Driving Subscriber Engagement and Retention Through USA Today Network´s Lifecycle Communications
2019 Finalist

Driving Subscriber Engagement and Retention Through USA Today Network´s Lifecycle Communications

Gannett

McLean, United States

Category Best New Paid Content Or Subscription Initiative

Overview of this campaign

The USA TODAY NETWORK serves more than 130 million people in communities across the United States, providing local and national news coverage from USA TODAY and 109 media and marketing brands, including the Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, and the Indianapolis Star.

To deepen relationships with its audience and improve subscriber engagement and retention, USA TODAY NETWORK has launched a new onboarding and engagement program in 2018, providing print and digital customers with an overview of exciting benefits, content, unique experiences, and services available through its brands.

Audience insights from the NETWORK’s enterprise Voice of the Customer program identified many of the biggest subscriber pain points and drivers of churn, which were then used to drive improvements to the customer experience through product, service, and communications enhancements.  Customized to various audience segments, the new onboarding and engagement program features content, benefits, and account-related features and functionality most appealing to each segment. 

Consumer behavioral analysis shows that the frequency in which a subscriber engages with digital platforms plays a key role in a subscriber’s likelihood to continue their subscription.  As a result, the onboarding and engagement series was designed to improve both the breadth and depth of digital engagement, with a focus on informing customers of benefits such as newsletters, podcasts, mobile apps, and a loyalty program that provides exclusive content and discounts from national partners, to encourage ongoing, repeat digital usage.

The subscriber engagement program also includes key account-related communications encouraging customers to activate digital access, log in to the website, and enroll in automatic billing, all of which have shown to improve engagement and typically result in higher retention rates.


Results for this campaign

USA TODAY NETWORK has taken a customer and data-driven approach to subscriber engagement and retention.  

Since launch of the onboarding and engagement series, a handful of updates were made based on initial performance and consumer feedback. The team discovered that more literal and transactional messaging performed best, so creative and copy was updated to be clearer, and advanced personalization and segmentation was added to increase relevance.  

When subscribers mentioned having difficulty finding account management tools, a “How-To” series and videos were added, educating customers on various self-service features.  These communications inform subscribers of their ability to complete common customer service actions online, such as placing a temporary delivery hold, paying a bill, or updating a delivery address. This has helped increase online self-service usage, reducing cost-to-serve and measurable customer effort. Auto bill pay enrollment has increased by 22% and the number of online bill payments increased 19% YoY in 2018, with overall self-service usage increasing 10% YoY.

Consumer behavioral analysis shows that the frequency in which a subscriber engages with digital platforms plays a key role in a subscriber’s likelihood to continue their subscription.  As a result, the USA TODAY NETWORK has developed a digital usage model that scores users based on the frequency, type, and level of digital engagement.  Using digital usage as a primary engagement metric, and a key leading indicator for retention, the NETWORK has seen as high as a 10 percentage point increase in digital usage for subscribers who received the new onboarding series versus a control group.

At a relationship level, new digital subscribers who have received the onboarding and engagement series report higher satisfaction and net promoter scores. Subscribers that indicate being “satisfied” in ongoing surveys show an 8-percentage point improvement in retention over 52 weeks, which represents a substantial revenue opportunity.


Contact

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