ContentBiz Summit 2006: Reuters Selling Content Online: What We’ve Learned

by David Eckoff · 0 comments


NEW YORK – Joanne Casley, who leads Reuters consumer facing paid content businesses in the U.S., presented an in-depth case study “Selling Content Online: What We’ve Learned”.

We’ve all heard of Reuters thanks to the company’s global reach. What you might not already know is that Reuters has launched premium content offerings, including pay-per-view analyst research reports and subscriptions services for individual investors.

As Reuters developed their paid content offerings, they faced some major challenges. Foremost, the company has historically had a business-to-business focus, and lacked experience and systems to support a business-to-consumer initiative. For example, the company didn’t have any of the following: an e-commerce platform, a shopping cart, recurring billing system, customer support for online customers, segmented customer database, path analysis, or A/B split testing. Adding to the challenge, it wasn’t easy to make changes to Reuter’s technology systems on the fly.

To overcome these challenges, Reuters partnered with research company “Marketing Experiments”. The company helped Reuters build a separate testing platform to host test pages, enabling Reuters to bypass their own in-house technical constraints and get quick learning.

What Reuters learned about optimizing marketing pages:

  • Emphasize Free 30 Day Trial in the page title as the biggest incentive Simple explanations of the value proposition work best.

  • Capture customer e-mail addresses up front, so even if they don’t complete the purchase, you have their e-mail address. This decreases click-through but increases overall conversion
  • Include a clear call to action
  • Set expectations about the sign-up process (“Just two easy steps”)

    What Reuters learned about optimizing the order process:

  • Shopping cart works REALLY well for pay-per-view purchases, with average concersion from items added to the card 82%
  • Shopping cart is less successful for converting free trial subscriptions
  • Shopping cart is also less successful for converting traffic from search engine marketing, for these users, the cart process is too long
  • The instinct that shorter order forms result in better conversion proved to be incorrect.
  • Words such as “Start” and “Activate” performed better than “Register”
  • A surprise “incentive” increases completion of the order form. Casley believes that it doesn’t matter what the prize is, as long as it is relevant to the offer.

    What Reuters learned about product name testing:

  • Marketers surveyed got it all wrong, voting as the best names those that performed worst in test results.
  • Intuition isn’t always right…
  • The best performing name increased conversion by 9%
  • Capitalize on a brand with existing recognition and awareness

    What Reuters learned about customer research:

  • Informal, low-fidelity customer research is as valuable as an expensive study
  • Contact customers frequently and informally to improve the quality of feedback, establish an ongoing 2-way communication channel, and get on-the-fly guidance
  • Data from even low-fi research can help secure management buy-in
  • A beta program for a new product can enable you to identify usability issues, fix bugs, pre-sell to users who might upgrade to the product and create buzz around the new product. And it costs next to nothing.
  • Users value the opportunity to give feedback and appreciate being asked for their opinion IF they care about the service.
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