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2019 Gold Best Customer Retention Programme


Agency: Merkle and Twipe

Client: The Times

Campaign Name: James - Your Digital Butler

Campaign Overview

News UK’s The Times wanted to increase engagement - and lower churn - by using AI-driven machine learning to make content more valuable to readers.


In a digital world, why shouldn’t each reader expect hyper-relevant content?

The issue for The Times was how to do this at scale without costs exploding.

A cross-discipline working party code-named Project James set out on two-week sprints.

Technology and data drove innovations in customer marketing, including a content engine built to deliver the right content to the right individuals, personalised using dynamic HTML.

Readers received maximum value for their subscriptions.


James - Your Digital Butler was born.

James delivers tailored news content, at the right time, in the right format, with the right frequency.

Six content propositions were devised, from Daily Briefing to End the Day on a High Note.

They became the core component of The Times news summary emails. Multiple combinations, plus different delivery times, frequencies and designs, were tested for impact.

AI technology was used to build and measure each stage, and the most successful combinations were then deployed to great effect.


Over the 34-week period of the project, opens and clicks increased by 21%: CTR rose by 200%.

Churn was reduced by 49% - hugely positive for future retention.

A healthy 70% of customers engaged with James’ emails, with low- and medium-engaged customers showing the greatest impact.

The Team

Pete Evia-Rhodes, Director of Customer Value, The Times & Sunday Times, News UK - Mike Migliore, Head of Customer Value, The Times & Sunday Times, News UK - Elon Woodman-Worrell, CRM Manager, The Times & Sunday Times, News UK - Parm Atwal-Uddin, Head of Customer Campaign Management, News UK - Jackie Boholst, Senior Campaign Planner, News UK - Mukund Venkataramen, Principal Data Scientist, News UK - Dan Gilbert, Director of Data, News UK - Jayasureya Revendran, News UK - Danai Christodoulou, CRM Analyst, News UK - Danielle Di Michel, News UK - Alan Hunter, Head of Digital, The Times & The Sunday Times, News UK - Nathan May, Growth Editor, The Times & The Sunday Times, News UK - Tily Tang, Account Director, Pulse Creative - Danny Lein, Founder and CEO, Twipe Dana Nastase, Head of Business Development, Twipe - Jasmien Lismont, Project Manager & Data Scientist, Twipe - Hannes Buseyne, Data Scientist, Twipe - Rikesh Harypursat, Technical Consultant, Merkle - Adam Valdinger, Campaign Consultant, Merkle - Jim Ng, Campaign Consultant, Merkle



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