A Comment on the #AWSStartupStories Landing Page and Content

Last week I discovered a campaign by AWS, called #AWSStartupStories. Specifically I saw an ad on Facebook that caught my attention:

“Launching a business in Germany. Discover what it takes to get your startup started.”

I was curious to find out more, not so much because I am interested in launching a startup in the DACH region (for my international readers, DACH stands for Germany, Austria, Switzerland), instead I wanted to check out how Amazon is executing the campaign.

It is a company with endless resources, so all content marketing efforts will be high class, right?

Here’s a quick review of the campaign material.

The ad

One interesting detail is the ad copy on the image, “DACH region”. I think not many people outside german-speaking countries will understand what that means. The image used in the ad looks a bit retro, flags on a wooden floor (?).

The Facebook ad is targeted at people interested in TechCrunch from Austria, 25 years and older. I do not see any more targeting details. People reading TechCrunch are interested in tech, and might think about starting their own company, that seems okay.

The landing page

I think the design brief was something like put startup-like logos and images next to the content. A unicorn? Yes! A sticker lego robot thing? Yes! But “Free Your Mind”?

All these images in different colors and shapes distract from the actual content. Anyway, the design is a matter of taste, but there is too much going on on that page that distracts from the actual content.

What your eyes should focus on is the text under the headline “Startup Stories: Notes from Founders”.

The call to action

So you are going to download something! 24 startup stories! In which format? How large is the download?

It’s a PDF. File size: 21MB for 25 pages.

For some reason the download takes ages. I downloaded it from two different locations and it took 3 minutes. That’s unacceptable in the cloud age (and embarrassing for AWS), and most users will browse away in the meantime.

The only hint given on what you are going to download is in the URL: /aws-startup-stories-ebook/

The PDF content

If you think the landing page is overloaded and makes it hard to focus, take a look at the PDF. Every page is in a different design, even printed out it would be hard to read. I would not call it an eBook, that would suggest it’s good to read on your mobile or e-reader (Kindle?).

The PDF content in thumbnail view

The PDF contains lots of links. The featured startups are linked to, and all AWS services mentioned of course.

Example 1: YouTube video

Example 2: A Spotify playlist is featured. I especially like the text saying “.. & internet connection required”

Also, the PDF comes with its own navigation! These post-its are clickable!

Clearly, there went a lot of energy into creating the PDF and its content.

For some reason, the PDF I downloaded does not feature any founders from the DACH region. It could be that the Facebook ad is pointing to the wrong landing page or that the landing page has changed since I discovered the campaign.

What I suggest to change

Rework the whole campaign from a user experience standpoint.

I would start by getting rid of the PDF and provide all the content as a browseable ebook. That will improve the user experience.

  • The web is about links, why hide all the content in a PDF (that you give away without asking for an email address anyway), and it seems the PDF is created like a website already, with lots of outbound links. That increases the chances someone actually shares the content.
  • User experience: PDF download is so 2009! Take a look at the ebooks provided by Webflow. You can start reading right away, and navigating is easy.
  • SEO: 24 startup stories would make 24 web pages that Google can index and link to. And that is just one edition.
  • Mobile experience: PDF on mobile, please don’t!
  • Editing, updating, refreshing the content is much easier if the content is provided as a website, not as a PDF.
  • Subscription: Visitors should be able to subscribe to future editions. Get notified about new editions via email? Follow us on Twitter? Nothing!
  • Hire an experienced designer! The graphic style is distracting from the actual content.

I am not normally into naming and shaming the work of others, but if a technology giant with endless resources is delivering a campaign like this, I am making an exception.

The #AWSStartupStories campaign landing page and the user experience it provides is an example of how you should not implement such a campaign. Still, I am thankful to have another project that I can showcase in my content marketing workshops.

Now, check out the landing page yourself!

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