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#14. Subscriber-only newsletters at the NYT and how Blick have used comments, raffles and hiking to register 660k users

You're reading The Audiencers'  #14, sent out on May 17th, 2023.  To receive future newsletters straight to your inbox every two weeks, sign up here.

In The Audiencers' Newsletter #14:

  • Comments, raffles & hiking: how .ch has acquired over 600k registered users
  • “Subscribers who receive at least one of the subscriber-only newsletters in the portfolio retain better than those with free newsletters.” The 3 types of newsletters at , and how they're using premium newsletters to increase retention
  • strategy to increase reader revenue: The Audiencers & Poool are collaborating with Mediaspace to bring you a conversation around how registration can benefit your digital reader revenue model
  • Recommendations to add to your reading list: from The Audiencers & friends

Comments, raffles and… hiking! How has acquired 660k registered users

Having not yet moved into the digital subscription space, Blick have been maximizing on the value of their readers by converting them from anonymous to known. And, with an impressive 619K loyal users visiting each day, whose propensity to convert is very high, registration has been a brilliant strategy to further increase loyalty, collect first-party data and maximize on ad revenue through targeting.

They've now converted an impressive 660,000 readers (more than the population of Bern, Basel and Winterthur combined!) thanks to a wide variety of acquisition channels:


The article goes into each channel in detail, but one thing I found particularly interesting was their culture of experimentationAdrian Gottwald, Head of Reader Revenue, shared how they tested copy to better forefront the value offered through account creation. 

The control: “sign up and benefit” – very transactional and simple with a list of benefits of registering. 

The 3 variations: 

  • Social proof: “Over 500,000 Blick readers already have an account with us and use the full potential of”

This led to a 160% increase in rate compared to the control

  • Appreciation: “Thank you for visiting us”

This version increased conversion rates by 440%!

  • Congratulations (only shown to the loyal reader segment): “Congrats! You belong to the 10 percent of our most loyal users on”

Personally, I loved this variation. I think it's a brilliant strategy to target your most engaged readers and make them feel valued, increasing their likelihood to support you in the future (i.e. partake in value exchanges such as subscription).

This variant led to an 800% increase in conversion rate compared to the control! Although worth noting that this was only shown to very loyal readers who have a higher propensity to convert.

> Find the full article on The Audiencers.

The 3 types of newsletters at The New York Times, and how they're using premium newsletters to increase retention

There are 3 buckets of emails at The NYT: 

  1. Free briefing newsletters -> introduce readers to The Times and help form habits

🎯 KPI = habituation across the bundle

“The Morning” is the biggest in this bucket, sent every morning to introduce readers to the variety of content available. 

  1. Automated or semi-automated emails -> with the goal of bringing users back 

🎯 KPI = Weekly Active Users on site

For super fans of columns, specific writers and features. It's also a huge list of emailable people who can be contacted with the goal of bringing them back to the site and hooking them into a regular newsletter.

  1. Subscriber-only newsletters -> to increase retention rates

🎯 KPI = subscriber retention

Differentiate a subset of newsletters to drive subscriber value and positively impact revenue. 

What defines a subscriber-only newsletter? 

  1.  The newsletter must go beyond curation of journalism and add new value that is accessible mostly in the inbox, with onsite as secondary.
  2. Each newsletter should help a reader go deep on a specific niche, or connect to a strong voice.
  3. Community is key. Newsletter writers should aim to foster conversations with their readers.

The portfolio has been shaped into a few genres that provide different values to different types of subscribers:

  • Reporting and expertise: Helping readers go deep in areas such as , political polling and elections, world events, and the climate crisis
  • Advice and guidance: Pointing readers to their next favorite song, book to read, or show to watch. Offer expert advice, wellness, restaurant recommendations and answering readers' ethical questions. 
  • Opinion voices: Writers from the Opinion section cover niche topics such as the role of language in politics; the economy; faith in today's society; parenting; the future of the planet and more. 

What lessons could be applied at a much smaller scale? 

  • Trust between product and editorial – business insights blended with editorial instinct works
  • Learn from small tests and evolve the approach – be willing to decide something wasn't worth it
  • Keep the reader's needs at the center – what role will this journalism play in their lives? 

> Paige shared these insights at WAN-IFRA's recent Digital Media Europe event in Vienna. Find our other takeaways in this article on The Audiencers

Registration strategy to increase reader revenue

I'm taking part in a conversation as part of a new collaboration between The Audiencers, Poool and Mediaspace.

With falling ad revenue and the cost-of-living crisis making subscriber acquisition and retention more difficult than ever, amongst plenty of other challenges, are looking to find innovative strategies to build sustainable business models. 

Registration, converting anonymous visitors into known, free members, is the strategy to employ to achieve this. 

In this virtual roundtable, we'll discuss why registration is the strategy for digital publishers in 2023, how it can support both ad and subscription revenue streams, and how you can make this strategy a success, with examples from publishers around the world.

>Sign up to the event for free here.

In-house content to read…

…and recommendations from elsewhere

Taking place in Cascais, Lisbon between 6-8 June 2023, the 45th World Media Congress promises to be one of the year's standout publisher conferences, with delegates from 36 countries worldwide.”

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