Paid digital subscribers to regional Scottish title HeraldScotland has almost doubled in six months to more than 10,000.
The Herald launched its paywall in 2011 and reported in January this year that digital subscribers had reached 5,600, taking the number ahead of print subscribers for the first time. In the last year, online subscriptions have grown by 125 per cent, and a statement from the Herald and Times Group – which is owned by Newsquest, said the rate of increase had grown in the last quarter.
According to Peter Gillespie, sales and marketing director at the Herald and Times Group, the growth can be attributed to a mix of print and digital subscription packages, the production of digital-only content and improved marketing and social media activity.
“We’ve worked hard to develop a digital experience which is engaging for our subscribers and we believe this rise in online subscriptions is a result of increasing understanding and responsiveness to what our readers find useful,” he told The Drum.
“Another contributing factor has been our new offering of a combined digital and print subscription package at the right price point. We saw this trend early and have placed our digital strategy at the heart of our business growth plans.
“We are consciously and continuously analysing and responding to our subscribers’ habits and preferences, and are developing the content and the products to suit. Key elements within this are: increased levels of digital-only content, articles and columnists; a new, improved app which drives a significant proportion of overall subscribers; and better marketing/social media engagement.”
The number of monthly unique visitors to HeraldScotland increased by 50 per cent year-on-year to nearly two million, while visitors to sister title eveningtime.co.uk increased by 80 per cent. The Evening Times website is less developed than HeraldScotland and does not carry registration or subscription, however Gillespie said that there are plans further down the line to improve the Evening Times digital offering.
“We have a comprehensive digital strategy for the entire group, including future upgrades to the Evening Times website,” he said. “Our priority at the moment is to understand our subscribers in-depth so that when we do upgrade the user experience, it will be as good an online experience as possible.
“We’ll take what we have learned from HeraldScotland.com and apply it to the Evening Times website. Since our last, recent redesign of the site use traffic growth rates have increased and we are launching new content elements within the site.
He added: “Until it’s at the point where we feel it offers enough unique value to users, it will continue to be free.”