Most brands need to communicate with many consumers types online.
For instance, Easton offers products for athletes competing in several different sports: baseball, slowpitch, fastpitch, and hockey, to name a few. Some brands offer both performance and lifestyle products under the same brand umbrella.
Others, like MasterCraft have to meet the needs of both future and current product owners.
As brands merge under larger holding companies, the need to promote multiple product categories is increasingly commonplace. So how do brands best present themselves to multiple consumer segments within a single web or ecommerce site?
The most common mistake brands make is offering an “everyone in the pool” experience for all site visitors.
All of the content is dumped into one container, creating a suboptimal experience for consumer subsets or worse, a completely ineffective experience for everyone (and poor conversion rates to match).
To increase conversion rates, digital content must be organized and prioritized by either consumer type first or consumer goal first.
Consumer first, conversion rate second
Notice how all options start with consumer. To properly organize digital content for increased conversion rates, a brand must tailor its website or ecommerce experience for specific sets of consumers. Doing so requires that brands focus on their top consumer types.
Most companies are not particularly focused on who they are marketing to, so they hold a committee meeting and start listing out all of the consumers who could purchase their products through their ecommerce site.
This leads to a very long list, one that is nearly impossible to build a conversion focused digital experience around.
A better approach is to look for clues on who the consumers visiting the website are by researching what products are selling well. Then get all of the specific consumer personas for those products up on a whiteboard and work through distinct differences, combine where possible, and then market distinctly to that small group of consumers.
We have seen this exercise help brands narrow their list of consumer types from over ten down to just two or three.
Once the brand has a targeted list of consumers, the digital marketing and ecommerce content can be organized in one of two ways.
The best way to understand which one of these organizational structures would be best for your brand is to test them with consumers to find the best fit for their needs.
Organization by consumer type
To organize content by what type of consumer the site visitor is, start by separating tasks by consumer type. Consumers will identify themselves by a segment when offered a choice of the brand’s targeted list of consumer types. For instance, “I am a BMX cyclist”.
So if following the consumer type first organization method, it is important that the site navigation support this self-identification through clearly offering “BMX Helmets” in the navigation.
The content that navigation item leads to should then support that choice by presenting “here are cycling helmets for BMX riders”.
Organization by consumer goal
Goals or tasks that consumers are looking to accomplish should be supported by the digital content contained on a brand’s site. With this approach, the content first supports what the consumer wants to accomplish – such as finding a BMX helmet.
The navigation supports accomplishing these tasks by clearly offering paths throughout the site that answers questions such as “where are cycling helmets for BMX riders?”. An example of a navigational item following consumer goal first would be “Find a BMX Helmet”.
Again, this is where understanding your consumer becomes extremely important — to know which large segments to offer consumers to identify with.
The consumer journey
Whether you organize by consumer type or consumer goal, the result should be a seamless consumer journey that takes them where they want to go, without distraction or backtracking.
Both organization approaches create an experience in which consumers are guided to appropriate site content based on their behavior. Separate out content by what will assist consumers in finding what they are looking for when searching on the site. Often this just means looking at what a brand sells and what makes the most sense from a segmentation standpoint.
For instance, a consumer chooses a category such as “Helmets” from the navigation. On the resulting page they are presented with additional deeper options such as “BMX Helmets”. At this point, the consumer has separated herself into the appropriate category for completing his task and the site content can be tailored towards this category.
Second level engagement
No matter which organizational method the brand chooses, the second level of engagement starts to adjust the site to make it more and more relevant to the visitor.
Our research has shown that once visitors start down a category based navigation path, they are not typically looking to go back to a more generic experience. In other words, if the consumer starts looking at bikes, chances are good she won’t care about snowboarding, so there is no need to show that category anymore. Instead, eliminate the mega-nav and adjust the navigation slightly as the visitor follows click paths, offering gradual engagement and a focused navigation.
Avoid content overwhelm
Content overwhelms confuses and alarms website visitors. Putting the effort in to organize your content in one of these consumer first approaches will lead to an increase in conversion rates because it will do a better job assisting site visitors in completing the tasks that will lead to increased satisfaction and success — for both of you.
About the Author
Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.