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SES San Jose: Landing Page Utopia Expert Roundtable

Posted on Aug 20th, 2008
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    Continuing the day’s trend, I attended another landing page-related session to round out Day Two of SES San Jose. The Expert Roundtable brought together four ‘knights’ of landing page optimization, armed with their tips and tricks to achieving the ‘holy grail’ of pay per click ads: Landing Page Utopia.

    Moderator Ron Belanger, Vice President of Agency Development at Yahoo! Search Marketing, helmed this team of experts. Each speaker had their own unique ideas as to what achieves the most effective landing pages, and I’ve highlighted some of their original ideas and basic tips.

    Scott Brinker, President and Chief Technology Officer at Ion Interactive, began the session with a challenge to the typical landing page format. “Landing pages look the same today as they did five years ago,” he observed. Scott offered three ways marketers can move beyond the standard with their landing pages:

    • More than 1 page From a single page to a microsite, marketers should tie the number of pages of their landing site to the user experience they are trying to create. In some cases, multiple pages will be more effective.
    • Post-click segmentation Marketers can identify different groups by having users segment themselves on the first page of a landing site, and then be taken to a form page specifically tailored to their interests (see the landing page image above as an example of segmentation).
    • Widgets and social media Scott claimed respondents to a landing page form a natural affinity group. Marketers can capitalize on this by creating a social network on their landing page, a place for respondents to ask and respond to one another’s questions.

    Following Scott, Frans Keylard of Widemile offered his advice on landing page optimization in terms of seasonal campaigns. He delved particularly into testing for a seasonal pay per click campaign, giving a two-tiered testing procedure:

    1. Split testing Perform split testing initially by trying out various formats of your non-seasonal landing page. Use the highest performer as a baseline for your seasonal testing.
    2. Multivariate testing Identify variables in your format and test various combinations of these variables, such as images, to identify your ultimate seasonal landing pages. In his example, Frans demonstrated how an image of a Turkey in a specific location was most effective for a client’s Thanksgiving seasonal campaign.

    After Frans, Alissa Ruehl, Manager of Paid Search Services at Apogee Search, took the podium. She brought the presentation back to the basics by outline 10 landing page ‘proverbs’ that every marketer should be aware of. A few highlights include:

    • “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” Every conversion is a gift to marketers. Don’t ask too much of visitors by having a long, overly-detailed form to fill out.
    • “Are you going out dressed like that?” Forms should be clean, functional and easy to tab through. With a two-column form, ensure the tabs continue down instead of side-to-side.
    • “You’ll get by with a little help from your friends” Get outside opinions from others in your company, those outside the company but still in your industry, and those outside the industry to ensure your landing page is compelling and makes sense.
    • “No duty is more important than returning thanks” Have a good thank you page. Ensure it is engaging, well-formatted and rewards conversions with additional information.

    Jonathan Mendez, Founder and CEO of RAMP Digital, finished the session with his idea of the world’s greatest landing page: Google. Looking at Google as a landing page rather than a search engine, Jonathan highlighted several Google features marketers should emulate in their own landing pages:

    • Give people control Allow visitors to control the delivery and presentation of your product.
    • Reduce choices Mendez claimed choices lead to considerations, which are roadblocks to conversions. Create a flow by reducing options.
    • Target to content Rather than targeting to persona or behavior, Mendez recommended targeting to content as that is what drives visitors to your site.
    • Always be testing Follow in Google’s footsteps by constantly testing and retesting your pages to achieve optimal results.

    Each of these experts gave different advice, and some of the tips may seem contradictory, such as Jonathan’s recommendation of reducing choices versus Scott’s idea of including multiple pages. However it is important to remember that every company’s needs are different, and some of these tips will be a better fit than others given the situation. When seeking your Landing Page Utopia, be sure to outfit yourself with the best tips and tricks for your particular quest.

    Stay current with the SES San Jose conference by checking in regularly with the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, and view more photos from the TopRank Team at TopRank on Flickr.