Loyalty programmes can be a tricky thing to execute and sustain.
When the SPH Media team was brainstorming to see how we could revamp our loyalty programme, we identified three challenges:
- A rewards point-based system was not feasible because of accounting challenges (points are reflected as a liability in the company accounts).
- It required constant sourcing of sponsorships for discounts and lucky draw prizes, which adds to the cost. It is also not effective to use our news products as rewards/prizes to encourage repeat/increased spending with us due to the nature of the subscription business and our titles being of different languages.
- Our data showed it was the same percentage of subscribers engaged with redemptions of deals, which means we were not growing the proportion of engaged subscribers.
Based on these challenges, we set the following objectives for the project:
- It had to be self-funding, with minimal internal budget required to sustain it.
- It had to increase subscriber engagement.
- If it could generate revenue, that would be a bonus.
What we did
COVID-19 changed everyone’s buying behaviour and gave us the idea to ride on the e-commerce trend to launch SHOP by SPH Media. This new model would not only engage our subscribers in the new climate but also earn us additional revenue to continue running a loyalty programme at a fraction of the cost.
SPH Media subscribers could enjoy specially curated seasonal deals at exclusive prices while SPH Media earns commission from the sales.
We surveyed a group of our subscribers and merchants to better understand their wants in a loyalty programme, which helped in our deals sourcing. Deals popular with subscribers include wines, household appliances, electronics, and entertainment experiences, which can all be purchased on the Web site and delivered free.
Seasonal deals are sourced based on the latest trends in the market, the situational needs of our subscribers, and also to help Singaporean local brands publicise their products.
In-house marketing of our deals was done via print advertisements and editorial features in our various newspaper publications, e-mail marketing to our subscribers, digital banners on key newspaper Web sites, and organic social media.
As customer needs and the environment change over time, it was crucial that we enhance and tweak our programme along the way to suit their ever-changing needs.
During the development phase, we made it a point to release updates in phases and gather feedback along the way to find out what our customers wanted instead of creating new features based on assumptions.
We started the pilot phase in September 2020, but only officially launched SHOP by SPH Media in Oct 2021. Through this project, we managed to revamp the loyalty programme from a rewards programme into a loyalty commerce initiative that has met all the objectives we set out — and then some.
- It was self-funding. We no longer had to source for sponsored prizes or spend our internal budget to buy them to keep the rewards programme going. Our subscribers pay for the deals they redeem and are happy to do so.
- It increased engagement with our subscribers. Previously, the open rate for the EDMs sent to subscribers for our loyalty programme was between 25%-29% in 2020. In 2021, it increased by around 40% with an open rate of 37%-40%.
- We created a new revenue stream where we earned a sales commission for every purchase made on SHOP. In 2021, we had a turnover of gross merchandise value of SGD$1 million.
Making everyone happy
In all, it was a win-win-win solution where all stakeholders benefited:
• Subscribers have access to exclusive deals they are interested in that are not found anywhere else.
• Merchant partners can sell their wares on a platform with highly engaged users. Being partners with a trusted brand like SPH Media also allowed their products to be viewed more favourably by our subscribers.
• SPH Media is able to increase the level of engagement with its subscribers, as well as create a new revenue stream by earning commissions from the sale of deals.