David Sallinen: “The Athena project: attract, engage, convert and build loyalty!”

David Sallinen, CEO of Upgrade Media, is supporting La Voix du Nord in its Athena project, which aims to transform its digital model. How was it designed? Here’s how it works.

La Voix du Nord has changed a lot since 2012. What were the objectives of this new transformation?

To go even further! With the Athena project, the aim is to focus content production on the subjects that concern readers via the channels they use. It’s about integrating their expectations ever better. To achieve this, we have embarked on a real corporate challenge that involves, in a coherent way, not only the editorial team, but also the various departments, from management to marketing, which questions the technical means to be put in place, the user experience on mobile… 

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Let’s talk about mobile… Is it the heart of this strategy?

Yes. The primary entry point for La Voix du Nord content is now mobile. The mobile is the “me”, it’s a tool that is entirely devoted to our needs, personalized and that helps us, accompanies us all day long. We want everything on our mobile: short, long, alerts and depth… Therefore, we must integrate what the mobile channel is from the conception of a topic. The organization of topics must be visual, of course, but not only: it must also be more segmented and, above all, better designed around the questions the reader is asking. Then, the challenge is to orchestrate this every day, every week. The key is anticipation and better preparation. With La Voix du Nord, we have created about 20 mobile-first formats. To define them, we worked methodically. First, I analyzed massive data to understand the act of buying and its current drivers. Then, I worked on the results of a focus group of about twenty people representative of regular readers of La Voix du Nord who do not take the step of subscribing. Then, I extracted more than 310 themes from the interviews conducted. This helped us to better understand the expectations of the 35 to 55 year old generation on mobile. This audience wants mobile content that is useful: 1/ to better understand or/and take action and waste less time; 2/ with an adapted and quality user experience; 3/ and interactions with the editorial team.

“The first entry point for content is the mobile!”

This transformation required a transversal approach…

The reactor of the plant is the editorial department. Now, without technology, marketing, social networks, data to understand the formats that work, even the best content risks not reaching its target. The project must therefore be transversal. That’s why, from the start, we brought together multidisciplinary teams in workshops where we built the Voix du Nord model. The objectives were numerous: to find the right formats to better enhance the value of the information, the angles and show all the richness of Voix du Nord content, to work on new free rules to reach a wider target, but also to start working on the right levers for promoting content. 

How do you deploy such a project?

I’m not a guru. For this to work, I need to bring facts to the general management, to the editors, to the journalists. So we conducted a reader survey to test the first working hypotheses and new promises and, in this way, confirm our choices made during the workshops. Finally, after having submitted these new editorial promises to a panel of readers, we noticed that the proposals integrating the Athena approach matched up to six times more with the reader’s expectations than a classical treatment. We don’t advance randomly, we advance because we are methodical. We audit, we identify what needs to be changed and why. From now on, we are only deploying the project in two test agencies to continue to learn, to adjust our efforts, to understand what works and what doesn’t, and why.

Are there any spin-offs from the Athena project? 

Yes, and they are very encouraging. We are pushing the walls at each key stage of the conversion tunnel in all categories, for both free and paid content. Thus, when comparing the performance of local content, produced in compliance with the Athena approach, we observe that free articles generate 5.5 times more page views, 5 times more unique visitors and unique subscriber visitors and 9 times more connected visitors than classic content. On the paid content side, the figures are mostly doubled. This shows that asking the right questions beforehand, finding the formats that work and promoting them, pays off!

The Athena project in three key words?

Attract. Engage. Convert. And I would even add: build loyalty!

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