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How The Times Moved Beyond Traditional CRM Channels

Monday 7 August 2017 CRMCustomer ExperienceSocial Marketing


Faye Dineen's picture
By Faye Dineen
Our recent survey of CRM marketers showed many are keen to push customer communications to the next level, but aren’t always able to do so.
So I took the opportunity to talk with our client Mike Migliore, Customer Engagement Manager at The Times, and asked him what he learned from a recent, successful foray into channels that are normally the preserve of acquisition-oriented marketing. 

Experiences drive behaviour

At The Times and The Sunday Times, customer engagement has a dual role. Alongside traditional CRM work and direct marketing, serving the organisation’s subscribers, Mike’s team are tasked with influencing customers’ content consumption habits. By providing the best possible content consumption experience, The Times hopes to keep its subscribers for longer.
Traditionally, 85% of customer contacts had come from email – with the remainder largely consisting of direct mail and SMS. I’m sure many marketers would kill for Mike’s email metrics (half the The Times’ opt-in list open and read emails), but engagement had hit a plateau.  
Mike wanted to bring other channels into the mix to reach the remaining customers who were not opening emails or responding to direct mail, extend campaign lifetimes, increase the frequency of messages and, ultimately, improve subscribers’ survival rates.

Setting up the test

Working with CACI, Mike’s team developed a structure for a multi-channel test. First, they isolated a behaviour they wanted to influence, then they defined the campaign hierarchy.
Mike believes the key was being very specific in planning a meaningful test: “It’s one thing to say ‘I want to test Facebook’, but it’s another thing to set the same message, for the same segment, across Facebook, Twitter and display.”
The team drew up calculations to define ROI, and identified target lists: essentially groups of low-hanging fruit, with clearly-definable target outcomes, and enough ARPU to merit inclusion in the overall campaign, at key stages in their lifecycle.
Mike chose three main channels:
  • Facebook, where within the broader market, 66% of users get their news generally , there was a high match rate with the target lists, and engagement, targeting and tracking tools are well developed.
  • Twitter was also an obvious contender, with 59% of users getting news, journalists making up a quarter of all verified accounts, and ad engagement growing by 208% year on year.
  • Display advertising was something of a wild card. It’s known for brand awareness and acquisition, but would it be cost-effective for the purpose?
The messaging was relevant and data-driven, with trigger-centric execution.

Dramatic results

As expected, Facebook outperformed the other channels by far – reflecting the cultural fit for news media on the platform. Twitter worked less than half as well, but display proved the surprise package, exceeding everyone’s expectations: despite its high anticipated cost, the blended CPC for the campaign was just £2.15.
Most importantly – and compared to control groups – the target groups saw a 9%- - increase in survival rate, yielding an overall return on investment of 105%.

Tips for success

I asked Mike for any tips I could share with other marketers, looking to stage a successful multichannel test. He gave me three golden rules:
  1. Keep it simple (at first). Mike says: “It’s tempting to be ambitious – but it’s best to start small. Pick a single goal, and don’t get too start when you’re trying to prove a concept.”
  2. Establish significant controls. Mike says: “It sounds obvious, but when list sizes can vary widely you may need to make hard decisions to prove the impact of the test.”
  3. Test the channel impact. Mike says: “Test one third of your audience on one channel, one third on a second, and the rest on both together. It’s a question of efficiency and scale.”
Mike believes that if you’re looking to add alternative channels to your CRM, “a data-driven approach really pays”. Looking at his results, it’s hard to disagree.


To further explore how to implement your marketing strategy over multiple channels, read our article on applying audience-driven principles in a multichannel context here.
If you’d like to discuss the specifics of integrating more channels or data sources, our team of digital marketing experts would be delighted to chat about some of the successful examples we’ve seen.
Introducing new channels in to our CRM activity has given us a variety of new ways to speak with our customers. This multi-channel approach means we’ve been able to keep more customers and increase their value – what more could anyone want? The CACI team have been pivotal in helping us deliver all this!
Mike Migliore, Senior Retention and Engagement Manager at News UK

We caught up with our client Michael Migliore at The Times, and asked about his golden rules for Multi-Channel CRM success.

How The Times Moved Beyond Traditional CRM Channels