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 driver 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: Wired!

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

  • 5 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content (without including the block step via uBlock);
  • 3 scrolls are needed to see the entirety of the subscription form;
  • 10 fields are required (including fields concerning the home address for a 100% digital subscription);
  • 2 payment methods are offered (card or amazon pay).

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


So, step by step.

Step 1 - The paywall

After having read several articles on the website of Wired, we are eventually blocked by a paywall which requires us to take a subscription to keep on reading. We do so.

Step 1.1 - "uBlock has prevented the next page from loading"

A tracking script (double click) was blocked by default by uBlock.

We accept the script temporarily and go through the next step.

Step 2 - The choice of the offer, the payment and the creation of the account

All this in a single page:

  • Step 1: choice of the offer (and of the location);
  • Step 2: payment with Amazon Pay or credit card;
  • Step 3: creation of the account.

For the first step the location is needed whatever the offer chosen, even in the case of a digital offer. We choose the "Digital Only Access" offer.

The different offers are displayed factually and revolve around the features available in the subscription. The value proposition is shown to the reader at the top of the page ("The Future is already here") but is not very visible for the reader.

Step 2 states simply and clearly the payment methods available. The reader can be reassured thanks to the possibility to unsubscribe at any point.

Several fields are required when filling out the third step of the form:

  • First name;
  • Last name;
  • Location;
  • Address;
  • Optional indications about the address (apt, floor...) ;
  • City, province and postal code;
  • Email.

The information asked for are similar whatever the offer chosen. The fields relative to the address are mandatory even if you choose a “digital only” offer.

Then the payment is confirmed.

Step 3 - The creation of the account

Surprisingly enough, the creation of the account happens after the payment. This is rather ingenious, because the most important point is that the reader subscribes quickly and the creation of an account comes in fact second to reach this aim. Yet this good idea could have been pushed further if the entirety of the required fields for the creation of an account (first name, last name, email address…) had been asked for at this third step.

At this third step we are simply asked to create a password and validate it. A recap of our order and of the conditions for renewal are listed at the end of the page.

Step 4 - The confirmation of the order and access to content

At this fourth step the payment is confirmed to the reader who can then access content.

Step 5 - Reading the article

When clicking on “start reading” we weren’t redirected to the article we had previously been trying to read but to the home page.

1 click later we found back the article we wanted to read.

That’s it, we’ve subscribed to Wired 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 (without including the block step via uBlock);
  • 3 scrolls are needed to see the subscription form in its entirety;
  • 10 fields are required (including fields concerning the address for a 100% digital subscription);
  • 2 payment methods are offered (card or amazon pay).

What about mobile devices?

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