Depending on who’s counting, there are at least 160 paid-subscription financial newsletters published in North America. The most popular focus on stock recommendations, but there are others covering everything from options and futures to precious metals and mutual funds.
There are also a few large—and numerous small—Web-based investment advisory services, many of which sell stock and mutual fund recommendations in a variety of online and offline formats.
Among these financial newsletter editors, Louis Rukeyser is perhaps the one most familiar to the general public—largely because of his TV show. He publishes two newsletters: Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street and Louis Rukeyser’s Mutual Funds, the latter—as its name indicates—focused solely on mutual funds. It is the landing page for this mutual fund newsletter we are reviewing today.
LouisRukeyser.com’s Landing Page Scorecard
1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B
The landing page carries Mr. Rukeyser’s byline directly under the headline. That’s a good strategy for two reasons. First, it creates the impression that you are reading an article, rather than a promotion. And second, it gets Mr. Rukeyser’s famous name right up front, where it should be.
Promoting the famous Rukeyser brand is also accomplished by placing the newsletter masthead above the headline (remember, Rukeyser’s name is prominent in the newsletter title) along with Mr. Rukeyser’s photo and signature; these images provide graphic reinforcement for the brand.
The headline itself, “Here’s how to put the best fund managers in the country to work for you,” is a sensible statement and promise. But it could be much more powerful.
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Part of the problem is that it’s not specific. What does “best” mean? Are these the fund managers with the best performance today? This year? The past 5 years? The past 10 years?
Also, what’s the benefit of putting the best fund managers in the country to work for me? If it’s to help me outperform the broad market, show me, right in the headline, how they did it—for instance, “How the top 10 fund managers helped my readers turn $100,000 into $398,450 in just 15 months … with less risk than the S&P 500!”
2. Story and Content – B
The lead is specific and engaging, telling you how you would have turned $10,000 into $194,943 within 20 years by investing in a fund with a great manager, but would have turned $10,000 into $836 by investing in a fund with a lousy manager.
The rest of this long-copy landing page is similarly strong. It does a great job of explaining the “big idea” or system behind the newsletter, which is increasing mutual fund profits by finding the best-performing fund managers and revealing their favorite stock picks. (The reader can either buy those funds or the individual stocks.)
When discussing their track record, the copy focuses not on the newsletter’s performance but on the track records of the fund managers he profiles, which are indeed impressive.
The one flaw is that there’s not enough promise, early in the copy, of future benefit. I know these fund managers have done great, but they’ve already been covered in the newsletter. If I subscribe today, what will I learn that will help me make more money today and tomorrow?
The easiest way to remedy this is to create a premium with the best current stock or mutual fund picks, and offer that early in the copy—perhaps even in the lead.
3. Content Webification – B
Several standard devices have been used to make this long-copy newsletter promotion work on the Web. One is the use of a two-column format, with a column running along the right margin used to get additional sales points across. The other is the placement of links to the order page early and periodically throughout the long copy, rather than waiting to the end to give the link.
Some experts say that placing a link to the order page too early in the copy can depress response. Reason: people click through to the order page before they are sold, and then click away without ordering.
On the other hand, other experts say that placing links to the order page early and often throughout long-copy landing pages increases the conversion rate, and that’s been my personal experience in most instances. So this is something you may want to test.
4. Email Capture – C
When I clicked away, I was not served a pop-up window offering me a bribe (e.g., a free e-newsletter or special report) in exchange for my email address. This is a huge tactical error for any landing page.
Why? Because if you get the visitor’s email address before he leaves without ordering, you can serve him a series of follow-up emails via autoresponder attempting to convert him to a trial subscription. And, you’ve added another valuable name to your house e-list. Without his email address, you have lost the opportunity for follow up, significantly reducing your conversion rate.
5. User Testimonials – C
I didn’t see any testimonials here. True, the Rukeyser name is such a strong brand that the need for credibility building is not as strong as it would be with most other advisors.
But even though I know Rukeyser, I may not have heard of his mutual fund newsletter. And so I need to see testimonials from subscribers, the media, and experts saying that this service is worthwhile and makes money for its readers. And I don’t.
6. Links to Order Flow – B
The various links throughout the landing page promise a 100 percent risk-free trial to the newsletter when you click on the link. Clicking brings you to a simple, easy-to-follow order page where you can sign up for that trial.
The one flaw—and it’s a big one—is that the offer of a “100% risk-free trial” is not repeated or explained on the order page. (It is explained in the closing text of the right-hand column, but if you click on a link before that and go to the order page, you won’t see it.)
7. Labeling and Language – B
The landing page uses clear language and avoids terms not commonly understood by the target user. Terminology is consistent, and “power words” (e.g., “risk-free, guarantee”) are used throughout to encourage ordering.
8. Readability and Content Design – B
The typeface and layout are familiar, common and easy to read. The long copy is made readable with the use of subheads, links, bullets, and dual columns: there’s a wide central column with the main message, and additional selling points running through the right margin.
9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C
What’s lacking is any sense of news or reference to what’s going on in the market right now.
There are a number of powerful trends affecting the markets and outlook for investors today. These include China’s booming economy, record U.S. trade deficit, looming threats of inflation, the new bull market in natural resources, continued fears over global terrorism, interest rate hikes and rising oil prices, to name a few.
The writer of this landing page is either blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the real world or doesn’t think the latter is relevant to his product. But since it’s an investment advisory, he is wrong.
10. Load Time – B
This is a fast-loading page. When tested using the Web Page Analyzer, the page downloaded in 23.72 seconds over a 56K connection.
11. Aesthetics – B
The target market for investment newsletters is accustomed to reading long-copy letters, and so the text-intensive design used here is totally appropriate. We know from years of testing that newsletter subscribers are information seekers. So if the copy is informative and exciting—and this copy is—they will read it.
I didn’t give the page an A because the designer did not go the extra mile to make it more grabbing and compelling, e.g., putting key words in bright red or blue, or highlighting key points in yellow, or calling attention to copy with graphic devices like arrows or simulated handwriting in the margins.
12. Order Options – B
The primary order option is to click on a link and go to the order page where you can subscribe online. Other contact information—an address, toll-free phone number, fax number, and email for customer service—appear at the end of both the landing page and the order page.
You get two free special reports when you sign up for one year, and four free reports when you subscribe for two years—this is clearly indicated on the landing page and the order page.
You also get a nice discount off the regular rate. This is made clear on the landing page, but not on the order page, which only gives the price—but does not indicate that it’s a discount off the regular rate.
Overall, this is a solid effort: long, compelling copy, a powerful idea (you should invest in the funds and the stock picks of the best managers only) and lots of proof that the idea works (the track records of the fund managers profiled in the newsletter).
The reason it rates a C instead of an A is that there are a number of significant flaws in the execution—such as lack of tie-in with news and current market conditions—that may be holding this promotion back from achieving its maximum conversion rate.