The holidays are a wonderful time for conversion optimization, especially for e-commerce. I hear that even Santa is willing to accept third-party cookies, if they’re offered with milk.

So in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d begin this column by sharing with you an adapted poem I first started playing with a few years ago, ‘Twas the Moment of Click-Through (also known as A Visit from Saint Click).

My apologies to the original classic.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Image from Wikimedia Commons: Cover of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (1912 edition) - Project Gutenberg eText 17135

‘Twas The Moment Of Click-Through (A Visit From Saint Click)

‘Twas the moment of click-through, and all through the site
All the pages were crafted to bring visitors delight
The images were placed in the layout with care
Along with the headlines that perfectly paired

The tracking scripts were nestled, all snug in the page
To measure performance at each purchase stage
The variations were ready for a good A/B test
To discover which versions would convert prospects best

Landing pages were added to match ads even more
Leveraging the secret to a great quality score
“Now Facebook, now Twitter,” the marketer cried
Enabling site links to be spread far and wide

Respondents were segmented with a choice and a click
Receiving the right content and offers right quick
Behaviors were noted so the whole team could learn
How to do even better when respondents returned

And as the traffic arrived, through the funnel it went
From pre-click to post-click to money well spent
How the dashboard twinkled as the conversion rate soared
And the marketer knew there’d be joy on the Board

As the conversion rate multiplied, the marketer winked
“Conversion optimization rocks, don’t you think?”
And you could hear her exclaim as she drove out of sight
“Happy click-throughs to all, and to all a good night!”

Ahem. But looking beyond the holidays, 2012 is going to be an exciting year in conversion optimization.

“Customer Experience” Will Be Big 2012 Focus

It’s safe to say that 2011 was the year when landing pages achieved ubiquity. Almost every marketer I’ve talked with this year employs at least a few landing pages in their digital universe — and many have deployed them at scale.

But not all landing pages are equal. With Google Instant Preview, released earlier this year, landing pages now have more visibility than ever in the search experience.

We’re becoming ever more cognizant of a widening “landing divide” — really awful pages that look like they were made in 1996 on one extreme, truly amazing ones that are almost app-like on the other, and enormous variability of user experiences in the middle.

Landing page optimization in 2012 will be focused on moving up this curve. It will go beyond testing message-matched landing pages for different campaigns and keyword buckets. (Although for late adopters, that’s still a good place to start!)

Instead, it will be much more about improving the experience respondents have on those pages, and the paths they then follow deeper into the funnel.

Increasingly, the phrase “customer experience” is becoming the rallying cry of CMOs in all industries, who are recognizing that in the age of the zero moment of truth (ZMOT), customer experience is the new marketing. And that customer experience starts with the very first contact onward — and landing pages are the quintessential first contact.

Mobile Landing Pages Will Be Fruitful & Multiply In 2012

One area that I expect will be particularly hot for experience optimization in 2012 is mobile landing pages.

The continued explosion of smartphone usage will lead to more mobile marketing, which will lead to more mobile click-throughs, which will lead to more mobile landing pages. Sure, most webpages (Flash excluded) render on mobile browsers. But that doesn’t mean they’re usable at palm-sized scale, where users are literally all thumbs.

Efforts such as Google’s GoMo site are bringing much needed attention to this mission. Stats quoted on their site include: by 2013, more people will use their mobile phones than PCs to get online; mobile searches have grown by 4X since 2010; and there will be one mobile device for every person on earth by 2015.

Google also quotes a study from Compuware about the impact on customers: 57% would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site; 40% have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience; and 23% of adults have cursed at their phone when a site doesn’t work.

In other words, good mobile experiences are becoming an expectation, not just a nice-to-have.

While the stakes will be higher than ever for mobile experiences in 2012, the good news is that there are also more tools than ever to help marketers create compelling — dare I say seductive — mobile landing pages.

For instance, the popular Javascript library jQuery now has an impressive-looking jQuery Mobile release. It supports touch-optimized layouts and app-like UI widgets (toggles, sliders, tabs) with a cross-platform implementation that works on iPhones, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile.

By the way, another motivating force for better mobile landing experiences appears to be the steady rise of QR code usage. Melissa Parrish of Forrester Research has a great post on what marketers need to know about these 2D bar codes.

While there are certainly skeptics out there, I believe that the mobile explosion will drive demand to bridge real-world experiences and digital experiences with greater ease and frequency. Other solutions may appear — such as near field communication (NFC) — but QR codes seem the most accessible in the short-term.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Search & Conversion

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About The Author: is the president and CTO of ion interactive, a leading provider of landing page management and conversion optimization software. He also writes a blog on marketing technology, Chief Marketing Technologist. Follow him on twitter via @chiefmartec.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter



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