I always ask this question when I talk to clients about their websites. What do I hear? They proudly tell me that they own their website. Why? It’s because when companies develop websites, they tend to be internally focused.
What do I say back to the client when I get that answer?
I tell them that they don’t own their website. Their customers own their website. Websites are not about companies, they’re about ‘what’s in it for me’ – the customer.
Yes, the company owns the domain and they own the content. They own taking care of the site and updating it regularly. But, the focus of that website should be on their customers and their needs.
Your Customer and Your Content
Today, your customers are constantly reaching out to read through and interact with your content before they have a conversation with your salespeople. So when your customers visit your website, they should see themselves. They should immediately know that you know who they are and what they do every day.
If your website talks more about your company than the value your products or services bring your customers, then you’ve missed the point of a website.
Website Challenges with Multiple Markets
Some clients serve multiple vertical markets. It could be that your product works the same in multiple vertical markets but each of those markets has different workflows or pain points. So, when someone goes to your website, you need to ensure your site is organized in a way that is easy for your multiple vertical markets to find themselves (and, of course, the content that’s relevant to them.)
To make things even more challenging, your multiple verticals each may have several different individuals involved with the buying decision. This is an area where your persona marketing will need to be applied because – while the vertical is the same – the audience need can vary.
For example, in a buying decision for an enterprise software product, your customer will have the IT person who has to make it work, the manager who will need to know costs and how it will interrupt business while they’re making the changeover. Also involved for a variety of reasons is the department chair or the department head, the lab manager, and the laboratory staff who will need to know how they’re going to interact with that software. All of these individuals need to know that you know how they work and what makes them tick.
Choosing Your Website Audience
When you’re building your website, you have to decide who your audiences are. Are they your multiple verticals? Or are they the same target vertical but different audience personas within that vertical? And you need to address the audiences so that they can see themselves in your messaging. Remember, each one of the personas mentioned in the above example has a different need or challenge.
Now, you don’t need to build your website out to the point where you answer every question a potential customer could possibly think up. There would be no point in talking to your salesperson! The reality is that the salesperson is going to sell your product or service better than your website can sell it. But if you give your prospect enough ‘meat’ on the website to want more information, then they have a reason to talk to your sales team.
The right messaging and value propositions are key to a successful website. You need to be able to tell prospects, within the first couple of paragraphs, why they should be looking at your website for any information on your product or service.
Many times, messaging and the value proposition get lost when companies get busy in the mechanics of building the site. This happens because we lose sight of our customer and revert to our comfort zone – making the site internally focused as opposed to appropriately externally focused.
A Story from the Trenches
We have a client, LabVantage, who makes software for multiple vertical markets. Their laboratory information management system (LIMS) platform is used in labs across many industries. While in some regards the backbone of the software is the same, each vertical market has a special need and most industries have a prepackaged solution.
In building their new website, we focused on developing the site for their target industry verticals. We were trying to achieve a clean, fresh, easy-to-navigate look and feel. So the question became, how do we build a navigation that speaks to all of those audiences?
We needed to speak to each of their vertical markets and explain how the software solution was going to benefit them. We worked with LabVantage’s sales, product and marketing departments to develop a value proposition.
Our goal was to make certain that each one of those verticals were able to see themselves on the website – and more importantly on the LabVantage platform. We created messaging around:
- what they want to do,
- why they want to buy this software,
- why a prepackaged solution is better, and
- why they would want a web-based platform versus a non-web-based platform.
We also created a section that talked about the actual software platform, the technology and the architecture which addressed the needs of the IT staff and the individual making the case for buying the software.
At the same time, we created supporting documents (or collateral) – not just a brochure but white papers and case studies – that were focused on each vertical market. In this way, when the food & beverage lab person or the pharma lab manager or the oil & gas individual or the biobanking department visits the content they’ll react with “LabVantage understands my needs. They understand what I face every day.”
To make finding information as easy as possible for prospects, LabVantage chose to house this information in a Knowledge Center as well as in each individual vertical.
Another key area of LabVantage’s website for customers is their blog. They have an incredible blog targeted to their multiple audiences. The blog is important because it enables them to consistently refresh the content on the site to improve search engine rankings. It also offers regular new content addressing concerns, challenges and industry-related issues facing customer and prospects. We created a search feature specifically for the blog allowing customers and prospects search capabilities for topics of interest.
Our goal was to provide enough information for their buyers so they would reach out to ask more questions of LabVantage’s salespeople.
It’s all about the Customer.
Your website might look beautiful, clean, and professional but if it mentions your company name in every single paragraph, you’ll need to re-think your content. It’s not about your company, it’s not about your internal product department or your marketing department. Customers don’t need to see that. It has to be about what your customer needs to see on the website.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post: What You Need to do in Phase One of Your Website Development Project!
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.