How handbookgermany.de accompanies refugees with a tailor-made offer on their way into everyday German life.
Employees: 12 employees and
Rapid growth of reach and personalisation thanks to segmentation
Personalisation of content through powerful analysis and segmentation tools
Addressing a multilingual target group according to their needs
Taking the user’s perspective
Ability to know exactly which topics interest users with the help of Adobe Analytics
Personalised and segmented content thanks to Adobe Experience Manager
Enables creation of short explanatory videos with Adobe Premiere Pro
Waste separation, certified copy, Schufa information ‒ or the constantly new scientific findings and regulations relating to COVID-19. Even native speakers can lose track of what’s going on. How will new immigrants fare then? Answers to the big and small questions of everyday life, but also important facts and information about the rampant COVID-19 pandemic, are provided by handbookgermany.de, an information portal that explains the many implicit and explicit rules of the Federal Republic to immigrants from third countries, i.e., refugees and people who, as specialists, come to Germany to study or as part of family reunification.
Behind handbookgermany.de are the New German Media Makers, a nationwide independent association of journalists who campaign for more diversity in the media. Supported by the digitisation partner T-Systems MMS and supported by the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, the international editorial team has been accompanying people on their way into everyday German life since 2017. What makes it special: Instead of cumbersome official German, users will find understandable information not only in German and English, but also in Arabic and Farsi, French, Turkish and Pashto, the mother tongues of many newcomers.
In its search for future-orientated content solutions, it found a strong partner in Adobe who supported the project with tools and web services from the digital government portfolio. “We at Adobe are very pleased to be able to contribute to the fact that people are supported by technology when they make a new start in Germany and thus receive individual assistance that facilitates integration,” explains Christoph Kull, VP & MD, Adobe Central Europe.
In order to understand their target group and to be able to adapt the offered content exactly to each group’s needs, the team at handbookgermany.de relies on a healthy mix of Adobe Analytics and experience. Many employees have a migration history themselves and are familiar with the many challenges that new immigrants face. For example, headlines now no longer say “Asylum hearing procedure” but instead a main question such as “What happens if I'm invited to an asylum interview?” “I really appreciate Adobe Analytics very much,” says Mosjkan Ehrari, the editorial director of handbookgermany.de. “With the tool, I can get the exact information that will take our offer forward.”
This also enables the team to respond to the information needs of their recipients as required and to expand or adapt the offer thematically. “It is exciting for us to see how the search queries have changed,” says the editorial director. “In the beginning, people wanted to know which steps are necessary immediately after arrival and which contacts they can turn to. A few months later, many were looking for language courses. Now, work-related topics, such as finding a training position, are very popular. With Adobe Analytics, we can understand very precisely that integration is successful.”
At the same time, comments and direct messages show how important well-founded information is for refugees and new immigrants. For example, one user approached the handbookgermany.de team with a question about training and then wrote: “Many thanks! Some people post false information on YouTube. I am glad that I found you and your offer.”
Managing editor handbookgermany.de
The current COVID-19 pandemic shows that search queries can sometimes change within a very short time. The crisis has given handbookgermany.de a completely new task: To report on the virus and its effects. “When the announcement came on 16 March, 2020 that schools and shops would be closed and we were going into lockdown, we completely reorganised our offering,” says Mosjkan Ehrari. “It was clear to us: We have to inform people. How are they supposed to comply with requirements if they don't know or understand them?”
While the primary aim is to provide people with up to date information, handbookgermany.de also conveys the democratic system of the Federal Republic of Germany: Why is the government allowed to issue these regulations? What is the federal government allowed to do, where does competence of the federal states lie? “Even native Germans often fail to understand this, the susceptibility to fake news is also high in the community of refugees. Here, we clearly see it as our duty to inform people whose native language is not German. The comments that users of the offer write on the Facebook page of handbookgermany.de, for example, show that the service is well received: “Thanks for the real-time information. May God spare us, who are not ill, from COVID-19 and protect us. May God heal all the ill! Observe the lockdown rules. Put on your masks, disinfect your hands. Corona is real.”
In addition to the content, the offer of multiple languages benefits from the use of the analysis tool. With the help of Adobe Analytics, Mosjkan Ehrari and her team also know from where in Germany their readers are accessing the information portal ‒ if they allow the browser to access their location data. The portal is so popular with users that they tell relatives and friends in their countries of origin about the website ‒ over 30 per cent of site visits come from abroad. “With Adobe Analytics we can see that a particularly large number of people in different countries in Eastern Europe are accessing handbookgermany.de,” says Mosjkan Ehrari. “Since March 2021, our offer is therefore also available in Russian.”
However, it is also clear: Operating a website and social media presence in seven and now eight languages is a challenge. With Adobe Experience Manager, the handbookgermany.de team not only decided on a tool that enables target group-specific publishing via various formats on the website and in social networks, but that also works seamlessly with Adobe Analytics. In this way, the insights gained can be implemented directly in usage behaviour. “Adobe Experience Manager has convinced us it’s the right content platform for us because of its great flexibility. In fact, the users are partly in completely different situations. With Experience Manager we can segment and personalise contents brilliantly so that they can find exactly the information that they need,” explains Ronald Schulz from T-Systems MMS.
Head of Data & Content Driven Services Digital Marketing, T-Systems MMS
Even more than via texts, many refugees and new immigrants inform themselves via videos in social networks. Originally a filmmaker, Mosjkan Ehrari has learnt a lot since taking over the project in 2018. “Our users access our offer almost exclusively via their smartphones, that naturally also applies to videos”, she explains. We are now getting better at understanding how moving image content works on smartphones. Because the screen and, accordingly, the image area are much smaller than on a desktop computer, we have to significantly reduce the information content per image. In addition, we only answer one question per video, that is, we prefer to play several short videos instead of one long video. “The Auto Reframe function of Adobe Premiere Pro is a real help here. The intelligent detection of the focus point makes it possible to automatically adapt the frames of the clips to different aspect ratios. Because not only is there a clear difference between A smartphone screen and A desktop screen, social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube or Facebook also specify different image ratios. And because the filmmakers cannot always record every single film sequence themselves, the team additionally relies on the diverse range of video clips, information graphics and photos that Adobe Stock offers to illustrate videos and text contributions.
Mosjkan Ehrari is convinced: The experiences of the last four years have prepared handbookgermany.de optimally for the next challenge: “Right now it is also important to attract specialists from abroad. We have to think about how we can work together with the authorities or organisations and create synergies so that in the end the same work is not carried out more than once.”