As a next-generation media company, Gannett has quickly evolved from a traditional newspaper subscription business to a news membership-based model that interacts with customers in a more seamless way.

Its new Insider programme allows customers to have an ongoing and vital relationship with the USA TODAY NETWORK, including the USA TODAY flagship and 109 local brands, ranging from the Fort Collins Coloradoan to the Arizona Republic.

Insider is a free loyalty programme available exclusively for USA TODAY NETWORK subscribers in 100+ local community markets nationwide.

Launched in January 2015, the Insider programme gives subscribers added value and embedded benefits through access to local and national deals, discounts, events, experiences, and exclusive content. 

Insiders members receive offers for deals and experiences, in addition to their newspaper subscription.
Insiders members receive offers for deals and experiences, in addition to their newspaper subscription.

When I joined the company in mid-2014, we had never had a consumer loyalty programme. So we were starting from scratch. Given we have more than 100 local market brands, we needed to create engagement at the local level. At the same time, we needed a programme flexible enough to scale across the enterprise. 

From the beginning, the marketing team worked hand-in-hand with developers — knowledgeable of design and user experience — to create a platform that all markets could easily use and customise.

We used our homegrown content management system to highlight their unique market’s offers. A key part of the programme is that offers, events, and deals are visible to all, but only logged-in subscribers can take advantage of these perks. 

The Insiders team created a platform that worked across all 100+ markets, which local newspapers could use to customise their unique offers.
The Insiders team created a platform that worked across all 100+ markets, which local newspapers could use to customise their unique offers.

We chose a small group of markets as pilot sites, starting with five markets of varying circulation sizes in different regions around the United States. Each site designated someone in marketing, ad sales, and news to launch and maintain the programme.

We held weekly status calls to review progress, both on the platform development side as well as the sourcing and planning of appealing local deals, community events, and extra content. 

The first set of markets launched in less than four months. We followed up with another five markets in March 2015, with several more “launch waves” along the way. By June of 2016, the full Insider programme was live in 32 markets. 

Over the course of 15 months, we created a dedicated regional lead who coordinates the programme within a geographic area. We also have begun adding national deals, digital events, and content from around our network to be shared by all markets. 

The Insider programme is live in local markets with a regional lead who coordinates the programme in each area.
The Insider programme is live in local markets with a regional lead who coordinates the programme in each area.

The goal is to deliver a more connected, experiential, and deepened relationship with our members and communities. Designed to attract new and digitally savvy audiences, the Insider programme aims to encourage repeat visits, log-ins, and engagement, coupled with increased customer acquisition and retention.

The programme features a responsive design site that can also be accessed through each publication’s native app. To take advantage of the Insider programme, subscribers simply create an online account and log in to access benefits, such as  deals and discounts at local and national restaurants and retailers; unique events such as exclusive chef’s table dinners and tastings; VIP tickets to concerts and sporting events; and behind-the-scenes content on all things news and entertainment.

Members of the programme can take part in exclusive community events.
Members of the programme can take part in exclusive community events.

Since its launch, the Insider programme has been instrumental in driving deepened engagement and retention among Insider members with the following results:

  • 67% of members log in more than once a month.
     
  • Net Promoter Score has increased by 60% among Insider members versus those who haven’t engaged with the programme.

  • Higher overall satisfaction with our brands.

  • Average increase of 59% in time spent on the site, among those staying 5-30 minutes. 

  • Strong double-digit retention rate increase among members who have engaged with the Insider programme.

  • Dramatic increase in percentage of members logging in.

We will continue to enhance our flagship membership programme and offerings in 2016 and beyond to include additional markets, enhanced functionality and personalisation, and new membership options. 

As consumers and the digital landscape continue to evolve, the USA TODAY NETWORK is leading the charge through innovative membership programmes, offerings, and experiences.