In the second part of his in-depth look at how UK newspapers are leveraging loyalty schemes among their audiences, Jason Treloar of Clock Digital Agency breaks down each national publication’s schemes in search of an emerging trend. For the first part of the discussion, click here.


Loyalty programmes come in different shapes and sizes.

Some call it a membership programme, others call it a rewards programme.

Whatever the terminology, the below table gives an overview of national dailies in the UK and their loyalty schemes and whether they have a digital paywall.

Publication

Paywall

Membership Scheme

Daily Mirror

No paywall

No

Daily Record

No paywall

No

Daily Star

No paywall

No

The Sun

Hard Paywall 
(with some content viewable)

Sun Perks

Daily Express

No paywall

No

Daily Mail

No paywall

MyMail

The Daily Telegraph

Metered paywall

T Rewards

Financial Times

Hard paywall

No

The Guardian

No paywall

Guardian Membership

i

No paywall

No

The Independent

No paywall

No

Metro

No paywall

No

The Times

Hard paywall

Times+

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail, whose digital content is entirely free of charge, has opted for a tiered approach with their loyalty scheme, MyMail. It focuses not just on rewarding its subscribers but encourages single copy purchasers to buy more copies. How do they do this? Once a reader is registered on their digital platform, they can collect points (variable points depending on editions purchased) using the unique codes printed on every newspaper.

Points unlock multiple levels of rewards where even at the bottom level with “Promotions”, members can get access to some free offers that don’t require any newspaper purchases. It is however the “Loyalty Benefits” and “Rewards” levels where readers can unlock the real goodies and benefit from their loyalty to the brand. Launched towards the end of 2014, MyMail is an extension of the Mail Rewards Club, which at the time, allegedly had over 300,000 daily users. 

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph launched their dedicated membership scheme in 2010 and it is currently available only to subscribers of the print and tablet editions. Interestingly, even if you are a loyal subscriber to the telegraph.com and pay a subscription to access all web content at £8/month, you still do not gain access to Telegraph Rewards.

The scheme has focused more around the physical “Privilege” card for offer redemption, rather than digitally through the T Rewards website. This can however be explained in part by the proportion of their readers who prefer communication through print than digital.

The Guardian

The Guardian launched its version of a loyalty scheme to much fanfare at the end of 2014, heralding a new type of scheme that reflected the values of the newspaper itself. Centred around the notion of community, the scheme is all about membership, so readers get the opportunity and credence to become Guardian Members, albeit at a price.

The fee varies from £50/year to become a “Supporter”, to £135/year for “Partners” and the not insignificant fee of £540/year to become a “Patron”, all of which allows Guardian Members to get closer to journalists and get discounted tickets to Guardian events. The scope of the scheme is grand – given the conversion of a designated warehouse opposite Guardian HQ to house Guardian events – however the actual benefits of membership, given the price, seem proportionally less than grand.

In fact, some people have argued that the scheme is little more than another form of paywall. Regardless of the opinions, and publications like the Guardian will always have its detractors, the scheme is an interesting and alternative take on the traditional loyalty scheme. The Guardian, with the backing of The Scott Trust, is one of very few publishers who could take on a scheme like this.

The Times

Borne out of the success of Culture+, an exclusive arts and entertainment rewards programme, The Times launched its new membership scheme Times+ in 2009, together with a digital platform to house it all. Expanded to incorporate more events and offers, Times+ was a precursor to the introduction of the paywall which would follow mid-2010.

The Times leverages its reputation to offer subscribers access to an unrivalled events programme that is core to the loyalty programme. Over 150 events were staged in 2014 and over 28,000 tickets sold to Times+ members and it has often been cited that once a Times+ member attends an event, they are a subscriber for life. The success of the programme has helped to reduce churn of subscribers amongst active Times+ members by some 40%.

The Sun

The Sun launched its own loyalty programme for subscribers calledSun Perks in July 2013, the same time it made the bold move of putting The Sun digital content behind a paywall. Subscribers automatically gain access to the Sun Perks digital loyalty platform – and a digital members card – through which they can redeem a plethora of exclusive offers. It even highlights how many savings subscribers can make, were they to take up all the offers on the site.

The offers change regularly and the result is that subscribers are more likely to engage with the programme frequently. The Sun has increased the number of digital subscriptions from just over 100,000 in 2013 to 215,000 in 2014. Its subscriber acquisition marketing communication doesn’t just focus on its content and access to football highlights, it also includes Sun Perks as a benefit of subscription. Vital to the success of any loyalty programme.

Emerging Trends

Currently, 5 UK national dailies have a designated loyalty programme, three of which have been launched in the past two years. An emerging trend? Certainly publishers are aiming to keep up with other sectors such as retail who have long been past masters at the loyalty programme. Each publisher has taken the idea of a loyalty programme and adapted it with its own image in mind. This is important, since loyalty programmes that work well have an identity of their own.

The Guardian is very clear that its programme is a membership programme. The Times itself is now currently rebranding its programme by defining it as a membership as well. What is significant, is that a paywall is no barrier to implementing a digital loyalty programme as the Mail has shown. And having a digital portal through which members can access and redeem offers certainly opens up more opportunities for publishers.

In our experience of building loyalty platforms for publishers, their success hinges on three key elements; the wholesale support from all areas of the business, the regular supply of exclusive, compelling offers that will engage members, and finally, the simple to use mechanism – or platform – through which members can access and redeem the offers digitally.