Experimenting our way to 3 million Wall Street Journal members

The background

For many brands acquisition is a key method for driving revenue, but they often overlook the power of driving deep product engagement to build lasting loyalty and long-term revenue and growth. Letting your product do the talking is a great philosophy but without an effective on-boarding process the propensity to renew and drive long-term revenue is significantly diminished. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had ambitious targets from the outset: wanting to hit a company-wide target of three million active members, with retention being a key part of this drive.

Our ambition

The onboarding experience wasn’t fully optimised with very low engagement and only highlighted four membership features. There was an opportunity to maximise performance through experimentation to help us on our way to hitting the long-term goal of reaching three million members. We knew that if users signed up to a newsletter or downloaded an app, for example, they were more likely to form engagement habits with their WSJ membership and their propensity to renew increased significantly.

  • Increase customer retention rate.
  • Increase newsletter sign-ups.
  • Increase app downloads.
Our approach

Alongside the WSJ team we prioritised actions we wanted members to take (app downloads, newsletter signups, etc.) in their first 100 days, based on the likelihood of these actions to drive habit formation and increase retention.

We crafted a consumer research and experimentation strategy prioritizing the on-boarding experience, understanding that this is where the likelihood for consumers to form new habits is at its highest and also where engagement was really low at the time. We focused on motivating users to engage with the identified habit-forming membership features.

We experimented across both the web onboarding flow and the onboarding email series by optimising the journey flow, experience design, value proposition, functionality and much more. Through these two channels we made new members aware of their membership features and editorial content, driving habit formation.

“Through their laser-guided research strategy to inform a robust conversion rate optimisation plan, we have learned a shocking amount about our own business.“
Peter Gray, VP Product Optimisation, The Wall Street Journal
The results

By focusing on data and insights driven experimentation around key habit forming activities we were able to significantly increase engagement throughout the first 30 days of membership.

  • 18% uplift in customer retention rate.
  • 240% increase in high value onboarding actions taken by new members.
  • 980% increase in newsletter sign ups.
  • 195% increase in app downloads.