Globe and Mail’s onboarding steps capitalise on habits, engage readers

By Katrina Bolak

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


We recently shared the first three phases of our cultivated onboarding experience for subscribers, a strategy resulting from many years of creating and iterating the subscriber onboarding experience.

From our learnings, we have broken down our subscriber onboarding experience into five stages. These stages are based on subscriber tenure, a desired action, and behavioural insight. These stages help guide our plans when determining what and when to communicate to our subscribers.

The five stages are:

  1. Account confirmation.
  2. Successful start.
  3. Nurture behaviour.
  4. Build a habit.
  5. Monthly engagement/reengagement.
The last two steps in the onboarding process invite readers to engage with content that may be of interest to them.
The last two steps in the onboarding process invite readers to engage with content that may be of interest to them.

In this post we will share with you the remaining two phases.

Step 4: Build a habit

  • Goal: Build upon initial content interests.

The first 30 days of the subscriber onboarding experience is highly protected, as this is our time to build a strong first impression. This means we do not allow any other e-mail communication to be sent to this group that is not part of our tested and proven onboarding e-mails. Throughout a subscriber’s introductory period (currently 180 days), only our loyalty and retention team strategically communicates to new subscribers by e-mail. We do this not only to respect our subscribers’ inboxes but also to create a clean testing environment for the final two steps of this process.

In this step, we begin to widen the scope on what we send to subscribers. This could include promoting customised editorial coverage and benefits, including newsletters.

This phase is crucial for getting subscribers on the site to see content consumption patterns begin to form. For example, we might note a subscriber reads articles in our Opinion and Life sections on a weekly basis. Observing these reading habits helps us contextually target future content to send to subscribers as part of the next step.

Step 5: Monthly engagement/reengagement

  • Goal: Drive consistent logins to our Web site and app.

When we move onto this step, the monthly engagement phase, our subscribers have been with us for at least 60 days. We are now sending them contextually targeted content. An example of this is the digital issue of Report on Business magazine, which is published 10 times a year. Or perhaps we send a subscriber-only guide to the best books of 2019 or how to find the best mortgage rate. Our subscriber-only guides are meaty roundups of content on a particular subject with which we see high engagement, packaged in an easy-to-consume article page.

We are also monitoring for lapses in log-ins. If we notice subscribers have not logged in for more than 30 days, it’s time to deploy an e-mail with content aligning with their interests. This tactic has been proven to improve log-ins among subscribers who have not logged in for more than 30 days.

The ethos of loyalty and retention at The Globe and Mail is to build a lasting relationship with our subscribers by demonstrating value and fostering engagement opportunities. We are diligently focused on ensuring they say “yes” to being a Globe and Mail subscriber every day.

About Katrina Bolak

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