The main drivers for traffic to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet are breaking news, sports, and entertainment. For our paid content services, Dagbladet Pluss, it is important to keep this in mind because Dagbladet Pluss strongly reflects the mother brand.
We have a freemium model, so most of the content on the Dagbladet front page is free for all of our 1.3 million daily unique users (in a country with 5.3 million inhabitants). In addition to that, we have 100,000 Dagbladet Pluss subscribers.
The challenge is to balance needs of the ad model with the reader revenue strategy. It is important to identify what drives growth for Pluss and stay focused on the difference between the paid and free products based on the readers’ needs and preferences.
Over the years, we noticed our users have a stronger willingness to pay for some types of content over others. This, of course, is changing over time. Our skilled management team, Head of Dagbladet Pluss Hilde Schjerve and Sub-Editor Jonas Pettersen, has worked thoroughly and systematically to find the right model.
They are continuously asking what should still be free content and what should be paid content. User payments and user habits are constantly evolving. What drives conversions today might not drive conversions next year. So we need to be driven by data and insights and not personal opinions or taste.
Insights and analysis currently show people have an increasing willingness to pay for news and that there are some specific types of articles that are especially important for Dagbladet Pluss.
Data and insight
We started our subscription journey in 2013. Over the years, we have collected a lot of data and insights about our audience and what drives subscriptions. We have used this knowledge to make what we call our “Pluss toolbox.” Each tool represents one typical type of conversion-driving content. We have nine tools in the box.
The main driver for sales is content. And, of course, the holy trinity of Pluss — sales, distribution, and pricing — need to play well together. The common denominator for success for Pluss is exclusive content. Our users can’t ask Google or visit our competitors to find the same content for free. So the main headline of the toolbox is exclusivity.
The Dagbladet Pluss toolbox contains:
1. News for use. These are stories that help the readers lead better lives. This includes journalism on health, social welfare, personal economy, fitness and training, sex and relationships, diets, and similar topics. We have to answer this question for the reader: What’s in it for me?
2. In-depth reporting on the news stories everybody is talking about. Of course, our subscribers are users of Dagbladet’s free site, and we know they want updated news, sports, and entertainment. If Pluss can find an exclusive twist on the top story — the news story that everyone in Norway is talking about that day or that week — we drive more conversions to Pluss and get more reading among our subscribers.
3. People with stories that make you say “wow.” As a tabloid newspaper, we want to make our readers think “wow, what a story!”
4. Known people with personal stories. Celebrities and other people with a public role tell their own stories. Often these are stories everyone can identify themselves with and are quite often stories that can fight stigmas.
5. “The inside story.” We invite readers into special happenings with the news and tell the stories from the inside or behind the scenes. What really happened?
6. Investigative journalism. We give readers insights into exciting, forbidden environments that are normally unknown to most people.
7. Rankings. These are rankings made by our own specialist journalists on sports. Soccer is very popular.
8. Consumer tests. People need guidance to make the best choices, whether they are in a shopping for cellphones or burgers, or trying to find the best restaurants or electric cars.
9. Long reads. These are stories that make readers feel something. They may be investigative or classic feature stories. They have a great digital presentation — something more valuable short news stories to read during commute time. This is particularly important on weekends.
We use the Pluss toolbox when we discuss ideas and when the editorial team makes decisions in daily meetings.
We also use it when we evaluate ourselves. Did we use different tools last week? That is very important because readers are different and they want different types of stories. We need to publish stories that satisfy different needs and different users every day. Less is more — it is more important to have one really good story than five mediocre ones.