You’ve heard of personalization, but do you know what it is? Do you know how to do it?

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to this insane conversion trick that could be the single missing piece to your conversion optimization efforts. It’s called “personalized landing pages.”

Sample of personalized landing pages

What Are Personalized Landing Pages?

A personalized landing page is a sales-focused e-commerce page that is customized with components that are unique to an individual. Such elements of personalization could include:

  • User’s name
  • User’s organization
  • User’s gender
  • User’s geographic location
  • Size or nature of user’s organization
  • Industry of the user’s organization
  • Device of the user
  • Search method of the user
  • Onsite history of the user
  • Topics that are historically of interest to the user.

It’s no secret to most consumers that websites take their information and leverage it to the company’s profit. To some, it seems a bit scary, but to others, it’s just the way things are in this personalized and profit-driven marketing era.

Here’s how it works, in an infographic from Baynote:

 

This landing page is designed for visitors who come from Reddit:

HubSpot uses personalized landing pages to attract visitors who are interested in small business marketing vs. a larger business model.

 

A report from Monetate discovered that consumers, by and large, don’t mind that websites track their activity, and actually prefer that personalization guides their decision-making.

75 percent of custoemrs perefer retailers se personal information

Apparently, what’s driving consumers’ desires is this:  They want relevant offers.

64 percent believe it is more important that companies present them with relevant offers

Companies are getting the idea. The same study says 94 percent of companies report that online personalization — whether it’s with email marketing, landing page generation, product recommendations, etc. — is important.

Here’s what personalization looks like, practically, in today’s e-commerce environment, according to Monetate:

  • E-commerce sites feature a personalized website browsing experience, using information from past visits, browsing history, in-session behavior and third-party data.
  • Email marketing campaigns are targeted to a customer’s behavior, location, situation, time of day, purchase history, current events, current weather conditions and physical proximity to items in store.
  • Websites are cued to deliver relevant experiences depending on the user’s devices, and are leveraged to provide a similar experience across all devices.

Personalization is everywhere. Google even uses personalization when you perform any query.

DD

All this personalization can be a bit alarming. As Baynote’s amazing infographic says, “I Know What You Did on The Web,” including the following (most gained without the user’s explicit permission):

 

It’s happening. It’s big. It’s logical and about time that personalization should affect marketing, including the way we create landing pages.

When to Use Personalized Landing Pages

As indicated in a recent MarketingCharts.com survey, a lot of marketers think that personalization is important. As the years have rolled by and personalization has become more popular, more and more marketers are eager to test the waters.

US marketers who plan to sue more personalization in their marketing communications, march 2011

Image from eMarketer.com.

So far, the ROI looks pretty good — 59 percent of marketers give it a “yes.”

As it turns out, maybe the number isn’t higher, not because personalization itself is at fault, but because the data isn’t relevant.

ROI of personalized marketing campaigns according to US marketers, March 2011

It’s true that personalized marketing campaigns are a lot of work. It requires a lot of data gazed at from a billion different directions and segmented in a million different ways. Where does one even start?

But it’s nonetheless important. Some marketers actually say that failing to target users personally may be hurting online marketing efforts.

The Advantages of Personalized Landing Pages

Why are personalized landing pages so awesome? Let me count the ways.

They reduce bounce rate.

A bounce happens when a customer checks out your page, then leaves without doing anything. For conversions, that’s a downer. For traffic, it’s a downer, too.

Personalized landing pages help prevent this type of traffic-crushing and conversion-reducing bad news from happening.

They match visitors’ current intent.

Whenever a visitor lands on your site, they do so with intent. What is this intent? The personalized data that you have access to can help you understand this possible intent, at least in a generic way.

If you can create a page that speaks directly to each user’s intent, imagine the power you can have.

They have high engagement levels.

Marketers strive to make landing pages with a high degree of engagement. An engaged user is more likely to buy a product or to convert. That’s exactly what landing pages deliver — an engaging experience. It’s engaging because it’s so powerfully focused on what the user is experiencing, doing or looking for.

They are relevant.

Relevancy is one of the key components of this whole equation. A user’s landing page experience can be dramatically enhanced by making a few, simple and easily generated  changes that establish a personalized experience.

They are carefully controlled.

A landing page is something you don’t want to mess up. So, let’s say that you know, based on the user’s Google activity, that they are looking for Asics, but are specifically not looking for Nikes.

Screen shot of search for asic shoes not nike

Using the right software and service, you can actually auto-generate a landing page for that user that delivers up Asics shoes and other related products, but does not generate Nike shoes. In other words, you control everything.

Some personalization platforms even allow you to shape different value propositions or calls to action based on the user data. This is the ultimate level of conversion power — bringing everything to bear on what you know about the customer.

The more a user returns to a site, the better your data becomes. In researching this article, I interviewed MindFire, Inc. about personalization. They reported that “the amount of data you’re able to have on someone … is dependent on previous communication or interaction — someone’s ‘digital body language’ or characteristics they exhibit while interacting.”

Imagine what this can do to improve customer lifetime value (LTV)! Already, return visitors are many times more valuable than first-time shoppers.

Consider how you can improve all the values in this equation — first-time visitors, returning purchasers and repeat purchasers.

That’s the power of personalized landing pages.

They gain higher conversion rates.

At the end of the day, it’s about conversions. You want more conversions. You’ve tried every CRO trick in the book, every A/B test suggested by Unbounce, and yet you still want some more power.

You look like someone who could really benefit from a dose of personalization. It works.

Admittedly, personalization doesn’t work for every single niche, every single product, every single offer, and every single area of online sales. But it works for most. And if it could work for you. I suggest you give it a try.

The Psychology of Personalized Landing Pages

In a landmark study on personalization, Scott Brave, Ph.D, wrote this:

“It is impossible to talk about personalization without first digging into the psychology of the shopper.”

Although I’ve set the stage for personalization, I think it’s important to talk about psychology, too.

Dr. Brave defines personalization as “provid(ing) customers with interactive experiences tailored to optimally satisfy their individual needs.” Needs, in this discussion, are critical. He explains that “needs are the motivating factor behind everything we do. They drive all of our behaviors.”

Why is it that personalized landing pages are so powerful? Deep within every human is the craving desire — that need — to be acknowledged, accepted, validated, affirmed and respected.

Psychological pioneer Abraham Maslow recognized this human desire on his Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. He described it broadly as “esteem” and more specifically as “confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others.”

Every individual experiences this desire, and every individual pursues the fulfillment of this desire as part of his overall life quest.

As we grow and mature as individuals, we seek esteem in increasingly sophisticated ways.

  • We pursue a job or vocation that others will respect.
  • We pursue a mate or spouse that others will admire.
  • We engage in activities that will build our own confidence.
  • We run races, climb mountains, or travel long distances to satisfy our need for achievement.

Those are all large, big-scale life pursuits. When it comes to the pursuit of esteem, however, there are little things we seek, too.

We like seeing our names on things.

 

We enjoy seeing having our personal needs met with a touch of individuality and style.

We feel affirmed when people, perhaps people  we’ve met only in passing, remember our names and details about our first conversation. We enjoy speaking with people who take a special interest in us, and who enjoy listening to what we have to say.

We’ve taken this far. We actually take personalization to the level of embroidering our clothing …

customizing our bags …

and creating our jewelry.

Heck, you can even have a pencil with your name on it if you want.

All of this coheres with what psychologists recognize as a basic human need, and the ways in which humans are trained to interact with one another. To enhance another individual’s esteem fulfillment, we listen to them, use their name, identify their wants and satisfy their longings.

This is, broadly, how the psychology of landing pages works. A landing page, although inanimate and automated, still helps contribute to an individual’s sense of worth and esteem.

In our industrialized and commercialized society, one way we validate our worth, confidence and respect is by the things we own. Society and culture tell us that if we’re worthy, we have a certain type of shoe, computer or house. Our peer group suggests that certain make and model of vehicle is required to be accepted. Media messaging suggests that owning certain things creates a sense of well-being and self-esteem.

For better or worse, we accept some of these signals. Thus, when we are presented with a page of web content that refers to our name  or our location, or our specific desires, we are at once flattered, intrigued and maybe … just maybe … more likely to buy.

Creating Personalized Landing Pages

All this talk of personalized landing pages is grand. But how do you actually do it?

Thankfully (for me) this is an introduction post, not an explanation post. But don’t worry. I’m not going to leave you without options.

Select a marketing technology service to help you. That’s what makes this whole process simple. Cloud-based, client-side technology can unleash the power of personalization without the mind-numbing development nightmare that it might otherwise become. You’re a marketer, not a data scientist.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Sailthru.com
  • EasyPURL.com
  • HubSpot.com
  • ExactTarget.com (Salesforce)
  • Mindfireinc.com

When you go to shape your personalized interaction, make the most of the data that you have about the customer already. You can segment your audience, and target them with unique content, or you can pull out a single feature — for example the user’s city name — to make a landing page grab their attention.

Personalized landing pages are about the individual customer — not the channel, not the segment, not the device, not even the customer’s point in the sales cycle. Sure, each of these has a part to play in the overall personalization approach, but none of them by themselves defines what personalization is.

As you think personalization, think about the people for whom you’re personalizing.

Personalized landing pages sound a bit like the holy grail of online marketing — like some magic wand that you simply wave over your site to make bank. It might work that way, but chances are you’re going to be doing a lot of the same ol’ marketing work you’re used to doing — A/B testing (segmented), tweaking copy, strengthening CTAs, and analyzing data.

But with personalized landing pages, it will just feel better. Plus, the revenue will be there to back it up.