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How Globe and Mail turned reader attention into reader retention

By Katrina Bolak

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


By Zen Habito

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


The Globe and Mail has a great product. We’re the leading publisher brand in Canada. We garner record numbers of awards. One of our recent stories focused national attention on our federal government.

So why would a subscriber want to quit us?

Like many other publications, most of subscribers leave because of value: What are they getting from The Globe, and how does that improve their life? As reader revenue surpasses advertising revenue, it became imperative for us to commit to a more concerted effort of cultivating our relationship with existing subscribers and ensuring the value ratio remained unrelentingly positive and beneficial.

Member benefits from The Globe and Mail include e-books, online tools, and access to special experiences.
Member benefits from The Globe and Mail include e-books, online tools, and access to special experiences.

The first step in keeping our subscribers was to understand best practices. We partnered with loyalty programme experts and assessed programmes in the media, retail, hospitality, and grocery sectors. They varied in scope and complexity but all were making great strides in building stronger bonds between customer and brand.

We learned our success would depend on how well we could mesh loyalty best practices with our core strengths.

We focused on four areas where wanted to drive change in business:

  1. Engage: Get subscribers to read more content and interact with our journalists and community of readers.
  2. Retain: Reduce overall churn, especially amongst our most loyal and valued customers.
  3. Lift: Increase our value proposition and customer spend.
  4. Shift: Win new and former customers.

Once we knew our goals, it was time to take action. When we looked at deepening our relationship with our subscribers, it led to a shift in our perspective: Instead of thinking of subscribers or users, we decided — similar to The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ+ programme — we would view subscribers as members with retention as our main objective.

In May 2018, we launched The Globe and Mail Member Benefits site. The site makes it easier for subscribers to locate product features and services, understand the full value of their spend, and nurture their reading habit.

On the member benefit site, we highlight key features including:

  1. Experiences: We created unique opportunities to meet our journalists, as well as network with experts and other like-minded readers. Event content is driven by editorial and allows us to bring that content to life. We’ve produced 31 live events across the country, which include series like Behind the Story and Welcome to The Fold (which targets new subscribers).
  2. Online business tools: Playing to our strength in business coverage, we provide complementary online, interactive tools to help our readers make decisions to improve their overall lives. With our investor tools, members can manage investment performance. Down payment and real life ratio calculators let members assess their ability to buy a house. All the tools apply content to real life.
  3. E-books and guides: Our editorial team has produced numerous e-books, quick guides, and other useful content that goes beyond the 24-hour news cycle. We make these freely accessible to members. The books target specific interests and allow members to go more in-depth on topics that range across business, health, travel, food, and more.

Since our launch, we have executed numerous test campaigns to measure the effectiveness of our programme and found a significant lift in content engagement and reductions in churn of up to 58%. We continue to identify the most effective ways to target, communicate, and engage with our customer segments to ensure we highlight features that are most relevant to them.

The Globe and Mail Member Benefits programme continues to reflect our commitment to ensuring Globe members continue to see the value of their subscriptions.

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