Landing pages aren't dead—or even unimportant—but treating them as a standalone strategy for sustaining customer loyalty, growing revenue, or other marketing goal is not the answer.
In the world of e-commerce, especially, an endless number of tools are dedicated to helping marketers create, launch, manage, and even test the effectiveness of landing pages—largely because of the disproportionate amount of value marketers assign to landing page.
When you assess the actual value of landing page optimization, however, you realize that it is no more than a single tactic in the marketer's toolbox. Marketers should instead be focusing on the big picture to devise a strategy: optimizing the entire customer experience, not just the landing page.
So, what's the difference between landing page optimization and customer experience optimization (CXO)?
Landing page optimization is the act of testing and fine-tuning the design elements on individual pages, and perhaps introducing rudimentary rules-based segmentation. CXO, on the other hand, is the goal of using sitewide visitor data, such as individual users' behavior and preferences, to personalize all site content (including landing pages and their numerous elements).
A CXO strategy is implemented via various tactics, and the combined result is the ability to deliver personalized experiences to the right visitor at the right time—no matter which channel they interact with (website, mobile, email, call center, etc.).
With 2013 in full swing, now is the time to think about how you will go beyond landing page optimization and start putting the customer experience at the heart of your marketing strategy.
Here are five steps to take to help you get there.
1. Create a culture of testing
Some of the most successful organizations have adopted the philosophy that before making any site changes—whether design, content, or otherwise—those updates must first be tested with live visitors and against other possible winning variants.
After all, most marketers are not capable of predicting what visitors are going to be drawn to. It's virtually impossible for a human to compete with software that can test thousands of experiences to determine which of them are enhancing online experiences and which are killing conversion rates.
Getting your organization on board is a good start. Once you do, it's important to stress that if you're going to test, you're going to test everything.
By introducing advanced multivariate testing across the entire site, you will not only increase conversion rates but also pinpoint more complex combinations of content, discover segmentation data for further targeting, and fully optimize purchase funnels—not just landing pages.
2. Put the customer at the heart of your organization
So, you've got a solid testing program in place... Now what? It's time to actually apply the data and insights to decisions that result in putting customers at the heart of your organization.
Think about it: All of the thousands of daily visitors you see are telling you, via their behaviors—what they buy, where they click, when they bounce—which elements of your site are working and which aren't. It's like one big online focus group, but with a lot more unbiased data. Putting that data to work is going to help you improve not only your website experiences but also other channels'.
3. Start using loyalty program data to personalize
If your company uses loyalty programs, reward points, or status levels, you have even more tools to significantly boost customer retention and long-term brand loyalty. If not, consider starting a program, because they give marketers and on-the-ground team members—concierges, check-out clerks, and call centers—rich data about individual consumers.
That data can be used to drastically improve both the in-person and the online experiences of customers. The problem is that most marketers have not yet fully grasped how to combine CRM data with program data to provide a seamless 360-degree brand experience across all pages and channels.
Pairing loyalty, reward, and status data with CRM data allows you to create unique visitor profiles, which can be used to inform online experiences (such as visitors' seeing content relevant to their loyalty level and behavior,) and offline ones (such as special in-person privileges upon arrival).
4. Harness the power of social media
Many brands blame their low social media conversion rates on social media itself: "Facebook ads don't work"; "I have a ton of likes but it doesn't mean anything because I'm not making money"; "I keep posting things but I'm not getting many views."
Few, however, look to their own efforts for answers. And even fewer put a strategy in place to convert what is usually a highly active audience into highly engaged website visitors.
In the move beyond the landing page, customer-oriented marketing programs must be set up so that Facebook stats and user profiles are fully integrated with all other online and offline shopping channel information.
That information adds even more to the rich, detailed, and fully comprehensive user profiles you've been creating along the way. Profiles that can be used to make the website experience—landing pages and otherwise—much more relevant. In fact, tools are now available for testing Facebook promotions and targeting content according to users known likes, demographics, and psychographics.
5. Get your mobile and tablet strategy right, or get left behind
A study by Independent Retailer reveals that 41% of smartphone owners have made at least one purchase from their mobile phones. ABI Research has predicted that shoppers around the world will purchase about $119 billion worth of goods and services through their mobile phones in 2015.
Marketers must accept mobile for what it is: one of many channels to the overall marketplace.
Consumers now expect a consistent brand experience, look, and offer, irrespective of channel. Any online optimization efforts must therefore be mirrored on mobile, including any tablet-specific apps or sites. And vice versa: customers checking their flight details, for example, should receive the same offer for an upgrade, or discounted hotel or car rental, whether they're accessing the site from their mobile device or online.
Of course, different platforms allow for unique opportunities and shouldn't be treated as if all are entirely the same—because they're not. With the mobile landscape comes unique platform-specific opportunities, such as location-based features and augmented reality using the mobile's camera, both of which can enhance the customer's experience. Therefore, simply focusing on landing pages, especially in the mobile world, will surely leave you in the dust. Because consumers' use of those types of features yields requires a unique experience to match those behaviors.
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Landing pages will always be an important part of the path-to-purchase, but it's time to take them out of the spotlight. Recognizing that consumers are advancing the way they interact with a site, and catering to their needs, will get you a lot farther than focusing on a single page. It's all about the 360-degree experience.
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