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How Condé Nast Achieved CX Sophistication With its Customer Data Platform

Eric Wendt

Senior Content Marketing Manager

There are leaders and laggards in every industry, and the leaders all have one thing in common: They put customer experience at the center of their strategy.

But achieving customer centricity — proven to boost customer satisfaction by 20-30% — requires swapping the status quo for a more sophisticated approach. While customer data is every brand’s most valuable asset, it can’t be properly utilized without the right tools and tactics.

In our recent webinar — Moving Up the Customer Data Maturity Curve — global mass media company Condé Nast explained how it used its customer data platform (CDP) to become more customer-centric and transform insights into exceptional CX.

Solving Data Challenges

Condé Nast’s media brands — which include The New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit and many more — attract hundreds of millions of consumers online and in print every year.

A lot of work goes into engaging and retaining these subscribers, from developing automated acquisition journeys to optimizing onboarding across websites, emails, paid media and more. Creating personalized, impactful communications across channels is hard enough, but it’s even more difficult without accurate, accessible and actionable customer data.

“Before we were using a CDP, in order to send any of our targeted emails, we had to request manual lists for every single send,” said Associate Director of CRM & Engagement Liz Switzer. “That was a big level of effort — it’s a very long lead time and it was something that required resourcing from multiple teams.”

Without the right technology, Condé Nast couldn’t automate campaigns based on customer data or website visitors’ behaviors. Together with extremely limited onsite targeting and a lack of cross-channel A/B testing capabilities, this made churn prevention and win-back campaigns difficult to execute. Meanwhile, cross-channel coordination was next to impossible.

“Each of the individual channels — our ESP, our onsite targeting tool and all the paid channels — didn’t speak to each other,” Switzer said.

Condé Nast knew it needed a way to increase personalization and eliminate time-consuming manual processes. That’s when it found the ActionIQ CDP.

Mapping Out the Future

Condé Nast understood digital transformation wasn’t like flipping a switch. The company approached its CDP implementation with careful consideration.

“This was a big change for our organization,” Switzer said. “We were just running for the most part mass promotional campaigns and nothing targeting a specific segment — or it was very limited campaigns that did so. So before moving forward with launching anything with the CDP, internally we spent time identifying what data we wanted to use, what needed to be added.”

Working cross-functionally — from data engineering to marketing — the company aligned its teams around processes, goals and outcomes while defining critical tasks. After putting a roadmap in place and following change management best practices for implementing a CDP, Condé Nast set about tackling its most-pressing business challenges.

Increasing Subscription Revenue

A primary company objective was driving revenue by preventing subscriber churn.

“One of the key ways that my team supports that is by first identifying which subscriber behaviors based on onsite or app engagement are correlated with increased retention, and then focusing on launching tests and campaigns to increase those engagements and then ultimately measure the impact on retention,” Switzer said.

Just as important is acquiring new trial subscribers for different brands and driving downloads of the company’s app, which corresponds with higher retention.

“One of our first use cases when we started working with ActionIQ was to launch a win-back campaign,” Switzer said. “We didn’t have any campaigns that targeted in an automated way based on our customer data. So before we were leveraging a CDP, the segment of subscribers who had previously lost or canceled their subscription — we weren’t able to target them on site, on paid or send them automated emails.”

Without the ability to target consumers with relevant offers or suppress certain audiences from its paid media campaigns, Condé Nast couldn’t provide personalized customer experiences or maximize the value of its advertising spend. Using ActionIQ, the company began testing tailored offers for specific groups, targeting them across websites, paid media and email.

“We were able to generate a 95% lift in the conversion rate for the overall segment,” Switzer said.

Drilling Down in Segmentation

With ActionIQ, Condé Nast could now define and analyze different customer segments in minutes.

“The next initial success on campaigns that we had with the CDP was streamlined audience creation, which was a huge win for the paid teams,” Switzer said.

The company recreated all existing audiences across all its brands, including prospecting lists for retargeting and acquisition campaigns, as well as active subscriber lists for paid media suppressions.

“Before the CDP, it was a manual request process that included multiple teams,” Switzer said. “And this was something that could now be automated. So it’s just reducing workload for each of those teams.”

And while this work was previously done on a monthly basis due to its time-consuming nature, lists could now be refreshed on a daily basis.

“It’s reducing any wasted impressions because before we were serving acquisition offers to new subscribers for potentially a month after they’ve converted,” Switzer said. “We’re now having more efficient use of our ad spend.”

Unlocking Customer Insights

Condé Nast knew certain behaviors — such as increased website visits — correlated with higher retention rates, and it now had the tools it needed to test different tactics for encouraging those actions.

“We wanted to target our New Yorker trialists who are our trial subscribers, our most at-risk group for churn, with a paid social campaign,” Switzer said. “This was something that was not possible before the CDP…. We only have 12 weeks that we can target this group while they’re in their trial period. So it was key to be able to do this in an automated way so that a trialist would automatically flow into the holdout or the test group immediately after subscribing so they can start receiving the paid posts right away.”

Beyond testing new strategies, Condé Nast began creating predictive models within ActionIQ to help it identify subscribers who are at risk of churning.

“This is something that we have a ton of use cases for, but one of the initial ones is that we want to start using our churn model to personalize our subscriber onboarding series by churn score to ensure that we have different strategies or approaches for how we’re targeting our most versus least at-risk trialists,” Switzer said.

With ActionIQ’s no-code user interface, non-technical teams are able to dive into the data that drives results and use it to inform marketing decisions.

“It definitely gives us as marketers a lot more ability to be more hands-on with both the audiences and the data and just have a better level of awareness of just what data is available to us, but also have more capabilities to be able to play around with the audiences ourselves,” Switzer said.

Reaching CX Sophistication

Condé Nast continues to move up the customer data maturity curve, using its CDP to execute on increasingly advanced use cases.

In addition to a 95% lift in conversions among key segments and improved suppression — which can reduce acquisition costs in paid media campaigns by 25% or more — the company is eager to continue optimizing its subscriber engagement and retention efforts.

“We’re still just barely breaking the surface with all of the things that we want to accomplish,” Switzer said.

From cross-selling products at scale to calculating the predicted lifetime value of subscribers, the sky’s the limit for Condé Nast and its portfolio of brands.

Check out the full webinar featuring Condé Nast to learn more about how the company moved beyond the status quo to deliver sophisticated CX.

Learn More

Download our 2021 CDP Market Guide to learn how the right CDP can help you enhance and expand revenue streams, drive operational efficiency and improve customer experience.

Written By

Senior Content Marketing Manager

Eric is an experienced marketer who's passionate about the intersection of storytelling and enablement. He uses his expertise to help high-growth companies develop impactful content strategies, strengthen brand positioning and boost customer advocacy.

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