Tribune Publishing Achieves Digital Subscriber Growth with Collaboration
Overview of this campaign
Driving digital subscriber growth and revenue presents a unique opportunity to rally newsrooms and their business-side colleagues around shared goals and objectives. The importance of getting users to subscribe and pay for the journalism we work so hard to produce is something we can all agree upon. We also firmly believe our journalists should lead efforts to engage users by encouraging frequency of visits and making personal connections with our audiences, which ultimately lead to high engagement and loyalty. As a result, our journalists must collaborate with our marketers and work as partners to carry out these mission-critical responsibilities, which is a shift from legacy structures and workflows.
When the Chicago Tribune reached an important digital-subscriber milestone in 2019 -- 100,000 digital-only subscribers -- the marketing and editorial teams saw this as an opportunity to not only celebrate a win, but also to leverage the moment and unite the organization in achieving further growth.
The Chicago Tribune 100K campaign’s objectives included:
- Celebrate a major milestone for which many teams worked tirelessly
- Communicate organization-wide alignment in subscription growth goals
- Introduce internal transparency around subscription growth strategy, tactics, road map, and challenges
- Re-emphasize that quality journalism remains the foundation for everything we do
- Energize our newsrooms and rally around shared business priorities, like growing a sustainable consumer revenue business
- Better define newsroom audience priorities to focus on digital subscribers
- Provide newsrooms with a toolkit of tactical recommendations to answer the question “What can journalists do to contribute to the subscription business?”
Results for this campaign
In 2019, Tribune journalists marshaled all of their strengths – their journalistic talent, their dedication to our mission, their resolve to find the best ways to connect with our readers – and put them flush against a strategy designed to promote growth and sustainability.
The Chicago Tribune 100K marketing campaign consisted of print and digital assets that announced the 100K milestone, thanked subscribers for their loyalty, highlighted key pieces of journalism which would not be possible to produce without the support of subscribers and featured digital opportunities subscribers can utilize to connect with our journalism more often, such as newsletters, the eNewspaper and connected voice offerings.
Internally, a week-long event dubbed “Subscriber Appreciation Week” included informational sessions with Chief Marketing Officer Mark Campbell where he shared detailed information about subscriber acquisition and retention goals, as well as the strategy and tactics his teams would employ to achieve those goals. In the Chicago Tribune newsroom, editors compiled and distributed a list of the most frequently asked questions and issues raised by subscribers, along with the responses best-suited to help those users. The staff of the Chicago Tribune came together to handwrite 1,000 ‘Thank You’ notes to subscribers, each including a personal message of gratitude. On the final day of “Subscriber Appreciation Week” company and newsroom leadership stood before the entire staff to toast their hard work, turn focus to the work ahead.
Thanks to increased communication and collaboration between the newsrooms and the Tribune Publishing marketing team, the company saw a 94% increase in digital-only subscriber growth and 180% increase in digital-only revenue growth from 2017 to 2019 and closed out 2019 with over 330K digital-only subscribers.