Many media houses have spent years developing and evaluating initiatives based on averages and large figures, such as pageviews or clicks. But is there really such a thing as an average user?

At Aftonbladet, we have been working on this question for several years. About two years ago, we embarked on a journey to become a truly user-driven organisation. We established a vision: everyone in the media house — from editors to developers — should have a shared and comprehensive picture of our users, based on data and user behaviour.

With a shared vision, we could muster our efforts to build the media house of the future, with more engaging and relevant products — and more loyal users.

Aftonbladet used new, defined target groups to increase reader loyalty.
Aftonbladet used new, defined target groups to increase reader loyalty.

To try and understand our users in depth, we started by looking at a year-long period of behaviour and customer data. We segmented our users based on loyalty — from the rare visitor who comes once a month, to news junkies who visit our Web site pretty much every day. We looked at loyalty in relation to each behaviour segment’s level of commitment.

In doing this, we witnessed what is known as the Pareto principle: our most loyal users, who make up 20% of our online readers, account for 80% of Aftonbladet’s total pageviews.

This initial analysis and segmentation prompted us to delve deeper into learning more about our users. To do this, we invited employees from all sections of the company to attend a number of workshops. Their purpose was to try and understand how we make our decisions, and what perceptions we have of our users. The next step was to pressure-test the hypotheses from the workshops against the behaviour data.

Did our perceptions about our users stand up to reality?

Through our data analysis process, we finally came up with 10 data segments of groups of users who shared the same significant behavior patterns. But we were keen to gain an even better understanding of users’ behaviour. Why do they visit us? And are there different motivations and different needs among the various behaviour groups?

At our Web site we recruited users from the 10 behaviour groups to take part in qualitative, in-depth interviews and quantitative surveys. We were able to adapt our interview questions based on the users’ actual online behaviour on our digital platforms. 

We discovered that for several of the behaviour segments, the same motivations and needs were behind their use of Aftonbladet. By clustering the 10 different behavioural groups according to their motivations, we were able to establish four new target groups and categorised them as follows:

  • Newsy.
  • Sporty.
  • Viraly.
  • Mixy.

These new target groups provided us a platform to help us establish the new Aftonbladet. Our management team drew up strategies for each of the target groups, with the aim of building a more relevant experience for each of them. Several new product innovations based on these strategies have been already launched.

Alongside the launch of the new target groups, we also installed real-time dashboards throughout the entire office. By focusing on behaviour data and needs, we have been able to increase visitor frequency, engagement, and retention.

To ensure a user-driven organisation, to communicate and visualise the data — and thus get better business outcomes — we used several strategies:

  • Inclusion of both qualitative and quantitative behaviour data in the segmentation. This allowed us to communicate the actionable results and it made the data comprehensible.
  • Visualisation of insights and data for the entire organisation, with dashboards and continuous analysis.
  • Story creation about each user segment. We produced a video with a description of each segment. We also changed the office interior and named conference rooms after our new target groups.

These steps ensured that the entire organisation is on board with the change in becoming more user-driven.