In an era where diversity and inclusivity are highly valued, the news industry faces a significant opportunity to tap into a more diversified audience.
This holds particularly true for business media, which has traditionally reached more male than female readers. It is no wonder that according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023, more women than men (35% vs. 24%) find news about finance and the economy challenging to comprehend.
Recognising the need for change, those of us working at Kauppalehti, the leading business media in Finland, have faced a typical situation when it comes to audience diversity: We are able to reach female audiences well, but the vast majority of engaged readers and subscribers, in particular, are male.
With the help of Financial Times Strategies and Google News Initiative, we decided to take action and change this.
Diversifying the audience base is never a sprint. It is an ultra-run, and we are definitely only at the beginning, but this is what we have learned so far.
Get everyone on board
At Kauppalehti, raising awareness about audience diversity proved to be an easy task. A majority of our employees quickly grasped the importance of this endeavour. Unlike typical traditional business news organisations, our editorial team maintains a near equal gender split, ensuring a more balanced perspective in our journalism.
It is evident to our staff that our content should reflect the gender equality prevalent in the business world. Furthermore, emphasising the potential for reaching a wider customer base and increasing revenue solidified the rationale for pursuing audience diversity.
To establish clear goals, we devised long-term and mid-term targets for increasing the share of female subscribers. Concentrating on subscription targets necessitated efforts to enhance both female audience reach and engagement as well as the overall value of Kauppalehti’s content to our female readers.
Effective communication and repetition
Any strategy change requires consistent communication and repetition of the message. Therefore, every discussion regarding our reach, reader habits, and subscriptions incorporates the theme of diversity.
To ensure that diversity remains a constant priority, we created dashboards enabling our staff to monitor various metrics. These dashboards provide insights into what women read more or less of compared to men, factors that influence their conversion, subscription retention, and other key indicators. By employing data-driven approaches, we sustain interest in the topic and maintain its prominence on the agenda.
Test, test, test
Promoting diversity necessitates ongoing testing to determine what works best. At Kauppalehti, we have conducted numerous experiments with content, visuals, subscription flows, and sales. These tests have yielded both successful outcomes and instances where no significant change was observed.
For instance, based on data from our Web site and a reader survey, we discovered women expressed greater interest in the effects of climate change. Consequently, we launched a new newsletter titled Solutions to Climate Change and advertised it on our site. This newsletter proved to be a hit, attracting a substantial number of subscribers, particularly women.
Another successful newsletter, Good News from Finland, compiled positive news about people, companies, and society each week. The optimistic tone of these newsletters resonated well with female readers, but did not turn away men either. This aligns with the trend identified in the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023, which highlighted an inclination toward positive or solutions-based journalism even among news avoiders.
Furthermore, our efforts to achieve gender balance in our subscriber flows have yielded promising results, although further tests and analysis are required. After realising our marketing automation messages predominantly featured images of men, we took a closer look and made sure our content always includes also female voices.
The customer communication is a key area to address, as we discovered that the retention rate of female subscribers is lower compared to that of their male counterparts. The customer flows should create a welcoming environment for women and reinforces our commitment to diversity and representation.
Keep diversity in mind in every process
While the editorial team plays a crucial role in promoting diversity, it is imperative to incorporate diversity into every organisational process. At Kauppalehti, we now hold bi-weekly meetings involving representatives from every team. These sessions allow us to review past efforts and plan future actions collaboratively.
Embracing cross-functional teamwork has proven to be a fruitful and productive way to cultivate diversity thinking throughout the company. Transforming our approach cannot be achieved by adjusting one element at a time; rather, it requires a holistic commitment.
Kauppalehti has taken its initial steps toward becoming a business media with a more gender-balanced audience. While these steps are significant, there is much more to achieve in terms of audience diversity. It is imperative for the entire industry to recognise the immense potential in fostering a diverse audience. The benefits extend far beyond simply expanding the customer base and revenue.