July 31, 2023
In 2022 Bloomberg Media CEO M. Scott Havens announced the company’s shift to an Audience-First mentality with every action and decision the teams make, by investing the time to understand our customers across every platform we operate and to focus on building features, products and businesses that super-serve them. The new blog series, “How We’re Keeping Our Audience First” written by the teams implementing this mandate, will help show how Bloomberg Media is better serving our users.
The third post of this series explains how Bloomberg Media is investing in the way it acquires new subscribers and improves their experience on the website.
By Jenna Davis – Director of Product, Subscriptions
Being audience-first isn’t optional for subscriptions businesses. We have to prioritize our users’ needs in order to grow. Usually, those go hand in hand, but there are times when we have to work creatively to align what’s best for the user to our growth and revenue goals. Over the last few years, we’ve had a ton of experience making these sorts of tradeoffs – and will continue to as business and user needs evolve.
Here are some examples where we opted for better customer experiences at pivotal moments of the product lifecycle – and how we iterated to ensure we could simultaneously deliver great business results.
Acquisition: Paywall vs Reg Wall, Digital Wallet vs Credit Card
In 2023, the product organization set a clear goal: get to know our users better. We identified registration as a key way to do this – and hypothesized that allowing our users to read more content and get to know our brand would benefit the business because 1) users would become more engaged with our coverage and 2) we could get to know them. By capturing a user’s email we unlock a communication channel – both onsite and offsite – and begin the journey of learning, through first party data, what content they read and like, topics they are interested in, newsletters that piqued their curiosity, and perhaps, what jobs they hold or the industries they work in.
This strategy, with the ultimate end goal of increasing conversion rate, was rooted in one additional key question that needed answering, and a sub-hypothesis to prove:
- If most users who visit our website are new, and therefore, might not be ready to buy a subscription, how do we first encourage them to move from the top of our funnel (anonymous) into the middle of our funnel (registered)?
- If we can successfully capture users’ emails, we can leverage an omni-channel strategy to communicate our value and allow the user to sample the product. Or as our Chief Digital Officer, Julia Beizer says:, “Let our users get a chance to date us before they marry us.”
We were confident that a registration-first approach was the right decision for some of our users, but we knew this choice could have an impact on the rate at which our topline subscription acquisition grew. So, we relied heavily on many months of A/B testing data, and iterative experiments to guide our decision making. After testing different onsite journeys for different user segments, we learned that there is no one size fits all approach. We need to leverage timely and topical insights in order to present users with the best suited experience. For example, when users need the news (think: bank failure crisis), consumers are more likely and willing to subscribe. But in periods where the news cycle is softer, we should consider more moments to capture their emails rather than their payment details.
We next identified the checkout experience as an opportunity to “meet our users where they are” (e.g. meet their expectations). Digital wallets were the first thought. The team hypothesized that presenting additional options to credit cards, like Apple Pay and Google Pay, would increase conversion rates. When we dove into the data even further – we identified that 70% of traffic lands on mobile web checkout, but only 30% convert – so rooted in these learnings and a handful of others, we thought about ways to better convert mobile users who may be on the go. What do these users need? Clear and concise information, the least amount of friction, and quick performance.
There were two major onsite checkout points where we could prioritize digital wallet payment methods: on our checkout page and also within our paywall directly, which we call “embedded checkout”. Embedded checkout allows the customer to purchase a subscription while remaining on their article.
Results were strong across the board. Embedding checkout on the paywall drove an 84% lift in conversion rate. Prioritizing wallet payments (over credit cards) on the mobile web checkout page drove a 6% lift in conversion rate. We are excited to continue innovating our acquisition funnel by balancing the latest technology in the space with user needs in order to achieve our business goals.
Engagement: Onboarding vs No-Onboarding
“Onboarding” is a common term that refers to the series of moments and touchpoints a business has with its users – after registration, a purchase, or an app download. It explains the product, how to use it, tips, tricks, features, and more. A successful onboarding flow will allow the user to curate and learn, while ultimately aimed at driving stickier, long-term behaviors.
In 2022, we began registering more and more users. This year, we circled back to ensure we were maximizing our touchpoints with these users; a benefit for both the business (tout our value) and the user (learn about our features). So we looked at how to leverage the onboarding journey for users, some of whom might be engaging with Bloomberg for the first time. This was a key high intent moment to sell ourselves (end goal: conversion).
Our product and design team got together and hatched two different approaches geared ultimately towards conversion:
- Immediately after a user registers, we can capitalize on increasing conversion rate by touting our subscription benefits and our best offer.
- Immediately after a user registers, we can capitalize on increasing conversion rate by getting users intrigued, invested, and engaged in our product (showcasing our features, content, and encouraging them to sign up for newsletters).
We wanted a seamless transition from the post-registration moment to using the product (e.g. reading!). Through experimentation, the team validated this was a productive time and mechanism to engage with our users:
- Post-registration is a high intent moment to drive conversions. Over 3% of site conversions now come from this channel. We generated a 44% increase in conversion rate (on desktop) simply by taking users through a multi-screen onboarding process that culminated in a subscription call-to-action.
- When we take users into a full screen onboarding flow (as opposed to a modal experience on the article), they are more likely to take actions on each step of the journey and therefore, more likely to be stickier users. Full screen onboarding drove a 132% increase in first party data submission over a modal experience.
The team continues to test and tweak this flow, adjusting it for new features, new high value actions, and new ways to reinforce our value proposition.
Our business is cyclical – we are constantly iterating on how to best acquire and then ultimately retain our users. We make business trade offs constantly, but we are geared towards building the best products for our users. More of all this in the second half of the year!