Handelsblatt launches 2 premium newsletters in lockdown

By Grzegorz Piechota

INMA

Oxford, United Kingdom

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Working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, teams of the German business newspaper Handelsblatt launched two new premium newsletters, one on personal finance and another on the real estate business.

  • The latest of the two, “Handelblatt Inside Real Estate”, was launched as a public beta last week and is available for an eight-week free trial.
  • “Handelsblatt Inside Geldanlage” (“Inside Financial Investment”) launched in March. It costs Handelsblatt subscribers €4.90 extra per month. The price for non-subscribers: €29.90 monthly.
  • The newspaper launched its first premium newsletter, “Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health,” in November 2019. The price: €14.90 for subscribers and €49.90 for non-subscribers.
  • Handelsblatt is the fourth-biggest national daily newspaper in Germany, with a circulation of 87,000 in the first quarter of 2020. The cheapest digital subscription costs €29.99 monthly. The bundle that includes the print edition costs €45.99 monthly.  

“Handelsblatt is highly reputable in many business sectors, and the brand proved it can carry many products,” said Martin Dowideit, head of product, said in an interview with INMA.

The team chose digital health as the first in the product line, as it acknowledged digital disruption and new regulations re-shaping the healthcare industry.

According to Dowideit, the newsletter’s performance “exceeded” expectations set by the business plan, and it encouraged Handelsblatt to launch the next ones. While he did not share the exact numbers, he said most of the premium newsletter buyers were existing subscribers of Handelsblatt.

How new verticals are chosen? “It’s a combination of an educated guess based on our readership data and a feedback from the industry, as well as one-to-one interviews with potential subscribers,” Dowideit explained.

“The first question is: ‘Who.’ Find a segment of readers with deep pockets before you start thinking ‘What,’” he advised. “The second question is: How can you differentiate?”

Each segment Handelsblatt chose had been already served by a number of niche publications. How to be distinct? “We asked readers what they expect from us. For example, in case of the real estate newsletter, they wanted a bird’s eye view of the market trends, while other publications are focused on individual deals.”

E-mail newsletters proved to be both effective and efficient channels for new products, as well as easy and inexpensive compared to launching new Web sites or apps.

Up to 15 people from newsroom, product, and marketing departments were involved in each launch. The length of the process could be squeezed down to two weeks.

Each newsletter contains both original and exclusive stories as well as some resurfaced content from the newspaper. Each has an editorial team of three to five journalists plus the back office of two to three people.

The pandemic turned Germany and the world upside down, but it did not disrupt the development. People continued from homes connected on Slack and Microsoft Teams.

What’s next? “I am quite optimistic that our brand can accommodate more verticals,” said Dowideit.

He pointed to the example of Watch Medier, a subsidiary of Denmark’s biggest publisher JP/Politikens Hus. It runs 11 niche business verticals such as Shipping Watch or Clean Tech Watch, and charges up to €80 per month for access to each. 

Share your case study with INMA peers: What are you experimenting with? What have you learnt so far?E-mail me at: grzegorz.piechota@inma.org 

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