CASE STUDY: The Globe and Mail, A Leader in Cross-Platform Publishing

A well-planned and executed marketing and communication strategy made the Globe2Go ePaper service one of their most profitable digital products

The Situation

The newspaper publishing world has been rocked over the past decade with declining revenues, repeated rounds of layoffs, fleeing advertisers and a chain of bad earning reports. And yet, there are publishers who have not only weathered the storm, but have blossomed into leaders in digital publishing – publishers like The Globe and Mail.

In 2010, The Globe and Mail identified, with the arrival of the Apple iPad in Canada, an opportunity to grow its audience and add value to its existing readers.  Within the confines of a firmly managed budget, the company proceeded to offer an engaging multi-platform digital product that would call on one of its strongest asset:  its daily publication. In May 2010, The Globe and Mail’s Globe2Go ePaper service was born.

The company used information collected from their readers and successfully leveraged a mix of marketing channels including email, print subscriber promotions and an extensive and continuous advertising to spread that brand experience and grow their readership base.

The Globe’s Strategic Initiatives

1. Focus on Core Competencies

The Globe and Mail has a long history of quality content creation.  The organization recognized that, for the time being, building and distributing mobile apps was not part of its desired knowledge base, which is why it chose to focus on its core competency – creating compelling content – and partnering with technology leaders to deliver the content to their readers in a secure manner wherever they are on whatever device they choose to use.

2. Proactively Engage with Readers

The Globe and Mail has a readership of Canadian affluent men and women who are educated, informed and influential.  Putting customers first is evident in the publisher’s ongoing engagement with readers through  customer service, social media, loyalty programs, email and surveys.

In the Q4/11 online survey sent to over 3,000 customers, The Globe and Mail received a remarkable 27% response rate and confirmed that readers remained highly satisfied.

  • In terms of overall satisfaction, Globe2Go scored an average of 8.3 out of 10
  • 78% of responders gave Globe2Go a “top-3” rating (with scores of 8 or above)

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3. Expand Offerings in Digital, Mobile and Online Products

The Globe and Mail did not become Canada’s national newspaper by sitting back and waiting to see what other publishers would do when faced with digital disruption.  Instead, it took the lead and made a commitment to be multi-platform and the first-to-market on mobile devices.

The Globe and Mail was the first Canadian newspaper to publish an app on the iPad and the first to be pre-loaded on the Kobo Vox.

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4. Implement Effective Packaging and Pricing

“Digital dimes” is a phrase which has gained notoriety in the past decade as it attempts to define the great divide between print and digital revenues.  Publishers worldwide have felt the squeeze trying to transition their business models from paper to bits and bytes.  Many publishers often make the mistake of undervaluing their content online.

The Globe and Mail, however, did not succumb to pressure to underprice its content to gain readership.  The publisher continues to place high value on its content and prices it accordingly.

It offers an array of subscription and pricing options, including creative and highly effective product bundles, to meet the needs of their subscribers.  One example is their distribution agreement with The New York Times (NYT)  in Canada, which includes The Globe and Mail (Mon-Sat) + NYT (Sun) newspaper bundle.

In October 2012, The Globe and Mail launched Globe Unlimited, an all-access digital pass on its website and mobile platforms, offering up to 10 free articles per month before requiring a paid monthly subscription of $19.99.  Online access remained free for five or six-day print subscribers and discounted to $4.99/month for weekend print customers.

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5. Launch an Innovative Marketing Campaigns

Leaving no stone unturned in terms of capturing the attention of existing and potential readers, The Globe and Mail aggressively markets its brand and products wherever readers are.

Imaginative ads promoting Globe2Go can regularly be found in the paper’s printed edition, on its website, in email campaigns, on billboards and TV.

The publisher was the first to overlay an iPad on its printed edition in ads, showing a clear connection between the products and further enhancing its brand.

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The Results…

No stranger to accolades, The Globe and Mail has received numerous honours throughout its history for outstanding journalism. In 2012, it took home the most National Newspaper Awards of any publisher in Canada at an impressive 8. This year, it took home another 4. In 2012, Globe2Go was also awarded the gold medal at the 2012 Canadian Online Publishing Awards for “Best Digital Replica.”

A combination of active reader engagement, award-winning technology, budget management, effective pricing models and creative marketing has reinforced The Globe and Mail’s leadership in Canadian news media.  It is no wonder that Globe2Go has such a loyal readership with 63% having enjoyed the publication for more than five years.

And of current and former print subscribers now using Globe2Go

  • Half transitioned from the print service to the ePaper
  • One-quarter continued with their print subscriptions
  • One-quarter returned to the publication after discovering Globe2Go

The organization recognized that the Globe2Go ePaper service  added value to its entire product portfolio  by helping to:

  • Retain or regain print readers which they may have otherwise lost
  • Add value to existing print subscribers through innovative digital features such as on-demand audio, article sharing and search
  • Gain new readers who wouldn’t normally choose to read the print edition (e.g. web-only news content consumers).

Summary

Growing a loyal and diverse subscriber base is not easy in this day and age, when so much free news content is available online.  But The Globe and Mail’s uncompromising commitment to give its readers what they want — high quality in-depth national, international business and lifestyle news in any format, on any device  — continues to be a benchmark from which other publishers can learn.

Want to learn more? Here’s a fantastic interview with Andrée Gosselin, Director, Audience Development, Tablets, Mobile & Digital at The Globe and Mail: