Die Presse creates a subscriber gift that keeps on giving

By Katrin Halbhuber

Die Presse

Vienna, Austria


The aims were high for an interdisciplinary team at Austrian newspaper Die Presse

  • Highlighting the value of a digital subscription.
  • Preventing our subscribers from churn.
  • Reaching out to a broader audience by personal recommendations (a.k.a. word-of-mouth, the most trusted marketing strategy)

Half a year after implementing a new, subscriber-only feature of gift articles, the outcomes are positive — and there is still potential to tap.

The gift article feature allows subscribers to share an article with friends and has proven incredibly popular for Die Presse.
The gift article feature allows subscribers to share an article with friends and has proven incredibly popular for Die Presse.

Strategy and design: From idea to go-live

The idea of gifting our digital subscribers with the feature originated from Manuel Reinartz, online editor-in-chief. An interdisciplinary team (Eva Pörnbacher, data analyst; Sarah Spiess, performance marketing; Katja Trost, retention and reader market; and myself as a digital product manager) took over and integrated the idea into our project to find ways to decrease the churn rate.

Several possible features and developments were then tested in user interviews in the summer of 2021. The gift article feature was highly anticipated by the interviewees, so the team immediately started conceptualising the feature for the Web and app.

The gift article was the first subscribers-only feature for Die Presse, therefore the focus was on the benefit for our subscribers and not on gaining the highest external reach among non-subscribers. Instead, it was aimed to make our content giftable to a close person, friend, family member, or co-worker. That’s why we decided to limit the free access to gifted premium content by how often the link can be opened.

Second, we focused on how to bring those receiving a gift article closer to the brand by highlighting the fact that the premium article is behind the paywall but free specifically for the receiver because someone gifted it to them.  

The process, from the concept phase to release on the Web site and app, took the team three months. Digital subscribers received the new feature in mid-December 2021 — just in time for Christmas.

How the gift article works

Validated through a backend check of subscription IDs, digital subscribers can gift an article by clicking on a highlighted gift icon. A unique gift link is then generated and can be shared in different ways.

Every subscriber of Die Presse can gift five premium articles per calendar month, and the generated gift link can be opened a certain amount of times until the paywall is active again.

Once opened by the gifted user, a special Piano experience is displayed that informs them about the value of reading this premium content for free and proposes sticky actions like subscribing to a newsletter.

What the analytics say

While the gift article feature is a benefit for our subscribers and, therefore, for our most loyal users, on the receiver’s end the gift article reaches diverse users in terms of their recency. Analysis has shown that it’s not only attractive to readers already committed to Die Presse, but also to those who have not yet been in contact with our premium content at all.

Die Presse saw dramatic improvements in how long readers engaged with an article as the result of the gift feature.
Die Presse saw dramatic improvements in how long readers engaged with an article as the result of the gift feature.

Users opening a gift article stay on the Web site and in the app longer than average, producing more than twice as many page views per visit. The first step to bringing those users further in our conversion funnel are done.

What comes next

The team goes after the feature’s full potential: to integrate the feature even more fitting into the user journey. A trigger-based Piano experience will propose a subscribed user to gift premium content. For example, if they read the full article, they will see a notification that says: You obviously liked this content – maybe you know someone who wants to read about the topic too?

An adapted on-site marketing template will grant a hassle-free user experience while enabling the user to gift the article directly out of the template (without having to scroll to the top of the article to use the gift icon).

It’s also on the road map to increase the limit of five gift articles per month as a gift for long-time digital subscribers or for subscription anniversaries.

The gift article is the first of more features to come designed to offer subscribers new incentives for using Die Presse online on a regular basis. And now we have proof: The gift article is a gift that keeps on giving.

About Katrin Halbhuber

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