Think Tank

The Art of Asking the Right Questions: What Happens when Publishers Stop Thinking About Reach?

with Arnd Stessun, DIE WELT

Did it ever happen to you to hear a question and feel something sparking inside you? It’s a moment when you feel that an entirely new world revealing itself to you. The right questions bring us those wonderful “AHA Moments” that lead to new ways of thinking and doing.

By Ioana Strater, New World Encounters

In preparation on our Virtual Tour Digital Revenues I had the pleasure to discuss with Arnd Stessun who is Head of Product Management at WELT plus. He told me about what helps him make progress, make the right decisions, have new insights, set goals for what matters: asking the right questions. This is his way to solve essential problems and transform his organization. Here come his four main questions.

1. What happens when publishers stop thinking only about reach?

In publishing, we are all used to think and measure success in reach terms. “Is this the right way to go about it?” Arnd wanted to check. And he found that there was a problem with this way of thinking. “At DIE WELT we have, for example, 20 million unique users; but of these, a maximum of two million are heavy users, which means only 10% are willing to convert to subscription” he said. “That’s why we first have to change our perspective in terms of reach, and we have to do it very consciously. All our success that depends on it.”

2. How can we build a great product?

“If we don’t have a great product, nobody will buy it. We MUST build a great product. Since our products are our articles – pieces of content, our problem is very particular, and we cannot adapt from other industries. It requires a very specific and creative solution” says Arnd.
His main question is HOW to build the best product day in and day out, so everybody wants to have it. His favourite metaphor is to compare his articles to sneakers: “We must build the most beautiful sneakers, and we MUST do it every day. Therefore, if we are to learn how to build these perfect products, we have to analyse and develop the content.“

3. How can we have the best online marketing and online distribution?

What good is it to have the best product if nobody knows about it? Arnd continues with his next point: “If we have the best products that everyone wants, we have to have the best online marketing and online distribution. However, the old distribution channels that we already know when we talk about reach, SEO, social, and so on are still good and we will continue to use them. No question about it. But in my opinion, successful product delivery depends on personalization, on giving the right content to the right people. We need to learn to outperform ourselves in distribution and this also means learning how to use the data in our day to day life”.

4. How can we optimise the sales funnel?

Last, but not least: all of the effort and knowledge that have gone into developing and optimising the products, the pain of creating the perfect marketing and distribution channels, all of the hard decisions made along are of no use if we do not sell. “This is an area where we can still learn a lot of things from other industries. There are many that have already optimised the sales funnel to great extent.”

Therefore, right question can be a wake-up call for your next turnaround. The four questions were the start of different experiments for Arnd and his team: experiments with content performance, with an article score with 6 KPIs, with the propensity to subscribe score, and first steps in experimenting with personalisation. If you like to hear more about Arnd’s experiments and their results, he will talk about them during our Virtual Tour Digital Revenues. We invite you to virtually join us in Berlin on the 24th September on the ship of Media Pioneer where Arnd gladly answer, for a change, your questions.

Ioana Sträter. Founder of QuestiQ. Ioana Sträter is a crossindustry innovation expert, with more than 15 years expertise in media. Founder of QuestiQ, she helps organizations to tap the real potential of their growth.

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