Unlocking Value In The Economist, Customer Feedback, and Personalization

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This week we look at how the oldest of publications – The Economist was founded in 1843 – convinced new audiences of its value via a targeted, optimized digital campaign, and we examine fresh perspectives on customer feedback and personalization.

How The Economist Raised Eyebrows and Subscriptions

At this year’s Cannes Lions, an eight-day festival that rewards advertisers for creative bravery, The Economist won a Gold Lion in creative effectiveness for its “Raising Eyebrows” digital subscription campaign, which relied heavily on dynamic content to impress readers. According to the publication, the campaign brought in 64,000 new subscribers with a lifetime value of £51.7 million, contributing significantly to record circulation and profits.

How did they do it? “Once we identify a potential subscriber we aim to introduce our brand as if by magic,” said Charles Barber, The Economist’s VP of PR, in AdNews. In more practical terms, after identifying and segmenting a target audience, The Economist developed a series of surprising and relevant ads that are dynamically served to readers based on the editorial context of the page they’re on. Someone reading a story on women and the glass ceiling, for example, might be shown an ad asking, “Would Lehman Sisters have done a better job?” A click takes the reader to a landing page with an Economist story about women and corporate boards, and asks readers to view an article for free or to subscribe.

How Customer Feedback Can Increase Consumer Retention

Consumers are eager to tell you what they think. About half of those surveyed by Appentive and Survey Monkey said they expect companies to ask for feedback, and yet one in three companies never do.

For customer feedback to impact customer retention, brands need to go beyond “How are we doing?” and ask how a company can improve its products or services, what additional features consumers would like to see, and how the customer experience can be improved. Then, of course, brands need to take action to show that they’re listening. Here are three steps to capitalize on feedback:

  • Proactively seek out feedback with concise, direct questions.
  • Time your questions to optimize responses. Ask after a customer has completed a transaction. Be respectful if you get a “no thanks.”
  • Respond to feedback with personalized comments. More than half of those surveyed were not inclined to be loyal to a brand that ignored them.

Consumers Value Personalization, but Retailers…

Consumers like loyalty programs, and they like personalization within those programs. So why aren’t retailers doing more to offer it?

Customer satisfaction is eight times higher for customers enrolled in highly-personalized loyalty programs, and some 81% of consumers say they are more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs, according to a recent report from Bond Loyalty. Yet only 22% of customers say they are happy with the level of personalization they get from brands.

“The things members deem most personalized are familiar and not-so-complicated, dispelling a myth that personalization needs to be complicated to be effective,” said Scott Robinson, vp of Bond’s loyalty design and strategy. Robinson says that effective personalization can be as simple as using participants’ first names in communications or extending birthday offers.

Those, of course, are just the elements of personalization that customers are most likely to recognize consciously. If dynamic content and personalized offers are done really well, customers might not realize just how tailored they are… but there are big gains to be made there nonetheless.