Dallas Morning News boosts engagement with Best In DFW campaign

By Saher S. Merchant

A.H. Belo | The Dallas Morning News

Dallas, Texas, USA


The Dallas Morning News wanted to appeal to new, top-of-the-funnel prospects in its metropolitan area. The biggest challenge: How does a company get an audience engaged it can’t reach directly? 

The solution was an engagement contest that could spread throughout the area.

The Dallas Morning News’ Reader’s Choice Best in DFW series highlights local businesses that stand out in their specific market category by using a series of polls to allow the audience to determine the best business in their area. This allows the business and their loyal audience to connect to the larger Dallas-Fort Worth community while engaging in some fun competition.

The Best in DFW Readers' Choice competition engaged readers and encouraged new subscriptions.
The Best in DFW Readers' Choice competition engaged readers and encouraged new subscriptions.

For example: In Best Burger, fans voted for their favourite restaurants in a series of polls in an NCAA tournament-like bracket. The Dallas Morning News contacted the businesses and encouraged them to share the link to vote on social and in their store.

Restaurants are whittled down from as many as 60 to eight to four to two. Voters are entered into a drawing for a prize. The restaurant winner receives a set of awards to display in their restaurant and online platforms from The Dallas Morning News.

More than a popularity contest

The main objectives for this campaign were to: 

  • Be the platform that creates communication between local business owners and the community. 
  • Introduce ourselves to an audience not engaged with our brand, message, or content. 
  • Connect the target audience to our brand, message, and content through newsletter engagement and thus …
  • Build a habit in their daily lifestyle leading to engagement and eventual subscription.

The secret sauce: To vote, users had to sign up for one of our newsletters, giving The Dallas Morning News a direct lead to engage them with future promotions and our award-winning journalism.

The interactive ballots were designed to keep voters engaged and entertained.
The interactive ballots were designed to keep voters engaged and entertained.

Encouraging engagement

In 2019, The Dallas Morning News conducted eight successful Best in DFW campaigns, resulting in more than 250,000 views, 89,000 votes, and adding around 60,000 unique individuals into the top of our funnel. Ensuring quality engagement and readership over quantity, we removed any individuals from receiving specific newsletters if they had not interacted within 90 days.

The final result: 51% of individuals are still engaged with at least one of the newsletters and have built a habit of readership through engaging with this campaign series.

The leads eventually led to over 1,000 subscriptions sold at a high return for the cost, though those subscriptions often took three to six months to complete through the user funnel journey.

These leads were not originally in The Dallas Morning News’ marketing ecosystem. Because the businesses were local, they were all quality leads and gave The Morning News greater reach in the marketplace.

The campaign also increased social media awareness of our brand and local businesses in the DFW area.

Banner image courtesy of Isaac Taylor from Pexels

About Saher S. Merchant

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