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Landing Page Reviews

Wall Street Journal 20-Free Issues Landing Page Review

At first blush, you would probably expect that a world class publication, with all its resources and media knowledge, would have a truly inspiring landing page. They are, after all, The Wall Street Journal.

At first blush, you would probably expect that a world class publication, with all its resources and media knowledge, would have a truly inspiring landing page. They are, after all, The Wall Street Journal.

So it was with great expectations that I clicked onto the page for a look at how the big boys market subscriptions and boost circulation. Once again, we are forced to put away our own preconceived notions about the product and the company while we submit the landing page to the cold, objective test of the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard.

  • This WSJ landing page sports a huge logo that offers nothing in the way of benefits or features—they have got to know better than this.
  • This landing page has all the personality and relationship building potential of a speed limit sign.
  • The language is pretty standard—free issue(s)—soft offer stuff that you can crib off just about any piece of soft offer direct mail.
  • There is no reason to rush this order—nobody says it’s a limited time offer or anything approaching an urgency issue.
  • Somewhere out there a copywriter fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

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WSJ.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – D

A lot of small businesses advertising in local publications seem to think that just slapping their logo onto the top of a small ad will relieve them of any sort of copywriting responsibility. This, in my opinion, is never a good idea for small businesses and an even bigger mistake for larger outfits. This WSJ landing page sports a huge logo that offers nothing in the way of benefits or features. They have got to know better than this. They are, we find out later, giving away four weeks of their product. Doesn’t that seem worthy of a large, aggressive headline? Twenty issues of a leading newspaper is a pretty snappy offer, but one that is not sufficiently exploited in this landing page.

This WSJ landing page sports a huge logo that offers nothing in the way of benefits or features.

2. Story and Content – D

This is really just an Internet order form, the creators of which obviously assume that the (admittedly) formidable reputation of the newspaper will entice people to pay attention and order the free issues they’re offering. The headline over the photo of the issues promises that if we subscribe today we will “receive FREE weeks!” OK, just how many weeks would that be? The five weeks that are implied by the five issues under the headline, or the four weeks they mention in the tiny squirt of copy under the logo/headline?

3. Content Webification – C

Other than a standard Internet order grid and some submit and reset form buttons, nothing is happening here from a webification standpoint.

4. Relationship Building – F

This landing page has all the personality and relationship building potential of a speed limit sign. Just some information that we can absorb and use or look at briefly and ignore.

5. User Testimonials – F

The landing page has zero testimonials.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

How can we criticize the order flow when this site is nothing but one slightly glorified order form? If you want the free issues, just fill out the form and hit submit.

7. Labeling and Language – B

What little language and labeling exists on the page seems fine to me. The language is pretty standard—free issue(s)—soft offer stuff that you can crib off just about any piece of soft offer direct mail.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

This is extremely easy to read, perhaps because there is so little sales copy and the order language is so standard. Not hard to read and not dense at all.

Not hard to read and not dense at all.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – F

There is no reason to rush this order. Nobody says it’s a limited time offer or anything approaching an urgency issue. And, in terms of freshness, this site could have been mounted up and left on the Internet for years. That’s not shelf life, that’s staleness.

10. Load Time – A

Loading time was well within the 15 seconds the Mequoda Scorecard recommends. This did not come as a shock, since there is almost nothing to the site that would have required longer loading time.

11. Aesthetics – C

The page is not hard to look at. The graphic of the five newspaper copies is commonplace to the point of being cliché. Surely, the WSJ could have come up with something more compelling than a stack of back issues.

12. Order Options – A

The order options, which are basically accept the 20 free issues or don’t accept them, are pretty clear. If you know your address and other contact information, you will be able to use the form easily. If you can’t provide that kind of basic information, you probably don’t need the WSJ or any other publication.

Conclusion

This is a nearly total failure as a landing page. Perhaps the reputation of the newspaper can save them, but I doubt it. Somewhere out there a copywriter fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

By Don Nicholas

Chief Executive Officer

During his decades long career, Don has worked with colleagues, clients and partners to design digital publishing and marketing systems for more than 300 magazines, newsletters, memberships, clubs, and events. Don currently serves as executive publisher for Cabot Wealth Network, Food Gardening Network, Financial Freedom Federation, I Like Crochet Network, I Like Knitting Network, and Recipe Lion Clubs. His team's Haven WordPress CXMS offers publishers the industry’s most flexible and robust online publishing and marketing platform. Don and his strategy team have served as management advisors for virtually every major niche publishing company in North America including Meredith, Hearst, Trusted Media Brands, and hundreds of independent for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He has managed and led educational events for MPA, SIPA, FIPP and Harvard University. He has authored numerous books and hundreds of articles on journalism, publishing, technology and marketing. Before founding Mequoda in 2004, he served as founder and chief executive officer for Blue Dolphin Magazines and Lighthouse Communications Group. He started his media career as a journalist and producer working for the Armed Forces Network aboard the USS Enterprise. Don holds degrees and certifications in organizational management, journalism and electrical engineering from Capella University, Sacramento State University, and the United States Navy.

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