INMA Elevate Scholar: Laura Curanaj of Dow Jones

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On October 28, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded their Elevate Scholarship to 50 news media professionals around the world. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.

As a retention marketing intern at Dow Jones, Laura Curanaj saw first-hand the shift from retaining customers at places like The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s go from call centers to completely digital. Her work creating a heat mapping tool that identified when customers were about to churn earned her a full-time position as a retention marketing associate. 

Laura Curanaj’s work to create a heat mapping tool that identified when customers were about to churn earned her a full-time position at Dow Jones.

“I took on the world of online cancellation and launched online flows for three states to ensure legal compliance for Barron’s, WSJ Students, and the newly created paid subscription [publication], MarketWatch,” Curanaj said.

When everything was moving to digital, the retention department noticed a big problem. Although retention rates at the WSJ for call centers hovered around 27%, the retention rate online was only 6%. 

“In the past two years, I have spent my time optimising our online flow to increase save offer uptakes and drop-off rates to reach the standards of the call centers,” Curanaj said. “Alongside the design optimisation work, I also took a deeper dive into the save offers we were presenting to members and later provided options for our members across all three brands to downgrade their subscriptions within the cancellation flow.”

The retention team saw the WSJ retention rate move from 6% to a record-high 16.9%. And Curanaj isn’t stopping there. 

“I aspire to lead the charge on building the most successful digital-first retention strategy for a well-known news media company, compete beyond the publishing arena with media conglomerates such as Disney and Netflix, and elevate the standard of retention in the news media industry,” she said.

Curanaj and her team have also made it a goal to specifically cater to underrepresented audience groups like women, people of colour, and young people. 

“Coming from a family of Albanian immigrants, I often hear about the lack of inclusivity in products and customer experience, and the tendency for American companies to lean toward accommodating a typical consumer.”