The Mainichi Newspapers Co., Ltd (hereinafter, “Mainichi”) has the longest history of any newspaper company in Japan. From the publication of daily newspapers, magazines and books to digital media services, they work in a wide array of businesses. They continue to offer content that aligns with the era and its needs. The Mainichi Newspapers launched its new Premium Plan (12 or 6 weeks) in three weeks, rather than the several months or more it used to take to plan, develop, and release new subscription offerings.
Their previous billing platform was difficult to integrate with the media CMS that Mainichi had created. This made it difficult to realize the growth strategies aimed at the strengthening of their subscription business through quick and flexible development of services that would meet the needs of customers and through reinforced analyses.
Adopting Zuora allowed them to extract data in the format they needed, and to offer subscription services that would meet customer needs in a timelier manner. Moreover, it allows them to bring new services to market by simply configuring the settings without any knowledge of programming.
In addition to rapidly developing and suggesting new services that meet customer needs, they are now able to offer services that better cater to the needs of customers. This has raised the speed of their business, which, in turn, has given them a foundation to accelerate their subscription business’ profit gains through new customer acquisition and decreased rates of cancellations.
To meet the needs of a variety of customers, Mainichi offers real-time information digitally in addition to their daily newspaper.
“Some readers like physical newspapers because the information is neatly arranged and easy to understand, while others want to know the latest news and find using digital content through a smartphone or computer easier. We’re creating a mechanism with which we can deliver content in a suitable format to those customers that need information.” (Ryuji Naramoto, Deputy Manager and Producer, Operation Control Team, Digital Media Division)
The physical newspaper adopts a distributor model, and with the digital edition adopting a subscription model to deliver news articles to readers, Mainichi has been able to expand the ways in which they offer content, including for digital content.
“We’ve been offering paid digital content from 2015, and we’ve always wanted to increase the volume for the subscription model that acts as the foundation for our profit. We’ve been steadily increasing the number of subscribers since launch.” (Hiroyuki Takazoe, chairman, Digital Transformation Committee at The Mainichi Newspapers)
However, there were also some issues. Even if they wanted to know the needs of their readers, they were unable to collect data or integrate those needs with their CMS and analyze them. This made it difficult to augment and offer services in a timely manner. “We need stability and adaptability. However, our previous billing platform had a lot of areas that didn’t match up with our requirements.” (Yuji Mori, Deputy Manager and Chief Engineer, Digital Media Division)
Their previous billing platform did not allow them to easily customize billing plans or to update data, requiring a large investment of time and money to make it work with their operations. Mainichi develops their systems internally, so they have experience and expertise that has been accumulated through trial and error. They used that experience and expertise to thoroughly discuss what requirements needed to be met and what functionality was necessary to expand their subscription business.
They then moved on to looking into a number of services that could realize this. In addition to meeting their necessary requirements, what helped them pick Zuora was system stability, availability and the fact that it has been adopted by over 1,000 companies globally. Zuora’s rich experience in the media industry was also a factor.
“Introducing Zuora has allowed us to analyze and understand customer needs, and to develop services that meet those needs. Through this cycle, we’ve been able to continue improving to realize sustainable increases to profit. Zuora’s support is also fantastic. When we have questions about doing something new, they give us thorough answers in addition to advice that takes our circumstances into account. Moreover, Zuora’s easy integration with external systems allows us to focus on improving services for users.” (Naramoto)
After moving to Zuora, Mainichi was able to offer new subscription services in a short time period. Combining their existing systems and subscription services allowed them to rapidly release services that met user needs.“I believe that timing really is important. Missing the right time can have a serious impact on our ability to acquire customers. Zuora’s ability to offer services in a timely manner is one of its major benefits.” (Takazoe)
Introducing Zuora has allowed Mainichi to prepare an environment that allows for an even more detailed analyses of the massive amount of reader data they possess. They are now looking into utilizing this information to offer personalized articles.“Until now, we’ve only been able to analyze data in basic segments, such as age and gender. However, using Zuora has allowed us to conduct more detailed analyses of data so that we can form an even more complete picture of our readers. We think that these analyses will allow us to offer services personalized with the information that each customer needs.” (Mori)
With subscription services, there is a necessity to flexibly develop the service in line with the needs of the market. This is in addition to expanding profit over the long-term while keeping customers using the service. The adoption of the Zuora platform by Mainichi has allowed them to strengthen their pricing, packaging and billing foundation, all without having to be reliant on skills or experience. They are now armed with a system that will allow them to meet any business needs that they might come across in the future.
With their business accelerated and their services constantly improving, they have started offering services that matter more to their customers.
“Until now, we’ve only been able to analyze data in basic segments, such as age and gender. However, using Zuora has allowed us to conduct more detailed analyses of data so that we can form an even more complete picture of our readers. We think that these analyses will allow us to offer services personalized with the information that each customer needs.” – Yuji Mori, Deputy Manager and Chief Engineer, Digital Media Division
“I believe that timing really is important. Missing the right time can have a serious impact on our ability to acquire customers. Zuora’s ability to offer services in a timely manner is one of its major benefits.” – Hiroyuki Takazoe, chairman, Digital Transformation Committee at The Mainichi Newspapers