Newsday looks at 5 key retention drivers, metrics

By Paula Felps

ive Happy

ashville, Tennessee, United States


Newsday is among the many newspapers that enjoyed massive growth in digital subscriptions during 2020 and into 2021. Patrick Tornabene, Newsday’s chief consumer revenue and strategy officers, explained how the company is strategically looking at growth in a post-pandemic world.  

In looking at its subscriber base, Newsday found 17% were heavy readers, 69% were light readers, and 14% were sleepers. Heavy readers, it found, preferred content like breaking news, crime, top stories, and politics, while light readers tended to read topics like people, community news, obituaries, and real estate. That understanding identified an opportunity to incorporate more of the softer news as part of an engagement strategy.  

Newsday developed its retention strategy based on what its churn modeling has shown. “We do an extensive amount of predictive analytics that informs our retention strategy,” he said. And in his presentation, he linked each of the five retention drivers to human life expectancy to illustrate which points are most critical.

Newsday found five key retention drivers and related them to the human life cycle.
Newsday found five key retention drivers and related them to the human life cycle.

Driver 1: Audience/content. This looks at elements such as income and education levels. “What they convert on is one of the first predictors in a life cycle,” he said. 

Driver 2: Onboarding. “You’re signing up for newsletters, you’re downloading the app, you’re understanding the greater product portfolio.” 

Driver 3: Engagement. The onboarding process and signing up for newsletters or emails leads to engagement, where the measurement focuses on recency and frequency.

Driver 4: Payments. Payment processing can play a critical role in retention, he said. 

Driver 5: Stop saves. Both online and call centers can help improve retention. “We’ve been required to implement online cancellation and save processes, and that's been very successful for us.”

From a retention standpoint, there has been a lot of focus on engagement as a driver — but Newsday has found it isn’t the greatest driver of retention, Tornabene said: “It is a variable, but not the largest one.”

Payment processes are important, but also not the main driver of retention: “What we find is the audience and the content is what they convert on,” he said. In comparing it to human life expectancy, audience and content equates to genetics. And that, he said, “is by far the largest predictor of that consumers likelihood to stay.” 

He compared it to having a conversation with a doctor: “They would generally say, yes, what is, what is heart disease in your family? What is cancer? What is high blood pressure? These are all big predictors of life expectancy.”

In the digital world, the predictors may be different, but are equally important to watch, as they can inform which steps should be taken next. Once those predictors are established, in a medical world, it would be followed by lifestyle education — which Tornabene equates to onboarding — followed a diet and exercise plan, which he said is engagement. 

“Payments is most synonymous with medical exams, and then stop saves [equate] with the medical emergency,” he said. “What we see is, as far as retention strategy, is the audience that you pursue and the content that they are converting on — that genetics — is the biggest factor.”

About Paula Felps

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.