There is no easy way to change old habits. But at the Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, we found a way to do just that by encouraging print readers to engage with digital content.

Prior to our successful initiative, titled “It’s better to travel well than to arrive,” responding subscribers had very limited engagement with our e-paper, and statements from questionnaires disclosed a general limited use of our Web experience. To motivate print readers to go digital, we focused our campaign on inspiring and supporting behavioural change. It was all about uncovering needs and making the readers want the digital content.

The result of this initiative spoke for itself: The use of the digital product grew by 95% and we reduced the subscriber churn by 27%.

As illustrated by the experience of these individual subscribers, Kristeligt Dagblad is producing digital content that reflects readers’ needs and interests to successfully convert many readers from print and grow digital engagement.
As illustrated by the experience of these individual subscribers, Kristeligt Dagblad is producing digital content that reflects readers’ needs and interests to successfully convert many readers from print and grow digital engagement.

Like most other newspapers, Kristeligt Dagblad is challenged by digital transformation of the media world and the increasing cost of distribution. Therefore, we had to change the habits of print readers and motivate them to engage with digital content. In the end our goal was — and still is — all about customer retention. To facilitate that, we need to ensure our readers are getting the most out of their subscriptions.

The first question to ask when seeking to influence behavioural changes is: What makes people stick to their usual behaviour? In this case: What makes our readers stick to the printed newspaper? Is it lack of information about alternatives? Conservative beliefs that new equals bad? Or simply the fact that habits are not changed without a fight?

Regardless, our strategy eliminated all the above reasons by focusing on service and guidance, omnichannel communication, and highlighting added value.

Thinking about service above sales is central to our strategy. We have been extremely aware that to change readers’ habits, the new habits must be easily accessible.

Focusing on high-quality and relevant content was central to our strategy. Based on behavioural data and surveys, we combined a collection of themes print readers viewed as highly valuable.

The most popular themes were assembled into seven digital-only editions that would likely be desirable to our readers. For example, we combined content in the digital-only editions and magazines about relationships and love, why we celebrate Easter, a subscriber-only podcast series with insights into the Arab world, and a special summer crossword edition.

As the seven editions were released and content was fine-tuned along the way, digital readership has shown steady growth and overall churn is reduced.
As the seven editions were released and content was fine-tuned along the way, digital readership has shown steady growth and overall churn is reduced.

We also put a lot of effort into the marketing strategy and campaign to increase awareness and gain maximum customer engagement. We had to reach the readers on their preferred channels and target them with the right messages. We tested throughout the year, and as new communication materials were tested, more channels were introduced.

We also invested time and resources in the seven editions and made sure all departments were aligned. It was a perfect case of breaking down existing silos to create an integrated campaign. This ensured that our readers became aware of Kristeligt Dagblad’s digital content.

Today, almost two years after the implementation of our strategy, the growth of digital readership is increasing every week. We continue our focus on getting readers’ attention on multiple platforms, and we are investing in interesting digital content — including fine-tuned visual and interactive design, complex data visualisations, audio/video packages, and even games. This content is only found online.

The success of our strategy goes beyond the marketing and sales department of Kristeligt Dagblad. It is based on collaboration across all departments to make sure our service and guidance, editorial content, and marketing strategy provide a cooperative foundation to inform and inspire our readers.