Crack the Code

GateHouse Media launched a nationwide single-copy promotion earlier this year in an effort to boost readership and sales. Starting in May, the publisher ran its “Crack the Code” promo for eight weeks, giving away weekly prizes totaling $150,000.

“As of late June, we’d already received more than 341,000 entries,” Rick Dumas, senior director of single-copy sales for GateHouse, told News & Tech.

Dumas said GateHouse partnered with audience engagement platform provider Second Street to power the sweepstakes across more than 150 newspapers in 32 states.

Readers could enter by picking up a copy of their local print publication and entering a code printed on page 2A on the sweepstakes website. Weekly winners had a chance to win between $2,000 and $12,000, with a grand prize of $100,000.Through that entry, the publisher is able to collect reader information including name, email, phone number and date of birth.

Dumas said the GateHouse promotions department also worked with Second Street to monetize the sweepstakes through rich media features, including highly visible ads across participating newspapers’ websites and landing pages.

“We’re running print ads and sending email blasts to past subscribers and non-subscribers, and we’re promoting it with our free products,” he said. “We also did a video ad and launched some Facebook ads to attract some of the younger demographic.”

Some 22,000 retail locations across GateHouse’s markets — including 7-Eleven, Circle K, Speedway and H-E-B grocery — supported the promotion with store signage. Regular print subscribers were also allowed to participate in the sweepstakes, with positive results.

Lift in revenue

On average, Dumas said GateHouse’s single-copy sales account for about $77 million in revenue, so it made sense to spend the $150,000 to boost those sales further.

“We’ve had good engagement from a number of our home-delivery subscribers, and we’ve also saved some that were planning to cancel their subscriptions,” Dumas said. “We also had a 3.16 percent lift in single-copy revenue that equaled $37,000 in a week, so that was really good.”

Of all the entries, Dumas said 23 percent or more were non-subscribers.

This isn’t the publisher’s first sweepstakes initiative. Over the holiday season last year, GateHouse launched a hot rod giveaway in which it accepted 100,000 entries over a weeklong period for a chance to win a car. The winner chose a yellow Chevelle convertible.

“These sweepstakes have been a great lift for us, thanks to the work of our marketing department and promotions department as well as our social media experts and our editorial department,” Dumas said.