How to Build a Website for Multiple Audiences

  • Categories:

    Digital

  • Date:

    September 17, 2020

How to Build a Website for Multiple Audiences



Digital

Building a website that speaks to multiple audiences is a tall challenge, but sometimes, it’s the best approach. For example, a home and building product manufacturer may primarily target architects and builders yet could create additional demand for their products by speaking directly to homeowners.

So, how do you know when to target multiple audiences with one website? What are best practices and common mistakes to avoid? Here’s a closer look.

When does it make sense to target multiple audiences with a single website?

Do you target multiple key audiences with your marketing? Can your website serve as a valuable digital tool for each of those audiences? Are multiple audiences involved in your products’ purchase journey?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need a website that can serve as a single source of truth and a central information resource for all audiences.

Consider Huber Engineered Woods (HEW) as one example. Known for its AdvanTech® and ZIP System® sub-brands, the global company manufactures high-performance products for roof, wall and flooring applications. When its former website became dated, the company needed one that made it easy for users to find the information most relevant to them and contact a sales representative.

To be successful, the new HEW site had to effectively communicate with three distinct audiences:

  1. Builders, who are normally looking for product information and how-tos. The site needed to introduce the products and offer a robust technical library while clearly establishing HEW as a trusted resource. We positioned the products as solutions to better align with the way builders think.
  2. Architects and specifiers, whose distinct needs include specification resources for products. Our goal? Make it easy for them to recommend and specify HEW products. To accomplish this, we made a specification resource page for each of the company’s sub-brands.
  3. Homeowners, who don’t normally make building product decisions yet could demand that their builders use certain products if they have enough information to start the conversation. We wanted to provide content that introduced them to the product brands, arming them to have conversations with their builders and become brand ambassadors.

In addition to reaching all of its audiences, the HEW site had to establish the umbrella brand, then break it down into product brands. We carefully considered the site architecture and decided to approach it by product brand, addressing the roof, walls and floor separately. In turn, we categorized a lot of content throughout the site using this system.

Not sure whether your website should tackle more than one audience? Have a kickoff meeting with your agency to discuss your business objectives, project goals and key stakeholders. This conversation should determine how the new website ladders up to your goals.

Remember, your website can’t be everything to everyone. Instead, focus on audiences that offer the biggest opportunity and how (and if) your website could provide value to them.

When should you not target multiple audiences with your website?

While it’s possible to build a website that appeals to several different audiences, it isn’t always the best idea to do so. If any of these describe your situation, you may be trying to do too much.

  • A website is not the proper destination to provide value to one or more of your audiences.
  • You spread yourself and your resources too thin, which can keep you from delivering on any of your goals.
  • You water down or alter the message, which prevents you from providing the solutions customers need.
  • You must cover extremely technical information to properly tell your story, which makes it more likely that one or several audiences will not relate to the content.
  • Your audiences’ brand experience and path to purchase are so different that they require a distinct online experience and content created just for them.
  • You have a limited budget or tight timeline, meaning you must drill down to specific audience needs as quickly as possible.

VELUX® skylights is an example of a brand that needed separate websites for trade and consumer audiences. VELUXUSA.com has always been focused on the trade audience, which needs more technical product information and support. However, this left consumers without the information they needed to make purchase decisions. Unlike HEW’s situation, VELUX’s audiences need such vastly different information that it makes more sense to create a unique website for each of them. That’s why Wray Ward worked with the company to create WhySkylights.com. Optimized to move users through the consumer journey, it was developed using critical information gleaned from consumer focus groups. Today, the site addresses consumers’ needs and creates an experience that caters to them.

What are best practices for sites that target multiple audiences?

Most of these apply to almost any website, but they become even more important for sites attempting to speak to multiple audiences.

  • Know your goals. If you don’t understand the site’s business goals and objectives out of the gate, even the most gorgeous front-end design or fancy bells and whistles won’t help you.
  • Carefully plan and define user flows that establish separate experiences and a clear path to conversion for each audience. Incorporate visuals, including photos and video content, as well as language that speaks to the people you want to reach.
  • Conduct heat map testing, which allows you to test your hypotheses regarding what each audience really needs. Where are they getting confused? Are they finding the resources they need? Are call-to-action buttons easy to find and located at the right points along the natural user flow?
  • Map user needs to content that delivers solutions, helping each audience understand the most relevant product benefits. For example, HEW’s AdvanTech® subflooring helps builders avoid the headache of extra sanding, which interrupts project flow and hurts the bottom line. On the other hand, the subflooring’s squeak-free experience is a huge plus for homeowners after they take possession of the home.
  • Write to your audiences using different tones. In other words, speak their language. To reach homeowners or homebuyers, use a more conversational tone that gives them peace of mind about their purchase. To reach tradespeople, you may want to use a more authoritative tone and, if needed, more technical language.
  • Give all of your audiences the education, resources and tools they need. For builders, that may be a resource library with installation manuals. For homeowners, it may include a list of questions about building products that they can discuss with their builder prior to or during construction.
  • Make it interactive. Can you include videos or other content that people want to consume and experience? This will increase your probability of conversion as well as users’ time spent on the site.
  • Make it scalable. You want your website to work for your audiences today, but you also want it to grow with you as your business and product offerings evolve. Rebuilding your digital hub involves a major investment, so you don’t want to keep having to reinvent the wheel.
  • Make it modular. You should be able to quickly and easily create new pages for new products or make other minor changes to your website, rather than waiting for a third party to do it.

What are some common mistakes of websites that target more than one audience?

  • You fail to strike the right balance between content that is too technical and not technical enough.
  • You try to speak to all of your audiences as if they have the same challenges, needs and path to purchase — again, trying to do too much.
  • You plow forward without first mapping your audiences and establishing clear paths to conversion for each user group. This will leave you with a website that feels jumbled and fails to give users what they need.

Does your brand also depend on its ability to reach multiple distinct audiences? Could your website(s) do an even better job of delivering the digital experiences your customers want and need? If you have questions about this post or want to learn more about working with Wray Ward to take your brand to the next level, email me.

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