GWADS Promotional Award

2020 Award Submissions
Digital Engagement and Retention

1st Place Winner

The Spokesman-Review

City: Spokane, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 46,892
Sunday audited circulation size: 65,483


The objective of this campaign was to increase digital engagement on and the e-Edition, digital replica. Smaller goals included increasing the usage of EZpay and paperless billing.


The sweepstakes would run across multiple channels for six(6) weeks. Each week The Spokesman-Review would randomly select three(3) entries to win a Kindle Fire tablet. At the end of the six week entry period, all entries would be combined and The Spokesman-Review would award one(1) winner a $500 gift card.

Entries could be earned in several ways. Every subscriber would earn one(1) entry per week. Subscribers on EZpay or eBill would earn one(1) additional weekly entry. Subscribers who accessed would earn one(1) additional entry per day of access. Subscribers who accessed the e-Edition would earn one(1) additional entry for each day of access. This results in a possible 16 potential entries per contest week.

The campaign would be marketed digitally utilizing a landing page with links to pages that would earn subscribers entries such as the e-Edition or EZPay signup page. Other digital marketing pieces include email blasts to subscribers, website ads, targeted paywall messaging to subscribers and targeted social media posts. Print campaign pieces included sticky note ad placement on front of Sunday paper (2x), ROP ads, and messaging on subscriber billing statements. Additional marketing would be done via custom message on Customer Care IVR and automated outbound calls to those users who have not activated their online access.


  • Increased number of engaged digital subscribers by 11%
  • Grew EZ-Pay by 2%
  • Grew eBill by 18%
  • Increased subscribers with email on file by 1%

2nd Place Winner

The Seattle Times

City: Seattle, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 197,000 including digital
Sunday audited circulation size: 247,000 including digital


Reduce involuntary churn of digital subscribers through improved payment processing. By means of live messaging and emails.


Implement an improved dunning process to encourage customers to update credit card information. We did this by increasing grace, increasing credit card updating processes, and increasing charge attempts. We also increased our frequency of customer contacts through a series of emails and live notifications while the customer was online reading the paper.


21% improvement in involuntary churn due to payment failure.

3rd Place Winner

Skagit Valley Herald

City: Mount Vernon, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 8,600
Sunday audited circulation size: 9,250


To interact with our new subscribers via email campaigns for the first five weeks of their subscription and retain them with valuable information pertaining to our newspaper and what we have to offer them as readers.


The retention emails are sent out on a weekly basis, and include a welcome email for either a print or digital start, and then for five weeks following the new subscription, an email is sent out containing different information such as, “Features and Benefits of Your Subscription”, “Your Daily Guide”, “Say Hello to the Online Newspaper”, “Get Your FREE Rewards” (which describes our Reader Rewards program), and “You’re Getting the Paper. Now Get Our App”. Each email contains helpful information, instructions, and links to direct the subscriber to the intended web pages and sites. The emails also contain click-through icons to our social media accounts and newsletter sign-up pages. The ongoing email engagement between us, the newspaper, and the subscriber implies that he or she has subscribed to a continuous relationship with the newspaper, which is a retention tool that helps us keep customers and strengthen our brand.


Since beginning the retention email campaigns with LEAP/Blue Venn, our reporting platform shows that we have high open and click through rates on each email, with almost nonexistent unsubscribe percentages thus far. Our subscribers are using these emails to visit our website, activate their digital accounts, download our apps, and gather information about our E-Editions such as availability times, how to download articles, etc. These emails have become a main aspect of our retention timeline, and we expect to see continued success with them. By holding subscriber retention as one of our top priorities, we hope to maintain loyal readership to all of our publications by providing continued email communication and information to assist any needs our subscribers may have.

Idaho Statesman

City: Boise, ID
Daily audited circulation size: 29,985
Sunday audited circulation size: 51,065


To re-engage low-frequency website users and generate additional paywall hitters/subscription opt-ins on the web platform.


A 300×250 dynamic news headline cube was created and coded. The cube contained automated news content including an image, promotional headline, tracking CID and a call to action button linking back to the story. The ad was placed both on-site and off-network via Google Ad Cloud, targeting low engagement user and frequent paywall hitters (3-4x, past 30 days).


A total of 172,606 page views were generated in our test markets, with an audience of 77.5% paywall hitters and 22.5% unengaged users. Top-performing stories were food and drink, crime, and politics. The program came in at an impressive $0.01 per page views, 1/10th the cost of the benchmark average. On-network, 61% on UV's had never subscribed, 37% were current subs and 2% were former subscribers.

The Bay Area News Group

City: San Jose, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 279,875
Sunday audited circulation size: 441,270


To improve retention of digital only subscribers from all sales channels.


Our digital team set out to improve new start on-boarding for digital subs as well as improving digital subscription knowledge at our call center.

This included focusing on a key source of acquisition with our kiosk sales at pro sport stadiums as well as paywall, events and email campaigns. It also included our Digital Managing Editor visiting our call center in Arizona.


Steady improvement in retention:

21,786 new digital only subscribers on-boarded in 2019, a new high mark. For the year, we averaged 13-week retention of 85% for the year that improved to 86%, 26-week retention for the year of 58% that improved to 62% and 52-week retention of 41% that improved to 43%.

The Modesto Bee

City: Modesto, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 31,142
Sunday audited circulation size: 28,181


From August 26th to September 29th our call center partner Alorica was awarded incentive dollars for achieving a minimum of a 40% stop save ratio when receiving calls from subscribers calling to cancel their digital subscription. There was a total of $5,000 incentive dollars that could be earned by the call center. 80% of the incentives were split amongst agents and 20% were split amongst.


Each week that the stop save ratio was 40% or higher there was a payout as described here:

  • 1st week at 40% – $200 was awarded
  • 2nd consecutive week – The weekly amount that was awarded went to $400
  • 3rd consecutive week – The weekly amount went to $800
  • 4th consecutive week – The weekly amount went to $1,000
  • 5th consecutive week – The weekly amount went to $1,600

If the stop save total for a particular week fell below 40%, the total amount the following week would drop back to $200.

BONUS – If the stop save ratio for the entire 5 weeks was 40% or higher, an additional $1,000 would be added.


Prior to this contest the stop save ratio for agents receiving digital cancellation calls for The Modesto Bee was 14.3%. During the 5 week contest the overall stop save ratio was 51.4% which was one of the largest variances in all of the McClatchy markets.

The Sacramento Bee

City: Sacramento, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 95,274
Sunday audited circulation size: 161,434


Improve digital retention by increasing our outreach to subscribers to renew and prevent permanent cancellations.


Began an outreach program in Week 32 by making phone calls to digital subscribers with credit card failures, those in grace and those that had contacted us to permanently cancel. These calls were made to subscribers once the traditional channels such as email proved unproductive. In our digital only platform 5 outbound call attempts were made to reach digital subscribers which was synchronized with the number of attempts made to process the credit card. Digital subscribers in our Naviga CMS were called at two separate touchpoints in the 30 days grace timeline in an effort to renew the subscriber. For those with pending stops at expiration or those subscribers that had taken an action to contact us and perm stop, a call was placed to them in an effort to promote value and retain the subscriber.


A combined total of 254 digital subscribers were renewed and/or stop saved which was identified as an incremental lift. Percentage of subscribers contacted was 39.8% with a close percentage of 24.2%.


Your membership goes to support this nonprofit organization committed to continuing education and sharing of ideas. Members get preferred rates at events, the opportunity to network, learn revenue-generating strategies, and stay in the forefront of ongoing digital engagement. The Board of Directors look forward to your participation and support in advancing our audience development program.

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