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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