The Telegraph on transforming its business to look at readers ‘with a more sympathetic lens’

The news brand says it has been through “loads” of change to become a more consumer and data-focused company.

The Telegraph

The Telegraph is currently on a two-year business transformation journey as it looks to attract and retain readers.

One big aim is to reach younger consumers. And to achieve this, the brand is joining Snapchat’s Discover platform in the UK. The Telegraph will publish a ‘Story’ every day at 5pm, and will increase its frequency before and after the General Election to ensure Snapchatters have access to the latest news as it happens.

Snapchat users will also be able to subscribe to the brand on the platform. The Telegraph is not the only news brand on the platform; it will be joining a host of competitors including Sky News, The Sun and the Daily Mail.

“Digitally we reach a huge cross-section of people. Some 23.9 million unique individuals consume our content digitally every month. Snapchat still has a highly engaged younger audience – although its reach is broader than you may think,” Robert Bridge, chief customer officer at The Telegraph, tells Marketing Week.

“My job and overall the business strategy is to bring younger people into the brand and expose them to the quality journalism we produce.”

He adds The Telegraph is “very careful” to stay true to the brand on a platform that is skewed towards younger audiences, and has learnt from its app relaunch last year, which was built with 25- to 45-year-olds in mind.

“We’ve become more product-centric around certain demographics. Our new app launched last year, and the way we curate our content has hints of Instagram and a younger generation within that product by being very visually led,” he explains.

Earlier this year, The Telegraph also acquired Gojimo, an education app that helps people revise for their GCSEs and A levels, which Bridge calls “another piece of the jigsaw”.

Adopting a more ‘sympathetic’ lens

The move onto Snapchat is part of a wider strategy change within the business. Last November, it moved to an ‘Open Layer’ strategy, which means 85% of its content is free to access, versus 15% of ‘premium’ content that sits behind a paywall. So far, the brand says political and rugby content has performed well and led to an increase in subscriptions.

Bridge claims the creation of the ‘customer department’, which he has overseen since joining from Yahoo just over a year ago, marks an even bigger change and shows the business’s desire to put the customer first. He looks after marketing, subscription, data and research, design, the user experience and customer care. This, he says, means the “end-to-end customer experience” is placed under one roof.

The whole business looks at the customer with a more sympathetic lens.

Robert Bridge, The Telegraph

The business has also become more data-focused to encourage low-engaged users to come back to the brand more often and, hopefully, sign up to a subscription or use its travel or financial services. There are also new marketing teams.

“There has been a major shift in skillset. We never had a performance marketing team, which is predominately digitally focused. We now have new teams including a product and marketing team. It has been a big evolution, but you have to start with the right people and strategy,” he says.

While the first year has been focused on the launch of the premium model, its ecommerce offering and driving digital subscriptions, this year Bridge is focused on above-the-line activity and attracting new audiences.

“We are letting our readers become more engaged, and we have a more advanced marketing programme. The whole business looks at the customer with a more sympathetic lens,” he says.

Getting consumers to pay up

Bridge is convinced younger audiences are more open to paying for quality content, pointing to the popularity of subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify, but admits it “will take time” to convert them into paying customers. As a result, the business is eager to focus on different revenue streams.

He concludes: “It’s not just about the subscribers, we don’t want to be too caught up on that. We can still drive revenue by reaching these audiences on the ecommerce side. While some of our competitors have gone for a hard paywall, we fundamentally believe there should be multiple revenue streams and ways to engage with our content.”

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Comments
  • Jim Norris 7 Jun 2017 at 8:20 am

    “lens’ is the singular of lenses. Lost your sub – editor, Daily Telegraph?

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