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Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian’s 12for12 campaign

Craig Law, Product Marketing Manager at The Guardian, spoke at ACE's Subscriptions Seminar this November about the British publisher's "12for12", Guardian Weekly, campaign. The project led to an impressive 2,754 new subscribers, reigniting their previous 6for6 offer, as well as better supporting retention efforts as readers had longer to build a habit.        

The context

The Guardian Weekly is a much-loved product within the Guardian and is profitable. However, the product had been underperforming in acquisitions and contracting its base during 22/23 for a number of reasons common to the industry. For instance, the cost of living crisis, printing costs going up 50% yoy and a challenging digital marketing environment. 

But they also saw great untapped potential given The Guardian’s market position, good margins and low cost-per-acquisition. In short, a huge amount of potential to grow if they had a good marketing budget and focus.

The pitch

What could we achieve with a large campaign investment pot, a new attractive discount and major on- platform support?”

The campaign

Develop the existing 6for6 offer to 12for12, a high-acquiring, high-retaining offer which is easier to market, and easier for the consumer to understand. 

Open up your world view with 12 issues for £12.

The Guardian Weekly magazine helps you catch your breath in a dizzying news cycle. And with our limited time offer, you can keep up with the week’s most essential global news for just £1 a week. You’ll find in-depth articles handpicked from the Guardian’s award-winning journalism, written by leading minds you can trust.”

  • Focused multi-region approach. Covering the UK (The Guardian’s base, with the highest brand awareness and strongest chance of high acquisition) and Australia (a trial ‘growth’ market strong on-the-ground support)
  • Greater channel mix. Expanded on-platform support leveraging the warm Guardian audiences with a diversified paid channel mix, door drops, podcast host reads and audio

The targets

Campaign objectives were ambitious matched the market potential – higher targets in the UK where brand awareness is already high.

Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign

Creative strategy

  • Take the existing brand platform, but take lessons from other magazines and subscription products
  • Become more performance-focused and direct response orientated, to drive urgency amongst consumers
  • A varied distribution and campaign plan across a wide range of mediums to cover all bases, including paid social, podcast sponsorship, print door drops and inserts and on-platform digital.
Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign
Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign
  • Creating a fresh look and feel – pink!
Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign
  • Optimized subscription landing page to forefront the 12for12 offer, putting it next to other, less economical offers 
Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign

The campaign results

  • Uk acquisitions: 2,009 (21% above target)
  • Australia acquisitions: 745 (59% above target)
Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign

Analyzing performance at different points in the campaign allowed the team to understand which mediums proved the most valuable for acquisition.  For instance, acquisitions increased with each paper insert campaign, proving the ROI of this marketing strategy.

Leveraging new audiences with The Guardian: the 12for12 campaign

Learnings and outcomes

  • Business confidence in the product has significantly improved
  • The Guardian Weekly is now a key reader revenue product in the Guardian’s product hierarchy
  • 12for12 fundamentally works as a campaign offer
  • Proof of concept – they can now be bolder in targeting new channels
  • Combine paid activity with heightened presence on-platform including print to convert
  • Performance-focused creative and copy worked well
  • Diversity & inclusion and UX issues are still present and need working on in future