NZ Herald App Relaunch
Overview of this campaign
The previous NZ Herald mobile application had poor, outdated user experience design reflected in low app-store ratings. This was out of step with the Herald’s overall brand and digital platform – nzherald.co.nz.
The objectives of rebuilding the New Zealand Herald mobile app included:
Increase audience engagement.
Reduce technical issues and crashes.
Support the subscription strategy.
Improve in-store ratings.
The NZ Herald app had been outsourced to external vendors and a key part of this project was to bring that work in-house and create a team that could serve future projects as well as this one. We assessed multiple options and decided to build the app internally in the React Native code base.
The new NZ Herald app was designed to be clean, modern and accessible. Launching in February 2020, the app allows users to personalise their experience. They can choose layouts, adjust article fonts, customise alerts for breaking news and get the right weather forecast wherever they travel, based on geo-location. Registered users can reorder sections within the homepage top menu.
In May, paid subscriptions were made available on the app. Users who had subscribed through nzherald.co.nz could already access Premium content on the app, but now customers could subscribe and pay directly through the app.
Premium subscribers can select Offline Reading and download their Saved News list for viewing when not online and participate in the Commenting feature.
The app relaunch wasn’t just about technical developments: We needed fantastic content too.
Journalism released after the app relaunch on February 26 includes an investigation into pay disparity at NZ’s state-owned broadcaster and a multimedia series on the effects of the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch.
When in-app subscriptions were activated on May 27, the Herald delivered a suite of curated Premium content that pulled in hundreds of new subscribers.
Top rating pieces included the inside take on the Government’s Covid-19 response and a look at some of the country's biggest crime stories.
Results for this campaign
The two phases of the Herald app relaunch have generated huge benefits for our audience and for the Herald.
Audience perception has improved. The app went from a rating of 1.5 stars on the Apple App store in the week before the new app launch to a rating of 4.3 stars as of January 22, 2021. On Google Play, the rating has risen from 2.9 stars in the week before the new app launch to a rating of 3.6 stars.
NZ Herald has been regularly featured by the App store since launch as App of the Day, New & Noteworthy and as a “must-have” app.
The addition of in-app subscriptions has boosted uptake of Premium content. In-app subscriptions made up 27% of our starts since launch, and 34% of net acquisition. Paid Premium subscriptions, introduced in 2019, have already reached 50,000 - exceeding targets.
The relaunch of the app was supported by marketing across digital, print and outdoor platforms, spreading the word about a better user experience.
The internal team were highly committed and fully engaged with the development of the new app. Efficiencies in development were gained from React Native being a single code base for both Android and iOS.
Automated testing and deployment processes increased the time developers could spend on building code and reduced code errors dramatically.
These efficiencies meant the team could focus on high-quality feature development that would resonate with audiences.
NZ Herald is now New Zealand’s largest web service, overtaking rival Stuff in August 2020 and holding the position since. In December, NZ Herald reached 1.801 million users - a testament to those involved in the app relaunch and the great journalism of the Herald team.