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Gannett adds value with digital magazines for subscribers

By Priscilla Binkley

Gannett

McLean, Virginia, United States

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Subscriber engagement powers retention, which is the key to sustainable growth. We know engaged subscribers who visit us frequently and use multiple subscriber-exclusive benefits are more satisfied, see the most value in their subscription, and are most likely to retain.

As we are rapidly growing our digital subscriber base, it is becoming increasingly crucial to drive meaningful engagement by highlighting our best journalism and encouraging usage of specific benefits, such as the e-Edition.

Gannett began offering special e-Editions to see if they would help drive engagement while adding value to subscribers.
Gannett began offering special e-Editions to see if they would help drive engagement while adding value to subscribers.

The value

Through recent surveys, we discovered e-Editions have value to users beyond the typical print subscriber. The e-Edition is “everything you love about the print newspaper and more.” Subscribers can enjoy the printed newspaper at any time with the e-Edition, a digital replica of our daily newspaper — ads and all. Plus, it has extra features that can make a subscriber’s reading experience easier, such as audio storytelling.

The hypothesis

We believed consistent messaging would increase e-Edition usage and engagement among both print and digital subscribers, ultimately leading to retention.

The plan

Beginning in January 2021, the Gannett retention team partnered with Studio Gannett, a special publications team led by Jeanette Barrett-Stokes, to offer e-Editions of one or two magazines each month as bonus content to every local and national subscriber within the USA Today Network.

The magazines vary in titles, such as A Year in Defense, MLB Preview, GO Escape, National Parks, America Renewed, Hispanic Living, and more. In total, we created 17 magazines throughout 2021 — all valued on newsstands at US$5 each, giving readers an approximate value add of US$85.

Our goal was to communicate this added value to subscribers and increase e-Edition usage through monthly e-mail communications as well as an onsite promotion.

The e-Editions have been so popular Gannett has increased the number of titles it is offering.
The e-Editions have been so popular Gannett has increased the number of titles it is offering.

The results

The e-mails deployed to active subscribers were some of the top-performing engagement e-mails from 2021 in terms of average open and click-through rates and contributed to an increase in monthly active users (MAU) for both digital and print subscribers. The emails contributed to 6% of overall e-Edition users and e-Edition pageviews.

We also found e-Edition users spent a significant amount of time in the e-Edition — comparable to the time a reader typically would spend with a print edition. They also returned for multiple visits.

Additionally, these e-mails deploy on Saturdays, contributing to a noticeable lift in e-Edition usage over the weekend, traditionally lower engagement days for e-Edition readership. 

This project has been such a success that in 2022 we offered approximately 40 magazines, a US$200 value-add to the e-Edition.

About Priscilla Binkley

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