For 70 years, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) has been an essential read for Australian investors.
Our daily markets coverage and expert commentary keeps readers up-to-date on local and global news. And our market-leading personal finance section covers property investing, self-managed superannuation funds, tax information for high-income earners, aged care, and family finance.
The latter is gold for the Financial Review’s core readership, who are likely to be managing an established portfolio or planning for an imminent retirement. But it can, at times, be irrelevant or exclusive to readers who are still at the start of their wealth creation journey. Simply put: They don’t have that kind of money.
This was underscored by internal research completed in 2019, which found a large cohort of Australians younger than 40 years old were eager to learn more about wealth creation, but felt they were not well-served by existing media or the financial services industry. Then, in 2020, almost half of Australian Millennial and Gen Z investors bought shares for the first time.
We had a clear opportunity to expand our wealth coverage to serve a new, younger generation of aspirational investors and savers hungry for information.
New editorial product
In September 2020, the Financial Review launched Wealth Generation, a weekly newsletter specifically for people at the start of their investing journey. Given our goal of reaching a new, younger audience, we put the newsletter in front of the paywall — the first time we had done so.
The newsletter has a tone distinct from any other in the AFR suite, expertly conceived by wealth editor Aleks Vickovich, who has helmed the newsletter since launch. It’s intelligent, casual, and relatable. Notably, it is written for a younger audience rather than about them.
Articles written under the Wealth Generation banner follow suit, covering topics like crypto and micro-investing to the regulation of Instagram “finfluencers” and how to invest in a sustainable wardrobe.
The newsletter also allows us to surface stories from other areas of the AFR that are relevant and interesting to a younger audience. In this way, it is a key vehicle for content discovery. We are able to showcase our impressive breadth to an audience that may have difficulty finding similar articles on the Financial Review home page.
Since launch, readership has grown steadily, and it is our most read weekly newsletter after the Word from the Editor-in-Chief e-mail.
The open rate is 3% higher than the average across all Financial Review newsletters. Feedback from a recent survey shows readers are satisfied with the content and length of the newsletter, with four in five respondents saying they read the newsletter every week.
More than three-quarters of those signed up to Wealth Generation are not part of the Financial Review subscriber base, which indicates we are reaching the new audience we were looking for. For one in five, it is the only way they engage with the masthead.
Newsletter helped by social media
The newsletter launch was supplemented with a strong presence on the Financial Review’s social channels.
We knew that 70% of our Facebook and Instagram audiences were younger than 45, and that was where we needed to meet them.
Our unique standing as the most trusted national newspaper in Australia (according to Reuters Digital News Report 2022) meant we could leverage the brand as a key authority on wealth in a space crowded with independent podcasters and FinTok influencers.
Vickovich said, “While there is an abundance of investing content available online, Wealth Generation’s point of difference is that it engages in impartial journalism and is unafraid to hold the investment industry to account on behalf of readers.”
Our graphics team worked with Vickovich to produce a weekly social illustration highlighting a newsworthy statistic that was used across platforms to push to the newsletter sign-up page. With our product team, we also developed a series of Instagram templates to tell Wealth Generation’s stories on the platform. This was as much about changing the perception that we don’t cater to younger readers as it was about content discovery and driving them to the site.
Wealth Generation stories now receive 30% of referrals through social media, which is considerably higher than the site average. For us, this confirms our assumption that this content is more likely to engage a younger audience through social media, and it shows its success at driving them on-site.
A recent survey of Wealth Generation readers also showed social is a key acquisition channel for newsletter sign-ups.
Treating audiences with nuance
Our site-wide internal benchmarks are based on subscriber pageviews, but it became clear that a successful Wealth Generation story will also reach a wide non-subscriber audience. This has started a conversation around what other specific benchmarks we can set to signal and meet our goals for growth audiences.
It also has other advantages. Trader’s Tale, a regular column in the newsletter, has allowed the editorial team to connect regularly with young investors and finance influencers.
This has broadened the Financial Review’s mainstream coverage. In January 2021, a story profiling a 16-year-old Reddit trader over the GameStop saga, which started as a Wealth Generation yarn, ended up on page one of the Saturday print edition.
Wealth Generation-led stories have not appeared to alienate our loyal, existing subscriber base (and, indeed, the Trader’s Tales are as well read on the home page as they are in the newsletter and on social). Stories perform well against our internal topic benchmarks and contribute to our retention strategy; we know subscribers who read stories directly associated with personal wealth are less likely to churn.
Investing in young readers is worth it
The success of Wealth Generation has given the newsroom confidence that investing coverage for younger audiences pays off.
We now have an additional wealth reporter to extend Wealth Generation’s remit and output. We’ve extended our coverage to include investing explainers (like I’ve got the money, but how do I actually start investing it?), and launched How I Made It, a podcast and editorial series on how individuals have amassed personal wealth and success.
The next step is for us to turn our Wealth Generation readers into long-term paying subscribers. We have just completed a survey of current newsletter readers so we can understand their reading habits and evolve with their changing needs and interests.
As the Australian central bank lifts interest rates and inflation drives the cost of living up, Wealth Generation allows us to prove the Financial Review is an essential read for Australian investors — of all ages.