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Website Planning Guide Part 3: Define Your Audiences

Do not treat all of your website visitors equally.

This seemingly basic tip is often overlooked during the website planning process.

A common problem I see in professional services websites is a homepage that doesn’t properly segment visitors and send them down appropriate pathways.

It’s important to have one main message that communicates your brand positioning, front and center. But please don’t stop there. Visitors need to be told what to do next. If you understand your different audiences and walk them down tailored pathways, you make it as easy as possible for them to find what they are looking for.

There is no best way to segment your audiences. In fact, there are many ways to go about it. Here are a handful of common methods:

Role – This segmentation strategy works well if your target visitors vary in job level. For instance, the language you use to address a senior level VP will most likely be different than the language you use to address a technical IT manager.

     Example – Forrester Research

Size – If your firm’s service offerings vary greatly depending on the size of your client, consider sending small firms down different pathways than large firms.

     Example – Dataprise

Industry – Proving your expertise in an industry vertical can be invaluable in building credibility. If you can do this quickly, your chances of making a positive connection with a visitor will increase.

     Example – Accenture

Purchasing Stage – This approach is popular for firms that have a library of thought leadership pieces. These firms' websites often offer an educational pathway for visitors early in the buying process. They may also have pathways for visitors that are ready to make a purchasing decision, such as a link to case stories.

     Example – BI Consulting Group

Service Offering – Some firms cut to the chase and simply list their main services or packages clearly on the homepage. This approach segments visitors immediately by need.

     Example – 123 Web Design

What’s Right for My Firm?

Sit down with your most experienced sales and business development people. Ask the group these three questions:

  1. Who are the different types of prospects we are selling to?
  2. In what ways do we treat them differently from each other?
  3. Which prospects deserve the most focus and effort (who deserves the most attention on the home page?)

 
As you answer these fundamental website planning questions it will become clear that what works offline will most likely work well online. If you can address your important audiences and send them down appropriate pathways, you will be able to deliver tailored messages, relevant content, and a more useful web experience.

For more information on this topic, check out these related blog posts:

Author: Sean McVey

Industries & Topics
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