Fastest-growing regional press websites reveal how they are delivering 50 per cent-plus growth

While regional newspaper print circulations plunged last year, figures released by ABC reveal booming website traffic.

The regional newspaper websites audited by ABC increased their daily 'unique browsers' by 40 per cent year on year.

According to ABC, the Manchester Evening News is the most read UK regional newspaper online with double the number of daily web ‘unique browsers’ (141,000) than it has print circulation (70,000). Online readership is also growing fast, up 34.2 per cent year on year.

Press Gazette spoke to some of the fastest growing titles to find out more about how they are achieving such rapid growth.

Glasgow – Evening Times

The Glasgow Evening Times (www.eveningtimes.co.uk) is the fastest growing regional website with a 74.6 per cent increase to 24,587 daily browsers versus an average print circulation of 35,773.

Group digital editor Calum Macdonald said: “We redesigned the Evening Times site in June 2013 and that, combined with a new emphasis on breaking news and sport with a clear focus on our local area, lies behind the huge increase in traffic.

“There’s also a wider range of content now, with new online-only columnists like Gail Sheridan and Cat Cubie, and blogs by staff on special interests such as pubs, music and parenthood.

“And, since January, we’ve appointed a dedicated champion of the site, so we’re confident that the growth will continue in 2014."

Birmingham Mail

The Birmingham Mail (www.birminghammail.co.uk) is the second fastest growing regional website with a 65.9 per cent to 68,853 daily browsers versus an average print circulation of 39,602.

Marc Reeves, publishing director Trinity Mirror Midlands, said: "The Mail's growth is very heartening indeed, and comes on the back of the hard work and creativity of some extraordinarily talented people across the business.

"The news team is now completely focused on our digital activity on a minute-by-minute basis from six in the morning to late at night. They spot what our audiences like and respond immediately to ensure what we're providing is the very best content presented in the most engaging ways we can. 

"This was most evident in the Mail team's recent coverage of the furore around the controversial Benefits Street series on Channel 4: we completely owned that story online and in print, notching up more than 1.5million page views in the first week of coverage alone – as well as seeing some very healthy print figures too."

The Chronicle

Newcastle title – The Chronicle (www.chroniclelive.co.uk) is the third fastest growing regional website with a 64.1 per cent rise to 57,011 daily browsers versus an average print circulation of 40,734.

Digital editor for Trinity Mirror North East, Helen Dalby, said: "ChronicleLive had an exciting 2013, launching a new-look website, mobile site, e-edition and mobile app. We've also had a brilliant start to 2014, with some of our biggest ever online stories and most socially shared content."

News Shopper

The News Shopper (www.newsshopper.co.uk) consists of three websites including the Bromley News Shopper, Dartford and Gravesend News Shopper and the Lewisham and Greenwich News Shopper.

Overall the News Shopper is the fourth fastest growing regional website with a 63.3 per cent rise to 19,523 daily browsers.

News Shopper editor Andy Parkes said: “We are ecstatic with the progress that News Shopper is making online. We now know that we need to produce material that our audience wants to read if we ant this growth to continue.

“Mobile phone and tablet usage has grown and we need to keep up with the technology if we want the news site to keep growing. But, we are not only a news website, we produce tones of other non-news based material for our audience and we want to become the number one website in our region.  

"We've had particularly strong growth in our mobile audience, and our team is focusing on delivering the content that our audience wants, when they want it, on the platform they want.”

Liverpool Echo

The Liverpool Echo (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk) was up 58.6 per cent year on year to 124,238 daily browsers versus an average print circulation of 71,541.

Liverpool Echo editor Alastair Machray said: “Our website is successful because we have a digital first strategy and our newspaper and website work hand in hand.

“Social media has been a key element in our growth and we are very conscious about our audience.

“Newspapers are currently finding it challenging, but we provide our audience with different online features that they won’t find in our daily paper and we always aim to provide for everybody with our multimedia approach to the Echo and long may this growth continue to escalate even further in the next year."

The Nottingham Post

The Nottingham Post (www.nottinghampost.com) was up 52.8 per cent to 50,275 daily browsers versus an average print circulation of 25,180.

Editor Mike Sassi said: “The Nottingham Post is one of the very best-known media brands in The Midlands so it’s no surprise that we should have seen such a huge growth in our online audience during 2013.

“In recent months our journalists have worked hard to hone their digital skills and make sure that their stories reach as wide an audience as possible. What’s more, we believe that this just the beginning. We fully anticipate that we will see more online growth in  every month of 2014."

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