The Economist is a trusted source for news analysis, which helps over a million people make sense of the world through news media. The team turned to Meltwater to help them achieve their primary goal: Strategically growing their readership through new subscriptions.

The Challenge

Managing Data & Drawing Insight

The goal of the The Economist is simple: connect the right people, with the right content, at the right time - all over the world. But this would prove challenging in a vast digital landscape, and given the rapid nature of social and news media. After all, more than half of their audience connects with their content in digital format, and the online world can be complex to navigate.

The team at The Economist needed to gain audience insights, start and drive relevant conversations and meet the rampant demands of a 24-hour rolling media, without compromising on quality.

Also, a publication like the Economist is revered for credibility, thoughtful insight and relevance, which means that gaining understanding and offering value is just as important as meeting a deadline. While the team generated new and interesting data every day, they lacked the extra layer of insight that would quickly and accurately connect the separate data dots into a more meaningful story, and help their readership grow.

“One of the biggest challenges we had was putting that all together into a comprehensive, insightful presentation that would allow us to really have a clear picture of where we are across the board, also a deeper dive into the insights from there. Previously we had numbers, but we didn’t know what was behind the numbers.”

Lauren Hackett
Lauren Hackett Senior Vice President, Global Communications of The Economist

The Solution

The Meltwater team began to work closely with The Economist to support them in:

- Pulling data reports from specific communities - aligning the right content with the right audiences.

- Following key metrics that demonstrate the full brand impact, as opposed to high-level information.

- Gaining access to real-time updates and alerts to help them stay abreast of trending topics and specific phrases, in real-time.

- Identifying other publications and like-minded organisations for content syndication, where potential readers might be.

- Adapting their business model to a changing environment, using data.

Turning Data into Audience Insights

The abundance of data was mined down to specific audiences, helping The Economist identify their readers and giving them an intricate understanding of how those readers behaved and responded.

“We have worked closely with the team to create really targeted outreach lists and targeted databases so that we understand not only the overall brand impact that we are having but if we are having that impact amongst our target customers. So really trying to drive detail and [understand] where we will have the most impact because that’s where we will move the needle for the business”. Lauren Hackett, SVP, Global Communications.

Aligning Readers with Engaging Content

A key goal for The Economist is to align the right customer with the right content on a global scale. Therefore, a crucial task for the communications team is to listen to its communities and understand where their interests lie.

According to the communications team, Meltwater “were really fantastic about working collaboratively to develop a format and a structure that would give [them] a monthly snapshot of how our brand was doing as a global brand, but also in various territories around the world.”

This provides the Economist with actionable data points on trending discussion points, influential figures and daily coverage updates - meaning key decisions in content planning and distribution are guided by this actionable data. These tangible data points are also extremely valuable to the marketing and editing teams who can use them to guide messaging and positioning. For the journalists, being able to deconstruct key themes and topics within the relevant communities allows them to stay relevant and meet consumer needs.

Using the Social Echo Tool

Social Echo is a Meltwater product and a recent addition to The Economist's social listening capabilities. For the communications team, this was a "game-changer" in how they analyse and measure their true reach for content and the brand impact of their work. By looking further than the original story and expanding this scope to social media, they are now able to share with colleagues exactly how they are contributing to awareness at the top of the sales funnel, substantiating their level of direct impact.

“To add in those social echo capabilities really starts to showcase the full complement of how readers engage with our content. As much as we want them to come to the site, and as hard as we work to get them to do this directly, we also know that the reason we have a comms function is to ensure that we are hitting all the angles of the consumer experience ahead of them becoming actual subscribers. This is really critical”. Lauren Hackett, SVP, Global Communications.

Staying Abreast of Change

Making incremental changes and revising and refining planning was now possible through data. The Economist could build on what was working and adapt what wasn't and stay abreast of changes in the industry, drive subscribers and adapt with the times to keep their business performance high.

"The publishing industry is in a continual state of change, the landscapes and business models have changed completely. 15 years ago advertising revenue in print was the primary driver and that's flipped on its head. Clients now do their own marketing and now the bulk of our revenue comes from subscriptions".

“The reporting that we’ve [developed] over time, really helps us to figure out where our opportunity is as marketers, broadly defined. By looking at the themes that are being discussed externally, by looking at the themes that are being discussed in relation to the Economist and our family of brands, we can start to have better planning and make more informed decisions. [Meaning] we have the opportunity to not only be reactive to what’s happening externally - but also driving those conversations wherever we can.”

The Tools

Meltwater provides The Economist with:


Real-Time Updates


Location-Based Analytics


Accurate Brand Impact Metrics

The Economist Can Now:

  • 1

    Cater to over 1.4 million subscribers

    The Economist can now specifically cater to its readership, which is one of the largest in the world, offering independent journalism to curious minds.

  • 2

    Gain powerful marketing, media and audience insights

    The global communications team needs to be able to monitor the core markets (the UK & the US) seamlessly. Therefore, access to location-based analytics means they can isolate data points and understand both markets as separate entities. Efficient reporting also means easy access to powerful insights.

  • 3

    Understand the true brand impact of their work

    Using tools such as the Meltwater Explore and Social Echo, The Economist can clearly identify where and with who their brand is making an impact - guiding next steps in the communications strategy, measuring subscriptions and proving ROI.

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