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Memberships are at the core of everything we do: elDiario.es

The Fix launched Toolbox, a series on digital tools used by the media. The aim of Toolbox is to help managers pick the most appropriate tools for themselves, rather than throwing a bunch of “best newsroom tools” for this and that at them.

[If your newsroom wants to participate, let The Fix know, as they are also building a database they will publish later on. Subscribe to their newsletter and you won’t miss it. Their email: info.thefixmedia@gmail.com]

Recently, the Spanish media market has seen a surge in digital subscriptions and memberships. Nowadays almost every major Spanish outlet gathers reader revenue, but just a year ago elDiario.es was an exception (it launched membership model in 2012).

It hasn’t been easy, but so far elDiario.es has managed to sail through the pandemic largely untouched. First, the site raised membership prices, which 97% of members accepted, and issued a pledge for new members and donations. The outcome: In just two months, elDiario.es gained over 18,000 new members, and now memberships make up more than half of the publication’s revenues.

“Email is our main communication channel with our readers and members,” told me Esther Alonso, the Membership and Development Director of elDiario.es. They use MailChimp to acquire leads and build a database of members and readers with whom they establish a closed and transparent conversation.

Main comms: Emails & Telegram

The newsroom especially values the automation capabilities of MailChimp, building automatic campaigns with decision trees based on recipient actions.

elDiario.es integrated MailChimp into their CMS (they use BCube Publisher, developed by Bitban Technologies based in Madrid) and use newsletters to communicate everything, including what’s new at the company.

“Our goal is simple — make the funnel always better,” said Alonso. They are always tweaking the automation based on signals from newsletter subscribers. “Our emailing strategy is based on our readers and members preferences; we do not want to spam them,” added Alonso.

Another widely used communication tool for elDiario.es: Telegram. At first, the newsroom picked the messaging service as a secure channel for internal communications. With both a mobile and desktop app, it’s convenient on any device.

Later the newsroom decided to set up an external channel for readers, not only members, and has gathered almost 37,000 followers so far.

Sometimes building your own tool is the answer

lthough elDiario.es uses a variety of external tools – such as G-Suite, Slack, or Chartbeat for analytics – they also built some in-house solutions.

One of the first was a feature for reporting mistakes in articles. It’s not uncommon to see such a feature on various websites, though not every newsroom chooses to enable it

elDiario.es kept getting a lot of feedback from readers – not only about mistakes but also on other topics – and at first all reports went into one channel. This meant having to sort through all the messages, and as a result it took longer to get to each of them and respond.

So the outlet built in a step into the feedback reporting process, asking readers to choose a category (grammar mistake, factual, other…), and then delivered the message straight to the responsible desk. Members and readers loved it, they felt helpful and proud they can make their favorite website even better, Alonso says.

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is something a newsroom with a reader revenue model can hardly live without. There are countless CRMs out there, just as there are CMS-es to choose from, so building you own is not typically a priority for media managers.

Yet, elDiario.es managed to get funds from Google specifically to build their own platform, which provides more granularity when it comes to identifying specific readers who could fund individuals stories or areas of coverage.

Dataviz tool of choice: Mapbox

elDiario.es does a lot of data visualization, an area with lots of available tools. In the previous ToolBox edition we highlighted Dennik SME’s experience with Flourish.studio.

Although elDiario.es uses Flourish and DataWrapper, the Spanish newsroom’s dataviz tool of choice is Mapbox, an open source mapping platform for custom designed maps.

Using custom maps for stories in a big country like Spain is helpful, and other media, like El País, also do a lot of data visualization.

Alonso told me they really like using Mapbox because of the customization and their readers love the maps.

Here’s the full Toolbox of elDiario.es below:

David Tvrdon
Tech & Media Journalist, The Fix

This piece was originally published in The Fix as part of its Toolbox series and is re-published with kind permission. The Fix is a solutions-oriented publication focusing on the European media scene. Subscribe to its bi-monthly newsletter here.

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