The Finnish local newspaper Ylä-Satakunta has doubled its number of annual online visitors.
The newspaper's new online service, implemented with NeoDirect, was launched in January. At that time, the website was visited by an average of 10,000 readers per month. In October, Ylä-Satakunta already broke the 22,000-visitor limit.
– On average, the website has 1,000–2,000 visitors a day, but during the busiest days of September, there were already more than 4,000 visitors, says Jukka Huikko, Editor-in-Chief.
By comparison: the circulation of the printed magazine is currently 5,808 copies.
The secret to growth is found in an improved reader experience. In connection with the online renewal, 5 journalists undertook the task of generating 3–5 news stories for the website - every day. This goal was adhered to even during the corona epidemic.
– Subscribers know that there is something new to read online every day, Huikko says.
"Developing online services is one way to increase revenue and engage subscribers as service users."
What kind of content are readers interested then?
Responding to breaking news situations.
For example, the training of the Ostrobothnian police in the field area of the Parkano school campus provoked a lot of discussion, because the exercise was not announced in advance to parents or schoolchildren.
– The exercise caused concern and was actively discussed on social media. As a local newspaper, it was important for us to be able to find out quickly and report on it, Huikko describes.
Local news analysis and comments are also read.
– We have not considered abandoning editorial, because the comments and analysis of the editorial are read a lot online.
Still, increasing visitor numbers is not enough.
According to Huikko, it’s necessary to develop online services as well.
Next, special attention must be paid to advertising and what the online service could offer to the newspaper’s advertising customers.
– It is easy to say that a local newspaper cannot generate revenue from digital channels. I disagree. I believe that developing online services is one way to increase advertising and subscription revenue and engage subscribers as service users. Here, too, advertisements have a role to play, as local advertisements are important to readers in the local newspaper; they tell you what's new in the community, Huikko says.
Therefore, new ad slots and ad formats will be introduced on the site by the end of the year. Their design focuses on mobile deployment.
– A large part of the readers are also mobile readers of the local newspaper: two thirds of the users now come to our website via mobile phone.
"Next, the focus is on advertisers, and mobile opportunities in particular."
In addition to content, growth requires educating subscribers to use digital products.
– The Corona epidemic also affected our plans: our intention was to organize events for subscribers to get acquainted with the new online services together.
Due to constraints on gathering, these opportunities were partly postponed.
– Compared to that, the increase in the number of visitors has been very satisfying.
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