GWADS Betst of Best

2020 Award Submissions
Print Subscriber Retention

1st Place Winner

The Bay Area News Group

City: San Jose, CA

Daily audited circulation size: 279,875

Sunday audited circulation size: 441,270

Objective

To provide an enhanced customer experience that would maintain and grow our high paying ($14+ per week) subscriber base as we raised overall rates 35% over prior year.

Strategy

At our annual leadership meeting our publisher identified this as a key initiative and it was after that meeting that we designated our VIP customers as "Headliners".

A weekly task force meeting commenced comprised of leaders in News, Audience, Circulation, Marketing and Production and joined forces to review key data and establish action steps and monitor results.

We worked with our call center and IVR vendor to place subscribers at the front of the QUE and developed publisher letters and postcards targeting this group. We developed special events involving key newsroom and marketing staff that included our Headliners.

Results

At the beginning of FY19, our $14+ per week 5,360 subscribers comprised 2.6% of our total base.

They had an annualized churn of 21.5% and a monthly CPT of 4.5.

By December 2019, the number of headliners had grown to 29,634 (by virtue of pricing) or 16% of our base with an annualized churn rate of 18.3% and a CPT of 4.1.

2nd Place Winner

The Olympian

City: Olympia, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 12,217
Sunday audited circulation size: 14,780

Objective

Increase the number of billed subscribers that choose to receive their renewal notice electronically rather than receive a renewal notice in the mail.

Strategy

The Olympian had several programs to promote subscriber opt ins:

  • Call center promotion – agents at the call center asked subscribers to opt in
  • Monthly contest – Opt in for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card
  • Retention vendor promotions – Retention agents were paid an incentive per subscriber that agreed to opt in as well as an overall bonus to the vendor if 25% of the PIA subscribers collected opted in to eBilling (in order to qualify for the bonus, the vendor must have met the EZPay KPI so as not to affect EZpay conversions).

Results

The Olympian grew the number of subscribers on eBilling 194% from Jan 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019).

3rd Place Winner

The Bellingham Herald

City: Bellingham, WA

Daily audited circulation size: 9,239

Sunday audited circulation size: 12,755

Objective

As we entered 2019, McClatchy began looking at options to continue to innovate while facing the challenges that many legacy publishers face. Loss of ad revenue, changing consumer habits, and distribution network pressures were some of the key areas affecting the traditional business.

A cross functional team from across the company came together to brainstorm how to work together to mitigate these. Out of that came the idea for a day of the week elimination. The team looked at different models that had been done across the nation and settled on Saturday as the day to work with.

Strategy

Our strategy from the onset was to be able to eliminate the Saturday print newspaper with as little volume and revenue loss as possible while enhancing the reach of our digital products. However, our other goal was to focus on the fact that we were only eliminiating the print Saturday paper and would still be publishing this in a digital format each week.

A comprehensive communication plan was formed for the launch. Starting 30 days out, we notified subscribers with either an email or mailed letter. We also published this on page 1A of the paper the day of the announcement. A digital activation flyer was also created to email to subscribers that needed help with their digital activation. On the Sunday prior to launch, the editor wrote a piece as well about the launch. The final notice to the customer was the day before the change on Friday, July 5.

In 2019, stop save ratios are now consistently averaging between 50% and 57% each week. This large improvement of having an average of 55 stop saves per week to over 120 stop saves per week increases our revenue and currently helps us better maintain audience volumes.

Results

As a result of this change, we were able to realize significant savings with little revenue impact. We saw less than .1% of our customers cancel due to the move to a digital Saturday product. Within 90 days of the announcemnt, we saw our digital activation rate climb by 26%. eEdition traffic also grew by 13% initially and has now seen over 40% after the first year of this change.

The other learning from this is that we were able to learn what worked best and what may need to be added for more engagement. Future launches included more engagement campaigns encompassing both print and email assets.

Bay Area News Group

City: San Jose, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 279,875
Sunday audited circulation size: 441,270

Objective

To apply a company wide effort to the retention of our $14+ per week paid subscribers as they cycle through our on average 35% pricing actions. Our overarching goal: To retain them at an improved rate and significantly increase the number of subscribers that we move into this price range to improve profit.

Strategy

Our Publisher made this one of our top 5 priorities for the company as we kicked off our annual Leader meeting ahead of our Fiscal Year. As a result of that meeting we named the $14+ per week “Headliners”.
We decided to identify these subscribers as they became Headliners and communicate marketing messages, editorial events, put them at the front of the Que at our call center and treat them with true VIP status when they contacted us for re delivery or other needs.

Results

In July we had 5,360 $14+ per week subscribers (2.6% of our base). Their annualized churn was 21.5% and had a 4.5 CPM. By December of 2019 the Headliners group had grown (through pricing) to 29,634 or 15.6% of our base. Annualized churn was 15.6% and CPT was 4.1.

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