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.
- The Financial Times Paywall
- The Washington Post Paywall
- The New York Times Paywall
- Quartz Paywall
- Wired Paywall
- The Athletic Paywall
- Netflix Paywall (VOD)
- Canal + Paywall (VOD)
- Audible Paywall (audio)
Not sure what a paywall is? Want to find out about it's benefits for publishers? Check out this article.
What's needed from a user who want's to subscribe to Wired?
- 5 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content (without including the block step via uBlock)
- 3 scrolls are required
- 10 fields need to be filled in
- 2 payment methods are offered (card or amazon pay).
So, step by step.
Step 1 - The paywall
After having read several articles on their website, we're eventually blocked by a paywall which requires us to subscribe in order to continue reading.
We click 'Subscribe now'.
A tracking script (double click) was blocked by default by uBlock.
We accept the script temporarily and go through to the next step.
Step 2 - The choice of the offer
The top of the page shows the 5 stages of subscription, clearly showing the user what they will have to do and what progress they're making.
Firstly, we have to provide our location, even in the case of a digital offer.
We choose the "Digital Only Access" offer.
Step 3: Payment
Now we choose the payment method, credit card or Amazonpay. The reader is reassured here that they can cancel at any time. This part also includes the billing address.
Several fields are required when filling out this step of the form:
- First name
- Last name
- Optional address info (apt, floor...)
- City, province and zip code
The information asked for are similar for all offer options. The user is required to provide information about their home address even if they choose a “digital only” offer.
Then the payment is confirmed.
Step 4 - Account creation
After payment, the account is confirmed and an email sent to the user.
Perhaps, to make the process even simpler, the user could have paid before needing to fill out the form. However, they do leave the creation of a password stage until this point as well as provide an order summary.
Step 5 - Access to content
Password has been confirmed and the user can now start reading content.
Step 6 - Reading an 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 the steps needed to subscribe:
- 5 clicks are needed to subscribe and return to content (not including the block step via uBlock)
- 3 scrolls are required
- 10 fields need to be filled out
- 2 payment methods are offered (card or amazon pay)
What about on mobile devices?
The same subscription journey, same number of clicks and same options.