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.

  • Financial Times ;
  • Washington Post ;
  • New York Times ;
  • Aftenposten ;
  • Quartz ;
  • Wired ;
  • The Athletic ;
  • Netflix (VOD) ;
  • Canal + (VOD) ;
  • Majelan (audio) ;
  • Audible (audio) ;
  • Skillshare (e-learning).
  • Codecademy (e-learning).

First on the line, The Financial Times!

TL;DR You can find below the journey of a reader wishing to read a premium article on the Financial Times website:

  • 4 clicks needed to subscribe and return to content
  • 4 scrolls needed to see the subscription form in its entirety
  • 8 required fields
  • 2 payment methods available

Here’s the reader’s journey - we’ll go through each step of the journey.

So, step by step.

Step 1 - The reader wishes to read the article and is stopped by a paywall

Only the title can be seen, the content is not available. The paywall is entirely visible on the screen and 4 offers are directly presented to the reader.

  • Trial;
  • Digital;
  • Print;
  • Entreprise.

Step 2 - The payment form

We opt for the "Trial" offer and are redirected to a one-page payment form. 4 scroll are needed to see the form in its entirety and there are 8 required fields:

  • Email address;
  • Password;
  • First name;
  • Last name;
  • Phone number;
  • Your industry;
  • Your role;
  • Your responsibility.

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2 payment methods are available:

  • Credit card;
  • Paypal.

During the purchase journey, the reader is led to customize the type of content they’ll get as a subscriber as well as the communication channel (email, phone, postal mail…) through which they’ll access it.

Step 3 - Payment confirmation

After having filled out the form, the subscription is confirmed.

Once the payment has been validated, the reader sees a screen confirming their subscription - this confirmation is done rather factually.

Step 4 - The reader is subscribed and has access to content

When clicking on “Start Exploring”, the reader isn’t automatically redirected to the article they were reading before subscribing. They’re redirected to the home page and then they have to select the content they initially wanted to read. (+ 2 clicks)

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

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

  • 4 clicks to subscribe and return to content;
  • 4 scrolls to fill out the subscription form;
  • 8 required fields;
  • 2 payment methods.

What about mobile devices?

The same subscription journey - same number of clicks and same options. But the paywall and the subscription offers have been optimised to put the “Trial” offer on the first screen.