This past week at OMMA New York I spoke to content providers. The session was titled “When Every Page is a Landing Page.” This indeed is the case and exemplifies the power of digital marketing (namely search) to deconstruct traditional forms of media and the long held practices around them.
The idea of presenting content in sections and in a linear fashion has been the model since long before the printing press. Understandably, websites were crafted with this information hierarchy. No one in 1995-1998 at the birth of the commercial web could estimate the impact that search engines would have on the way users sought, received and consumed information. This type of reference had never existed before.
Search has the unique power to fracture content. The ability to deliver relevance in 0.04 seconds will do that. It has changed the way we interact with content in new and interesting ways that have just started to be recognized and appreciated.
With the value of content skyrocketing and the hyper-competitive nature of mindshare these sites are beginning to see the need to strategize around delivering relevance that fosters engagement. We know users want bits and pieces of content that they deem relevant and we know users will always gravitate towards the ability to immediately access relevance. With this behavior predominate, content providers have no choice but to strategize each page like a landing page and optimize accordingly. Also magnified is the need to get more RSS feed subscriptions through testing and optimization.
So how should content providers strategically think of their content pages as landing pages?
The goals for content providers need to be threefold:
Dividing your audience where it makes an impact
Delivering relevance to foster engagement
Enabling further consumption on user’s terms
It’s much easier to provide relevance and meet user goals when you can segment your audience. If your landing page does not have the content that helps the user fulfill their goal of information discovery than you have missed an opportunity to engage.
Once you have provided that goal fulfillment for the user you can try to fulfill your own goals as a business by trying to further engage the user with additional relevance. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.
Let’s look to the retail world for clues to how this should be done. Below are examples from “category” pages from Bluefly and NY Times.
Let’s take a look at another example. This time from Paid search for “Pope Benedict” who has recently been in the news. Interestingly, both ABC and CBS bought the keyword. As you can see, both networks have the content that will possibly fulfill the user goal. One of the networks provides relevance on the landing page to help not only ensure goal fulfillment but also continued engagement while the other does not.
The strategy here is really very simple. We are intelligently changing content based on the source of a reader and his or her behavior. The challenge for content provides is being able to leverage the amount of content they have now and will have more of in the future.
Digital marketing strategies are evolving at a breakneck pace, especially in the areas of content. Content providers need to proactively look to optimize their sites in the same way that retailers do. You content is your product. Optimize it!