe is based on four pillars:

  • Registrations
  • Paywall (hard wall)
  • Subscriptions
  • Retention

To accomplish this, formats were designed to prompt readers to subscribe (call to action), such as the top banner, which is inserted into the content (it cannot be closed); the pop-up, which is displayed in certain articles and can be closed to the liking of the reader; and the inline, which blocks the content to make the subscription call to action.

There are also prompts to register by letting readers know they will be allowed to comment and get newsletters.

There is a call to action in all photo galleries, as well as the features with the coronavirus tag, which was implemented soon after the pandemic began.

All these formats bring them an average of 814 registrations per month, which are constantly monitored to measure efficiency.

Unsubscribed readers of El Nuevo Día have various free articles available to them, depending on the section of the newspaper.
Unsubscribed readers of El Nuevo Día have various free articles available to them, depending on the section of the newspaper.

The paywall formats have brought, so far in 2021, 135 subscriptions from archive readers, 200 from general news consumers, and 826 from premium content users.

According to Neysha, relations with the audience begin with invitations to subscribe, with the compelling argument that subscribing is a way to support journalism that “monitors, brings up the issues that matter, or that allows readers to be well informed to start a conversation with friends and acquaintances.”

View on the future

Gerald Martínez, director of digital development at GFR Media, told INMA members: “The next steps are improving reader interaction and testing new tools.”

The experiments that Martínez talked about revolve around messaging or price changes to find more traffic, Artificial Intelligence, consumption patterns, and conversion or cancellation propensity patterns.

For the messaging to reach users, it is necessary to play with text and colour, Martínez. To do this, they are carrying out redesigns to make messeging more striking and effective — all in preparation for the future of the business.

About Mauricio Romero

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