The Local Europe is a network of nine media outlets in nine different European countries. Originally conceived as a way to educate and inform Sweden’s expat community, the company now has titles across Europe with the same mission: to provide those living and working abroad with valuable and useful insights into everyday life in their adoptive countries.
The Local garners 5.5 million unique readers a month, and with five of its 9 websites now operating under a subscription model, they are finding the insights from the Content Insights application invaluable during this transition.
Their transition from an ad-based business to a reader-revenue oriented operation coincided with a change in how they viewed analytics too: they’ve moved away from looking at simple metrics such as clicks, to studying more holistic behavioral metrics such as Loyalty and Engagement.
We spoke to Paul O’Mahony, the managing editor, to find out more.
The secret recipe for success
The good folk at The Local have managed what others aspire to: they’ve found a niche and they’ve run with it. In this case, it’s the untapped market of those living abroad, immersed in new cultures, but perhaps without the cultural capital or native language skills to get the information they need from their adoptive country’s media.
It’s The Local’s remit that makes it such a good proposition for expanding into new countries: while other publications have to navigate tricky cross-cultural nuances, The Local’s demographic is essentially the same, even if the location of their newsrooms isn’t. As Paul says, because they’re writing for expats, a lot of their content is transferable: articles about navigating a new tax system or finding a house to rent, are likely to be useful articles whether the reader is based in Stockholm or Santander. Indeed, when they were launching their new sites in Spain and Italy, the editors in those countries were able to use articles which have proven to attract loyal and engaged audiences in Sweden as a guide. This helps them to establish themselves in new markets fairly quickly.
It’s not just about repeating what’s worked elsewhere, it’s about understanding the core concerns of their demographic: in some cases reworking articles which have performed well on another site is the obvious solution (especially in new markets), but in the pursuit of a truly audience-centric approach they also interact with their audience by encouraging readers to propose topics, ask questions and even – on occasion – write content too.
“Asking readers to suggest ideas is something we do increasingly everywhere. We also feature readers’ tips and we try to work on content that directly affects our core audience.”
Paul, who is a skilled user of our application, has developed a weekly routine of using Content Insights. Even though he’s in touch with the application throughout the week, Monday is the day he looks at analytics the most because this is the day he has the weekly editorial meeting with the various Local editors.
He starts by focusing on the core of our application: the CPI.
What is CPI?
CPI is the heart and soul of Content Insights. It’s an algorithm that shows how well your content is performing in comparison to other published articles on your platform.
CPI takes into consideration dozens of different content performance metrics and examines their relations. It also weighs them differently in accordance with three recognized behavioral models: exposure, engagement, and loyalty.
CPI is always a number between 1 and 1000. When CPI is over 500 that means the article, section, the author performs better than the average.
The Behavior menu with its Loyalty and Engagement sections is his next stop for the simple reason that The Local is increasingly focusing its efforts on bringing in new members and retaining existing ones. These Loyalty scores inform him whether or not they are providing their subscribers with quality articles. When talking about Engagement, Paul looks first at the top of the page to find out which articles have engaged readers above the expected level.
Loyalty menu: screenshot from the Content Insights demo, not actual data from The Local
Loyalty and Engagement explainer with behavior badges
CPI Loyalty and CPI Engagement are complex behavioral metrics that reveal the habits of your readers. CPI Loyalty measures how good your content is at attracting highly-engaged, returning readers, while CPI Engagement measures how efficient articles are at influencing readers to stay engaged with content, both within the article, but also more broadly across the domain. Articles are assigned the coveted green behavior badge if it has a corresponding CPI greater than 900. A red badge is assigned to articles with a CPI of less than 100.
“I often see that a high percentage [of articles with a Loyalty badge] correlates with a strong subscriptions week.”
Percentage of authors and topics that earned Loyalty badges in a certain period of time: Loyalty menu: screenshot from the Content Insights demo, not actual data from The Local
As he explains, such a case happened a few weeks ago, when he saw that as many as 40 percent of articles from their French website had earned Loyalty badges. Paul says that’s really good for bringing in subscribers.
“Loyalty is the indicator that is most valuable for us and managing our membership model.”
With this business model, simple metrics such as page views and attention time are not as important to the team at The Local as the values of the more complex behavioral metrics. Paul points out an example when he looks at the analytics and finds an article that had a lower Exposure CPI value of around 600, but high values of CPI for Loyalty and Engagement, at around 950.
It’s a marked contrast to their pre-subscription days when they were looking much more at the kinds of values highlighted by Exposure indicators. But, times have changed, and businesses evolve:
“Our focus used to be primarily on getting high traffic. But our editorial emphasis has changed, in very positive ways, with the shift to a more multi-faceted revenue approach.”
Another part of the Content Insights tool that Paul uses at least once a month and finds very useful is the Referral section. To find out sources of traffic, he uses Google Analytics as well, but, according to him, our application has advantages over the Google Analytics platform.
“Right now I’m using [the Referrers section] to see which other websites have been linking to us. The Content Insights interface is much easier to use than Google Analytics for finding that kind of information”.
According to Paul, it’s good to be aware of how others are using – and consuming – The Local: referrals fuel brand awareness and help further cement the sites’ place in the media landscape.
More is less… effective
Across their titles, one thing is a constant: their editorial strategy puts quality over quantity. As Paul explains they are always looking for articles that will attract loyal readers.
Even when the staff focuses on getting their big stories out there, they still make sure they have a good mix of content. That is in spite of there being a slight drop in the number of articles they now publish a day: their bigger sites used to publish around 10, now they have cut it down to seven or eight per day.
“Previously we produced more. As we started moving towards membership, we focussed more on quality over quantity”.
When we spoke to Paul on stage at the WAN-IFRA conference in Copenhagen earlier in the year they’d just rolled out the subscription model to France. When we caught up with Paul last month, they’d just launched The Local in Spain and Italy. Clearly, the strategy is working.
If your publication is making the switch to subscriptions or membership, get in touch to find out how Content Insights’ analytics approach can help you.