GWADS Best of Best

2021 Award Submissions
Digital Engagement & Retention

Los Angeles Times

City: Los Angeles, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 430,819
Sunday audited circulation size: 668,466

Objective

Create a dynamic, personal experience to tie our readers to the value of a subscription.

Strategy

Use advanced aggregation of data to create an email that reflected:

  • How many stories the subscriber read
  • Provide ranking of where that subscriber stands in  relationship to the rest of our subscriber base
  • What that person's favorite section is
  • Percentage of people who also had that as their favorite section.
  • Provide a sense of belonging and “being a part of “by showing the subscriber where they fit in the larger picture of our readership base.
  • Give the subscriber the opportunity to measure their relationship with us (how many stories they read) and create a sense of value of what they pay vs. what they consume.

Results

  • Unique Open Rate: +54% above the industry benchmark, and a +23.25% lift from our 2019 recap email.
  • Click to Open Rate: While clicks were not the main KPI of this email, it drew just shy of 4K unique clicks, and over 6K total clicks.
  • Read Time: We pulled click timestamps for a small group of people who opened and clicked the email. The average time was almost 3 minutes (2min 49sec)
  • The cooking module drew the most clicks (27% of all email clicks) with the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe being the most clicked item within the email.

This module was a little more than halfway down the email, demonstrating that subscribers were engaged with the email and continued to scroll through the experience.

Los Angeles Times

City: Simi Valley, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 430,819
Sunday audited circulation size: 668,466

Objective

To create sophisticated personalized Welcome journeys for our subscribers.

Strategy

In 2020, we started advanced segmentation by aggregating various datasets to serve variable data. Data utilized to segment:

  • Subscriber status
  • Newsletter affiliation
  • Email engagement (opens/clicks)
  • Onsite engagement
  • Favorite section
  • Favorite writer/journalist
  • Engagement score

Results

We launched a 90-day Welcome & Engagement Journey that utilized aggregated data points to serve individualized dynamic content. The journey consists of 20 emails sent based on the subscribers individual reading habits:

  • Buddy onboarding- a personalized letter from the individuals favorite author.
  • Dynamic content for newsletter sign up- if you liked that, you’ll like this.
  • Recommended Stories- based on content preferences.

Press Democrat

City: Santa Rosa, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 45,000
Sunday audited circulation size: 45,000

Objective

Shift company focus more towards subscriber retention.

Strategy

Create subscriber exclusive content and features

Results

Launched a new first 100-day subscriber onboarding program to educate subscribers on all the exclusive features that come with their subscription.

Launched PD+, pressdemocrat.com/premium, with contains puzzles, comics, horoscopes, content and recipes that can only be accessed by subscribers. A new blue plus sign is showing on the homepage, to call out the features exclusive to subscribers.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

City: Las Vegas, NV
Daily audited circulation size: 90,865
Sunday audited circulation size: 109,657

Objective

Reduce digital subscriber stops and churn via an A/B test designed to reengage them with their favorite content and come back to the site.

Strategy

Email active digital subscribers who experienced a downgrade (disengaged) in their engagement level or who had not been on the site in more than seven days. Target group received an RSS feed that matched their favorite content section encouraging them to come back to the website

Results

  • Target group had 15 less stops
  • Target group was 16.76% less likely to stop
  • Target group was 8.83% more likely to re-engage

The Seattle Times

City: Seattle, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 212,443
Sunday audited circulation size: 269,495

Objective

Increase digital engagement and retention.

Strategy

In January 2020, we implemented desktop push notifications. We also began to manage all of our non-social push channels (newsletters, email alerts and app notifications) in a much more focused and strategic way, in terms of the content selection, frequency and what channels we use to send to which audiences.

Results

This has led to a 15% increase in digital traffic. In any given month 40%-45% of all subscriber traffic to our site comes through email, newsletters, and desktop alerts. Before we launched desktop notifications and this new strategic approach, newsletters and email alerts only accounted for 27% of all traffic. Adding desktop notifications added another 6%-8% alone. Annual retention rates for new digital subscribers grew from 50% to 63% for a total of 26% improvement year over year. While other factors contributed to this overall increase we are attributing a majority of the increase to these changes as consumption frequency is directly tied to subscriber retention.

The Bay Area News Group

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

Objective

At Bay Area News Group we identified the need to package our coronavirus articles into a newsletter.

Strategy

The Mercury News became the first California newspaper to launch a Coronavirus Update newsletter on March 12, 2020. The daily curated newsletter offers a comprehensive list of our local pandemic coverage. Sign ups to the mail list were promoted within our articles and in our other newsletters.

Results

The sign ups to the mail list grew by nearly 20,000 amounting to over 67,000 recipients and generated over 1.6 million clicks over the course of 12 months, with a CTOR of 23%. In May 2020, MediaNews Group replicated this success in other markets, using it as the model for other Coronavirus Updates newsletters in Boston, Michigan and Southern California.

The Spokesman-Review

City: Spokane, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 42,833
Sunday audited circulation size: 61,750

Objective

The goal of this campaign was to reduce churn and increase engagement through an onboarding email series that extended past a digital subscriber’s first 100 days.

Strategy

The welcome on boarding series was created to span 8 email touchpoints over the first 105 days of a new digital subscriber's tenure. The series consist of emails introducing the user to our customer care team, a letter from our editor, a benefits outline, survey and more. The effectiveness of this campaign was tested using an A/B testing strategy where 20% of our new subscribers received the first two emails – a confirmation of subscription and letter from our editor. The remaining 80% of new digital subscribers received all 8 email touchpoints. We felt that it was important for all subscribers to receive their subscription confirmation and the letter from our editor. The onboarding journey was designed with subscriber renewal dates in mind, sending touchpoints around the 30, 60 and 90 day marks to reinforce the product and connect around the time subscribers were asked to make a payment.

Results

Over the course of the campaign, users who received all 8 emails were 2% less likely to churn in the first 120 days. These users also increased their digital engagement roughly 10% more than their 2-email counterpart. The fourth email, sent 14 days after a new start, had the largest impact on churn with a difference of 4.7% between the two groups. 40% of users who opened the fifth email in the series, sent 30 days after a new start, reengaged with our digital product, compared to 30% of those users who did not receive the email.

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