“Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is web design done right. It’s making a page that is perfectly designed to sell, or get sign-ups, or get downloads, or whatever the page is there for.”
– Dr Karl Blanks & Ben Jesson, ‘Making Websites Win’

There is little value in floods of traffic to your website if those users don’t convert.
Maybe it’s because the page takes too long to load; or maybe your value proposition isn’t clear…Or, maybe, it’s a combination of one or more of a million other things that ultimately have failed to provide your users with a compelling reason to stick around.
CRO is how we take the guesswork out of what things aren’t working, and double-down on those that are.

The Objective

The Economist were finding it hard to encourage users to renew their subscription packages once they’d expired.
Through collaborative research and a thorough understanding of their business, we created a unique, two-pronged approach to the issue:

  1. An optimisation project to understand why and where users were dropping out of the renewal journey funnel, and fixing it through UX design.
  2. A heuristic evaluation of the full subscription journey to develop ideas and fixes to encourage users through the funnel.

With the end-goal of increasing subscribers, we got to work.

Data analysis & design overview

Following a deep dive into The Economist’s website and social data, we flagged a significant drop off in user numbers between two fundamental pages in the funnel, enabling us to develop a strategy targeted at these pages. 

Knowing this, we were able to perform a much more focused UX analysis of emails and pages with the highest open and conversion rates, and found that those performing best used compelling brand language and highlighted benefits for returning users.

We were able to see a pattern in the lack of awareness of the benefits associated with subscribing combined with problematic usability, accessibility and design best practices.

What did we do?

Clear and Concise Copy

The Economist had previously tested some hypotheses around the order pages, which offered all three packages and didn’t call out the value the customer would receive through renewing. They also required the user to click on each product to see further information. They were unable to get significant uplift from these tests.
We removed unnecessary steps, cleaned up the amount of info for each product and centred it.

With our data and research gathered, we were able to create designs with simple usability and employing engaging copy relating the user to the product, ie the ‘FOMO’ principle was used to encourage user to “be in the know before others”. We also offered the user one strong CTA in red which was a small but significant change to the usability of the page.

Simplicity in Design

We knew that simplicity of usability and the brand heritage were huge factors in encouraging the user to renew.  
We used compelling brand language and persuasive design patterns such as

  • limited choice to remove decision fatigue
  • price framing techniques around copy and perception
  • directional cues from Trump’s eye-line to focus on the CTA

Highlight the Core Value Proposition

In a crowded marketplace, The Economist has strong brand recognition and a reputation for delivering topical and relevant news in an interesting way.
By pulling in dynamic imagery and news headlines at the top of the page we ensured it was always showing current content, helping to entice the users who wanted to receive the latest subscription to read about the headline.

Leveraging Offer Language – a ‘Subscriber Exclusive’

Another goal required us to urge current subscribers to switch an auto renewal package type. One of our variations framed it as a ‘subscriber exclusive’ which was automatically selected upon landing on the page, whilst the other highlighted the savings of choosing the renewal package.  By removing the majority of copy, we were able to create a simple pricing page and reframed the pricing to make it more digestible.

So…did it work?

In short…Yes.
Framing the package as a ‘subscriber exclusive’ led to an uplift in annual auto renewal purchases of 43% – which also led to an increase in the average lifetime value of subscribers.