The two key planks in The Albuquerque Journal’s digital engagement strategy are engagement and mobile.

The team at The Journal is always on the search for new and innovative ways to build deeper relationships with readers. One of the most visible of our engagement offerings is Journal Rewards, a smartphone-based reader rewards programme app.  

The JournalRewards app allows users to find nearby merchants offering discounts for Journal subscribers.
The JournalRewards app allows users to find nearby merchants offering discounts for Journal subscribers.

Think of it as the digital version of loyalty/reader rewards printed cards programmes of years past. We replaced the card, which was once mailed to subscribers, with a smartphone app.

Consumers have to be active subscribers of a Journal product (print or digital) to unlock the app, and keep it unlocked. Once unlocked, they can see exclusive deals with a variety of search and selection tools. 

In addition to presenting deals, the app has a tool that lets consumers track their savings. We then e-mail the consumers a monthly statement of their savings, and use the savings data to communicate back to the businesses the traffic generated by Journal customers as a concrete way to show advertiser value in the Journal products.

Discounts available only to Journal subscribers are always at the consumer’s fingertips. Users simply tap the icon to launch our rewards app on their smartphones, then show the merchant their phone to receive a discount.

Merchants are given point of purchase signage to further support the rewards programme and remind subscribers about its ongoing value.

This programme is a win for merchants, a win for consumers, and a win for the Journal as we now have an engagement-extending tool and, as a hidden value, a way to verify and validate the value of advertising with the Journal. 

By using a mobile app, we've given our loyalty programme a modern spin. Readers simply download the app (available for Apple or Android) then sign in to validate their Journal subscription. They can start saving money right away.

The app has geo-positioning built in so it knows where you are. Users can scroll through nearby merchants to preview their offers.

The app is designed to move the Journal Rewards user as quickly as possible to the deal. The app was built as a partnership between the consumer and business sales teams of the newspaper.

Consumer sales helped with merchant sales and point-of-purchase placement. Merchant sales arranged an exclusive discounts and benefits (typically a percent discount on a purchase) for Rewards app users. Our business sales teams benefit by being able to quantify Journal-driven traffic to each merchant’s store, and obviously the merchants benefit from increased traffic. 

We also can license the rewards programme to other companies as a tool that can be re-branded for any market. Start-up is quick, and the benefits are big. Without much promotional effort, we already have more than 3,000 subscribers signed up and using the app.