Main illustration: Adam Avery
In advertising, a one size fits all strategy is too broad to be truly effective. One size ends up fitting none.
If you drive all of your paid traffic to your homepage it’s likely you’re missing out on high intent conversion opportunities.
As advertisers, we know who we’re serving ads to, so we have everything we need to create personalized experiences catered to our audiences’ interests, pain points and solutions. From targeted search keywords to relevant ads to supporting landing pages, marketers can create tailored funnels based on what’s most important to their audiences in order to help connect the dots for future customers – and help them easily understand the value of your products.
Last year, we decided to test a new, more personalized landing page strategy for our Google AdWords campaigns.
What are personalized landing pages?
Personalized landing pages are targeted direct response pages tailored to a specific set of keywords that a website visitor might use when searching for a solution. For example, someone searching for “live chat for user onboarding” is sent to a different Direct Response Landing Page (DRLP) than someone searching for “live chat for customer support,” because they are likely only interested in the features related to their respective use cases.
This post explains how we drove paid search traffic to these DRLP instead of our homepage or product pages, reducing the work that users have to do to hunt down relevant information.
We create multiple personalized paths within our marketing funnel, based on who we’re serving ads to.
We tested this strategy with our live chat solution, and in the past year have seen significant improvement throughout our marketing funnel. The below chart averages all of our live chat related DRLPs, some of which performed better than others, but even including the underperforming DRLPs, we’ve seen positive results. Specifically, we’ve seen growth in our new signup conversion rates (visit to qualified prospect CVR), an increase in marketing qualified leads we pass to sales (visit to MQL CVR) and customer conversions (visit to customer CVR).
If you’re a startup aiming to generate demand through online advertising, DRLPs are a cost-effective way of doing it. At a glance, it might look like a resource intensive project, but after you build out your first batch of DRLPs, you can really just focus on maintenance and scaling through testing and optimization.
Six steps to creating personalized landing pages
We’ll use the live chat keyword group as an example to walk through it.
Step 1: Prioritize the opportunities you want to test
This could be based on company-wide goals or high volume searches. For example, maybe one of your products isn’t converting as well as others, but when it does convert, it brings in higher revenue. You might want to test tailored ad campaigns and landing pages to see if you can improve conversion rates for that product in order to produce a higher return on your ad spend. You could also look for quick wins based on high volume searches. For example, maybe you’re seeing a ton of incoming traffic from specific search keywords, but those visits aren’t producing the desired conversions, e.g. an email signup. Testing the high volume keywords will help you collect statistically significant results for your campaigns sooner.
In our example, we noticed a high volume of searches for “live chat for sales” going to our homepage and decided to prioritize those searches to see if we could improve conversion rates.
Step 2: Identify your target audiences
Figure out who your ideal customers are using internal data or market research and then segment your ad campaigns accordingly. My teammate Anthony wrote a post on how to do so, if you need help getting started.
In our example, we’ll focus on people interested in live chat for sales conversations.
Step 3: Review your current marketing site assets
The goal isn’t to recreate the wheel
Now that you know which keywords you want to start with, take a moment to review the marketing assets you already have. The goal isn’t to recreate the wheel. If you already have a landing page tailored to the keywords you’re running ads for, this step could be as simple as redirecting search campaigns away from a more generic homepage, for example, and driving them to the more relevant page. If, however, you see that you have a high volume of people searching for a specific feature or use case, and you don’t have a dedicated page for it, then that could be a good candidate for a new DRLP.
In our example, we didn’t have a page that really emphasized how our product could help enable sales conversations, so we decided to create a DRLP to fill the gap.
Step 4: Build your DRLP
At this point, you know who will be visiting your new DRLP and what they’re looking for based on their search queries. In order to build a DRLP that will convert, you need to consider the content you think would be most useful to someone given that context. This just means you want to make an informed guess as to what they might find most immediately useful given who they are and what they’re searching for so you can help connect the dots for them. Data-driven marketers might cringe at the thought of predicting what someone might be most interested in and creating a page based on what feels like intuition; however, we have measures in place to help guide us (our next step focuses on testing).
You’ll want to know where your product shines, as well as any perceived hurdles or blockers
If you don’t have extensive market research available to you, go out and talk to other teams within your company to get anecdotal information. For example, talking to your sales and customer support teams – or product team, if you’re a smaller startup – will help you get a pulse on what specific audiences are most interested in when evaluating your product. You’ll want to know where your product shines, as well as any perceived hurdles or blockers.
The good news is that you likely already have content and designs you can repurpose to build your DRLPs, so you won’t need to create brand new landing pages from scratch. Instead, you can really just focus on developing tailored copy and featuring relevant visuals for your DRLPs.
Based on feedback from our sales team, we knew that sales teams evaluating our product were interested in capturing lead information, passing qualified leads to the appropriate people, and being able to integrate their live chat solution into their current workflows. Given that, we built a DRLP with copy clearly spelling out the sales use case, included product images showcasing how our product enabled lead capture and supported passing lead conversations within the sales team, and featured our integrations in a features matrix.
Step 5: Test everything
Now that you’ve built a page that you think will resonate with your target audience, you need to collect data. You may be completely off base and have predicted everything wrong. That’s ok! This is why we measure and test our campaigns and iterate based on what the data tells us. I recommend starting with top-of-funnel conversion rates (like email signups) as a benchmark, since those will be most immediately impacted by a new landing page and you’ll be able to gather a high volume of data quickly.
For our example DRLP, we wanted to see an increase in people submitting an email address to get started with Intercom. This would show that our customized DRLP was doing a better job at persuading people to consider signing up for our product than a more generic page. If we were to notice a significant drop off at the email submission conversion point, we would modify the page.
One of our earliest tests was figuring out which images to feature on the page. We ran A/B tests targeting the same group to see whether in-product images were more likely to help convert visitors when compared to our brand illustrations. Turns out that visitors wanted to see our product, and those that did were more likely to convert. That might seem like a trivial test, but we wanted to be sure because every missed conversion counts when you’re spending ad dollars.
Step 6: Scale your approach
Once you’ve built one or two DRLPs and have seen success, the next step is to scale your program. You don’t need a landing page for every single keyword; instead, go back to your prioritized list and focus on the keyword groups that will have the greatest impact on your revenue goals.
At Intercom we worked with one of our marketing engineers to build what we refer to as “Pages at Scale”, also known as “PaScal,” for short. All this does is allow us to build out thematic templates for our DRLPs based on our products and modify specific elements on the page like images and copy. This reduced the amount of time and resources we needed to invest in building these, because we didn’t have to rely on a designer and engineer to build out each individual page. We can also make major aesthetic changes to all of our DRLPs by updating the templates instead of individual pages, when, for example, we modified a feature and needed to update screenshots across multiple pages at once.
Personalized landing pages deliver a better user experience
The beauty of personalized advertising goes beyond getting content in front of potential customers. It’s about leveraging your knowledge of your audiences to create highly relevant experiences for them.
No one wins if you get a ton of traffic that doesn’t convert or churns because they don’t understand how your product solves their specific problems. Creating a thoughtful and targeted landing page experience as a continuation of your personalized ad campaigns will help reduce friction for your audience, connect the dots for them, and hopefully help them convert more easily too.