The Traditional Home Page Has Got To Go

By Tony Bailey, SVP, Technology, DigitasLBi

For as long as agencies have been presenting site designs, a single, static home page concept is always shown first. And throughout the presentation, despite all the emphasis on the research and talent that informed the rest of the design, the home page continues to be one size fits all. So the page that should be the most dynamic on the site is stuck, and never changes.

This simply doesn't work. It puts the burden on the consumer to find what they need.

But there's a solution.

You need to tap into the wealth of data and signals you already have about your home page visitors. Even if they've never been on your site before, you can give them a personalized experience on their first visit.

Here are some tips to maximize your homepage:

  1. Start with the data given to you by the visitor's browser - which will tell you where that person is and where they came from (using the referring site or ad campaign clickthrough).
  2. Collect first party data from both your analytics and advertising tags to reveal even more about their browsing history and past media exposures.
  3. Review third party data to identify yet another wide range of information, from basic demographics to the physical stores where the consumer has shopped in the past.

This data provides a rich tapestry for creating a very focused and personalized visitor experience. To take advantage of it you need to harness your capabilities and set up a hierarchy of rules that goes beyond simply "if this, then that". You're going to want a system that scores and prioritizes data in order to apply the right rule in a matter of milliseconds.

How do you know if it's working? You have to measure that, too, and know how well your new page is converting. This is the cycle that feeds back into the overall program.

To recap:

  • Forget the notion that a home page is the home page.
  • Question every piece of creative: why is it there and what could be different?
  • Put in place a cross-functional team composed of the strategy, data, creative and technology behind your digital program to bring this to life.
  • Make sure you have resources allocated to drive the program.

For inspiration, consider Facebook's homepage. The company now serves over one billion uniques every day, and they never display the same homepage twice. Using data and algorithms, the page automatically generates based on what Facebook users are interested in, where they've been, and who they know.

And remember, this isn't a ready, aim, fire program that runs itself. It will need to flex and be regularly adjusted based on the resulting data, the realities of modern brands with active campaigns, fierce competition, and changing messages.