By Daniel Williams Published March 25, 2015
LEAP Media Solutions’ five-phase process unlocks hidden opportunity
When a large daily publishing company in the northeast began planning for its paid content model, the senior management team recognized success depended upon three primary objectives, 1) driving digital conversion and activation among print subscribers, 2) encouraging its sizable digital non-paid online audience to subscribe for unlimited digital access, and 3) leveraging its consumer database to identify, segment and communicate with it audiences to drive deeper brand loyalty through ongoing engagement.
Like most newsmedia companies, the company provides a variety of ways for consumers to engage its brand, including and beyond access to digital content. These include registering to comment on stories, enrolling for e-newsletters, participating in contest and surveys, purchasing daily deals, and of course subscribers utilizing its online self-service site for managing their home delivery account. In addition, the company completed several strategic product acquisitions in early 2014 that added a sizable number of new subscription relationships to its print and digital product portfolio.
Taken together, these data assets would provide the company a "head start" in realizing its vision as the dominant regional news source and unrivaled in its ability to connect advertisers with a premium audience of qualified consumers.
Yet one challenge threatened to undermine the company's ability to execute on its strategy: its vast collection of disparate data assets were spread across several divisions of the organization, and there was no single, unified strategy to organize, store and activate these consumer data assets that were critical to capitalizing on its immediate opportunities and driving long-term success.
So in mid-2014, the company engaged LEAP Media Solutions in a strategic process to:
Working with key stakeholders representing circulation, advertising, editorial and finance, LEAP’s team of data experts identified sixteen sources of digital registration data that effectively quadrupled the volume of potential consumer prospects for print activation, digital conversion and ongoing engagement.
Among the three primary sources of email (subscribers, site registrants, and contest participants), there were 189,754 total email records of which 44% were linked to a USPS standardized address. The remaining 97,203 were then processed through LEAP’s email validation and address append service, and LEAP was able to successfully append customer name and address to an additional 44,659 or 45.9% of those records.
Consequently, the total number of email records for which LEAP could link to a physical address grew from just under 80,000 to over 128,000. It was on this larger base that LEAP could apply its proprietary scoring and lifestyle segmentation model to drive relevant marketing communications to maximize customer acquisition, digital activation and other upsell opportunities.
LEAP then integrated each de-duplicated email record into the new consolidated digital data warehouse in the company’s customer intelligence platform, and the resulting 164,809 unique records were organized into one of seven customer relationship segments based upon their relationship to the company brand:
Once the marketing opportunity was properly sized, and the data cleansed and enriched through connecting customer relationships across the print-digital tables, the next step in the planning process involved designing, coding and scheduling the marketing communications strategy to be executed in conjunction with December paid content model launch.
LEAP engaged key stakeholders representing circulation, marketing, editorial and finance to build out a comprehensive marketing communications curriculum that engaged the company’s readers using a variety of content and features as “marketing assets”. For example, a newsletter featuring top 10 stories as selected by readers and the company’s staff is delivered to registered users on a scheduled basis, along with a call-to-action encouraging the reader to activate full-digital access through site registration and/or upgrading their subscription level.
These newsletters templates and the associated content are automatically versioned based upon an individual reader’s status in the progressive registration hierarchy (i.e., anonymous, registered-only, registered and paid but not fully activated, etc.). The content newsletters routinely garner 30-40% open rates and have been a key driver in the growth of basic registration and conversion of registered users to fully-activated digital subscribers.
The overall objective is to progressively move readers along the registration-to-activation process, with the goal of maximizing the audience of registered, fully-activated digital content consumers. In doing so, the company unlocks virtually unlimited potential to monetize its audience not only in the form of paid content, but eventually through the delivery of relevant content and sponsored advertising messaging.
In the three months since the launch of its unified site registration and paid content model, the company has increased its number of registered users on the company from 111,589 to 135,516 or 21%, and more importantly, has successfully increased the number of print subscribers upgrading to full digital access by 200%. According to the Vice President of Circulation who organized the initiative, “We are pleased with these results, which are on track to achieve our 2015 targets. LEAP has been a great partner throughout this process. They come with valuable experience, which has translated into positive results.”
This overall company strategy of aggressively pursuing audience revenue growth, achieved in large part through moving from anonymous to known customer relationships that can be monetized, is a major strategic focus across the parent company. The company is investing in new systems that simplify the registration process, promote establishing a brand relationship, and support myriad ways for its publications to monetize audience, not only directly in the form of content access, but through other indirect means such as affinity content marketing.
In the case of the company, through their collaborative partnership with LEAP Media Solutions, they are accelerating this process by focusing on their existing customer relationships, leveraging these as “strategic” assets, and organizing a data management and marketing communications strategy that is generating impressive early results.
Dan Williams is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LEAP Media Solutions, based in Old Saybrook, CT.