The DBA Gold award winning teams - Financial Times and 999 Design

A golden celebration for our 15th DBA design effectiveness award

30 Mar 2017

3 min read

We're still on a high after winning a GOLD Design Effectiveness award for our work with at the Design Business Association (DBA) awards this month.

With a grand total of 15 DBAs under our belt over 10 years, we've made our mark as one of the top effective design agencies in the UK. After 35 years in the design business we're very proud to still be 'up there' with some of the best design and branding agencies in the country.

So how did our work with save £26K in revenue and earn us the coveted golden DBA gong?

The campaign

In a drive to improve renewal sales and reduce the impact of ‘bill shock’ cancellations, the FT approached 999 to redesign their ‘Renewals and Step Up’ communications. Our brief was to create a new approach across both email and direct mail channels that would:

  • Increase customer retention and subscription loyalty
  • Maintain the’s customer base by reinforcing the value of a subscription
  • Reduce the ‘bill-shock’ effect: high volumes of cancellations after renewal payment has been taken


  • 10% reduction in cancellation volumes
  • 10% increase online engagement
  • Maintain an ARPU (Average Revenue per User) above £247

Overall, the aim was to deliver greater creative impact across all communications with clear calls to action targeted at the preferences of each subscriber.

Strategic approach

We tackled the brief knowing that ease of use and clarity of information would be paramount. FT subscribers are busy people who want to access information quickly.

With mobile driving over 50% of’s traffic, a responsive UX-centred email design was critical to help build a relationship with the customer and give a great user experience on every device.

With this in mind, we designed a new communications framework in order to:

  • Present pricing information clearly to reduce ‘bill-shock’
  • Focus design around the ‘5 key benefits’ most likely to retain loyalty
  • Create a more personal experience


By drawing on key customer insights we devised a bold communication approach that demonstrates real value to the FT’s target audience. We positioned the key subscription benefits messages as ‘5 Advantages’ in short, bite-sized statements to show that the FT understands the audience needs.

The email format was redesigned with distinct content ‘blocks’ making it easier to scan the content. We also developed a bold illustrative style to complement the overall approach. The principal components of the new theme were applied across all communications in a distinctive new design solution.


The new email design generated a £26k+ saving in subscription revenue and saw a significant reduction in cancellations, exceeding all project objectives:

  • 18% reduction in cancellations
  • 17% reduction in cancellation rate
  • 12% increase in online engagement
  • 18% reduction in revenue loss through cancellations
  • £26,000+ revenue saved over two months

This resulted in the new approach being implemented across the business with FT projecting an additional £312,000 in subscription revenue saved over year 1.

Francesca Castagno, the FT's Global Marketing Manager, B2C said:

"A tremendous overhaul of the creative approach led to a dynamic and illustrative design that, whilst staying true to the FT brand, ultimately allowed us to drive engagement-related behaviours among our audience.

The results exceeded our benchmarks and is an impressive example of teamwork, collaboration and innovation around managing customer attrition risk."

Want to know more?

999's extensive experience in email marketing means we can take any brief and deliver effective design solutions that convert customers. If you’re looking to redesign your email campaigns to increase your company's revenue then email or talk to us via Twitter @999Design.

#brandcommunications #emailmarketing #marketingcommunications #userexperience

Written by

Catherine Watson, Digital Marketer at 999 Design

Catherine Watson

Digital Marketer