Landing pages: marketing Second Life

secondlifeDuring the SL12B “Meet the Lindens” presentations, mention was made a number of times about the new user on-boarding process, and steps the Lab are and would be taking to try to improve the overall experience for those signing-up to Second Life.

In particular, two of the talks touched on the Lab making use of new Second Life “landing pages” on the web, and the upcoming new community-focused Gateway Programme. The comments made were enough to pique my curiosity, so I approached Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director of Global communications to find out more about both of these activities. As I covered the upcoming Gateway Programme  in September, this piece looks at the new “landing pages” on the web.

These are dedicated web pages for Second Life which operate alongside the generic landing page at secondlife.com, but which are used for focused marketing of the platform, by highlighting a specific activity or market vertical, such as education, VR, the global music community, business (affiliate programme), etc., as well as social activities, fashion and content creation, together with pages devoted to familiar topics such as vampires, breedables, zombies, etc.

A part of the education landing page, which includes links to details on the education discount, the SL education wiki,
A part of the education landing page, which includes links to details on the education discount, the SL education wiki and forum and two use case studies (Texas A&M and Nova Southeastern University, as provided by the Drax Files World Makers Series – click for larger view or follow the link

“We run ad campaigns, targeted with our ad partners, that point back to some of these pages,” Peter told me. “But not all of them at the same time. We also use ad networks to target people who share interests similar to those offered in the landing pages we bring them to.”

So, for example, the education landing page can be used specifically with a campaign focused directly on the education sector, and  also to promote Second Life more broadly to those who may have an interest in using virtual environments for educational purposes.

And were they yielding positive results?

“For the pages that we are running ads against, we’ve seen improvements in conversion rates compared to the old versions, Peter confirmed, without being drawn into discussing figures.

In exploring the pages, I did notice that while they were very content specific in their presentation, all of them nevertheless linked back to the generic sign-up page and it broad choice of avatars. I wondered if this might be off-putting to some potential market sectors. Those looking at the platform fora business or education use, for example might prefer not to have the vampire / zombie options displayed to their clients / students. So I asked if any thought had been given to narrowing the choice of initial avatar to more closely match the possible expectations generated by some of these tailored landing pages?

“We currently default to generic avatars to offer the widest choice,” Peter told me. “But if a user comes in from a vampire page, we try to direct them to those avatars. In the future, we would ultimately like to customize the new user experience all the way through the flow, based on interests.”

Former CEO Rod Humble once indicated he’d love to see more of the millions of users who signed-up to and then departed from SL make a return. Given these pages allow for targeted campaigns to be run, I asked Peter if they were playing a part in any such attempts to recapture former users, if indeed they were still being targeted.

“We do continue to re-target lapsed and former users to encourage them to return to SL,” he confirmed. “For users that leave SL because they didn’t find the thing that interests them, these pages and ads may also help surface that area of interest and better funnel them back towards  SL.”

Overall, this is an interesting approach which tends to show that the Lab is trying different strategies and approaches in their attempts to encourage people into second Life, although It would be interesting to know more on the figures in terms of the retention (conversion) upswing mentioned when compared to the  older pages.

For those working with the Lab on the new (and still to be officially announced) trail gateway programme, the Lab’s targeted pages such as those for education, community and content creation might offer hints on how they might approach their own landing pages.

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SL project updates 42/2: server, viewer

Crossing Sands; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Richmond Landing at Crossing Sands  – blog post

Server Deployments – Recap

As noted in part 1 of this week’s update, there were no deployments to either the Main (SLS) or RC channels in week #42. This means there will be no deployment to the Main channel in week #43 (week commencing Monday, October 19th).

The RC deployment planned for week #42 was ultimately postponed pending further work.

Week #43 RC Deployment

The deployment originally planned for week #42 is now targeted for deployment on Wednesday, October 21st. It will include the server-side updates intended to help prevent attachment links in group notifications from going stale. However, as per the first part of this week’s report (see link above), because it is also believed that there are some viewer-side issues causing these problems, the update might not fix all situation where an attachment to a group notice fails to open when viewed in the incoming notification.

The reason for the late postponement of the release in week #42 was because the Lab wasn’t entirely happy with aspects of the update, and as a result of recent issues in attempting to deploy some server-side improvements to inventory handling which lead to unanticipated side-effects, caution won the day.

This RC release may also incorporate a server-side update to prevent the uploading of “hacked” mesh content (e.g. mesh items which show a LI of 1 no matter what their actual complexity, or which spoof a creator’s name).

SL Viewer

The Notification RC viewer updated to version 3.8.6.305981 on Wednesday, October 14th, following the promotion of the Maintenance viewer to the de facto release viewer. This release adds a further set of fixes to the viewer:

  • MAINT-5370 [Notice] Hard to operate with notification window control
  • MAINT-5694 [Project Notice] Links on the 1st line of a group notice message are sometimes not clickable.
  • MAINT-5708 [Project Notice] Images shouldn’t be displayed in notification titles
  • MAINT-5730 [Project Notice] Text overlapping in group invites with non-default group role.
The notifications viewer update corrects four issues within the viewer
The notifications viewer update corrects four issues within the viewer relating to layout and control of notifications

European Connection Issues

Thursday, October 15th saw a DNS issue upstream of Second Life impact users in Europe, and notably The Netherlands, preventing people from logging-in to SL and from accessing web properties such as secondlife.com and the Marketplace, etc. The situation occurred as the Lab were also carrying out some unscheduled maintenance on the grid, prompting them to update the original Grid Status report with news on the DNS issue:

[Updated 4:27 PM PDT, 15 October 2015] We’ve received confirmation from our upstream provider that a widespread DNS outage is impacting parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, and possibly other regions. We’re monitoring the situation and will report on developments.