The Print Fans often like the “experience” of a printed newspaper. In their open-ended descriptions, they talk about sitting with the paper and having their coffee in the morning, discovering stories and spending time reading them.
They also choose to subscribe because of the convenience of print home delivery, or because they have had a long history and good feelings about starting their day with a physical newspaper.
While this group prefers print over digital, it is important to note that they also interact with the paper digitally as well—in apps, on mobile, and in social. Print is a preference, but it is no longer a singular behavior.
Before subscribing, print fans are likely to have used print copies from friends or family, bought individual print copies, and are particularly likely to have used the coupons before and after subscribing. Print Fans are particularly likely to say the paper matters to them because it’s enjoyable or entertaining. Like other subscribers, they were most often triggered to sign up by a discount or promotion.
Print Fans include 16 percent of total respondents.
“I love getting a newspaper in my hand in the morning before my day begins,” says one of the Print Fans.
Publisher strategies for Print Fans
As print circulation and its advertising revenue continue to decline, newspaper publishers need to actively think through ways to engage print readers outside the print edition.
Print subscribers can share their reading habits and opinions in surveys and focus groups, but with no usage or engagement metrics, publishers have far less transparency about which content is being read and shared.
For promotions and messaging to Print Fans, publishers need to highlight the print subscription as an overall experience, conveniently delivered to homes. Since print subscribers are often long-term subscribers, a publisher’s database could be missing certain digital contact information, such as an email address, that is critical in ongoing communications and in driving print subscribers online to activate.
Some publishers are also using their e-edition as a bridge for their print subscribers to engage with the paper’s digital offerings. By adding content that is exclusive to the replica not found in print or online, around topics of interest such as sports and lifestyle, some publishers have been able to increase readership and engagement. Unlike within the pages of the print edition, replica readers can be tracked and measured, giving visibility to these subscribers’ actions and interests.
Several publishers have also implemented successful account activation campaigns for their new and existing print subscribers. These campaigns include promoting the subscriber’s digital access through print, email, and online. Sending an email as the replica is published online increased one publisher’s subscriber engagement of the replica by 50 percent.
Up close: Who are the Print Fans?
Print Fans are majority female (56 percent vs. 46 percent of other subscribers), but they resemble other subscribers in terms of age and race. They live in similar areas (more than half in the suburbs) and subscribe to similarly sized papers as do other subscribers.
Print Fans differ from other subscribers in how they used the paper before subscribing. Print Fans who used the paper for free before they subscribed most commonly used print copies from friends/family and bought individual print copies, and they did both more than other subscribers. A majority of those used the website, but still, Print Fans are less likely than others to have used the website. Print Fans are particularly likely to have used the coupons before subscribing.
Print Fans stand out in two ways when asked in an open-ended question to describe why they subscribe. Overwhelmingly, they mention something about the convenience of print. And they are also far more likely to mention a long relationship or fond memories with the paper.
But again, this group of Print Fans represents just 16 percent of all subscribers. Making this the focus of an appeal is a limited strategy.
Print Fans are moved by a host of background factors. They mention wanting access to local news (61 percent), seeing many useful articles (41 percent), and a discount or promotion (36 percent), all at similar rates to other subscribers.
When it comes to the specific trigger that led them to subscribe, Print Fans are similar to other subscribers and most often cite a discount or promotion (45 percent), a desire for coupons (25 percent), or that they recently moved to the area (16 percent).
Print Fans often follow local politics (45 percent) and national politics (40 percent), and are more likely than other subscribers to value that their paper is entertaining (55 percent vs. 38 percent).
And once they have subscribed, print-related factors are key to their interaction—coupons and sharing print copies. But sharing content with others is also popular among Print Fans.