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Home » Publishers: Steal these subscriber onboarding ideas | What’s New in Publishing

Publishers: Steal these subscriber onboarding ideas | What’s New in Publishing

Form habits, collect data, build trust… use these onboarding ideas to increase retention rates

The importance of a registered member or subscriber’s first few days and weeks after conversion shouldn’t be underestimated.

It’s your chance to:

  • Welcome your user & thank them for converting
  • Form a habit of consuming your content
  • Increase frequency and recency of visits
  • Collect first-party data to better understand your user
  • Personalize the user experience and improve the service provided to them
  • Educate users on what they now have access to
  • Reassure, build trust and establish a relationship with the user
  • Provide immediate value to help them feel confident in their decision to convert

In short: onboarding supports high retention rates and so, high average revenue per user (ARPU).

With this in mind, we’ve created a list of onboarding steps to steal from some of the most successful content producers.

2 things to note before getting in:

  • Make sure to define the goals for each step, prioritizing what you’d like to achieve and limiting the journey to 3-4 steps maximum onsite, with additional emails/communication being spread out across the weeks after conversion
  • If you employ a registration model, we’d highly recommend leading new members through onboarding just as you would for subscribers. The benefits are the same and it can significantly increase the user’s propensity to subscribe in the future

Newsletter sign up


  • Increase engagement through forming a habit (consuming content on a regular basis)
  • Deliver value that matched their interests directly to their inbox
  • Allow the user to personalize their own experience.

Benchmark example: The Telegraph

Small box for each newsletter detailing the frequency, title and short value proposition. One click is all that’s needed to register to a newsletter.

The Telegraph onboarding



  • Improve the user experience
  • Bring value to the user from the moment they convert (through presenting content that matches their interests)
  • Learn about the member/subscriber

Benchmark example: Pinterest

Easy-to-select, supporting visuals, wide range of options and each step is completed on the same page, making for a very smooth, simple user experience.

Pinterest onboarding content
Pinterest onboarding

Download the app


  • Make content available to the user at all times (in their pocket, on the go)
  • Encourage a user to turn on push notifications to be alerted when new content is released
  • Increase engagement
  • Show users what they now have access to

Benchmark example: The Economist

QR code makes it simple to download the app and the list of benefits plus the value proposition (“Discover the best of our daily and weekly analysis, at your fingertips”) help convince us.

The Economist onboarding app
The Economist onboarding

Email from the editor


  • Thank your reader (make them feel valued)
  • Start to build a relationship with your user
  • Educate them on what they now have access to
  • Deliver immediate value

Benchmark example: The Times & Sunday Times

A variety of features that a subscriber now has access to, covering more than just traditional written content. Photo and signature from the editor gives a personal touch, helping to build a close relationship and give a face to your publication. Links and descriptions for each feature make uptake easy.

The Times & Sunday Times onboarding
The Times & Sunday Times onboarding

On-site navigation support


  • Show your user around, educating them on subscriber benefits
  • Provide immediate proof of the value of their purchase

Benchmark example: The Sydney Morning Herald

SMH have a metered registration model, followed by a metered subscription model. Following registration, the user is led through a few onboarding steps including on-site navigation pointers showing UX features that registered members now have access to, such as the ability to save content for later.

The Sydney Morning Herald onboarding
The Sydney Morning Herald onboarding

Data collection


  • Improve the user experience and service provided
  • Collect first-party data to learn about your audience
  • Show the value of your offer

Benchmark example: Welcome to the Jungle

Although a brand publisher rather than traditional publisher, Welcome to the Jungle’s onboarding journey is an interesting one to be inspired from. The data collection directly benefits the user (who will have more personalized job offers) and the publisher (who will better understand their audience). WTTJ are also quick to provide a list of potential job openings that match our search, proving the value of their offer.

Publishers: steal these member & subscriber onboarding ideas
Welcome to the Jungle onboarding

Madeleine White
Content Marketing Manager, Poool

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