There’s been a lot of talk recently about The Sun going behind a paywall and we’re still debating whether this will be a success or not. Competitors like The Mirror and MailOnline have already gone into overdrive to capitalise on this opportunity in search, so what has the ‘currant bun’ done to reposition its proposition? Do doubt probably plenty of PR and marketing – but how about the homepage? Does it give me a real reason to start paying for their content? Let’s see…
When you first hit the page you can quickly see the content marketing strategy here – it’s all about pushing exclusive stories and football content. That’s absolutely the right thing to do, but the execution needs to be optimised.
1. There is an ‘above the fold’ emphasis on four leading features – the first two are dedicated to exclusive stories, the next two devoted to something called Sun+ ‘Perks’. Prioritising the two editorial stories bangs the drum for the editorial team but misses a fundamental point – you can read these stories on other websites within an hour of their publication.
Focusing on other exclusive content types would have been the better course of action here – as it stands, the stories displayed on this page are tantalising but not strong enough for me to cough up cash.
2. Sun+ Perks: Can you tell me in less than 140 characters what this offering is and what distinguishes it from other similar services on other websites? If you can then you’ll see the dilemma here – this copy is missing from the actual page. Without a friendly editorial tone guiding me through this service you can bet the bounce rate is significant. Help me to ‘model the outcome’ and you’ll get me further down that conversion funnel. A bit of content marketing 101 required here.
Also, and a big no-no, the Sun+ Perks experience opens in a different browser window. Multiple UX reasons for why that should never happen.
3. There is something on the homepage called ‘Live Chat’. I assumed this had something to do with the content behind the paywall, but no. It’s actually connected to the subscription side of Sun+. I found this pretty confusing, especially as I had to deal with another pop up.
4. This brings me to a fundamental point about their flawed promotion here. I know they have one of the best editorial teams in the world behind this site. I know they are interviewing the biggest stars right now and that you can probably view all these conversations in some kind of amazing live experience. But, there’s no way of knowing this from this homepage. ‘Live’ is such an important element of any newspaper site and I’m sensing no dynamism from this page. Give me the sense that I’m missing all the action and I’ll gladly fork out a pound. Introducing key comments on key stories from subscribers might work here.
5. I checked out the experience on mobile (Android) but saw a completely different form of promotion with a pretty awful truncated headline. I wonder why there has been no consistency in design here?
For some reason this homepage reads like an full-page advert in a printed newspaper. My recommendation to them would be to A/B test a different solution with a broader range of content, less emphasis on breaking news, consistent messaging across multiple devices and more attention on the micro-copy around the Perks package.
Have you any thoughts on the topic above? Please feel free to leave your comments below.