From 6 Subscriptions per Month to 60 per Week – Shopping Cart Fail?

The extrapolated Subscription ROI for the first year is approximately 757.19%, Nett USD$2,105,920

This case study examines a global investment services firm headquartered in New York City, with offices in major cities worldwide.

The firm’s Asia/Pacific Stocks & Shares division, based in Sydney, Australia, sought to address the low conversion rate of their Google Ads campaigns for their “Investment Advisory Reports.”

Despite significant efforts and a substantial budget, the firm was only generating six (6) subscriptions per month, resulting in meager projected revenue.

This case study explores the challenges faced by the firm and the solutions implemented to achieve a remarkable increase in subscription numbers.

It involves clash of personalities, inter-department bickering, deceit by omission, USA v Australia, and corporate bureaucracy

Misunderstandings and Communication Challenges:

Throughout the case scenario, several misunderstandings and communication challenges arose, hindering the progress of the project.

These issues occurred at various levels, including cultural differences, interdepartmental communication, and varying regulatory requirements and understandings.

1. Cultural Differences:

The investment services firm was a global organisation with offices in major cities worldwide.

This global presence meant that cultural differences played a role in the project’s execution.

The head office in New York City had different business practices and expectations compared to the Asia/Pacific, Stocks & Shares division in Sydney, Australia.

These cultural disparities led to miscommunication, differing work approaches, and a lack of alignment in strategic goals.

*During our consultancy, resentment towards the Australian division was very clearly evident and verbalised, from NYC as to the entitlement and frequency of ‘paid’ Public Holidays and Vacation time in comparison to the USA.

2. Interdepartmental Communication:

Effective communication between departments is crucial for the success of any project.

However, in this case, interdepartmental communication seemed to be intentionally lacking.

The consultancy team at Havoc Digital struggled to obtain adequate answers and information in a timely manner from internal departments.

This lack of transparency and cooperation hindered our collective understanding of the data flow and the overall subscription process.

The failure to establish clear channels of communication and collaboration between departments slowed down the problem-solving process.

3. Regulatory Requirements:

The investment services firm encountered challenges related to varying regulatory requirements across different regions, USA v AU.

In particular, complying with the Australian regulatory body, APRA, was mandatory for providing financial advice.

The requirement to complete a comprehensive questionnaire before giving advice created a roadblock in the subscription process.

However, this critical information was not adequately communicated to the marketing department or Havoc Digitals’ e-commerce consultancy team initially.

The lack of awareness about these regulatory requirements caused confusion and hindered the implementation of an effective solution.

By addressing the misunderstandings, improving interdepartmental communication, and considering varying regulatory requirements, the investment services firm enhanced its operational efficiency, minimised future project delays, and maximised the potential for success in its global project initiatives.

Misunderstandings and Communication Challenges with Personal Ownership:

In addition to the misunderstandings and communication challenges mentioned earlier, the project faced an additional complication related to personal ownership.

The Head of Investment Services in Australia considered the project his “baby,” leading to a potential bias and resistance to external input.

This personal attachment can sometimes hinder the overall project progress and create barriers to effective collaboration and problem-solving.

Personal Ownership:

The Head of Investment Services in Australia had a strong sense of personal ownership over the project.

As the driving force behind the initiative, he had emotionally invested in its success and concealment of the genuine source of the idea.

This personal attachment created a sense of possessiveness and resistance to outside perspectives, recommendations, and involvement.

Consequently, it becomes initially challenging for the Havoc Digitals team, to make significant contributions or challenge existing approaches.

By addressing the personal ownership issue and fostering a collaborative environment, the project team overcame the emotional barriers and leverage the collective expertise to drive meaningful results.

It is essential to emphasise that the project’s success relied on the combined efforts and diverse perspectives of the entire team, transcending individual ownership to achieve shared objectives.

Challenges with Claimed Personal Ownership and External Influences:

In addition to the previously mentioned challenges, the project was further complicated by the fact that the original idea came from a disgraced Investment Advisor and Stockbroker, Rene Rivkin.

This external influence added another layer of complexity and potential bias to the project, as the Head of Investment Services in Australia claimed ownership of the idea.

The apparent concealment, or innocent omission was heavily and repeatedly referenced by the management team at the head office in NYC, as its heredity was not disclosed at the conception and then fast-tracked implementation.

1. Influence of Rene Rivkin’s Idea:

The original concept for the project was derived from Rene Rivkin, a well-known former Investment Advisor and Stockbroker who was later disgraced and convicted of insider trading in 2003.

The Head of Investment Services in Australia, inspired by Rivkin’s idea from the 1990s, became personally attached to the project.

This attachment may have clouded objectivity and made it challenging to objectively evaluate the project’s viability and effectiveness.

By addressing the external influence issue and promoting objective decision-making, the project team ensured that their actions were driven by a comprehensive assessment of the project’s viability and alignment with strategic goals.

The project as a whole was on the precipice of being terminated by the Head Office in New York City. 

This approach enabled the team to make informed decisions based on the project’s intrinsic qualities and its potential to deliver tangible results, rather than being influenced by external figures or ideas.

Disclaimer: It is important to note that Mr. Rene Rivkin, a former investment advisor and stockbroker, had no direct contribution, or association with the firm, nor did this project have any relevance to the subsequent insider trading conviction mentioned in this case study.

The inclusion of Mr. Rivkin’s name is solely for historical context and does not imply any endorsement or association with the project or its outcomes.

The Head of Investment Services in Australia, who developed the project, may have extrapolated from his personal reverence for Mr. Rivkin’s charisma and expertise to shape his interpretation and approach to the initiative.

However, it is essential to emphasise that Mr. Rivkin’s involvement or influence on the project was limited to the inspiration drawn from his past ideas, prior to his conviction for insider trading in 2003.

The subsequent success and positive outcomes discussed in this case study are the results of the collaborative efforts and strategic decision-making by the investment services firm, their dedicated teams, and the implementation of effective marketing and optimisation strategies.

Any personal interpretation or connections made by individuals involved in the project are subjective and not indicative of Mr. Rivkin’s association, involvement, or endorsement.

This disclaimer is provided to ensure clarity and accuracy regarding the circumstances surrounding the project’s development and the absence of any direct connection between Mr. Rene Rivkin and the subsequent outcomes achieved by the investment services firm.


The firm had a well-established in-house marketing department responsible for managing a Google Ads campaign across various regions, including Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and the United States.

Despite substantial targeted traffic, favourable click-through rates, and other positive metrics, the campaign failed to convert effectively.

With an allocated annual Google Ads budget of USD$120,000, generating a projected USD$5,000 in revenue for the year, it was a clear indication of a significant problem.

Inter-Department Games: IT, Web Development, and Marketing Departments

Within the investment services firm, the interplay between the IT, Web Development, and Marketing departments contributed to the overall challenges faced by the project.

These departments, each responsible for crucial aspects of the project’s success, encountered various inter-departmental games and conflicts that hindered effective collaboration and problem-solving.

1. Siloed Work Environments:

One of the key issues that emerged was the presence of siloed work environments within the different departments.

Each department operated independently, focusing on its specific tasks and goals, without sufficient cross-functional collaboration.

This lack of interdepartmental communication and coordination created barriers to sharing important information, aligning strategies, and addressing shared challenges.

2. Lack of Communication and Coordination:

The IT, Web Development, and Marketing departments were not effectively communicating and coordinating their efforts – irrespective of time zones.

Important information, such as the data flow for the entire subscription process, was not adequately shared among the departments.

This lack of communication hindered the overall understanding of the project, resulting in a failure to identify and address critical issues that were impeding conversions and sales.

3. Blame-Shifting and Finger-Pointing:

In an environment where collaboration is lacking, blame-shifting and finger-pointing became common behaviors.

When issues became glaringly obvious, instead of working together to find solutions, the departments engaged in a game of shifting responsibility and avoiding accountability.

This behavior further exacerbated the challenges and hindered the progress of the project.

4. Misalignment of Priorities:

Another factor contributing to the inter-department games was a misalignment of priorities.

The IT department, Web Development team, and Marketing department may have had different goals and objectives, leading to conflicting strategies and approaches.

This misalignment created tension and prevented a unified focus on improving conversions and optimising the subscription process.

Strong leadership and executive support are essential for fostering collaboration and resolving inter-departmental conflicts.

The Leadership failed to promote a culture of collaboration, set clear expectations for teamwork, and intervene when necessary to address any games or conflicts. Their involvement and support is critical to facilitate the resolution of inter-departmental issues and create an environment that promotes collaboration and shared success.

Google Ads Investigation and Analysis:

Upon the management team becoming aware and instigating a review, we were enlisted to review their Google Ads account and campaigns.

The initial analysis revealed no glaring issues with the campaigns themselves.

However, further scrutiny uncovered a fundamental flaw within the subscription process.

Investigation and Analysis: Evaluating the Ads Campaign

To identify the underlying issues and optimise the Ads campaign for improved conversions, a comprehensive investigation and analysis was necessary, and thusly undertaken.

The following elements played a crucial role in undertaking this process effectively:

1. Account and Campaign Review:

A thorough review of the Google Ads account and campaigns was essential. This involved examining the campaign structure, targeting settings, ad groups, ad creatives, keywords, and bid strategies. The objective was to ensure that the campaigns were set up correctly and aligned with the project’s goals.

2. Performance Metrics Analysis:

Analysing performance metrics provided valuable insights into the effectiveness of the Ads campaign. Key metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, bounce rates, time on site, and cost per conversion were assessed. This analysis could help identify any patterns or anomalies that would explain the low subscription rates.

3. Audience Targeting Assessment:

Understanding the target audience and evaluating the effectiveness of audience targeting strategies was fundamental, considering the various markets and languages. This involved assessing the relevance and accuracy of the selected demographics, interests, and geographic targeting.

The goal was to ensure that the Ads were reaching the right audience and attracting individuals with a genuine interest in the investment advisory reports.

4. Ad Copy and Creative Evaluation:

The examination of ad copy and creative elements was vital to determine their impact on audience engagement and conversions. This analysis included assessing the clarity of messaging, relevance to the target audience, call-to-action effectiveness, and overall visual appeal.

By evaluating these aspects, it would be possible to identify potential improvements to increase ad engagement and click-through rates.

5. Landing Page and User Experience Review:

Analysing the landing pages and user experience was paramount to understanding the customer journey and identifying any potential barriers to conversions. This assessment involved evaluating the landing page design, load times, mobile responsiveness, ease of navigation, and clarity of subscription instructions.

Any issues or friction points that could deter users from completing the subscription process needed to be identified and addressed.

6. Competitive Analysis:

Assessing the competitive landscape provided valuable insights into the strategies and approaches adopted by competitors in the investment advisory market. This analysis included evaluating their ad messaging, targeting, landing page experience, and subscription processes.

Understanding the competitive landscape helped identify areas where the Ads campaign could differentiate and optimise its approach.

7. Data Flow and Technical Investigation:

Examining the data flow and technical aspects of the subscription process was a key component to uncover any hidden issues. This investigation involved collaborating with the IT department, web developers, and shopping cart developers to understand the customer journey, data capture points, and potential bottlenecks.

It aimed to identify any technical obstacles that might have contributed to the low subscription rates.

By undertaking a comprehensive investigation and analysis of the Ads campaign, the investment services firm gained a holistic understanding of the campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. This information formed the basis for making informed recommendations and optimising the campaign to drive improved conversions and revenue growth.

Identifying the Shopping Cart Abandonment Issue:

To uncover the root cause of the low conversion rate, the Havoc Digital team examined the data flow and scrutinised the shopping cart system. They discovered that the shopping cart was a new Russian-based product introduced to the market by an Australian reseller.

Unfortunately, the reseller lacked the technical knowledge, support, or a deep understanding of the product.

The Havoc Digital team directly engaged with the shopping cart developers and analysed the cart’s abandonment rates.

It became evident that the extensive questionnaire required for compliance with Australian regulatory requirements (APRA) was the root cause of potential subscribers abandoning the subscription process.

As financial advice was regulated, the questionnaire had become a non-negotiable component of the subscription process.


Validating the Shopping Cart Abandonment Issue:

To validate what appeared to be the obvious reasons behind the high shopping cart abandonment rates and address the issue, the following elements were crucial in the investigation process:

1. Data Analysis:

Analysing the data related to shopping cart abandonment was essential. This involved examining the abandonment rates, identifying the specific points in the subscription process where users were dropping off, and comparing the rates across different customer segments (Countries and languages) and traffic sources.

By studying the data, patterns, and trends it shed further light on the root cause of abandonment.

2. Customer Feedback:

Gathering feedback from customers who abandoned their shopping carts provided valuable insights. This feedback was collected through direct telephone communication, as Name, Address and Telephone numbers were cached prior to abandonment.

Understanding the reasons why customers decided not to proceed with their subscriptions uncovered the glaring obstacle to the subscription process that needed to be immediately addressed.

3. Regulatory Compliance Analysis:

Understanding the regulatory requirements related to financial advice subscriptions was imperative and communicated to the USA management team.

This involved reviewing the compliance standards set by regulatory bodies and ensuring that the subscription process complied with these standards.

By evaluating the regulatory compliance aspects, any discrepancies or unnecessary hurdles in the subscription process could be identified and addressed.

4. A/B Testing and Optimisation:

Implementing A/B testing techniques allowed for the comparison of different versions of the subscription process to determine which elements were causing abandonment and which modifications could lead to improved conversions.

By testing variations of the shopping cart, questionnaire placement, and subscription flow, the team could identify the most effective configuration and optimise the process accordingly.

By undertaking a thorough investigation encompassing these elements, Havoc Digital pinpointed and demonstrated the specific factors contributing to shopping cart abandonment.

This knowledge served as a foundation for implementing targeted solutions and improving the subscription process, ultimately driving higher conversion rates and revenue growth.

Proposed Solution:

To address the shopping cart abandonment issue, the Havoc Digital team proposed a simple solution.

They recognised that the regulatory requirement of completing the questionnaire could be moved to a later stage in the subscription process, as it only applied to the provision of advice.

By allowing prospective subscribers to complete the questionnaire after making the purchase, the team aimed to remove the barrier to entry and expedite the payment process.

Results and Impact:

Implementing the proposed solution yielded outstanding results.

The firm’s subscription numbers skyrocketed from six (6) per month to an average of 60 per week.

The calculations projected an impressive annual gross revenue of USD$2,383,920 for the first year.

Accounting for advertising costs of $120,000, management fees of $18,000, and associated fulfillment expenses of $140,000, the return on investment (ROI) became a critical metric to evaluate the success of the initiative, and ongoing future of the project and long-term career outlook of the Head of Investment Services in Australia.

Based on the figures provided, we can extrapolate the Return on Investment (ROI) in the first year as follows:

Projected Revenue:

Number of subscriptions per month: 258

Subscription price per month: USD$70

Subscription price per annum: USD$770 (with 1 month free)

First-year projected revenue: 258 subscriptions * USD$770 = USD$198,660 per month

Total projected gross revenue for the first year: USD$198,660 * 12 = USD$2,383,920


Google Ads spend: USD$10,000 per month * 12 = USD$120,000

Management fees: USD$18,000 per annum

Campaign costs: USD$140,000 (estimated fulfillment costs)

Total costs: USD$120,000 + USD$18,000 + USD$140,000 = USD$278,000

ROI Calculation:

ROI = (Net Profit / Total Investment) * 100

Net Profit = Total projected revenue – Total costs

Total Investment = Google Ads spend + Management fees + Fulfilment costs

Net Profit = USD$2,383,920 – USD$278,000 = USD$2,105,920

Total Investment = USD$120,000 + USD$18,000 + USD$140,000 = USD$278,000

ROI = (USD$2,105,920 / USD$278,000) * 100 = 757.19%

The extrapolated ROI for the first year is approximately 757.19%.

This indicates a highly favorable return on the investment made in the Ads campaign.

The significant increase in subscriptions resulting from the optimisation efforts led to a substantial boost in revenue compared to the initial projections, resulting in a strong ROI for the investment services firm.

No consideration was given to any additional revenue opportunities associated with BUY/SELL options or opportunity benefits that could occur.


By addressing the significant hurdle of the mandatory regulatory questionnaire in the subscription process, the global investment services firm was able to unlock substantial revenue potential.

Havoc Digital’s expertise in identifying the shopping cart abandonment issue, managing and liaising across departments over continents, dealing with personal interests, and then proposing a streamlined solution resulted in a remarkable increase in subscriptions and a significant boost in revenue.

This case study emphasises the importance of analysing every aspect of the conversion process and understanding the unique relationships and regulatory requirements to optimise e-commerce performance and achieve substantial growth.

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