DSL Marketing Myrlte Beach

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Untapped Potential of Dynamic Landing Pages

Brought to you by Wesley Picotte

Fundamentally, dynamic landing pages are used by direct marketers to improve conversion. Dynamic landing pages are very good at this because the technology lets you deliver headlines, calls to action, graphics, and even page architecture that meets the visitor's expectations. And seriously, what more could your visitors want than headlines that speak their language?

In actuality, you might be surprised by the extent to which simple, contextual ties between digital creative and landing pages improve the conversation -- and, as a result, conversion. But unifying design and messaging across digital advertising vehicles and landing pages is old hat. Three key considerations for investing in a dynamic landing page platform that you may not yet have considered include greater program efficiency, more control over your marketing destiny, and the enablement of advanced interactive programs.

Program efficiency
Dynamic landing pages have changed the paradigm for multivariate testing. Since managing multiple landing pages to address distinct needs of unique audience segments can be logistically difficult, if not prohibitively expensive, traditional methods have sought to identify variations to a small set of landing pages that improve performance generally across a larger audience. The results are not bad when you pull it off, but why settle for lowest-common-denominator program improvements? After all, changes that positively affect one audience while negatively affecting another can still produce net performance improvements, but these gains should hardly be thought of as optimal.

In digital, we're all about being optimal, right? When you're optimal and dynamic, the technology lets you determine the factors that improve performance on a segment-by-segment basis while rapidly optimizing each segment's landing page (and your performance metrics) by adopting those drivers on a one-by-one basis.

This is all great -- we're testing multiple factors individually against distinct audience segments and measuring the performance gains with each. Concurrently. Did I mention this? The technology allows us to manage multiple pages from a single access point. This is a profound improvement over approaches of the past. It's an enabling application of digital technology that allows marketers to do more with less. This equates to management efficiency, and this, combined with improved program performance, can make you look good.

Some old rules still apply: Bear in mind that the ability to test concurrently doesn't preclude a smart testing methodology. You'll still need to carefully isolate the factors you want to test in order to get an accurate read on how their evolution affects performance.

Program control
Who doesn't love control? Admit it -- you love it, at least when it comes to your marketing programs. Until recently, though, marketing organizations haven't had as much as they could (or should). Many, for example, have been beholden to IT departments to get even basic tasks accomplished. And, no disrespect intended to anyone, engineers have more to deal with than changing a headline or swapping old graphics for new ones. Now, though, this reliance can be (mostly) a thing of the past.

Today's interactive marketers have much more managerial control over their landing page programs because nearly everything that needs doing can be done within the platform itself. In fact, the idyllic capability for marketers to test their vision, theories, and good old-fashioned hunches without asking anything from outside departments now exists.

You want to blow out a successful landing page to support a broad selection of paid search terms? No problem: Log on, select your template, and gin up the variants. The same is true of the process for optimizing existing landing pages. This can now reside nearly exclusively within the marketing department as well, with very limited need to rely on other departments or skills sets. Can you feel the control?

You're not done with IT yet: Dynamic landing page platforms are fairly straightforward for anyone used to digital management tools (e.g., site analytics). Note, though, that all platforms are not created equal. You need to carefully assess your options before making a decision. In doing so, you may still need IT, which can provide insight into things like platform compatibility with existing hosting environments.

Advanced marketing programs
A third advantage that's more or less in the box your dynamic landing page platform comes in is the ability to execute digital programs with more flexibility than ever before. My real-world example is a client campaign during which, by using a combination of user inputs (i.e., ZIP codes) and IP sniffing technology, we exposed geographic audience segments to specific offers reliably.

Now, if you're controlling how traffic gets to your landing pages -- meaning, if your media is geo-targeted and directs to geo-segmented pages -- presenting the right offer is no biggie. But what if this media-driven traffic doesn't convert at first, and later returns to your homepage? What about natural search or view-through traffic (visitors exposed to your banner advertising who visit your site directly rather than clicking on the banner)? How do you control for a geographically targeted offer then?

By applying IP-sniffing technology (the landing page platform we use integrates geo-location data with IP addresses) and browser cookies, we did just this. None of it would have been possible without the landing page technology we employed. Well, I suppose that's not entirely true -- those engineers I mentioned could do it. Engineers can do anything, I hear, with the right budget and plenty of time.

It doesn't need to be advanced: Because you can doesn't mean you should. I'm a proponent of this technology because even subtle changes to landing page content have made a big difference in our campaigns. If you're fighting for incremental gains to ROI, these simple changes might just get you there. Go dynamic first and test the low-hanging fruit. Get your bearings. Then go big!

At face value alone -- that is, the value of improving program performance -- an investment in a dynamic landing page platform very likely makes sense for your organization. Add to this the management efficiency it will provide, and the deal looks better. That's how we felt, and our clients are mighty pleased with the results.

Wesley Picotte is director of Media Services at White Horse and blogs at http://www.whitehorse.com/blog.

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