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Creating a class-leading loyalty platform

01

The details

Client

News UK

Role

Product Design Lead

Platform

Mobile & Web App

£ 0 Million+

worth of papers sold (60p each)

£ 0 Million+

paid out to users

0 +

codes entered / papers sold

0

users added to CRM

02

Background

For a number of years, the News UK editorial offerings in the form of the Sun and Times newspapers were supported through the loyalty platforms for each respective paper. However each had a differing proposition, with the Times using a subscription model, with Times+, the loyalty platform being made available to subscribers and The Sun having what was called Sun Perks, a redemption as you go mechanic due to no subscription offering (or desire to have one). The Times+ platform – which I also designed – had a significant active user base which eclipsed that of The Sun.

We were tasked to build on our existing knowledge and relationships with the product team at News UK to define and create a new proposition to drive engagement with the ambition we could surpass what we previously achieved with Times+. 

Having previously also designed the Sun Perks loyalty site as well the Times+ loyalty platform, I was charged with responsibility of leading the UX, visual design, validation and ongoing development of the app in conjunction with product team from News UK. Together we mapped out the research strategy, user personas, value matrix, generated our hypothesis, potential solutions and ultimately brought the product to market, with continuous testing for future feature development.

Business opportunity

Protect and grow the print sales of The Sun and The Sun on Sundays newspapers. 

Create a rewards platform which drives engagement and acknowledges loyal readers.

03

Discovery

We were fortunate enough to have a plethora of information about our users and various demographics that comprised The Sun user base. From the existing customer profiling, we were able to determine what subset of users engaged with the previous Perks platform. From our data and analytics that were collated, key themes were introduced and mapped against various personas, each with a defined edge case for the level of engagement and expectations from the Sun as a paper as the loyalty offering it was a part of. This allowed us to determine where the value lied with each user-type and able to map the against a customer matrix of perceived engagement with the brand. 
However, this didn’t tell us about why the existing loyalty platforms hadn’t reached higher levels of engagement. Though the offerings within Sun Perks were popular, the proposition was seemingly not powerful enough, with our hypothesis being that either the communication wasn’t clear enough or the barrier to entry was too high. To test the theory, we conducted a series of qualitative user interviews from a cohort of existing Sun Perks users to understand what about the existing platform was a gain vs pain. 

Our research highlighted two key opportunities. One, that whilst users enjoyed and valued offers (i.e 2-for-1 tickets to Alton Towers) the requirement for additional spend diminished the perceived value to the user.

Secondly, the effort to enter the codes, particularly if the user missed a day, often meant they would give up collecting temporarily, if not completely.

04

The challenges

Having spoken to a number of users, we followed on with a quantitative survey that was sent out to users to put in-front of them a simple choice. Which 3 things would you value most? The options presented back to the user was what consisted our existing offering, what we hypothesised would be the driver for the next offering (cashback) and general functional behaviours, such as ease of entering a code. 

Cashback and ease of use came out as the top most voted for options from the survey. From this we started generating ideas as to how we might tackle these issues and gave form to the experiences which we would focus on and validated the overall approach of the proposition. 

How might we allow the user to quickly enter codes

How might we allow the user to track their codes

How might we let the user see the value of adding codes

Through a number of ideation workshops and working closely with our engineering team, we wanted to move away from manual code entry and try to give the user to automate the process. The theory being that by simply scanning codes, we could reduce the time to entry and increase engagement – whilst also creating an experience and purpose for driving the creation of the app. However, News UK had already established printing processes which we not able to deviate from, such as using QR codes instead.

To this end, we used for the first a technology which allowed for monotype text-based recognition. This meant that we could capture codes, present them back to the user to validate the code scanned was accurate, and save the need for manual entry, though this was still factored in for erroneous scans. With the concept in place, I began mapping out the wireframes and prototpes for the app, which we user-tested against an internal team at News UK to ensure the journeys were correct. This was then followed with News UK’s brand partner in supplying us the marketing and brand positioning which I could then use to create high fidelity designs to handoff to engineers for our first go-to-market testing.

05

Testing the idea

To build confidence that the scanning technology worked and would save time rather than occupy it, we did a beta launch in Scotland with the Scottish Sun. Within 6 months we had 1 million downloads and high level of retention for customers entering their codes.

However, the testing did reveal that the alph-numeric code scanning technology could struggle with the varying quality of print outputs, as well as external factors such as weather damage. So the codes were redesigned to be more legible to the scanner which was retrained to the new presentation.

The simplicity to enter and redeem codes however was a huge success – with the only customer support requests coming from codes failing to be recognised.

This issue stemmed mostly from users fraudalently scanning codes in shops – so once already registered the code would be inactive, and the legitimate purchaser of the paper would miss out on their code. To combat this, we implemented a limit to the number of codes that could be entered a day, and as long as a user could send a photo of their code, we could override their accounts with the correct code value – whilst correcting fraudalent transactions against others. 

06

Launch & Iterate

With the proposition validated with an already strong user base, a nationwide rollout followed along with further investment from News UK. Refined user onboarding, new features such as push notifications, raffles, and bringing back classic offers such as 2-for-1 tickets – locked against code redemption so it further enhances the core mechanic – were all introduced in a continuous discovery / delivery process. We were able to identify new pain points as the user base grew, as well capabilities which users would enjoy to drive the value proposition for the app further – and increase the cross-pollination of the loyalty and editorial aspects of the business.
As the platform matured, we were able to add little moments of delight for the user, such as bonus codes, where your codes would be worth more if collected in a certain window, through to enhanced animations when cash was redeemed or the code target was reached. Each little (or big in some cases) enhancement further keeping Sun Savers the top performing app in its class. 

07

conclusion

The app surpassed everybody’s expectations – particularly those of the Directors at News UK who at first questioned the need for an app over web platform which they were used to, and has become the top performing loyalty product within the business. The app is still running today, however with a modified proposition, but the legacy of what made Savers such a success in the first place – the solid foundations and clear UX – the app has continued to thrive. 

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