Optimising subscriber checkout flow is essential to maximise conversions

By Justin Eisenband

FTI Consulting

Washington, DC, USA


For many publishers, top-of-funnel traffic has slowed in 2022 as news fatigue and competitive factors impact overall audience.

While peaks and valleys in the long-term news cycle are often out of publisher control, there are ways publishers can focus on maximising subscriber conversion on those who do make it through the marketing funnel.

One of the most controllable ways publishers can drive improved conversion is to take steps to remove as much friction from the checkout flow as possible while simultaneously developing strategies to win those readers who showed intent to subscribe by beginning the checkout process, but who did not complete the sign-up process.

Potential clients might abandoned checkout efforts for several reasons. Media companies should learn why and fix the process.
Potential clients might abandoned checkout efforts for several reasons. Media companies should learn why and fix the process.

What have publishers learned in setting up their checkout flow? What are the best practices in implementing a minimal friction, high-conversion product? How can news publishers capture those readers who showed sign-up intent but did not convert?

Ideal checkout flow

In today’s day and age, faster is almost always better. Instituting a checkout flow with as few steps as possible to mitigate friction maximises a news publisher’s ability to convert readers into subscribers. The following processes have proven to be successful:

  1. Focus on e-mail capture at the beginning of the checkout flow so there can be a follow up if the reader abandons their cart. When purchasing a subscription, step one is to enter e-mail followed by the second step of entering payment information.
  2. Offer multiple payment options. Allowing users to pay with PayPal, Apple Pay, or other payment services that have their payment information saved cuts the time spent purchasing a subscription, particularly on mobile devices.
  3. Avoid too many options in selecting products to make it easier for the user to quickly complete the process without thinking. While many publishers have historically used decoy offers or allow the user to select “premium” subscription offers, we have seen that eliminating choices and pushing users through the checkout flow as quickly as possible results in the highest conversion.

Despite instituting best practices, news publishers will inevitably see some readers abandon their carts. Therefore, it is important to also initiate cart abandonment campaigns is crucial for recapturing those potential subscribers.

Cart abandonment campaigns

The Baymard Institute calculated data from 41 different studies and found the average cart abandonment rate across all industries is just under 70%. In FTI’s studies, cart abandonment can often range anywhere from 75% all the way up to 97%.

One way to combat cart abandonment is to use retargeting campaigns. These campaigns are cited to be a highly effective way to regain readers who initiated the checkout process but did not complete the transaction.

Cart abandonment campaigns should be sent within 24 hours of cart abandonment and timed with peak open rates as well as with customised messaging identifying the products the reader was interested in.

Publishers should utilise multi-touch campaigns to continue to send reminders for several days following the initial day of the incomplete checkout to increase the number of times retargeted. However, creative re-engagement tactics can be used to try to re-engage the reader and highlight value proposition.

Identifying checkout flow issues

Cart abandonment campaigns can be successful in recapturing readers, but it is important for news publishers to continuously assess and discover ways in which the checkout process is creating the most friction for readers.

News publishers should identify the underlying reasons why a reader abandons the checkout process and take steps to minimise the friction. To assess the current breakdowns of a checkout flow, employ A/B tests to understand how real users react on checkout flow experiences. See how process flows, offers, and messaging can impact pay-flow completion.

Track the point at which consumers click away from your Web site to determine where specific pain points may be in the checkout process. For example, if most readers are clicking away from the payment form, that could suggest the payment form takes too long to fill out.

Minimising cart abandonment is worth the investment

Converting readers to digital subscribers is an essential task for news publishers so they can generate steady, recurring revenues. Employing a checkout process with minimal friction facilitates the readers’ journey. Simplifying the flow and utilising processes such as e-mail capture, autofill, and multiple payment options can help prevent consumers from abandoning the checkout process.

Yet, if a reader does abandon the process, use tests and tracking to diagnose the issue. Cart abandonment campaigns should be deployed to regain these readers. With so much work going into engaging and pushing readers down the funnel toward conversion, it is worth publishers’ time and investment to build a frictionless checkout process that minimises cart abandonment.

About Justin Eisenband

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