We like to tell our clients that the websites we build are living things. Like living things, they need occasional care and feeding to stay functional.
Also like living things, sometimes websites need to multi-task.
Lots of companies we work with want their website to reach more than one audience. If your company offers different products or services depending on client needs, you might want a website like this too.
Speaking to two different audiences on one website isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s a lot like playing an instrument — anyone can do it, but it takes some knowledge and practice to do it well.
Fortunately, we’ve been practicing. Here are a few tips to effectively reach multiple audiences through your website.
Four Tips to Reach Two Different Audiences on One Website
1. Know What Each Audience Wants
To develop a website for two distinct audiences, you and your design team should have a clear picture of who each of those audiences are and what need your website meets for them.
This might seem basic, but defining your audiences with buyer personas and other marketing tools makes many of your subsequent decisions about pages, calls to action, deliverables, and other website issues much easier.
2. Look For Overlap
If your business is in a specific niche, chances are that the two audiences you’re trying to reach have some overlapping interests related to your offerings. As Copyhackers points out, those common interests can be the entry point for both audiences, leading them down separate paths toward relevant content.
3. Clear Paths
If you want to engage two audiences on your website, your site’s architecture should be intuitive and easy to follow.
For example, if your site is split between Products and Services, every Product page should reflect its category, with URLs like “donuts.com/products/chocolate-sprinkles”.
A clear sitemap will also make it easier for search engines to index your site, which can improve your organic search rankings.
The most cut-and-dried way you can design your site for two audiences is to create targeted sites, or ‘microsites,’ within your main website that speak directly to a segmented audience.
For example, let’s say your company has a specific message for investors and your main webpage link is “company.com.” (Super original, right?) You can create a microsite with its own link — say “investors.company.com” — that retains all of your main site’s design elements but offers targeted content specifically for investors.
3 “Don’ts” for Speaking to Multiple Audiences
1. Appealing to Everyone, Everywhere, All the Time
The top “don’t” for reaching two audiences on your website is trying to reach both audiences at once.
“The usual solution [for speaking to multiple audiences] is to say a little about everything and not much about anything,” Content Marketing Institute says, which is “a recipe for blandness.”
Failing to understand and segment your audiences properly can lead to muddled messages throughout your site that don’t connect with anyone persuasively.
2. The Paradox of Choice
Some clients don’t just want to reach two audiences — they’re want to put every bit of work that their company has ever done online. One law firm we worked with, for example, felt it was crucial to list and thoroughly describe each of the 40-odd types of law they practiced.
You might think you’re creating credibility by showing off your range, but that’s not the message a cluttered site sends. In fact, you’re just creating a headache for your users.
In The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that too many choices can leave consumers feeling anxious and cause them to withdraw from making a choice altogether.
This applies to the online sphere in particular — most web users’ attention spans are too short to dig through the minutia of your site if the options are overwhelming.
Don’t drive your audiences away by giving them too many alternatives — make the best choice the obvious one.
3. Pick Your Favorite (Audience)
If you and your website team have identified your audiences, defined the message they need to hear, and nailed down a conversion path for both audiences, you shouldn’t have to leave out one customer in favor of the other.
As digital marketers Vital Design note, companies that shift their focus between larger and smaller clients can suffer from “careless exclusion,” which makes one (or both) of your customer groups feel left out.
In the end, the best tip we can offer is committing to learning about, and from, your audiences. Showing a genuine curiosity in your leads and customers will help you refine your marketing message and reach more of your ideal customers online.