Globe and Mail deconstructs its onboarding experience

By Katrina Bolak

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


The Globe has spent many years creating and iterating the subscriber onboarding experience. From our learnings, we have broken down our subscriber onboarding experience into five stages. These stages are based on subscriber tenure, a desired action, and behavioural insight.

These stages help guide our plans when determining what and when to communicate. It is the first step to check when segmenting communication works, and they help inform the goals and strategy of something as simple as an e-mail to promote a new newsletter.

The Globe uses a five-step process for successful subscriber onboarding.
The Globe uses a five-step process for successful subscriber onboarding.

The five stages are:

  1. Account confirmation.
  2. Successful start.
  3. Nurture behaviour.
  4. Build a habit.
  5. Monthly engagement/reengagement.

In this post we will walk you through steps one through three.

Step 1: Account confirmation

  • Goals: Confirm account information and ensure subscribers have correct login information so they have a seamless experience while being introduced to The Globe and Mail.

The first step is table stakes: We must confirm account details and provide a pay service agreement, which also confirms to a subscriber that his account is live and payment has been processed properly. At this step, we build in the opportunity to graciously welcome a new subscriber through e-mails and on-site messages. The language is simple, welcoming, and transparent, and ensures ease of access to our customer care team should they have any questions. These communications are immediately triggered by completing the subscription process.

Step 2: Successful start

  • Goals: Demonstrate value, get subscribers on the site and trying different platforms, and begin gathering user preferences.

By the third day of a subscription, the new subscriber has read the original content that convinced her to subscribe and it’s time to show the full breadth of access to The Globe and its tools, benefits, and content.

Through a series of e-mails and a mailed welcome card, we thank the new subscriber and direct him to our member benefits Web page, newsletter sign-up page, and download instructions for our app and digital newspaper replica, Globe2Go (the PDF version of the newspaper, available at 5:00 a.m.). We include visual cues for navigating our Web site, such as the key for subscriber-only content. Every communication to the new subscriber must underline the impressive value of a Globe subscription.

Step 3: Nurture behaviour

  • Goals: Get subscribers on the site regularly, going deeper into content subsections to get a more robust view of their interests for future segmentation.

During this phase of the subscriber journey, we continue to introduce the voices of The Globe, our newsletters, sections, and more. The first 30 days of our relationship with a subscriber is crucial as this is when churn is at its highest. Subscribers are figuring out how they want to use our products and how the different platforms fit their lifestyle and add value to their day. Therefore, we must make quick and tactical work of the time we have to lay out the best welcome mat and create a Globe habit in the daily routines of new subscribers.

From a data perspective, this period is also crucial for us to gather patterns of user behaviour. We need 30 days of data to accurately serve up future content based on interests and for our e-mail segmentation.

The first 30 days of the subscriber experience is highly protected and we ensure no other e-mails are sent outside of the onboarding experience. This move has helped ensure a clean test environment and refines the experience for subscribers.

About Katrina Bolak

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