Sign up to get full access to all our latest content, research, and network for everything customer contact.

How The WSJ Designed Their Customer Experience Strategy

A CCW Digital Exclusive With Dow Jones Head Of CX Design

Add bookmark

Matt Wujciak


Dow Jones, the 5 billion dollar media conglomerate and owner of the Wall Street Journal has been an industry leader since the 1800s. But the Journal hasn’t become the world’s leader in business news through merely reporting quality content or financial information. Their products and services directly compete with those of Bloomberg’s, NASDAQ, S&P, and other fortune 500 media companies. So the question is, how has Dow Jones, more specifically, the WSJ remained innovatively competitive over recent years?

In CCW Digital’s latest online event, I had the chance to interview Alison Lichtenstein, Dow Jones’ Digital Marketing guru responsible for launching some of their first social media marketing campaigns, and now, current Head of Customer Experience Design. When I asked her how her career transitioned from Marketing, as we know it, to CX Design, she reminisced on her first objective with the company. “When I first started here, I was really just focused on acquisition marketing,” (or fighting tooth and nail to increase WSJ subscriptions).

Read More: A 3 Step Approach To Higher Employee Engagement Within The Contact Center

As Ali’s role started to focus more on increasing engagement, brand imaging, and retaining customers, she “realized there wasn’t a lot of continuity” at the time between acquiring subscriptions and long term engagement. “I didn’t know experience [design] was a thing at that time… Not knowing customer experiences and designing experiences was a thing… I started to piece together what was the beginning of the customer life cycle.” 

Combining brand image and CX design

Once the WSJ started to combine the marketing component of brand imaging with the execution of products and services delivered to customers, the discipline of CX Design was born.

After a bit of back and forth banter, I shared a stat (to which I’m sure she was already aware) from a recent CCW Digital Market Study. Experience Design was rated the number 1 customer contact focus amongst industry leaders, above other critical topics like artificial intelligence.  

I asked her how Dow Jones (including the WSJ and Factiva) designed their consumer experiences, more specifically how they personalize their media for millions of customers on an individual basis.

(If your not familiar with the importance of personalization or the impact it has on sales, a study published earlier today found that personalization increased conversion rates times five during black Friday and Cyber Monday). 

Ali had one answer on the importance of personalizing customer experience. Consumer profiles. 

Defining detailed consumer personas

She began explaining to me the emphasis Dow Jones places on continuously building and modifying different consumer personas, one of their most effective ways they have differentiated themselves from competitors like Bloomberg and NASDAQ.

“We might have somebody who’s been a loyal Wall Street Journal customer for 20-30 years. Or we could have somebody that is in school and is being given the Wall Street Journal to read from their professor.” 

Every interaction a WSJ customer has with the brand helps define their consumer profile. Each detail is recorded to create actionable analytics, helping the WSJ deliver personalized media for customers. 

Maybe a 21-year-old college student consumes the WSJ once a month for a six month semester on the WSJ app, or audio podcasts, and has no intention to return to the platform. Maybe a loyal customer of 30 years has been reading hard copies every day and has recently clicked on their website, expressing interest in switching over to a digital alternative. 

These are all components of individual consumer profiles that can be broken down to deliver actionable data metrics, influencing targeted advertisements, SEO, and personalized content to generate optimal customer experiences. 

"How do we inform what you’re going to read next, rather than making it a ‘one size fits all’ experience.”

“By really listening [or tracking] what method our customers want to consume our content, making it easy, [building] distinct experiences to let you do that… How do we make it easy when you come to our site based on articles you have read or ways you’ve interacted with us in the past. How do we inform what you’re going to read next, rather than making it a ‘one size fits all’ experience.”

Read More: Why CXOs Are Replacing CMOs

Ali’s discipline of CX Design is a combination of every department at Dow Jones, all centered around delivering optimal customer experiences on an individualized basis. 

“I think personalization is probably the greatest thing that we can have happen to experience design. Based on the data that we have on what people want, we can then create tailored experiences all the way throughout a customer’s life-time.”