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NZ Herald Premium wins back subscribers with strategic e-mail campaign

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, USA


If you know what went wrong in a relationship, sometimes you can fix the problem and give it a second chance. That’s true in romances and also true in subscriptions, as New Zealand’s Herald Premium proved with its win-back campaign.

Before May 2022, Herald Premium relied upon two messages that went out to every subscriber who cancelled. The first e-mail was a generic re-subscribe message that went out one week after cancellation, and a second e-mail, also rather generic, was delivered 14 days after the subscription was terminated.

Offering reasons to stay

Herald Premium began taking the reasons users were unsubscribing, and once it had more insight into why customers were leaving, it created a new win-back series of e-mails that spoke specifically to those reasons and created a better deal that would fit their individual needs.

The new win-back emails spoke to the specific reasons were leaving and offered a better deal.
The new win-back emails spoke to the specific reasons were leaving and offered a better deal.

By reviewing the most common reasons for cancellation, Herald Premium identified six areas where it could provide solutions and options to the reader. The six e-mails it developed addressed:

  • Not having enough time to read.
  • Price/value.
  • Not interested in the content.
  • Technical issues.
  • Moved overseas.
  • Purchased in error or has another subscription.

The Herald Premium also created an updated “generic” e-mail for subscribers who didn’t fall into the above categories. As part of the campaign, the company also offered a win-back deal to annual subscribers who had decided to cancel and whose termination was pending.

Improving customer retention

To launch the campaign, the Herald Premium created a new custom attribute — cancellation reason — informed by data gathered by the customer support team when customers called in to cancel.

Then, it created an automated workflow that used audience paths for each cancellation reason. When a subscriber cancelled their subscription, they would receive an e-mail specific to that reason instead of a generic message.

Seven days after cancellation, customers with a marketing opt-in received an e-mail message, followed by an in-browser message 14 days after cancellation.

The Herald Premium developed automated workflows for every cancellation reason.
The Herald Premium developed automated workflows for every cancellation reason.

The campaign was implemented in two phases:

  1. Between May and August 2022, the Herald Premium used three e-mail variants as a test. This successfully increased the conversion rate, going from a .40% conversion rate with the generic e-mails to a 1.5% conversion rate with the new emails.
  2. In September 2022, the company rolled out the final implementation, with six e-mails and in-browser messages that addressed nine main reasons that users cancelled subscriptions. Two of the e-mails also had an A/B test variant. This increased the conversion rate to 3.08%.

Thanks to this new approach, Herald Premium can understand why customers are cancelling and then provide an option to entice them to stay. And because this win-back outreach occurs before the subscription ends, it is helping reduce churn.

About Paula Felps

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