11 APR 2019

Converting readers into subscribers – convenience of your payments is crucial

POSTED UNDER Digital Goods Digital Publishing Direct Carrier Billing Payments Subscriptions
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Keith Voogla

Sales Manager

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  • Simpler payment flows mean higher conversion. Card-based user journeys are outdated and also affected by PSD2 in Europe.
  • You need to include alternative payment methods for the readers who can’t or won’t make card payments.
  • Mobile payments are preferred due to their simplicity and security. That’s why they’re used by digital streaming services like Spotify and Netflix.

Turning readers into subscribers is the billion dollar question for the digital publishing industry. Almost half of publishers (44%) see subscriptions as a very important source of digital revenue, whereas digital display advertising and branded and sponsored content are seen as declining revenue sources.

Growing the percentage of subscribers is one of the most important goals for any digital service and its importance as a key performance indicator keeps growing. But how to get more people to actually subscribe?

One way to approach this challenge is to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and also analyze the data that you have on them. Data-driven decision making can help you pinpoint what is preventing them from becoming a subscriber and if can that reason be resolved. Data is the key to making informed daily decisions.

Some users start buying the subscription but don’t finish the transaction. At what point does the users give up? Might it be because the process is too long or they are taken aback by the offered payment methods? How to help them over the finish line?

Below we bring out a few ideas for making sure you’ve covered all angles with your payments strategy.

How to convert readers who leave the payment flow?

Convenience of the payment flow is crucial – simpler flows mean higher conversion. 27% of people have cancelled a purchase due to a lengthy payment process. 90% of digital publishers say simpler user flows and churn prevention are their key focus.

Most user journeys have been built with credit card payments in mind and thus involve additional steps that are not needed with alternative payment methods. With mobile payments only the user’s phone number is needed to process the payment, which means details about their address, location or ZIP code are just clutter.

Payment flows in Europe are additionally affected by the PSD2 directive that takes effect in the fall of 2019. It requires strong authentication for card-based payments, which means higher friction in the payment flow and a setback in revenue. Mobile payments offer a viable alternative, as the regulation doesn’t apply to carrier billing.

Loading speed times in the checkout flow need to be kept as low as possible as well. If load speed times can not be reduced, then at the very least users should be made aware of things going on in the background. For example, if the payment is being authorized, the users should be notified: “Please wait, authorizing payment, which may take up to 10 seconds”.

Finally the payment window should match your identity. Ending up in a different looking payment window reduces the reader’s trust. With most payment providers, it’s possible to whitelabel the payment window to match your visual identity.

Further trust can be added by displaying brands in the flow that the user knows – for example, with mobile payments showcasing the mobile operator’s logos makes it clear to the consumer that this is the channel that they will be charged through.

How to convert users who can’t or won’t use credit cards?

There will always be readers who can’t or won’t make card payments. You can make payments available for more people through offering alternative payment methods.

The latter may be the result of both fear and effort. You wouldn’t bother looking up your credit card information for a transaction of few euros – in many cases you probably wouldn’t even dare to share that information left and right. People today are more afraid of online fraud than getting robbed on the street.

Traditional bank-based payment methods are widely available in Western Europe. So why is carrier billing relevant and the 3rd most popular payment method for digital content in the region? Even though consumers have other payment methods to choose from, mobile payments are preferred due to their simplicity and security.

Readers do not need to sign into additional accounts, payments are completed in a few clicks and no personal data is shared online. The last point is especially relevant in the context of new privacy regulations (GDPR). As more and more content is consumed on mobile, it’s also obvious that paying with the device in hand is much simpler than trying to find and type in your card information.

It’s no wonder mobile payments saw a 152% rise in Western Europe in 2018. Digital streaming services like Spotify and Netflix offer mobile payments to their users all over the world – you can pay for both by mobile from the Philippines to Germany.

In summary…

Converting readers into subscribers is one of the most impactful things that digital publishers can do to grow their revenue. For example integrating mobile payments increased Aftonbladet’s subscription growth by more than 20%. If you see some segments underperforming compared to others with your existing payments setup, it would be a good idea to take a good look at your payment methods.

Fortumo provides digital publishers with PayRead, a frictionless payment solution for user and revenue growth. If interested, get in touch.

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