This series looks at the paywalls employed by a variety of online content producers. The user journey, the amount of information required from the user, the payment methods offered and the ease of unsubscribing. These are all key to ensuring the success of a paywall, hence why we created this series and are analyzing the conversion funnels of these publishers.

Remember, however, that your most valuable tool to persuading a reader to take out their credit card and subscribe is your value proposition and content.

We'll cover:

Not sure what a paywall is? Want to find out about it's benefits for publishers? Check out this article.


First on the line, The Financial Times Paywall!

What's needed if a reader wants to read a premium article:

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

So, step by step.

Step 1 - The reader wishes to read an article but is stopped by a paywall

A user can only see the title but the rest of the content is blocked. The paywall is entirely visible on the screen and gives 4 subscription offers.

  • Trial
  • Digital
  • Print
  • Entreprise
The Financial Times Paywall

Step 2 - The payment form

We opted for the "Trial" offer and are redirected to a single-page payment form. 4 scroll are needed to see the form in its entirety and we are asked to fill out 8 fields:

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

EN--Banner-Blog--720-_-200-1

The Financial Times Subscription Journey

2 payment methods are available:

  • Credit card
  • Paypal
The Financial Times Subscription Journey

During the purchase journey, the reader is given the chance to customize the type of content that they can read as a subscriber as well as decide on their preferred communication channel (email, phone, postal mail…).

The Financial Times Subscription Journey
The Financial Times Subscription Journey

Step 3 - Payment confirmation

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

The Financial Times Subscription Journey

Once the payment has been validated, the reader sees a screen confirming their subscription. The confirmation screen is done fairly factually, aligning with the brand style and has a bill-like layout.

The Financial Times Subscription Journey

Step 4 - The reader has subscribed and can now access content

Once subscribed, the reader can click on “Start Exploring” and they are redirected to the homepage. This can prove fairly frustrating for a newly subscribed user as they aren't taken back to the article that they originally wanted to read. 2 additional clicks (at least) are therefore needed to get back to that article.

The Financial Times Subscription
The Financial Times Subscription

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 fields to be filled out
  • 2 payment methods available

What about mobile devices?

The same subscription journey, same number of clicks and same options. However, given the smaller amount of space on the screen, the subscription offers have been optimised to place the “Trial” offer on the first screen.

The Financial Times on Mobile