The most persuasive argument that will lead readers to take out their credit cards and pay is the publication’s value proposition and its associated content. However seldomly this argument is highlighted, its importance is paramount in the conversion funnel.

Even the best algorithm from machine learning will turn out to be utterly helpless if you don’t have contents and features correlated to a clear and set value proposition that will enable you to form a lasting relationship with your readers.

This said - and even though contents remain the main reason for subscription - the complexity of the user journey, the number of information asked for, the lack of payment methods or the difficulty to unsubscribe are obstacles preventing you to turn your readers into subscribers.

That’s what our series of content “From content to subscription to... content, how many touchpoints?” is all about - understanding very precisely the number of clicks, scroll, necessary information and time spent to eventually access paid content.

In this series of articles, we’ll focus on conversion funnels of editorial publishers (listed below). We’ll focus on publications, but not exclusively on them.


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Today: Quartz!

TL;DR You can find below the journey of a reader wishing to read a premium article on the website of Quartz (desktop):

  • 5 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content;
  • no scroll is needed to see the subscription form in its entirety;
  • 6 fields are required to create an account;
  • a single payment method is available (credit card).

Here is the reader’s journey 👇 (we will follow it together step by step):

Step by step now…

Step 1: The reader wishes to read an article but is stopped by a paywall requiring their subscription

The reader wishes to read a premium article on the website of Quartz but the paywall prevents them from doing so. No scroll is needed to see the paywall in its entirety. The beginning of the article is visible but the rest is blurred and is in the background. The reader has to subscribe to access content.

The reader is offered a free trial. The paywall provides the reader with all the benefits of the subscription, but is long to read. The length of the read may not incite the reader to subscribe, especially if they are reading from a mobile device.

Step 2: Email address collection

Before having access to the offers, the payment form and the creation of an account, the reader must provide their email address. The ‘email address’ field appears directly on the paywall.

It is rather surprising to ask the reader to provide their email at this step of the journey given that the step of creation of an account only comes later.

Nonetheless, it is a good way for Quartz to get in touch with the reader. Should the reader fail to complete the subscription process, it allows Quartz to send them an email to remind them that they haven’t fully subscribed yet.

Step 3: Choice of offer and payment form

Contrary to most of the subscription journey scenari that we’ve previously analysed, a reader of Quartz has to complete the payment step before creating an account.

The choice of the offer and payment form are on the same page. As far as payment is concerned, only payment by credit card is available.

A single offer is available to the reader but the offer falls down in two options both cancellable anytime:

  • A monthly subscription of 14,99 $;
  • A yearly subscription of 99,99 $.

A special offer of -40% is granted on the yearly subscription. Thus, the reader opting for this subscription will pay in one go, so that if they want to unsubscribe during that year, they will already have paid the full amount.

No confirmation of order is sent to the reader at this point.

Step 4: Creation of an account

Once the reader has paid, they have to proceed to the creation of the  account. They have to create a password and fill the subscription form requiring several pieces of information:

  • First name;
  • Company;
  • Role;
  • Job level;
  • Industry.

This information might be useful to adapt content to readers. Moreover, as Quartz has developed a membership entailing more than the subscription to content itself, this information might help Quartz to organise events that are relevant to readers, for instance according to the industry where readers work.

The reader receives a welcome email about their membership.

Step 5: Confirmation of subscription

The reader confirms their subscription and can then choose to:

  • Return to the content they had been wanting to read;
  • “Explore unlimited quartz”.

That’s it, we’ve subscribed to Quartz and were able to read our article!

To sum it up, here are all the steps to read the article:

  • 5 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content;
  • no scroll is needed to see the subscription form in its entirety;
  • 6 fields are required to create an account;
  • 1 payment method is available (credit card).

What about mobile devices?

The same subscription journey - same number of clicks and same options.

The paywall entails the same amount of information which may be difficult to read on a small screen. One scroll is needed.