It might seem obvious that to grow your business online, you need to attract as many customers as possible.
But, really what you want are the right customers.
When a company builds a website that tries to cater to as many different audiences as possible, the end result is never as effective as expected. Today's customers are coming to expect that their relationship with companies is more personal - they are no longer looking just for the best price, but also the best brand experience.
It's through your website and digital assets that your company builds these relationships with your visitors - but to do it effectively your website can't try to be everything to everyone.
So how do you start narrowing your focus?
Understand your user
The first step in building a great, catered website experience is to understand your user. We break this down into two different tasks, first is understanding your target audience, second is understanding who in that audience is your target user(s).
As we said in the introduction, you can't be everything to everyone, so clarifying internally which parts of your market you want to target is crucial. We’ve found that with our clients, the best way to do this is to walk through their business goals until we have a specific customer demographic.
For example, say you own a wine company. Your overall business goal might be to increase the average price per bottle sold, which is to say, sell more of your better wine.
Now, what's the best way to achieve that goal? Would you target your entire audience? Of course not! You would focus your energy on the top spenders, and how to move more customers into that top spending group.
So your target market is no longer ‘anyone who’s buying wine’ but rather ‘our existing high-value customers and people who we know are likely to buy better wine’.
Having defined your target market, the second step is understanding in specific terms who you are targeting. You should be able to answer these questions:
- Where do they live?
- How much money do they make?
- What is their lifestyle like?
- Male or female?
- How do they currently engage with you? What channels do they use, how do they experience your website, etc.?
- What sort of psychological factors are at play when they buy your product? For example, are most people buying a nice bottle of wine for a special occasion?
Living in a digital age where there is extensive data available on your users, you are able to build a clear and detailed customer profile. Leverage all of the information you have, especially if you have any form of retention/loyalty programme, but also from your sales team, and others in your business who are client facing.
With a good idea of who your target marketing and user, you can build your digital assets to resonate and engage specifically with them.
Adapt Your Website
For all the work that companies do understanding their audience and consumers, where we see a lot of them stumble, is acting on it. Many businesses know who they want to target, but are unwilling to sacrifice anything in order to get that.
In our wine example, we see companies reluctant, even with information in hand, to change the website so it's catered specifically to high-end wine drinkers, rather than showing wine for everyone because they are hesitant it will have a net benefit.
Sure, some people are going to land, see the price tags, and bounce. The flip-side is a better experience for the users you really want, and a higher conversion rate.
So how do you actually adapt your website?
Adapt your content
The best way you can cater to a specific segment is to adapt your website content to reflect what’s relevant to them. It’s the same principle as content strategy, just a more niche version of it.
An easy way to do this is to start offering readers more specific content.
Back to our wine company example, if your company runs a wine blog, instead of writing a post about ‘The 7 Best Wine Regions in the World’ which has fairly general appeal, it would be better to write a post about a specific terroir ('Rousillon: Map and Terroir'), which has specific appeal to wine enthusiasts.
To go even further, take that personalised content and tailor it for your segmented audiences. Email, SMS, social media, or push notifications – whatever way you get your message out, think about personalizing it for the audience receiving it.
Streamline your journey (especially e-commerce websites)
If you know what your specific demographic wants, then why not give it to them? Make it easy for your users to get to where they want to go, even if it sacrifices the mass appeal.
An easy step to take is highlighting specific products or content your target demographic is going to be interested in. By filtering your web analytics to only show your key demographics, you'll be able to start recognising common user flows, product choices, and stumbling blocks.
Understanding your customer's journey will help you understand where things are working, as well as where they aren't. In the latter case, once you know why your audience isn’t doing what you want, you can tweak your website so they start to.
Which, of course, brings us to where we so often end up: testing.
The only real way be sure that the work you've done is having the impact you had hoped is to actually test your website. There are two key ways to do this.
First, multi-variant testing. Trial different designs, different types of content, and different communications strategies to get your dream customers into your website. Different acquisition channels, like social media, email, direct mail, and referrals/affiliates, are also worth testing to see what works and what doesn’t.
Second, we recommend user testing. Since you’re catering to a specific demographic, the best way to find out what they like and don’t like is to sit down in a room with them and ask them. This gives you valuable insight into your user base, rather than trying to infer their intention from data.
It will also let you quickly and efficiently discover the ‘why’ to lots of problems you might have noticed in your analytics – for example, why does 60% of my traffic fall off at a specific point in the purchase funnel?
It’s no secret that targeting a specific type of user with precise marketing messages can yield profitable results. However, many companies are afraid to take the leap for fear they alienate any customers at all.
We believe that it’s better to be master of one trade, rather than simply middling across them all. Tailored web content, marketing, and web journeys based on analytics and conversations with your key demographics are the best ways to optimise your site.