How The Sun built an 800,000 reader database through its integrated promotions strategy

A look behind the strategy of Sun Savers

Inspiring reader loyalty in the newspaper business is a top priority as print sales continuously decline across the board. News UK has been investing in loyalty campaigns to bring readers back to its newspapers time and time again, chiefly through its Sun Savers app.

Despite still being the UK's best-selling newspaper, selling on average 1.4m papers a day according to figures from auditor ABC, the title incentivises readers to return with promotions and offers.

Justine Salter, head of loyalty at The Sun spoke to The Drum about how Sun Savers, launched in 2017, rewards print readers and entices them to return and interact with its digital propositions, as well.

Sun Saver sees holidays being made available to the reader from £9.50 and it allows the chance to claim £5 through codes collected from the print product and redeemed via the Sun Savers app. The app is also set to include content for Sun Family, the Sun website, Sun Bingo and fantasy football competition, Dream Team, later this year.

When readers register for a regular Sun Savers newsletter they are also served links to money-saving stories from the Sun’s website, which helps grow the title’s online traffic while offering print readers “a multiplatform brand relationship,” she explains.

“The Sun is the number one selling news brand in Britain in print and digital, so we have always enjoyed scale. Bringing affordable good times to our readers has always been a key part of The Sun’s strategy: being the home of family value is in our DNA. Our readers trust that we're on their side — on everything from fighting energy companies, sticking up for them in parliament and sharing a joke with them. That’s why they are loyal,” says Salter, who says Sun Savers offers the chance to attract “casual print buyers” to the publication.

“We now interact with them on a daily basis and have a deep understanding of their interests and habits,” adds Salter of how the registration of readers through the promotion adds to The Sun’s ability to engage through digital means.

“We estimate that the £5 cash reward Sun Savers offers — which is earned after customers purchase 28 papers and scan the codes inside — have also driven additional sales. Since its launch in June 2017, Sun Savers has built a base of over 800,000 known users,” she reveals, highlighting the value such promotions play in developing its online presence, which has been a focus for News UK for several years now and helps drive more value for commercial partners.

“Because of Sun Savers we’re also creating a rich data map of our customers. We’re more efficient and targeted with our marketing, creating a more personalised and relevant experience for our customers, and we’re opening up new revenue streams too.”

The app is set for a relaunch this year where it will begin to offer advertising to commercial partners also, Salter reveals.

The Sun’s Savers hired editor Giselle Wainwright in October to oversee money saving content and act as a brand ambassador. She and her team offer access to promotions, vouchers and tips to help readers save money.

However, the marketing team at The Sun are still heavily involved in the promotional campaigns, Salter adds. “With our strong understanding of behavioural and interest-based insights, we’re able to shape the partnerships that are relevant to our audience segments. These include our hugely successful relationship with Merlin Entertainments — who have an iconic portfolio of UK attractions and experiences including Alton Towers Resort, Legoland Resort Windsor and Chessington World of Adventures Resort — as well as building new ones like Just Eat and Sky Store.”

Activity for the holiday promotion has included advertising across TV, cinema, online and video on demand, as well as using News UK’s own media channels with editorial features, sponsorship activity and national radio coverage with the Wireless network — which owns Virgin, TalkSport and TalkRadio — to drive awareness. Unruly, News UK’s video distribution business is also involved in distributing promotional content to grow audience awareness, and a user-generated Facebook group with 120,000 members sees discussion of both Sun Savers and The Sun Hols and has become an important influencer channel for the publication.

But what happens once newly engaged readers sign up to participate in the promotions? Salter explains that they become part of a personalized communications programme to encourage post-promotional engagement with email communications that include tailored content on a daily and weekly basis and upcoming promotions that may be relevant to them.

“The Sun Savers programme is strategically important both to developing an ever-deeper engagement with readers as well as driving incremental revenues. We’ve spent the last 18 months really building up our core base of users and we’ll continue to build on those numbers — and at the same time, we’re also in constant development of Sun Savers to add more partners and offer more value,” concluded Salter.

Keep up to date with The Drum's media coverage through its weekly dedicated newsletter.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.

Come on in, it’s free.

This isn’t a paywall. It’s a freewall. We don’t want to get in the way of what you came here for, so this will only take a few seconds.