It should come as no surprise that the local newspaper industry has long been under pressure, and according to Reuters’ recent Digital News Report 2021, the global COVID-19 crisis has done nothing to relinquish the situation.
However, at Der Teckbote, a local newspaper situated in Kirchheim unter Teck near Stuttgart, Germany, they have risen to the occasion: Despite the odds, this local star has managed to increase its epaper reader engagement and gain digital subscribers. How?
Visiolink met with Der Teckbote’s Editor in Chief, Frank Hoffmann and Head of Digital, Steffen Maier to find out. Hint: It has to do with epaper user tracking and data analysis.
Epaper user tracking and analysis paved the way
Der Teckbote went live with its Visiolink epaper app and web solution in 2020. In November, they started their epaper user tracking journey and acquired their first epaper user insights in the form of clear and simple visual dashboards, graphs, and monthly insights reports.
According to Frank Hoffmann, Editor in Chief at Der Teckbote, the primary reason why they decided to invest in epaper user tracking, was to gain knowhow on their readers’ behaviour and interests.
He further elaborates, how these insights also benefit readers of their printed newspaper:
“Currently, 10% of our printed newspaper subscribers are also epaper subscribers, and this number is increasing. We take this as an indicator that our printed newspaper readers and epaper readers are similar in character and have similar preferences when it comes to our content and topics of interests.”
Consequently, Der Teckbote’s primary analytical focus point is to identify topics of interest to its readers and plan their editorial content accordingly. And the German newspaper is confident that this is one of the key ingredients in gaining digital subscribers: Their approach has already proven itself – since November, Der Teckbote’s epaper subscription and engagement numbers have only gone in one direction: Up.
Well-planned local stories drive higher reader engagement
Although the pandemic certainly presents its challenges, bright spots also exist. Reuters finds consumers to put greater and greater emphasis on receiving information from accurate and reliable sources. In many cases, this spikes the value of the local newspaper, which generally enjoys high levels of trust and is to this day still the preferred source on specific news topics such as local crime, economy, and sports.
At Der Teckbote, they undertake daily evaluations of their epaper performance, which to a large extent confirms this argument:
“Every day, we evaluate yesterday’s epaper performance by means of our user tracking reports and insights. We focus on the best performing articles and based on this, we identify topics of interest to our readers, “ Frank explains.
These topics are then used, when planning for future content and editorial pieces.
“We see a clear correlation between high levels of user engagement and well-planned articles with a local focus on COVID-19, crime, traffic, family and educational matters.” Frank Hoffmann elaborates.
He further explains that the main reason why people read local newspapers is of course to get their local news. But having this confirmed in clear numbers is still valuable, as it validates their reason d’être and allows their editorial team to work smarter and thereby use their resources more efficiently.
More and more local readers turn digital
Getting to know one’s readers always presents interesting new insights. At Der Teckbote, more and more print subscribers are also turning digital. One of the things, which has surprised the team, is the characteristics of their new digital subscribers. Steffen Maier, Head of Digital at Der Teckbote explains:
“We actually see that more and more of our senior readers are becoming digital subscribers as well. Originally, we suspected that our digital subscribers would primarily be younger readers, but it is a positive surprise to learn that we have a more diverse age-group of digital readers than anticipated.”
Apart from the close monitoring of their readers’ interests, both Frank Hoffmann and Steffen Maier point to the many new features of their epaper solution as one of the primary reasons why they are experiencing a continuous growth of digital subscribers.
With their Visiolink epaper solution, Der Teckbote now offers its readers several additional features to the flip-version of their print newspaper, such as article view, text-to-speech, videos, supplements, and an archive function, which are some of the many new salespoints, which has contributed to Der Teckbote’s digital growth during a time of global crisis.
At Visiolink, we look very much forward to follow Der Teckbote’s digital journey. If you want to learn more about this local German star, we strongly encourage you to visit their website.