The simple fact is that your website isn’t just about you and what you’re trying to sell. A website is like a billboard. The main reason it exists is to attract interest from people and turn them into customers. So doesn’t it stand to reason that your website and the experiences you provide there should cater to your visitors first and foremost? When visitors land on your website, it should be very clear to them exactly what’s in it for them, and why they should care about your product/service. More often than not, websites fail to meet the needs of the visitors.
The Wrong Audience
The problem with most websites is that they are usually designed to make the owner of the website happy. These websites fail miserably at meeting the needs of the visitors.
It happens all too easily – more often than not, you engage a group to design your site, and the team focuses entirely on satisfying your needs, rather than carefully considering the needs of your website visitors.
Research shows that the more a website visitor spends on a site engaging with relevant content, the more likely it is that a sale will result. So here’s the rub – to create engaging content, you first have to decide who your website visitors are in order to create that engaging content.
Introducing Website Personas
Increasingly, big businesses are realizing that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to website design is not as effective as one that provides content targeted at specific segments of site visitors. By doing so, they are finding that their engagement rates rise dramatically, and greater sales result from their efforts. These visitor segments are known as website buyer personas.
Website buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are arrived at based on real data about your customer demographics and online purchasing behavior, to which has been added speculation about their personal histories, concerns and motivations.
For instance, if you are a hotel looking to get new business, you might target four buyer personas: a business traveler, an event planner, a family on vacation, and wedding receptions. Each of these distinct personas have different interests and needs. A website that speaks to these needs in general, falls short in its ability to answer the specific “What’s in it for me?” question each individual buyer persona has. By directly addressing the particular needs of each individual persona, the answer to “What’s in it for me?” becomes clearer and personalized, leading to a far more successful website.
But I already have a website!
We know it isn’t always practical to go back and redesign your website from scratch, but investing the time in identifying your business’ website personas is invaluable. Once you have your website personas you can choose one or more of the following approaches to adapt the messaging of your website to fit the needs of your different buyer personas.
Design (or Enhance) Your Website for Your Buyer Personas
Once you have a clear understanding of your business’ various buyer personas and what makes them tick, you can cater your website experience to the interests of these different customer segments.
Include Self-Select Links on Your Homepage
Consider adding links on your homepage or in your website’s menu that allow visitors to self-select who they are. This will allow them to receive the most relevant content and website experience possible. This has the added benefit of eliminating any question of what the site visitor should do next. It allows you to more easily guide your visitors and expose them to specific website content, and gives you greater control over their actions.
Create a Specific Website Page for Each Persona
Point the self-select links on the homepage or menu to a customized page for each of your buyer personas. These pages will allow you to feature targeted language, messaging, and video content, as well as provide useful links to targeted content, product pages, offers, etc., that appeal to that particular segment or buyer persona. Using our hotel example above, you could create a page for each of those separate personas: business travelers, event planners, vacationing families, and couples planning their wedding reception.
Create Landing Pages & Content for Each Persona
Create targeted landing pages — and content to go with them — for each persona. This allows you to create everything from blog posts to premium offers like ebooks, webinars, product demos, etc. You can use this content as links within your individual persona pages, your website’s general resource center, and in lead nurturing campaigns catered to those particular personas.
If you already have content and offers that suit a more general audience, you won’t have to start from scratch. By modifying the generally targeted content you already have, you can address the specific needs of your different segments. Look for ways to cater to the persona’s individual needs, problems, and interests; adjust formatting, depth, and length; modify language and tone; and incorporate industry/persona-specific examples.
Categorize Web Page Content by Persona
Even though you may carefully create dedicated, persona-based pages to link all of your persona-targeted content and offers, you should also make the rest of your website persona-friendly. This is because your website visitors may not use the self-select links, or come in through the custom landing pages. Put a few safeguards in place to make sure that you can still deliver relevant content and experiences to those site visitors.
- Resource Centers: Organize your website materials into easily found materials. Color code the materials. Tag them. Categorize them. Make them easily identifiable to each persona.
- Use different pages where needed. Sometimes it is simply easier and neater to split materials and messaging onto a page for each persona. In the case of products for sale, this may already be in place, but just may need clarification and alignment with other materials.
- Tagging. Tag and highlight materials on pages to help attract and clarify the intended persona(s) for the materials.
Create Calls-to-Action (CTAs) for Each Persona
Last but not least, to ensure you have effective lead generation, create call-to-action buttons that correlate with targeted offers to personas. Include these calls to action buttons and offers on the pages of your website dedicated to those personas.
Take time to consider what copy, design, and imagery will work best with each particular persona and build calls-to-action that take these into account. And if in doubt, test, test, test!