Digital marketing matures beyond “best practices”

MIT Stata Center: A Metaphor for Best Practices to Art

My latest article on Search Engine Land, Landing Pages 3.0, makes the case that landing pages and conversion optimization are moving beyond the era of “best practices.”

But I actually believe this is a representative sign of digital marketing maturing more broadly.

Consider this excerpt from the article:

Whereas the height of Landing Pages 2.0 was an ever-expanding list of rules and rubrics for implementing good landing pages, marketers who have graduated to a Landing Pages 3.0 mindset have outgrown such checklists and cheat sheets.

Instead, they’re now driving conversion programs from a higher set of principles:

  1. Deliver meaningful, context-relevant content
  2. Present that content with an engaging, affective design
  3. Offer a compelling, but not coercive, “next step” to take

Like an architect who has completed his or her basic design studio courses, practiced and perfected the fundamentals, who is now ready to start breaking the cookie-cutter “rules” in pursuit of more impressive and imaginative ideas. Or like a musician who has mastered scales, riffs, and progressions — hours and hours of the mechanics of their instrument — who is now ready to improvise and jam with the pros.

Landing Page 3.0 marketers have studied best practices, absorbed them into their thinking, but they’re now ready to synthesize new creative ideas of their own — unafraid to break the “rules” to deliver remarkable experiences to their audience.

Now substitute “landing pages” with any of a number of other subdisciplines in modern marketing: marketing automation, demand generation, email marketing (!), social media marketing, etc.

It’s the confidence and wisdom to favor what’s “best” over what’s “best practice.”

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4 thoughts on “Digital marketing matures beyond “best practices””

  1. Good point. It reminds me of what I learned in music theory class back in college – you must first learn the rules so you know how the right way to break them.
    I guess at a macro level, the industry is discovering th art of conversion, moving beyond literal application of the science. I can imagine things become a lot more fluid and creative when that starts to happen.

  2. I’m curious what you think – how much of Landing Page 3.0 is “breaking the rules” and how much is that the best practices in Landing Page 2.0 were insufficient?
    For example, the use of images in the Dragons of Atlantis landing page disobeys Landing Page 2.0 best practices, but it seems to follow the best practice of providing relevant content that is expected by the consumer (video game players generally want to see screenshots or images to get a feel for the game aesthetic).

  3. HI, James.
    I agree with your point. I guess by calling those things “best principles” — to suggest that they operate at a higher level than so-called “best practices” — was one way to make the distinction.
    Landing Pages 2.0 had lots and lots of in-the-weeds heuristics, “do this” or “don’t do this.” Landing Pages 3.0 has fewer principles, and in the pursuit of such principles, may depart from many of the tactics of the 2.0 era.

  4. Good observation Scott.
    In line with what James was talking about for LPO, I think the shift towards content marketing reflects marketing which focuses on the UX, which transcends LPO best practices.

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