Guardian invests £2m in marketing as it adopts “digital first” strategy

The Guardian is investing an extra £2m in brand marketing this year and expanding its marketing team as it rolls out its recently announced “digital first” strategy.

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The newspaper is recruiting a team of nine “digitally enabled marketers with classic DM skills” as it builds out its new “direct to consumer” marketing approach, which will see marketing campaigns integrating user generated content and Guardian editorial.

Chris Lawson, the Guardian’s content sales and marketing director, says the changes reflect how the Guardian’s audiences are consuming media, on a number of devices and platforms beyond the traditional newspaper.

He says: “Direct to consumer marketing is now a strategic priority. The £2m investment is not out of my existing budget, it is additional because it is important to establish a direct relationship with our readers to understand where the market is going and to allow us to cross sell and upsell.”

The Guardian hopes the new approach to marketing, which will result in a series of brand campaigns, will fulfill its ambition of doubling its current 49,000 print subscriber base and also doubling its iPhone subscribers to more than 150,000.

The new marketing team will work to find more days to consolidate editorial and marketing creative, similar to its recent digital outdoor campaign this July that featured up-to-date front pages and tweets from the Guardian’s coverage of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Lawson says: “Brand marketing is intrinsic in everything we are doing and the quality journalism at the Guardian is our greatest marketing tool.”

Each campaign will drive people online to encourage them to collaborate with the brand.

Lawson says: “Before, we used to focus on promotional-led marketing but the market evolves our approach has to evolve. We realise the importance of our direct relationship with our audience. Collaboration and participation are parts of our philosophy and our great content is being improved by our audiences.”

He adds that while one of the Guardian’s strongest marketing tools in social media is Twitter, the newspaper will also be ramping up its use of Facebook in the coming months.

All new marketing campaigns will also be required to capture data in order for the company to learn how its audience is segmented and which devices they prefer to access content on.

The Guardian recently overhauled the way it gathers and stores user data, by creating database with marketing services company Acxiom, so that every consumer that has interacted with the brand – from people who have purchased a Guardian book, to someone that has attended the event – is listed in one place.

Separately,the newspaper group has also announced that it is to fold three of its standalone supplements –  Media, Education and Society – into the main newspaper.

Read data reporter Michael Barnett’s view on GNM’s strategy here.

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