Join our team

We look forward to receiving your information and cv regarding a role with InterMedia

Upload your CV

Contact us

Unit 6 The Enterprise Centre
Kelvin Lane, Crawley,
RH10 9PE

22nd June 2017

The Times grows its registered users to 1.2 million

Title says users are "four times more likely" to take a subscription.

Like a lot of newspapers, The Times is trying to grow its paying subscriber base. But going in cold with a subscriptions message to non-Times readers doesn’t always work. That’s why the Times has focused on getting people to register as a first step toward asking them to pay.

During the past year, the Times did six months of rigorous testing into what would get people to register for access to two free articles on its site, which has a hard paywall. Getting readers to return for the second article took additional prompts, as did converting those who returned into paying subscribers. As a result, it got 1.2 million users to register, and initial tests show they’re four times more likely to subscribe than those who aren’t registered, according to the publisher.

The Times has 430,000 people paying for subscriptions, 185,000 of which are digital.

“If we take anonymous users and push them through a buying journey and they bounce, we basically have a 30-day anonymous cookie. Unless [we] can convert them in 30 days, [they] just go back to being anonymous. We wanted to bridge that gap,” said Chris Duncan, managing director of the Times.

The Times assigned eight people from marketing, editorial, audience development and product to monitor which articles drove the highest upticks in registrations, decide where to focus social media spend to boost those articles on social platforms and then tweaking the design of marketing messages around them to prompt conversions once users clicked through to the Times’ desktop and mobile sites.

The Times used social platforms as the main shopfront, posting articles marked for registration pushes to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Users that clicked through were taken to a landing page showing the headline and a 100-word preview of the article, where they’d be asked to register. From that point, the bulk of the experiments occurred.

“We experimented with the tone and wording of messages, their position on the page, whether we interrupted with a pop-up or a bar floating at the top of the page and what we did on mobile compared to desktop. We’d tweak and refine on a weekly basis, based on the data,” said Nick Petrie, deputy head of digital of the Times.

In-depth analysis and exclusives, profiles and opinion pieces are the Times’ bread and butter, and the registration drive reflected that. Politics and lifestyle pieces drove high numbers of registrations, though articles were selected for registration pushes on a daily basis from across the news agenda. Increases have occurred gradually rather than in big waves, with the exception of a few major news events like the death of well-known restaurant critic and Times columnist AA Gill in December, and an exclusive interview with Donald Trump, the former U.K. justice secretary and Times columnist Michael Gove in January. Petrie said both stories drove “considerable” sign-up but wouldn’t give specifics.

One of the biggest challenges was nudging users that had clicked through to an article on a Facebook post into completing their sign-ups. That’s where the most drop-offs would occur. Reducing the number of fields they had to complete for free access helped. Requests for phone number and location, which the publisher could infer from IP addresses, were therefore dropped.

Those who registered automatically received the Times’ daily email newsletter, which features editorially curated highlights from that day’s editions. The email was particularly useful in driving people to their second free-access article.

Users didn’t respond well to the use of loud colors and aggressively worded messages in overly prominent places, so the Times adjusted accordingly. Those who returned a third time were sent more urgent prompts to subscribe, including a full-page message informing them that their free access had ended and that to see the article they had clicked on, they would need to subscribe.

The Times is considering making video available to non-subscribers, Petrie said. That said, the publisher won’t succumb to the scale trap anytime soon.

“There comes a point when you stop looking at the big reach figure and only care for the conversions. The target is making a channel that drives weekly subscription acquisitions,” Duncan said. “A lot of our targets will be around the efficiencies and sophistication of how we tell when people are ready [to convert].”

Written by Jessica Davies, 21 June, 2017, published on Read the full article here

Keep in touch
Get our free weekly retail
newsstand report
Enter your email below for our free weekly retail newsstand report, InterMedia updates and relevant industry news. You
can easily unsubscribe at any time. Click here for our privacy policy.
Get in touch

Unit 6 The Enterprise Centre
Kelvin Lane, Crawley,
RH10 9PE

Registered in England & Wales: InterMedia Brand
Marketing Limited. 07256268. Registered Office: North
Quay House, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth. PL4 0RA
Subscribe today
Enter your email below to subscribe
for InterMedia free weekly newsstand
reports, updates and industry news.
You can easily unsubscribe at any time using the link at the
bottom of any of our emails, or by emailing us. Click here
to read our full privacy policy.
Part of the InterGo Group
The InterGo group work together
seamlessly to connect and deliver
brands to consumers.
© 2021 InterMedia Brand Marketing Limited. All rights
reserved. InterMedia is a trademark of InterMedia Brand
Marketing Limited. All content, trademarks, artwork and
associated imagery are trademarks and/or copyright
material of their owners.
We love cookies
This website uses cookies based on your browsing activity. By continuing
to use this website you consent to our Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy.