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.


Today: The Washington Post!

TL;DR You can find below the journey of a reader wishing to read several articles on the website of The Washington Post (desktop):

  • 6 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content;
  • 1 scroll is needed to see the subscription form in its entirety;
  • 2 fields are required to create an account;
  • 3 payment methods are available (credit card, Paypal, Amazon Pay).

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

Step by step now…

Step 1: The reader wishes to access the second article but is stopped by a paywall requiring their subscription.

The title and the main picture only can be seen, as scrolling is impossible. The paywall is entirely visible to the reader and offers only one option:

  • A trial costing a dollar that can be cancelled any time (cancellation topic also tackled afterwards)

Step 2: The reader can now choose between two offers

  • All Access digital (6$ every 4 week);
  • Premium EU Ad free (9$ every 4 week).

We opt for the “All Access digital” offer.

Step 3 : Payment form

We are redirected towards a payment page where a single scroll is needed to see the whole form. A single field is required: the email address.

The form falls out in 4 parts: confirmation of the choice of the offer, bank details, payment method and total to pay.

3 payment methods are available for us:

  • Credit card (most highlighted payment method on the website) ;
  • Paypal;
  • AmazonPay.

Step 4: Payment validation and order confirmation

We validate our subscription.

At this point we are asked to create an 8-character password. Creating a password after the payment simplifies the purchasing journey of the user.

The payment is now validated. We are sent a purchase recap and afterwards are redirected, for the second time, to an order summary stating our username (our email address).

Step 5 – Reading the article

When clicking on "start reading", we weren’t redirected to the article but to the home page.

1 click later, we found the article we were trying to read.

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

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

  • 6 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content;
  • 1 scroll is needed to see the subscription form in its entirety;
  • 2 fields are required to create an account;
  • 3 payment methods are available (credit card, Paypal, Amazon Pay).

What about mobile devices?

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