A Data-Led MarketWatch Membership Model
Overview of this campaign
Dow Jones’ ambitious plans for membership growth mean we need to use data not only to refine existing digital products, but also to create new ones. Early in 2020, we assembled a cross-functional team tasked with developing a membership proposition for MarketWatch—bridging skill sets across product, editorial, advertising, and marketing. Applying insights on our audience and how they engaged with our product, we developed a strategy for building and testing a premium proposition for readers of this historically ad-supported personal finance and investing publication.
Our plan for a 2020 launch, of course, was complicated by the onset of a global pandemic and a shift to remote work. This moment, however, also offered an unprecedented opportunity to diversify our business model for MarketWatch. We recognized an emerging demand for a high-quality membership product that met the needs of individuals grappling with challenging financial situations, as well as the millions of new and long-time investors navigating unprecedented market conditions.
Over the span of six months—as the world went into lockdown—we prototyped, tested, and refined our proposition, experimenting with multiple price points and using behavioral economics to craft a journey optimized for conversion, cross-sell, and member retention.
Results for this campaign
For our first test, we sorted 12% of MarketWatch readers into varying offer groups and began the rollout of a metered paywall. We tested prices of $9.99/mo, $19.99/mo, and 22.99/mo, and experimented bundling Barron’s access into the proposition. Over time, we doubled that test group in size, introducing new variants offering multiple tiers of membership. We arrived at an approach that nudged prospects toward our premium MarketWatch-Barron’s bundle pack using the principles of price anchoring and loss aversion—all while optimizing overall conversions.
Analysis was essential to arriving at statistically grounded conclusions on price, retention, choice, and a meter limit of five articles. We also used the insight that actionable investing stories disproportionately drove conversion to inform the development of several new member-only columns, optimized by the newsroom to drive membership. Our data suggested the MarketWatch audience represented a younger, diverse group of readers, navigating financial decisions ranging from buying a first home to determining when they could afford to retire. We built an exciting membership product reflecting the unique needs of those readers, launching to our full audience in October.
In a few months time, MarketWatch has already attracted a sizeable cohort of members—and also doubled our addressable audience for membership. It represents the biggest launch of a new digital membership at Dow Jones in over two decades, and offers a unique view on the role data-informed decisions can play in the transformation of publishers’ digital revenue models.