Best Practices Highlights

Launching, evolving and scaling a digital business involves so many factors and variables that require expertise to thrive for the long-haul. Piano is stocked with industry experts and benchmark data to accelerate and sustain that success, which is reflected in our Best Practices Highlights — snapshots into strategies and tactics you can use to make your team and business be best-in-class.

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Journey Orchestration

Propensity Targeting

Using subscription propensity for user targeting

Many subscription websites rely on a single measure — article views — to decide when to ask users to pay. That's a blunt instrument that blocks users who are unlikely to subscribe. And at the same time, some users who probably would pay are allowed to keep reading. A better tactic is to use machine learning that tunes to your website and audience, and predicts who's going to subscribe and who won't.

Targeting Tactics

Test LTc tactics with low incremental cost first

Piano’s likelihood to cancel (LTc) algorithm sorts visitors into high- and low-cancellation risk buckets. Since some tactics can negatively impact revenue, it's worth starting with an approach that has no or low incremental cost (i.e. if cancellation is highest in the first month, consider a subscriber premium (a physical good, event ticket, competition for prizes, or similar) that provides more reason to get through the first renewal).

Churn Targeting

Notify churned users that their subscription is no longer active

When targeting your "churned users" segment, you'll want to start by touting your normal paid offering rather than a discount. You many eventually need to provide a discount to get additional churned users to re-subscribe, but a simple message telling the churned user that their subscription has expired that directs them to the standard offerings can have high conversion rates.

Auto-renew Targeting

Target subscribers with auto-renew disabled

Once auto-renew is disabled only a small fraction of visitors will re-enable it without a reminder, so remind them. One way to retain them is offering a free upgrade to premium tier products (assuming there is no incremental cost).

Post-Trial Targeting

Use LTc targeting to retain users post-trial

Piano's likelihood to cancel (LTc) algorithm sorts visitors into high- and low-cancellation risk buckets. Trial period users have higher churn risk overall, with free trial users more likely to churn than paid trial. Reduce that risk by using onboarding campaigns aggressively during that trial period, to make sure users know their subscription benefits, and get engaged and using the site and those benefits.

To learn more about Journey Orchestration, click here to contact us

Onsite Content Recommendations

Editorial Support

Get editorial support for personalisation

The most common barrier to personalisation is getting the editorial team sold on the value of technology. Try starting with article recirculation widgets and potentially automating section fronts below the fold. Then you can try incorporating these features into homepage elements and other premium digital real estate.

Building Experiences

Main factors to consider when building content recommendation experiences

Instead of focusing on which algorithms to use or targeting content recommendations too narrowly at the outset, we recommend focusing more on decisions like where on your page. Widget location has a significant impact on lift, with more prominent widgets driving more engagement.

Use Cases

Primary use cases for content recommendations

How should you use content recommendations, you ask? One way is to give exposure to a wider set of articles. This can help your audience discover hidden gems that never got enough promotion, giving those articles a chance to find an audience and increasing discoverability on your site.

Suggested Placements

Suggested content recommendation placements

While content recommendations can be used anywhere that content is promoted, some locations perform better than others. The right sidebar is an area to consider replacing an existing "trending" or "most read" widget with a more sophisticated set of four or five articles with images stacked.

To learn more about Onsite Content Recommendations, click here to contact us


Suggested Placements

How to effectively use split testing

Don't use too many variants when split testing. For subscription conversions, which tend to be lower in volume, it can often make sense to just have one or two new variants and a control in order to get statistical significance as quickly as possible.

Landing Pages

Run tests on your subscription landing pages

On most sites, the highest conversion rates and largest volume of new subscriptions happen on the landing page. So it's important to optimise performance there first. Test price, number of offers, benefits language, design and more.

To learn more about Testing, click here to contact us

Ad Blocking

Minimise Blockers

Don't allow ad-blocking visitors to dismiss whitelist request messages

When minimising ad blocking, a hard lock is recommended because such messages perform ~10X better than dismissible messages.

Disable Blockers

Disable ad blocker or pay" offers can increase ad-block disablement

Having an offer that allows visitors to either disable their ad blocker or pay can be effective because it will often result in increased ad-block disablement rates.

To learn more about Ad Blocking, click here to contact us



When to use a regwall

First, assess the value of registrations to your business overall. They could be anything from collecting user identity and tighter management of a metered paywall to setting user expectations about your content and site value. To get deeper tips on how to use a regwall, say

Email Conversion

How to use email to increase subscriptions

Your email list is chock-full of prospects you can tempt with subscriber-only content, special offers and new features. The most effective conversion tool is the content itself. Send editorial emails that drive consumption and entice users with premium, locked articles, rather than simply sending subscription promotions.

To learn more about Registration, click here to contact us


Active Churn

Strategies for lowering active churn

Since long-term subscriptions retain better, add more long-term options. Many sites offer a 20% discount to annual vs monthly purchasers. Bigger price differences between annual and monthly — in the range of 30% or 40% — can push more subscribers towards annual.

Passive Churn

Strategies for lowering passive churn

Among the easiest and most effective tactics for lowering passive churn is re-attempting to charge a customer after an initial payment failure. After implementing 30-day grace periods, many publishers can successfully charge 30-40% of initially failed payments simply using retries.

To learn more about Retention, click here to contact us


Price Cliffs

Watch out for "price cliffs" in your subscription business

Every product has psychological price thresholds above which demand drops like a cliff. They tend to occur at round numbers — like $5 or $10 for monthly, $50, $75 or $100 for annual.

Higher Pricing

How to get customers to accept higher prices

Consumers have set ideas about how much to pay for different products called mental accounting. Associating with a higher-priced category can help make higher prices seem fair. Peloton charges $39 per month for access to its videos because the main mental reference is a $36 SoulCycle class (which makes $39/mo feel like a deal) rather than a streaming service (which makes $39/mo feel like highway robbery).

Optimal Pricing

What’s the right price for your product?

The right price depends on your strategy. Do you want to maximise the number of subscribers, revenue, brand perception or some other metric? A well-designed pricing survey can help identify user price sensitivity and willingness to pay.

To learn more about Pricing, click here to contact us