The task had the potential to create the mother of all churn events: transitioning a raft of standalone local and community Web sites to our state-based digital mastheads.
Understanding the important role these mastheads play within their communities, many of which are geographically remote, our goal was nothing less than to create sustainable footing for our regional journalism so people in these areas could continue to access the news that matters most to them. And we wanted them to be able to do it in a way that enhanced their experience to create even greater engagement.
The answer lay in a carefully coordinated digital response.
Going beyond Bob
We came to the job fresh from delivering Project Bob, where we relaunched our four state-based mastheads and their apps with a faster experience, cleaner design, and unprecedented level of personalisation called My News, which allows our audiences to choose which news they follow.
The next task was to migrate our regional audiences in Queensland and New South Wales from standalone local and community Web sites to a dedicated part of their relevant state-based masthead — The Courier-Mail and The Daily Telegraph respectively — after we retired their standalone Web sites.
We had to ensure audiences could still find their local news quickly and easily, even more so than they had in the past. So we did several things:
First, we created an innovative postcode widget to sit on the homepage of our Web sites and apps. This enabled consumers to put in their postcode to set their location and receive the four most relevant stories on their homepage based on their location. It also has a link to click to a dedicated section specifically built for their individual needs within the masthead. This section included their original masthead logo and was basically a mini homepage for their local area and their individual mastheads.
To do this, we painstakingly mapped every postcode in the vast state areas of Queensland and New South Wales against their relevant local newsroom to ensure the stories we showed them were the most relevant to where they lived.
2. As an additional feature, we enabled readers to follow their favourite local journalists through our My News feature, so they never missed local news and stories that mattered most to them.
When we undertook this complex programme of work, we knew immediately it had the potential to cause subscriber churn. But it was as seamless a transition as possible, thanks to the meticulous work carried out.
Churn was kept to a minimum by helping our audience through this major change, including prepopulating individual postcodes where we knew them.
Our audiences are now enjoying not only their local news but also receiving the best in state-based, national, and international news in The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail. And best of all, audiences now receive a new level of access to their local news not previously possible.