A subscription journey in autopilot mode


by Marco Lorenzi


by Marco Lorenzi

Optimising conversions for your business in the digital space is not the result of a magic formula. It doesn’t happen instantly, it’s not a matter of luck. It’s the result of a wide range of practices and testing phases, which are key to building a trustful relationship with the user throughout the funnel.

How do we build trust? Why are consistency and usability so important? What’s the optimal number of steps to increase the chances to convert users and reduce friction? These are a few of the questions that are still open to different opinions and interpretations. Here, we tried to answer them and offer a quick dive into the optimal user journey for a subscription business, with a few ideas that can help to create a seamless experience. This is what we imagine to be a journey that can be run (almost) in “autopilot” mode.

Build trust and provide reassurance

When customers are considering making a purchase, they need the reassurance they are making the right choice. Crucial to any business, this aspect becomes even more relevant when talking about OTT services. Without subscribing, a  service is not something tangible that can be seen and experienced, and users need to know that they can trust your business before they can make the decision to complete the purchase.

One of the elements that can be key to drive users’ trust towards your proposition is the possibility to cancel the subscription in an easy, painless and -most importantly - quick way. This is something a subscription form should state and make prominent, to avoid a potential customer being discouraged from completing the purchase due to any lack of clarity. Put simply, leave the door open. Users who will have a smooth experience in leaving your platform are more likely to come back.

As important, word of mouth is one of the communication channels that undoubtedly can move the needle the most. Social media can be used to show how happy existing customers are. Think of the ratings that appear in the app stores or the benefits of good reviews about your services on the internet. There’s no better business card to look reliable and safe.

Visual consistency and usability are key

UX professional Steve Krug published his number one bestseller “Don’t Make Me Think” back in 2000. Visual messaging is one of the “must haves” in the digital space. Have you ever had the experience - following a click on a call-to-action - to land on a completely different website? It can be unsettling, if not explained properly and beforehand. Having a seamless experience when moving from social to a landing page, where the user is aware of what is happening and will happen, is fundamental to keep your users with you convince them to complete their purchase.

Fundamentally, don’t make your users think. If you do, you risk making them unhappy. Users don’t want to treat your site or app like some sort of cryptic crossword – they want to know what they should do immediately and then do it. The more you make people think, the more likely they are to go elsewhere to get the job done.

3-Step process - less is more!

Finally, the journey to the completion of the purchase itself. The process should be as easy as possible, and that’s why here I believe that less is more. What is the magic number, I hear you ask? Three - that’s the optimum for the entire checkout process. More is too many, fewer can not be enough.

Research did show how in 2018 a “too long or complicated process” was the third most mentioned reason for abandonment during checkout. After all, don’t people usually go online to save time, rather than spend it? If you waste people’s time, they will move on. This is why an indication of step-by-step progress - with a set of reassuring messages - should be at the forefront of a checkout form. Most importantly, make sure only vital information is asked at this important stage. All the rest, really, can wait.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of a “back'' button. It’s still one of the most used features of the internet today, and provides users with the possibility to go back from where they started, should they get lost.

Why is reducing friction so important?

In conclusion, the answer to this final question is rather straightforward - frustrated customers will go elsewhere. Or - even worse, in the absence of alternatives - they will adapt to different ways to consume content, and you will miss out on a huge opportunity to convert them to long-term subscribers. What’s worse is that customers are willing to put up with an inferior service if they don’t have to pay for it, accessing free and illegal sources of content. This will make it very difficult to persuade them to come back and try again.

So, keep it consistent, short and remarkable. Users will choose you for the value of what you’ll give back to them.

Follow our OTT & Marketing series (links below) for more insights on the subscription business. Our next chapter will go through the intricacies of defining your buyer persona.

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