The Landing Page Killed the Website Star

In his crisply written article “Hey $FNAME” is Dead. Here’s How to Personalize Marketing in 2017 Brad Smith is offering a compelling case for getting your shit together when it comes to personalization.

Full disclosure: this was the first Smith article I’ve read and I’m already a fan. Truly, a crafty writer, doing the Murakami thing – waking up before sunrise to start writing. Never tried it myself, but it’s definitely working for these two.

Smith is laying down advanced personalization tactics aimed at boosting lead gen and optimizing the various conversion mechanisms based on capturing user data by utilizing email marketing, on-site triggers and more.

One image in the article struck a chord with me:

Inbound Marketing Funnel Segmentation

Image Source

This image is the quintessential online marketing manifesto of early 2017: capturing audience through a multitude of sources and channeling them to specific landing pages with an accented CTA.

The chord that struck me while looking at this image was, bummer, it’s the iTunes thing all over again.

iTunes Did Two Things

  1. It enabled music fans to inflate their music collections to a fantastic size.
  2. It destroyed the album.

Before iTunes we purchased albums, only occasionally singles.

More importantly, we used to listen to albums, a complete work. In the post-iTunes era, we listen to songs.

The Television song Marquee Moon is incredible. A ten-minute masterpiece. But if you listen to the entire album, when Marquee Moon arrives (it’s the fourth song) you are ready for it. Television builds the narrative through Side A and then crashes you on the moon, only to help you take off again through Side B. It’s a complete, well-thought-out experience.

The Website is Dead. Long Live the Landing Page.

Looking at the image above tells me that personalization is doing to websites what iTunes did to albums. It breaks them down to pieces that are created to just carry their own weight.

Landing pages are meant for quick one-offs, no commitment, out of context. They make you dance a bit, they’re not looking to take you on a journey.

It is as if marketers are fearful of letting visitors roam around the website unguarded. They are in a hurry to convert them and get it over with.

I get the reasoning behind it – short attention spans, folks are busy and all that – but the question is: what’s happening to these leads down the funnel?

Suggest That eBook

Not sure why I’m all of a sudden nostalgic about the website. If that’s what gets the job done, let it be. After all, we are all here to convert and sell.

Still. Is the entire future of personalization in landing pages? In being able to target audiences as precisely as possible? I think not.

Personalization isn’t just segmentation on steroids. It should be about experience as well. Smith gives most of his examples from the ecommerce world, which is understandable; that’s where the money is, and ecommerce is lightyears ahead of the content-centric web when it comes to personalization.

Only at the conclusion to his article, Smith touches on content:

“If a new visitor’s reading blog posts, recommend a new one or suggest that eBook.”

(bold is mine)

This is exactly where personalization should kick into a high gear, where it has the potential to make an impact: which new post to recommend, which eBook to offer to which visitor at what time.

If we offer the same eBook to all visitors, is it more personalized than “hey $FNAME”?

If the visitor is on a blog post, he is already off the Single experience and is open to listen to the entire album. So the marketer’s job at this point is to pay real close attention, to gather all the data it possibly can and based on that – to offer the most relevant content to every visitor at the right moment. How’s that for real-time personalization ?

Your Content Lasts Less Than an Egg

I think that marketers are neglecting their most important asset – the content they create, and their most converting tool – their own websites. Maybe neglecting isn’t the right word. Marketers invest a ton in content creation, and optimize their websites till their virtual fingers bleed. The better word here would be “misuse”.

Most of the content you create has a shelf life shorter than that of an egg. We all stare long and hard at Google Analytics to know very well that a piece of content will see a decline in pageviews in less than three weeks. Go egg!

That’s because a piece of content quickly slides into the inner pages of the blog or the resource section and because distribution on social networks works in spouts; short, explosive spouts. It’s really hard to achieve a sustained, non-paid traffic to a specific piece of content, sans the illusive evergreen piece.

Your Website is Generic and Time-Consuming

As for websites – especially content-centric websites – these offer an insultingly generic experience. After all the brain, time and effort devoted to content personalization, funnel personalization, funnel optimization, conversion rate optimization and all the other -ion’s, visitors to a website are treated to the same content experience.

Meaning, they need to dig and scavenge the content most relevant to them.

It’s like walking into a library and being ignored by the librarian.

Personalize the Experience, Not Just the Act

Your website is your opportunity to communicate to your potential customers what you are all about. Through content, you can communicate pretty much everything. Just make sure the right content finds them, stop counting on them finding the right content.

Bottom Line: personalize the experience for your website visitors. Not just the act of clicking a CTA button, but the entire experience of your website.

If you’ll look into it, you’ll realize you’ve got an album on your hands. Figure out how to allow your website visitors to listen to it as whole.

And next time you see Eddie Cue on the street tell him to go… nevermind. Tell him I said hi.