NYT Now’s Brilliant UX Design Optimizes for Mobile App Conversions

By Minal Bopaiah

In case you didn’t hear (really, you didn’t?), The New York Times launched two new subscription packages, NYT Now and Times Premier.

We’ve already covered the pricing and strategy for these two plans, but this weekend I got to download and play around with the NYT Now app, evaluating its conversion points on mobile.

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A few great marketing tactics on the app:

  1. Asking for permission to send push notifications. Push notifications are a great way to increase member engagement, and therefore retention, for a subscription app, but a possible source of annoyance, so subscription app publishers should always ask.
  2. NYT push notifications

  3. The app gives a three-page tour of the app, touting it’s “hand-picked” articles, 24-hour updates and daily newsletter, a great onboarding tactic.
  4. The app marks which stories a reader has clicked on with a small blue dot and flashes how many articles are left in their monthly meter allotment of 10 articles.
  5. The app is VERY video-friendly, playing quickly and seamlessly on a mobile device.
  6. NYT Now offers one subscription plan — $7.99 a month. I was glad to see the Times get rid of its confusing weekly pricing and 99-cent trial here. With a 10-article meter and free access to articles through social media and search engines, there’s no need to create a free trial for light users, which is who NYT Now is targeting.
  7. NYT Now subscription pricing and plan

  8. The “Learn More” option above links quickly and seamlessly to a webpage labeled Help with large text and clear writing. Too often, subscription sites make their terms of use obtuse and jargon-laden, and apps often link to webpages that take forever to download and take you away from the app. When the user clicks “Done” on the webpage (below), s/he is taken straight back to the conversion overlay on the app. Brilliant UX design!
  9. Finally, the app asks users looking to use its “Save for Later” feature (i.e., bookmark articles) to login to their NYT account. While this is certainly a friction point on the app, it’s probably necessary in order for The New York Times to allow users to keep an extensive library of saved articles in a Web-based cloud instead of a downloadable app. However, some copy explaining this might be helpful.

The only negative I could find on the app from a marketing and conversion standpoint is that the Subscribe button is only on the article pages.

NYT Now article page

Having the subscribe button on the page is one great step to increasing conversions, no doubt. But as we learned in our Case Study on Foreign Affairs, a healthy number of subscribers can end up converting through your homepage on a site, or in this case, the opening page of an app. NYT Now might want to consider adding another way to let free users convert.

However, this is a minor tweak, and it’s possible that a Subscribe button on the opening page of an app might make users think the app is not free to use and discourage discovery through article reading. So if you have the means, test this option.