How The Telegraph are using Puzzles to crack the subscription conundrum
2023 Finalist

How The Telegraph are using Puzzles to crack the subscription conundrum

The Telegraph

London, United Kingdom

Category Product Development

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Puzzles are an essential part of The Telegraph. After all, we were the first daily newspaper in the UK to publish a crossword, back in 1925. So when we launched our new Puzzles website in 2022, we had a range of key objectives in mind.

While Puzzles sat at the heart of our printed newspapers, our mission was to make them an integral part of The Telegraph’s digital offering. 

We had to do so without alienating our current Puzzles players and risking revenue to the business. These players had grown accustomed to completing our crosswords, codewords and sudoku in the newspaper, or on our decidedly outmoded puzzles website. 

At the same time, to be able to grow we needed to appeal to new Puzzles fans. This meant reaching our current base of Digital Subscribers, as well as a new audience, who might not be familiar with The Telegraph or its Puzzles offering.

We also sought to use our refreshed, reinvigorated Puzzles website to retain current, high value subscribers on our Digital Plus and Print products. 

Accomplishing all of this would be no easy task - particularly in a competitive, crowded landscape. 




Results for this campaign

To appeal to new audiences we set out to give Telegraph Puzzles a stylish new look that would be reminiscent of the newspaper, but offer a more user-friendly, dynamic experience. We recreated the look and feel of our printed Puzzles online, with a design inspired by Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. 

We also introduced new games to broaden Telegraph Puzzles’ offering and make it more accessible to different types of puzzle fans. These included PlusWord, an innovative new word game with a twist, which has been played over 3m times since launching in May 2022.

In a further drive to make Telegraph Puzzles an inherently habitual proposition, we also introduced streaks and achievements. These earnable tokens reward puzzlers for daily play, as well as engaging with the breadth of the offering by taking on new games.

As a result Telegraph Puzzles has had an outstanding first year, and has reaffirmed itself as an integral part of Telegraph’s business. Not only as a subscriptions product in its own right, but also as a tool to improve the engagement and retention of our news subscribers. 

  • Since launch, the Puzzles subscriber base has grown by +55% in just 5 months

  • We’ve delivered high volumes of sticky acquisitions, seening an impressive +18% average week-on-week growth since launch. 

  • We have seen a dramatic reduction in churn, with the survival curve of Puzzles Subscribers +10% higher than that of subscribers to our news products.

  • We've far exceeded our projections for annual subscriptions sold, indicating a product with high levels of engagement.

  • Excitingly, 61% of our Puzzles Subscribers had no existing Telegraph Subscription - suggesting that we have effectively tapped into new puzzles audiences. Providing opportunities to upsell players to our news products.

We ended 2022, having smashed our bold growth targets, with a highly engaged and rapidly growing audience. We now have a reinvigorated Puzzles product that will become a key pillar of the Telegraph’s subscription business in the years to come. 



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