The Financial Times drives renewals with email and direct mail redesign

With the objective of improving renewal sales and reducing the impact of ‘bill shock’ cancellations, the FT set out to redesign their renewal communications with branding and design agency 999.

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The FT aimed to increase customer retention and subscription loyalty with the help of 999. Ultimately, they increased online engagement by 12%, reduced cancellation rates by 17% and reduced revenue lost through cancellations by 18%.

Objectives & Aims

The aim was to create a new approach across both email and direct mail channels that would increase customer retention and subscription loyalty, whilst maintaining the FT’s customer base by reinforcing the value of a subscription. An additional priority was to reduce the ‘bill-shock’ effect:  high volumes of cancellations after renewal payment has been taken.

Implementation, Execution & Tactics

Ease of use and clarity of information were key. With mobile driving over 50% of’s traffic, a responsive UX-centred email design was critical to build a relationship with the customer.

Working with 999, a new communications framework was created. The result was a more personalised experience that presented pricing information clearly to reduce ‘bill-shock.’

A focus was also placed on the five key subscription benefits that could help to retain loyalty. These were presented as short statements to show that the FT understands their busy audience. Renewal advantages included staying informed on the move, joining the debate with FT writers and starting the day with personalised email briefings. The email format was redesigned with distinct content ‘blocks’ making it easier to scan the content. 


The new communications approach was successful, exceeding all project objectives with a £26,000+ saving in subscription revenue over two months and a 17% reduction in cancellation rates.

There was also a 12% increase in online engagement and an 18% reduction in revenue lost through cancellations.

Proving its success, the project was awarded a Gold DBA Award for design effectiveness.

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