The beginning of our digital subscription journey in Prensa Libre started like planning a wedding: We had an objective, and we had a clear to-do list. But by July 13, 2020, the day of our official launch, we were mostly anxious and hopeful, like any newlyweds. It has been a year filled with growth, challenges, wins — and most of all, an incredible learning experience.
Setting our goal
In the wake of our national elections in 2019, we did a small “pay-per-view” experiment. By 2020, we knew the project of the year was launching our very first digital subscription platform, PL+. The coronavirus pandemic motivated us even more. That’s when the Facebook 2020 Latin America Reader Revenue Accelerator came on the scene.
The financial support we received from the programme was significant, but one of the most valuable parts of the accelerator was the interaction with other peers in the region as well as the coaches.
We embarked on the accelerator programme with two main goals:
- Acquire more leads through content to convert new subscribers.
- Increase conversions and onsite engagement with our products through UX improvements — both content presentation and client journey.
Pro tip: If you still haven’t launched your paid subscription model but plan to, take advantage of any meaningful seasonal event to test a small “pay-per-view” event and learn from it.
Tidying up our space
We had the ideas, the goals, and some plans, but with the programme we managed to prioritise several things, including:
- A multi-disciplinary team (IT, editorial, marketing, subscriptions) that could propose and diligently execute agreements reached within that group. Management gave us the autonomy to move faster and more freely.
- A consistent, dynamic, and demanding flow of activities. We still meet weekly to present, discuss, and follow up on assigned tasks. Every area/person participates actively.
- Short-term goals, execute, measure, review, repeat, or kill, based on data. We embrace approaches, solutions, and arguments based on data. Data leads our way.
- An experimental mindset. This means almost embracing failure as a learning path. We experimented with UX, newsletter strategies, and key messages for our product.
- An assessment of human talent. Are all the people involved in the various processes of the subscription platform the right people? What are the key features you need in the team involved?
Pro tip: A multi-disciplinary team is key. In our case, we are not dedicated only to this — we have other official hats — but it has worked very well. Consider this as a stimulus to key team members who are proactive and visionary.
Identifying the wins
Once you manage the right mix of human talent, you can take on other internal or external projects. Our next stop is a project that won the Google News Challenge 2021.
As for our original goals, we achieved our first short- and mid-term goals in due time and are in the process of going even further. One of the most notorious wins in 2021 was overcoming the worst churn rate of our young history back in February, bringing it down five points and maintaining it for a couple of months now.
Most subscription projects focus on converting and getting new subscribers. Though we know this is very important, we have also learned we need to keep them coming and using our product. Therefore, we have put an important amount of effort into reconstructing several areas of our site to emphasise the added value of the subscribers-only areas. This goes beyond the look and feel; it includes improvements in the profile management and options that add up to the content.
We also made a detailed review of our pricing and product bundling, resulting in better and more competitive options for the audience.
We have three new short-term challenges:
- Diversifying the ways we capture qualified leads. This not only means producing strategic pieces/products, but also using different formats to convey such content.
- Synchronising the content intended for conversions with the editorial offer behind the paywall. This will drive us to revamp an important part of our editorial strategy.
- Keep strengthening the teams devoted to client service and promotion of subscriptions.
On August 20, 2021, Prensa Libre will be 70 years old. We are the generation in charge of building the new house, reinventing the way we work, serving our audience in a timely and relevant manner, and disrupting the known business models to continue doing the quality and credible journalism that defines us.
This case study is from the recent Audience Accelerator programme for Latin America, developed and led by INMA Researcher-in-Residence Greg Piechota. Facebook and INMA have partnered to bring dozens of publishers from around the world into INMA’s Readers First initiative. This case study reflects the partnership between INMA and the Facebook Journalism Project to develop excellence among leading global publishers in reader revenue initiatives.