GWADS Promotional Awards

2019 Award Winners
Print Subscriber Retention

Honolulu Star-Advertiser
1st Place

Email Marketing Renewal Timeline

City: Honolulu, HI
Daily audited circulation size: 110,000
Sunday audited circulation size: 126,000

Objective

To increase our overall retention rates and decrease churn by launching an email marketing campaign to target Home Delivery subscribers at various points in their renewal timeline and moving them from traditional subscriber billing to our EZPay program.

Strategy

In February, the Star-Advertiser launched an email marketing program  to target our non EZPay subscribers within different stages of their renewal.

Each email marketing message had stronger push to move from traditional print billing to EZPay- which gives the subscriber a much more convenient way to pay. We sent emails to readers at 45 days before grace, 14 days before grace, at 0 days of grace, 35 days into grace, and on the day before their paper was due to stop.

The email messaging and look was kept very simple and explained the EZPay program both in the email and on the landing page that subscribers would enter in their information. EZPay information was then unencrypted and downloaded by a rep each day and updated into our circulation system.

Results

This was the first time in a number of years we were able to launch a consistent email marketing campaign and the results proved that not only were our readers anxious to receive this type of communication from us, but also acted on those messages received.

In the year the campaign ran (Feb. 2018- Dec. 2018) we were able to convert over 1,000 subscribers to EZPay with a CPO of only $5.50 pre conversion. This also yielded a savings on the retention/telemarketing side, where we weren’t paying for EZPay conversions through other retention efforts that saved us over $21,200 in other expenses. An analysis of these conversions also show 97% of these subscribers are still active through these efforts.

Skagit Valley Herald
2nd Place

Opt-In Loyalty Program

City: Mt. Vernon, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 10,009
Sunday audited circulation size: 10,086

Objective

To express our gratitude to Skagit Valley Herald subscribers and non-subscriber single copy readers, by providing an opt-in loyalty program which offers them the opportunity to redeem one coupon/discount per day, 365 days out of the year, to a participating location across the United States and Canada.

By rewarding our subscribers for their patronage, we solidified our retention efforts, and in the case of non-subscribers we created an incentive for them to continue to purchase single copy papers in order to obtain the Daily Deal code of the day.

Strategy

To implement our Skagit Valley Herald Daily Deal program, we had to first obtain the 365 codes and corresponding dates (as each code only works one time, on one day of the year) from the company that built the Reader Rewards/Daily Deal program: Entertainment. We then had to conceptualize a system to build an ad featuring the new code of the day which would run on a daily basis in the Skagit Valley Herald. We sent out email blasts informing subscribers of the program, and attached step-by-step instructions and screenshot breakdowns of how to navigate and use the website. We added a hotline number within the Daily Deal code ad for subscribers/non-subscribers to call if they had any questions. To opt-in to the program, readers had to visit the Reader Rewards/Daily Deal website (where all of the available discounts are located) and enter their name, phone number and email address in order to redeem their Daily Deal code. Subsequently, this allowed us to obtain email addresses that we previously may not have had. Thinking long term, we can use the email addresses provided to solicit for promotional offers.

Channels Used: Email Blasts, Print Ads, Reader Rewards website, Customer Service Representative Calls/Promotion Hotline Number

Results

We launched our Daily Deal program on October 29th, 2018. Our partnership with Entertainment (the company providing the codes and discounted deals) is for 2 years. Since the launch date, over 300 readers have registered at least one code, though many are continuously redeeming codes on a daily basis. We have increased our retention rates, and our CSR's receive emails and phone calls from customers who are thoroughly enjoying the program and the access to exclusive discounts.

We share our Daily Deals program with eight other papers within our West Division, thus provided them with our Daily Deal code ad to adapt for their individual properties, and combined between all of the papers to date, we have over 1,106 Daily Deal users.

Originally, our goal was to improve retention, but we are now pleased to report that we have also been able to reward our loyal readers, and have successfully enhanced our email acquisition efforts. We are locked into a two-year contract with Entertainment, so we will be able to continue to grow this program over the course of the next year. Split between the nine properties which make up our West Division, this program costs only about $45.00 per month, and we offer it at no cost to our readers, both subscribers and non-subscriber/single copy purchasers alike.

The Fresno Bee
3rd Place

EZ Pay Grace Reduction program

City: Fresno, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 54,813
Sunday audited circulation size: 90,632

Objective

Significantly reduce the number of subscribers on automatic renewal that are perpetually in grace due and standardize the way automatic draft payments were collected.

Strategy

Previous to this initiative, there were on average of 1,500 subscribers who made monthly payments via automatic bank draft and credit card that remained in grace because the amount being drafted on the same day each month did not make their account current. Retention worked closely with Finance to move all of the subscribers to the standardized format which is to charge subscribers automatically 7-10 days prior to their monthly expiration date. This change affected all subscribers on autopay; however, there was an extra step needed pertaining to the subscribers that perpetually remained in grace. For these subscribers, we had our Retention vendor call them and attempt to collect the grace balance owed which would make their account current. For those we were unable to collect, a letter was mailed to each subscriber notifying them in writing and per the law, more than 30 days prior to the change that The Fresno Bee would be changing the way it charges subscribers and in these cases, it required subscribers to be subject to the additional charge which was the amount of grace money owed. For all other subscribers on autopay that were not in grace, we sent the letter notifying them of the change in how they would be drafted. For the few subscribers that disputed the amount they owed, we simply made the adjustment to their account and in most cases with no questions asked. This sastisfied those subscribers which were unhappy with the change.

Results

The Fresno Bee was able to collect money owed on a high percentage of these 1,500 or so subscribers in grace and standardized the schedule in which subscribers were charged. The standardization increases efficiency since Finance teams are responsible for this process in multiple markets.

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