Why frictionless checkout experiences and CDPs should be publisher priorities

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, USA


Media companies compete today on customer experience journeys, which translates to the ways they orchestrate experiences and optimise flows. Consider that out of 100% of readers who see subscription offers, less than 15% make it to the payment capture page. 

Two experts in e-commerce and CDPs (customer data platforms) shared their thoughts on how to save those customers at a Wednesday workshop during INMA Media Subscription Week 3.0 in New York.

4 principles to deliver a frictionless e-commerce experience 

Kunle Campbell is an e-commerce growth advisor for 2X ecommerce based in the United Kingdom (and a podcast host). He started his career learning how to drive traffic. The lessons he shared with INMA attendees centered on his review of 100+ newsrooms, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, which are both doing it right, Campbell said. 

Kunle Campbell is an e-commerce growth advisor for 2X ecommerce, walks INMA workshop attendees through the key attributes of a successful e-commerce experience.
Kunle Campbell is an e-commerce growth advisor for 2X ecommerce, walks INMA workshop attendees through the key attributes of a successful e-commerce experience.

Squeeze page: Here are a few key points about the squeeze page:

  • The main purpose of the squeeze page is to get the reader’s e-mail address. “The more e-mails you get, the better your potential conversion rates, the better your engagement rates,” Campbell said. “The more e-emails you acquire, the more impact you will have on your bottom line.” With that in mind, perhaps your system doesn’t require a password immediately, saving that until later in the process. Readers often abandon the process at the password step. 
  • The secondary point is to push the main offer. Sure, other offers and information will be on the page. But attention must drawn to the main offer the company is pushing. 

Form design: “Don’t just take the print version and make it digital,” Campbell said. “Understanding the form can change our digital engagement significantly.”

Consider this: 60% of users will choose a one-click log-in with Google or Facebook, The New York Times shared with INMA members on a study tour stop Wednesday morning.

“There are two aspects of form design: the psychology of the person filling our the form and your technology solution,” Campbell said. “People do not like filling our forms. So reduce form fields. Start counting the number of form fields.”

Campbell’s additional form design advice:

  • Use autofill to speed up forms for the most critical information.
  • Establish an agenda and set clear expectations in the checkout process with progress indicators.
  • You do not need demographic information (you should be getting that from your Facebook pixel).
  • Research shows the optimal number of fields is 7.
  • The industry average number of fields is 15. Some vendors can do this for news media companies using just 12, cutting the amount of time readers spend in half.
  • Checkout should include three steps: e-mail capture, customer data capture, payment capture.
  • Make fields and buttons thumb friendly (48 pixels).
  • Keep session records so you can see where people drop off.

Payments: The payment section needs to be unintimidating — maybe four or five fill-in rows. Mobile payments are going the way of the one-click wallet (Apple Pay, Sansung Pay, even Amazon Pay).

Other tips:

  • Make sure there are at least two payment options.
  • Leverage third-party, one-click payment options to accelerate the checkout process.
  • Encourage wallet payments to avoid credit card expiration issues.
  • Subscription sales must lay out expected payment schedule.
  • Provide customer service contact details.
  • Give the appearance of security. 

Speed: Campbell shared many helpful statistics to emphasise the need for speed:

  • Each additional second of load time results in 7% fewer sales.
  • When page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, bounce increases 32%.
  • When it goes to 5 seconds, bounce increases 90%.
  • At 6 seconds, bounce increases 106%.
  • At 10 seconds, bounce increases 123%.

Test, test, test, he advises.

The magic of Customer Data Platforms

“We have a common problem,” said Steve Lok, co-founder and chief marketing technologist at M Matters, also based in the UK. “We run a content business. There is a real difficulty in leveraging the data that exists. We are no longer really in a situation where don’t have data. Now we’ve got a lot. So how do we take these things and make them real? Because your customers are not just data.”

Steve Lok, co-founder and chief marketing technologist at M Matters, shares the importance of CDPs for news media companies today.
Steve Lok, co-founder and chief marketing technologist at M Matters, shares the importance of CDPs for news media companies today.

Why does the industry need CDPs, which build first-party data profiles using multiple qualified data sources, right now? Is it just another platform trying to pull together all the data? No, Lok said. 

“The CDP sits in this place that actually helps us to put together all of those signals that we have too many of … and to actually demystify toward that one-to-one journey, moment-to-moment based marketing that we’re trying to get to.”

Take all the other things you’ve got and set those aside, he said. Imagine if your news company only had a CDP, which focuses on just a few things you need — say, a name and an e-mail address.

“The CDP lets you group all of these different profiles into meaningful audiences,” Lok said. “I’m not just wanting a segment of people on a trial subscription. I want an audience that has a really high propensity to read more than three articles and become a subscriber.”

Lok suggested questions news media companies should ask of potential CDP partners:

  • Do you have a data science team on your platform?
  • Do you have content capability?
  • Do you offer real-time information? 

Using a CDP, a news media company can identify signals of ultra-high subscription propensity: A user hits the paywall often, buys a mug, gifts a subscription. So using that information, what if the media company creates an immediate paywall and offers up an article known to be of interest to the user? 

A CDP can also help identify ultra-low subscription propensity: These users are happy with more ads and will never pay. Using that information, serve up more ads and keep your advertisers happy. 

CDPs work well with marcomms, Lok said: “A CDP is useless if it doesn’t connect with Facebook, Google, Snapchat, ESPs. What’s the point of getting yet another analytics platform? We don’t need more of these things. We have lots of them. The whole point of the CDP is it’s resolving identity. It’s trying to find that one person that exists in multiple places with little fragments of information.”

About Dawn McMullan

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