Journalists Working with ‘User Needs’ Doubled Reader Engagement and Increased Subscription Rates

How ‘User Needs’ double Reader Engagement and increase Subscription Rates

Digital journalism is no longer just about offering usual news articles. Readers want in-depth explanations, different perspectives and a smile between the lines. Publishers are challenged to meet this demand to attract loyal readers and convert them into paying subscribers.

User Needs Models – The Key to a Successful Content Strategy

To support regional publishers in this process, the DRIVE data initiative has launched a special implementation programme that will gradually introduce reader and user models into newsrooms and adapt journalistic work processes in the long run: away from pure news to inspiring, insightful, explanatory and entertaining stories.

The DRIVE user-needs model. The articles from the publishers enter the DRIVE data warehouse and are automatically tagged with a suitable user needs category. Graphic: dpa

The first implementation programme took place over a nine-month period. The results demonstrate the success of the new content strategy:

  • Content quality improved significantly,
  • Reader engagement doubled,
  • Conversion rate increased by 75 per cent,
  • Editors are increasingly focusing on digital content and moving away from the ‚print mindset‘.

Innovative Thinking: Adapting Existing Formats to Readers’ Needs

Some publishers even exceeded these figures and achieved above-average media time for specific user need categories such as „Shrock me“ and „Sense of Security“. Existing journalistic formats were also rethought and successfully developed based on reader needs.

In the dpa white paper “User Needs in Daily Editorial Work” you will find not only detailed information on the data analyses, but also valuable tips on how to integrate user needs models into everyday editorial work. You can download the white paper for free here.

Who is part of DRIVE?

The Digital Revenue Initiative (DRIVE) is a unique data initiative launched in 2020 by German Press Agency (dpa) and management consultancy Highberg. They are working with around 30 regional publishers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland to increase digital subscriptions and grow the digital business.

DRIVE members: Aschendorff Medien (Münster), Badische Neueste Nachrichten (Karlsruhe), Badischer Verlag (Freiburg), DDV Mediengruppe (Dresden), Diesbach Medien (Weinheim), Freie Presse (Chemnitz), Generalanzeiger Bonn, Grafschafter Nachrichten (Nordhorn), Heidenheimer Zeitung (Heidenheim), Mediengruppe Attenkofer (Straubing), Medienhaus Aachen, Medienhaus Lensing/Rumble (Dortmund), Medienholding Süd (Stuttgart), OWL Digital (Bielefeld), Neue Pressegesellschaft (Ulm), Nordsee-Zeitung (Bremerhaven), NOZ/mh:n-Mediengruppe (Osnabrück), OVB (Rosenheim), Rheinpfalz (Ludwigshafen), Russmedia (Schwarzach), Saarbrücker Zeitungsgruppe (Saarbrücken), Somedia (Chur), Tiroler Tageszeitung (Innsbruck), Verlag Nürnberger Presse (Nürnberg), VRM (Mainz), Weser-Kurier (Bremen), Zeitungsgruppe Ostfriesland (Leer), Zeitungsverlag Waiblingen.

Katja Fleischmann
Product Management DRIVE
Twitter: @FleischmannKat
LinkedIn: Katja Fleischmann

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