USA Today Network serves more than 125 million people in communities across the United States, providing local and national news coverage from USA Today and 109 local publications, including Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, and Indianapolis Star.

The company’s customer experience and insights programme aims to deepen relationships with our audience, improve subscriber engagement and retention, and uncover opportunities to improve customer satisfaction with our content, products, service, and brands.

Central to this strategy is a focus on leveraging audience insights. This helps us identify and prioritise improvements that have the greatest impact on key business outcomes.

Customer insights data includes consumer feedback from our Web site and other digital platforms, customer satisfaction surveys, and service interactions. This feedback helps identify the touch points and moments that have the biggest opportunity to influence satisfaction — from trying to navigate a Web site or mobile app to contacting customer support about a bill or managing account features online.

A "Voice of the Customer" solution is used to interpret audience insights.
A "Voice of the Customer" solution is used to interpret audience insights.

Our audience models built by internal data science teams include customer lifetime value, digital engagement, and likelihood to churn. These models support prioritisation of proposed enhancements and more informed audience impact and analysis — which lead to more efficient investment in the areas that maximise return on investment (ROI).

The customer experience and insights programme has driven many improvements, resulting in lower cost to serve, increased digital engagement, and higher satisfaction and retention among new digital growth audiences.  

When subscribers indicated trouble finding and performing account-related functions online, like activating digital access or signing up for automatic payments, we were able to respond with tools and information to address the issue effectively. We built a new Web site search tool that provides deep links directly to the desired action, produced a series of how-to e-mails for users, and created a downloadable guide with resources and instructions for customers to manage their accounts online. More customers are now using the online portal to manage their accounts, resulting in lower call volume and cost to serve for account management-related transactions.

USA Today Network is using audience insights data across the company to track trends over time and respond to areas of weakness more effectively.
USA Today Network is using audience insights data across the company to track trends over time and respond to areas of weakness more effectively.

Customer insights also have helped us increase digital engagement. When subscribers cited being unable to locate features, such as newsletters, podcasts, and loyalty perks, we rolled out a new communications programme with guided onboarding to many of these valuable benefits.

This has boosted engagement, with newsletter visitors spending 125% more time on site vs. non-newsletter visitors. Additionally, newsletter subscribers typically view twice the number of stories as non-newsletter visitors and have a higher conversion rate when presented with a subscription offer.

Paid ad-free users are coming back 20% more often per month, generating 20% more pageviews per session on smartphones and 50% more on tablets. The average net revenue per user for an ad-free subscriber is three times our standard, ad-supported mobile app user.

The biggest indicator of successful use of customer insights data lies with customer satisfaction and retention. We’ve demonstrated that improving the overall customer experience improves retention. Subscribers that indicate being “satisfied” in ongoing surveys show an improvement in retention over 52 weeks. 

This enterprise approach to improving satisfaction and retention by using data- and customer-driven insights has enabled USA Today Network to evolve from being customer focused to being truly customer led, allowing a two-way dialogue with consumers to accelerate our digital transformation.