Case study: The FT’s 125 year anniversary offer

The FT celebrated its 125th anniversary last month. To mark the occasion, the news organisation launched a global marketing campaign that resulted in more than 1,000 subscriptions – the highest number it has generated in one day.

Cripps likens the campaign to a cocktail – “the perfect blend of ingredients in the right measures”.

She explains: “At the heart of everything is the brand – that’s the first ingredient. The title was formed 125 years ago and is still pioneering and innovating in digital, allowing it to provide unrivalled content.

“The second ingredient was aligning everything within the editorial content. The editorial team produced a lot of content to celebrate the anniversary, both forward-looking and nostalgic. The front page, for example, reflected what it looked like 125 years ago and we had comment from previous editors.”

The team worked closely with editorial to understand the content and see how it could be leveraged through social media and search engine optimisation.

“The third ingredient was the offer,” says Cripps. “It was a compelling deal and very relevant: a subscription promotion of 125 was offered across each market, whether that was £125, €125, or $125.”

A standard subscription is usually priced at £270 a year, while the premium package costs £353, so the deal represented a huge discount.

Imagery from the FT’s 125 year campaign

“The cherry in the cocktail, and the thing that was quite new for us, was that the campaign was led by social media,” she says.

The FT had a promotion through Twitter using promoted tweets to build buzz and awareness of the deal, which started a few days prior to the event, in addition to using all its usual acquisition techniques.

“It was the marriage of the brand, the brand authority and the anticipation of the offer that made it so successful. We saw the numbers climbing throughout the day and as we reached 4pm in the US office we hit the 1,000 mark.

“It demonstrates the importance of social media in terms of bringing in new audiences, introducing them to the brand and following through to genuine subscription sales.”

The index for technology, for example, was particularly high during this offer, which Cripps puts down to the target market being digitally-savvy and highly influenced by social media, but she also points out that since the C-suite audience is less price sensitive, it is not as influenced by discounts.

“Tactical discounts in relevant context can help to bring out your audience. Obviously, we are very yield focused so it’s only done in very special circumstances and around appropriate context and brand experience,” she adds.

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