Businesses everywhere are discovering their personalization efforts aren’t cutting it — not because they have yet to create a chatbot or excel at omnichannel marketing. The reason is much more glaring.
What most marketers are discovering is that, by neglecting the post-click stage, they’ve been personalizing only one-half of their marketing campaigns.
What is the post-click stage?
While the post-click stage continues to earn more attention from marketers everywhere, the term “post-click” is still relatively unknown to most. So, let’s quickly review.
In a digital ad campaign, there are two major user experiences separated by a single event.
- The pre-click stage (stage 1): In this stage, the user sees an advertisement. It may be in-app, on social media, a search engine results page, etc. Everything in the environment that contributes to the perception of the ad is considered part of the pre-click stage. Traffic source, for example, is an aspect of the pre-click experience. So is the platform the ad appears on, the colors of the ad, its copy, featured media, brand equity, and much more. These all contribute to the likelihood that the user clicks the advertisement.
- The click (the event): If the aforementioned elements are arranged successfully, the user will click the advertisement.
- The post-click stage (stage 2): Like the pre-click stage is everything that contributes to the click, the post-click stage is everything that contributes to the conversion. While traffic sources, colors, brand affect the conversion as they do the click, several additional aspects contribute to the conversion of a visitor.
After years of treating the post-click stage as an afterthought, today, many are offering it the same attention as the pre-click stage. Ultimately, their goal is to create a highly personalized experience throughout the entire campaign, not just before the click.
What is post-click personalization?
Personalization, for a long time, has been touted as marketers’ most valuable tool. According to research, 98% of marketers agree it advances customer relationships, with 74% claiming it has a strong or extreme impact. When asked about their prospects, nearly 90% say they expect personalized experiences.
But, in the history of digital advertising most efforts into personalization have focused on the pre-click experience. There are a few reasons for this:
1. The post-click stage is a relatively new addition to the advertising campaign. Before the internet, there was no equivalent. For the consumer, there was simply an ad followed by the sales experience. Whether it was a piece of direct mail or a phone number to call over the TV or radio, the campaign went from ad straight to conversion. There was no click, and thus, no pre-click or post-click stages. As a result, this idea of the two-stage modern campaign has been slow to catch on.
Today, though, ads don’t do the selling like they once did. The conversion takes place during the post-click experience.
2. The tools haven’t been capable of post-click personalization. It does seem like ages ago that personalization meant tactics like recommended product emails and subject lines featuring first name. It wasn’t all that complicated. And the tools were largely to blame. Without advanced capabilities, very few businesses could achieve true personalization.
In the last decade, though, marketing automation tools have increased in number from less than 20 to over 7,000:
Today, if marketers have a problem, it’s the opposite of what it was. There are just so many ways to effectively personalize the post-click stage that it can be overwhelming.
3. The definition of personalization has changed. Personalization isn’t a new phenomenon. In the 20th century, TV ads that reached families in their living room, and radio spots that found them on long car rides, were, for the time, personalized. When we finally got around to dynamically inserting names into an email, that, for the time, was also personalized. And the same goes for advertisements. When programmatic advertising began allowing businesses to buy ad space on websites like they once did in newspapers and magazines, that, for the time, was personalized.
Now, though, consumers expect more. They expect what’s called 1-to-1 personalization. This refers to a truly personalized experience, aimed at one person only, based on their behavior.
But, there’s a major problem with focusing so heavily on personalizing the ad experience. When you compel the visitor to click through, they move from a highly individualized experience in the pre-click stage to a highly generic one in the post-click stage.
This is dangling the solution to your visitor’s problem in front of their face, and not delivering on it as well as you can.
Today, though, with new developments in digital advertising, there’s no shortage of ways to create post-click experiences that are as individualized as the pre-click.
Prerequisites for post-click personalization
More and more, brands are delivering personalized experiences beyond the pre-click stage. Here’s how, with a few of the most necessary prerequisites.
True landing pages
You’ve heard of a landing page, but from where? To many, a landing page is simply “a page you land on.” Maybe at one point this was the definition of a landing page, the way “personalization” meant name in email. But, like personalization, it’s changed.
A landing page is a standalone web page, separated from a website’s navigation, built for the singular purpose of compelling a visitor to act: sign up, download, buy, etc.
These pages are not simply “a page you land on.” They’re designed to drive user action with very specific elements. Above all, the two things a landing page boasts are an optimized conversion ratio and message match.
1. An optimized conversion ratio
The conversion ratio is the ratio of outbound links compared to the number of its conversion goals. When the conversion ratio of a landing page is optimized, the number of outbound links is 1, compared to only 1 conversion goal.
Ideally, there should be no way off your landing page other than through the CTA button or the “back” button.
However, this doesn’t mean you should only include one CTA button on your landing page. Many optimized landing pages feature many call-to-action buttons. But, all those buttons should take the visitor to the same place.
2. Message match
In plain terms, message match delivers on the promise you made to the visitor in the ad. If you offered them a free ebook in your advertisement, the headline of your landing page should refer to the free ebook. Here’s an example of free marketing plans by Qlutch:
Not so plainly, however, are the elements that contribute to great message match. Everything from colors to typefaces, and things between like domain name, inform the visitor that they are where they should be if they want to capitalize on your offer.
A hyper-targeted pre-click experience
While the pre-click stage gets the majority of attention from marketers, we’re not suggesting you reallocate all your attention to the post-click experience. There should be a balance between these two. However targeted you are in the pre-click experience, you should also be in the post-click experience. A few ways to do that:
1. Go beyond cookie-cutter buyer personas.
Tammy the Tax Attorney may be a fun and easy way to remember who your business aims to serve, however, it’s not specific enough to accomplish anything. Worst case, it may even be the thing keeping you from accomplishing anything, as your archetype may not even exist. In a blog post for Instapage, Alex Birkett elaborates:
You read a blog post about customer personas. It’s compelling and well articulated. You realized you need to build customer personas because it will help you increase traffic, conversions, revenue, everything.
But then, for whatever reason, you decide to make things up about some aspirational archetype that doesn’t exist in reality. Maybe it’s lack of knowledge, lack of patience, or just plain apathy, but you decide to build something that looks like this:
‘Dave the Digital Marketer is a 28-year-old Digital Marketing Manager at [some tech company] that lives in a two bedroom apartment in Denver, Colorado with his dog and wine collection. His favorite color is green, and he drives a Toyota Camry.’
Not only are these details incredibly irrelevant (that mistake is coming up next), but they’re (for this example) entirely made up. Then you do something silly like add a cheesy stock photo to it.
You didn’t look at demographic, firmographic, behavioral, or financial data. You just assumed that because your brand should appeal to this type of person that it does.
To read more about how to create more accurate buyer personas, check out the rest of Alex’s post here.
2. Leverage the power of retargeting
No, retargeting still isn’t creepy. It’s effective and the ways to do it are nearly countless. Whether you’re using technology form AdRoll or the highly popular Facebook Pixel, there’s hardly a more personal way to reach people than based on the web pages they did or did not visit, or the buttons they did or did not click, on your website.
3. Aim for single keyword ad groups (SKAG)
When you’re creating Google ads, Google recommends bidding on more than five keywords per ad group. However, for maximum personalization, single keyword ad groups (SKAG) can give you the advantage.
While you’ll end up with many more ad groups to manage, the benefits, says Dustin Tysick, are worth the trouble:
- Increased ad relevance = higher Expected CTR
- Higher Expected CTR = higher Quality Score
- Higher Quality Sscore = Lower CPC
- Lower CPC = Lower cost-per-acquisition
- Lower Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) = less money spent and more leads
At Jostle, Dustin and his team used to use 10-15 keywords per ad group. After testing their top three ad groups, they compared SKAGS month over month, with these results:
According to Dustin:
- CTR immediately jumped by 33%. Those effects have continued to compound over time and they are approaching a 50% increase.
- Average CPC dropped by 15%, which, over the year, translated to $10,000 in savings.
Speed is absolutely necessary
A personalized page that loads slowly is likely an unseen page. When a page takes 3+ seconds to load, it loses more than 50% of its visitors.
That’s concerning when, according to Google, research shows that the average mobile landing page loads in 15 seconds. There are a few ways to try to improve the likelihood a user stick around to evaluate your page:
- Remove unnecessary images. These are the biggest contributors to page weight according to Google. This can be an easy and major fix. All it takes is removing the images that don’t improve the user experience. That means stock images, for example, are out. Only keep images that help visitors evaluate your offer, like product photos, for example.
- Using AMP. The Accelerated Mobile Pages framework, while once strictly capable of providing quick-loading static experiences, can now form the foundation of a seamlessly fast website or progressive web app. Not only that, but restrictions on AMP have loosened to allow workarounds that don’t make it so hard to provide a more interactive and engaging user environment.
Post-click optimization software
The trouble with having such specific ads means you need specific landing pages to match. Every promotion needs its own dedicated landing page. But, landing pages are not easy to create at scale. Many businesses mistakenly go one of two routes:
- Hiring an agency or freelancer. This can be an alluring option for the time it frees for your team. However, it can easily get highly costly, and outside of that, any outside agency is not going to have the familiarity that you do with your own product. When landing pages are made to get visitors to buy it, download it, etc., this inexperience could prove costly
- Building all your landing pages from scratch. With this method, you get the familiarity with the product, but your time and resources are heavily drained. Creating one landing page per ad can prove a challenge for even the most efficient team. And the cost of bringing on extra help can easily run more than the cost of an agency.
Fortunately, a third option exists. Instapage, the industry’s only post-click optimization platform, allows businesses the flexibility and efficiency while staying on budget.
Conversion-proven templates and a designer-friendly builder make it easy to customize by dragging and dropping, and clicking to edit. A Collaboration Solution gives teams the ability to work on pages in real-time, together.
The platform also comes equipped with AMP landing page functionality with a UTM builder that lets you personalize experiences to increase conversion rates and A/B test experiences as well. At their conclusion, make all your optimizations easily with Instablocks™ and Global Blocks, which allow widespread editing on groups of pages, all from one place.
Ready to start personalizing the post-click experience? Get a demo and see the Instapage difference for yourself.