The 2016 CRM Market Elite Customers: Boston Globe Media
The Boston Globe was founded as a daily newspaper in 1872 by Charles H. Taylor. One hundred and forty-four years later, the entity has expanded beyond its humble beginnings to become a nationally renowned newspaper and, later, a large media company, one that includes a handful of Web content platforms, including BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, BetaBoston.com, BDCWire.com, and Cruxnow.com. According to Peter Doucette, Boston Globe Media’s chief customer officer, these properties attract millions of readers every month, many of them anonymous users.
“Historically, we’ve had a difficult time understanding individual user behavior on our [Web] sites,” Doucette says. The company has gathered a fair amount of data on its paying customers, but non-customer activity had been “fairly murky,” he notes. Getting a clear sense of reader behavior across browsers, platforms, and channels has been difficult.
Tracking these navigations for insights—what readers were most interested in, why they visited certain pages—was a goal the company set for itself, as it wanted to present readers with more relevant content and heighten interest in subscriptions.
“When we discovered BlueConic, it seemed like a good opportunity to use the technology to drive identified profiles, merge user profiles, and ultimately move from a one-size-fits-all approach to a much more targeted and one-to-one solution,” Doucette said in a statement. The firm also needed a platform that would integrate with its existing technology stack, which consisted of Adobe’s Audience Manager and Optimizely’s analytics tools.
So in February 2015, Boston Globe Media implemented BlueConic’s customer engagement platform, making particular use of its profile merging tool, which analyzes user behavior across channels and unites data points in one location.
According to Jessica Bielkiewicz, Boston Globe Media’s senior acquisition manager, email is one of the key aspects of the company’s marketing efforts. Boston Globe Media used BlueConic to track ongoing browsing behaviors, put together email messages that addressed each user as an individual, and recognize users as they toggled between environments.
The data indicated that a large portion of readers (including those who had already subscribed) used email as a launching point toward the site, but did not log in once they were there, and so did not see content that was tailored specifically to their interests.
With this in mind, the media company collaborated with BlueConic to embed a unique identifier that works to track URLs so that readers could be recognized as soon as they went from their inbox to the site. As a result, the company can serve up more thoughtful content recommendations, and subscription offers.
The platform has enabled the company to refine user segments and home in on those readers it deems most valuable. In building distinct segments, the company can test different messages against different groups, to see which ones will resonate with these audiences and enable conversions.
Since deployment, Boston Globe Media has seen a 70 percent hike in engagement on subscription offers and four times the number of users visiting registration pages.
Furthermore, “we just crossed one million known user profiles, which is a big milestone for us,” Doucette says. “We’ve gone from zero to a million in the past year.”
“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is having a direct connection with ExactTarget, our email provider, which will allow us to send triggered emails based on site activity, and segment the audiences we send to based on the data and analytics that we gather,” Bielkiewicz says. “That will be huge for us, because ultimately we want to say that no user is X times more likely to subscribe because of the campaigns and the initiatives that we’re taking, both on and off site. We’re really looking at taking these one-million-plus known users and putting the right marketing in front of them to get them to subscribe, or to get them more engaged with the Web site.”
• One million known user profiles have been identified.
• Engagement on subscription sign-up offers has increased by 70 percent.
• The number of users visiting subscription registration pages has grown fourfold.