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Improve Lead Capture, Conversion: Replace Landing Pages with Personalized Microsites

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You can improve lead-capture and sales-conversion rates by directing your prospective customers to special Web site landing pages.

But you can enjoy even greater success by expanding your landing pages—turning them into microsites—and customizing the homepages and navigation menus of those microsites based on whatever you know about each visitor.

Personalize for Maximum Effectiveness

The most effective online lead-generation campaigns drive prospective customers to multipage microsites that have informational homepages (the landing pages) and links to enticing offers such as whitepapers and prerecorded webinars.

For maximum impact, personalize your entire microsite (and especially the landing page) based on whatever information you might have about the viewer. For example, your microsite should present different information and offers depending on whether the prospect arrived by clicking on a banner ad (and depending on what ad he clicked) or by searching Google for a particular keyword (and depending on what that keyword was).


A company that sells HR software, for example, might create one microsite for CEOs and another for HR directors. It would therefore place an ad on a site mostly likely to be seen by CEOs and a different ad on a site mostly likely to be viewed by HR directors. Each of these ads would then link to its own version of the microsite.

An email campaign can permit even greater microsite personalization through specially coded hyperlinks in the email messages. When prospects click on the link, their browsers provide your microsite with unique ID codes that enable the microsite to look up the prospects in your marketing database.

Even if you buy a list of prospects to send your email message to, that list will likely contain at least the first and last name of each prospect and perhaps much more. Your microsite can look up that information and do a "web merge." That's the Web equivalent of a mail merge—personalizing the microsite's pages with the prospect's first name, etc. (e.g., "Hello Jane, thanks for visiting").

And if the list you buy includes each person's job title, your microsite can, and should, present different information and offers based on the job title.

Reduce Abandonment

In addition to being more relevant and welcoming to prospects, customizing and personalizing microsites and their landing pages eliminates the temptation to create a single, "one-page-fits all" landing page that ends up containing too much text to be effective.

Customizing microsites based on the sources of the prospects also reduces the need for your landing pages to ask viewers for any information about themselves. Studies have shown that asking a prospective customer for information on a landing page increases abandonment.

Instead, save the information-capture for after the prospect clicks on a link to more information (a whitepaper, for example). Even then, you should severely limit the number of questions you ask. Our research has shown a dramatic increase in Web form abandonment rates between forms that have six questions and those that have seven

Rather than trying to gather, up front, all the information you'd like to have, your microsite should ask for just the basics on the first visit and ask for more information with each subsequent visit, progressively building a profile on the prospective customer.

Example: Computing Vendor

A high-tech computing vendor has a "resource center" microsite to which its lead-generation tactics drive prospective customers. The microsite makes available whitepapers and business cases authored by leading industry analysts and research on new and emerging technologies.

The company configured its microsite to present 12 tracks (navigation options) with 90 offers based on what is known about each prospect. The resource center's homepage (the landing page) recommends offers based on either the history of a returning viewer's activities or a perceived value set by the marketing team for first-time viewers. The user experience is similar to what an existing customer or prospective buyer would experience on Amazon.com.

Once the viewer clicks on one of those offers, the microsite presents a Web form. If the prospect has registered previously, the microsite recognizes the prospect and asks only a couple of new questions rather than requiring the prospect to re-enter information provided during the previous visit. The largest benefit this vendor has seen is a 10-15 percent improvement in the number of leads generated from the microsite for all geographic regions. Also, the productivity of the offers has increased by 20-25 percent. Offers that were previously buried in pages that were not set up for optimal viewer access are now downloaded more frequently.

Finally, the vendor has been able to effectively nurture its leads by providing pertinent information at the right time. Effective nurturing has helped the vendor decrease the overall sales cycle time by 10 percent for leads generated from the microsite compared with leads generated by other sources.

Avoiding Custom Programming

Microsite development and personalization as described above would normally require custom programming that would be well beyond the reach of all but the largest companies. Reasonably priced marketing automation software exists, however, that puts such microsites within reach of even small to medium-sized businesses. Such software is even available on-demand (software-as-a-service), further reducing the expense.

Effective marketing automation software enables marketers to develop dynamic, personalized microsites based on business rules, without involving IT departments or Web programmers. Rather, with on-demand marketing automation products, the marketer fills out Web forms to create static and dynamic content and to indicate where the content should appear on each Web page. The marketer then creates rules in plain English that instruct the system what to present to whom.

Marketing automation software also makes email campaigns easy, automatically embedding coded hyperlinks in each message that enable the microsite to recognize those prospects who click on the links. And marketing automation software creates a live link between the microsite and the marketing database. As a result, every time a prospect provides additional information himself (either on Web forms or simply by clicking on various links on the microsite) the database profile on the prospect is enhanced.

This information enables the software to automatically send additional email messages at appropriate intervals and to gauge when the prospect is ready to make a purchase.

Summary

Landing pages are an important part of any online demand generation strategy, but complete microsites are even more effective—especially if the microsites dynamically present different information and offers based on whatever is known about the viewer.

Marketing automation software-as-a-service can put such dynamic, personalized microsites within reach of even small to medium sized businesses. Such systems enable marketers to configure the microsites and related campaigns without the involvement of IT departments and Web programmers.


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Sundeep Parsa is vice-president of client services and cofounder of Market2Lead, Inc. (www.market2lead.com), a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) B2B automated marketing solutions. Reach him at 408.907.2821 or sundeep@market2lead.com.

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