Framing Landing Pages In The Bigger Picture

It’s wonderful that landing pages have become so widely known, at least in search marketing and conversion optimization circles. They’re a well-honed tactic that everyone in our space understands.

Want to improve your conversion rate on search campaigns? Direct your clickthroughs to targeted, contextually relevant landing pages. Works like a charm.

But there are two reasons to step back and look at the bigger picture.

First, the term landing page still gets interpreted literally as a single page. That cripples their creative potential. In some cases a single page is best, but in other cases, the respondent is better served with a richer “landing experience.” It might be a microsite, a conversion path, a Web app, or something entirely different.

There’s so much opportunity to tap more imagination.

Second, most discussions around landing pages remain very tactical in nature: tips, tricks, and best practices for improving conversions on individual pages. That’s certainly valuable, but it doesn’t address a more fundamental transformation that’s underway. Landing pages are on the cutting edge of — and actively shaping — a new kind of marketing that’s performance-oriented, test-driven, and agile.

But how do we characterize that bigger picture?

The Convergence Of Three Kinds Of Media

A new report from Marketing Land contributor and Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang (also of Altimeter), The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned, and Earned Media, offers a compelling way of looking at it.

Landing Pages in Paid, Owned, and Earned Media

In their view, there are three kinds of media in modern marketing:

  • Paid Media is primarily advertising — PPC in search and social, display ads, TV spots, etc.
  • Earned Media includes what others say about your company in reviews and social media channels, as well as things like organic search rankings
  • Owned Media is all digital content that you own or wholly control, such as your website, your blog, your Facebook page, mobile apps — as well as microsites and landing pages

Paid media and earned media are the vehicles by which people become aware of your brand. In particular, paid media continues to play a crucial role in explicitly targeting audiences under the ideal circumstances for them to discover your brand. (I like to think of great advertising as scripted serendipity.) Paid search has proven especially effective at capturing buyer intent.

Owned media is where clicks from paid and earned media are driven. It carries responsibility for converting that intrigued brand awareness into compelling brand experiences that win customers. In turn, great brand experiences generate positive earned media.

While these concepts have been around for a while, Lieb and Owyang believe that the next wave of digital marketing innovation will be breaking down silos and managing these different kinds of media in a much more coordinated fashion.

They call this Converged Media.

The Powerful Intersection Of Paid Media & Owned Media

To me, this is the bigger picture in which to frame landing pages. They’re a subset of owned media that is deeply integrated with paid media, tying together before-the-click brand awareness with after-the-click brand experiences.

Framing it this way addresses both of my concerns with landing page nomenclature. Overall, owned media doesn’t have as many preconceived creative limitations. And while specific landing experiences are tactical, an organization’s capability to produce and manage converged media at speed and scale is much more strategic.

Rachel Lawlan, AKQA’s Director of Strategy, describes this convergence as a shift from producing stocks to operating flows. “Stock is advertising, websites, tangible things. Where we’re going to now is understanding flow — second-by-second, minute-by-minute monitoring, responding, making sure you’re there.”

In the context of search and conversion, this means that landing pages and optimization programs aren’t separate, one-off projects. Instead, they become integrated into a more fluid “marketing operating system” that is continuously adapting itself to real-time opportunities and feedback.

You may have specialized conversion optimization resources, but they’re plugged into an ongoing cycle of iterations with their counterparts in other specialties.

Agile Marketing Makes Converged Media Possible

This is why the agile marketing movement is gaining such momentum. If converged media is the “what,” agile management methodologies are the “how.”

Agile Marketing Principles

As shown in the above diagram — from an article I wrote on the principles of agile marketing management — the very center of agile marketing is delivering remarkable experiences to customers.

It’s the same motivation driving converged media: connecting the dots between brand awareness and brand experience.

Agile marketing achieves this by encouraging marketers to:

  • Break out of the rigid silos of the traditional marketing org chart
  • Share plans and progress more transparently across the whole team
  • Implement and assess efforts more iteratively with shorter work cycles
  • Embrace testing and data as the primary factor in decision-making
  • Experiment more frequently across more facets of marketing’s domain
  • Establish good feedback loops to assess iterative progress
  • Seek and nurture more direct and indirect customer collaboration

This is what it takes to execute upon the vision of converged media. Teams must work together across the entire marketing organization (and its extended ecosystem of agencies and vendors) with less loyalty to their media specialization and more loyalty to the connected customer experience. And they must do this at a new greatly accelerated cycle speed that favors iteration and experimentation.

These are big changes to marketing’s structure and culture.

But for the maturing community of paid search and conversion optimization professionals, this is the next level at which to impact your organization.

P.S. To get a concrete sense of how agile marketing can be adopted in the context of search marketing, I highly recommend flipping through a new presentation by Jonathon Colman that he delivered at this year’s Mozcon, Agile Marketing: 4 Principles and 13 Hacks. There’s also a great interview with Jonathon where he talks about his experience implementing agile marketing at REI.

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

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Search & Conversion


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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  • Andrew Tonks

    surely one, if not the, most cost effective way to improve the profitability of your PPC campaigns. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who would be willing to throw more money at an account but wouldn’t look at design/landing pages to help improve conversions and thus profits – in my world it’s a no-brainer!

  • Josef Holm

    Great article, thanks!

  • Lee Wilson

    Also, wanted to add to my previous comment (see above) that the culmination of the management information for both SEO and PPC and the unique data that you tend to look at in isolation for each can add tangible gains to each marketing activity. Nowhere near enough companies have a single contact who both SEO and PPC report to, or have a fluid environment where the key SEO/PPC people discuss, debate and interact on a daily basis.


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