Jan 29 2013

Two Audiences: Add A New Section vs. Create A New Site

Category: businessTom Shivers

 

This is a classic issue that comes up for most businesses and if handled correctly, it can provide a nice boost to the entire site’s search rank and conversion rate.

I work with businesses who are expanding by providing complementary products and services to their core service. In most cases the entire site is written for their core service and targeted at their core audience with only a few pages devoted to complementary products and services. And, they usually haven’t done much to get their core service pages ranking well in Google.

Often, when I discuss the project with the company’s team, they seem pulled in two different directions – some want to focus on the new side of the business and others want to focus on both the core and the new.

audience-waitingrocker-crowd

The people who want to focus on the new business have not quite grasped the magnitude of shifting the focus of the website to something that it is not known for and does not communicate much about yet.

This is similar to the problem that comes up when a business wants to target keywords that it has little to no relevant content for on their site. Can the site rank for such terms? Maybe, but it’s highly unlikely.

Here is the common scenario:

  • The website has lots of content about the core service
  • The website communicates clearly and effectively with the ideal prospect for the core service
  • The search engines know what this site is all about – the core service
  • The search engines do not consider the site an authority on the new business

The company’s team has to figure out whether they should add a new section to their current site that goes into similar depth and detail about the new business as it does the core service, or should they start a new website that focuses on the new business?

This is not a technical question, it’s a marketing question. Which choice will bring in the best results in the shortest time frame?

First, focus on what brought you to the party by optimizing the core service pages so that your site is easy to find for those search terms. This is hands down the fastest way to get more business with what you already have. Plus the new search engine visitors to your site may also see your new business stuff while they are there.

Next, begin creating the same kind of great content for your new business initiatives and weigh the pros and cons of a new website vs. a new section of your current site with your marketing team, web designer and SEO person.

Consider the similarity of the two target audiences

If the two target audiences are similar, then just add a new section to your site. If the two target audiences are different, then determine how different.

One way to do this is by defining their motivation(s) for buying and how they go about making a decision to buy.

On the web people typically fit one of these four types of decision makers:

  • Fast and competitive – they like to be first and/or the best
  • Spontaneous – gut instinct or emotions play a large part in their decision
  • Slow and methodic – they like to be thorough and sure before deciding
  • Humanistic – they consider what’s best for their family or community

When you go through an exercise like this, it’s usually the beginnings of defining personas for your target audiences so you can better understand their inner thoughts and motivations.

Knowing this stuff not only helps with creating content for the different audiences, but it can help you decide which way to go with design, navigation, layout and the mode of communication that best fits the audience.

Consider testing different design templates for the target audience of the new business to see which one gets the better conversion rate.

This is a natural time to test out various ways of communicating with the new audience using A/B split testing or multivariate testing of these elements:

  • Headlines
  • Calls to action
  • Direct response copy
  • Images
  • Web design

If you let your users’ natural actions help you craft the design and content that gets the best results, you won’t be guessing (or arguing) about what to do any more because the facts from an objective test like this will drown out everyone else, including the boss man (as long as it’s his idea).

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6 Responses to “Two Audiences: Add A New Section vs. Create A New Site”

  1. Heather Stone says:

    Hi Tom,
    I really think it comes down not only to the similarities between the topics but to the similarities between the audiences you are trying to attract. Are the audiences completely different, say, tech entrepreneurs vs. recreational tech users? Or are they more closely related, say those who build a particular brand of guitars and musicians who are a fan of playing that brand?
    Heather Stone recently posted..Franchise Ownership | More Freedom And More ControlMy Profile

  2. Tom Shivers says:

    I agree but I also think the motivation to buy is a key issue to evaluate when weighing two audience’s similarities and differences.
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  3. Anita Campbell says:

    Tom, one thing to consider strongly is whether the company has the capacity and resources to develop two brands. We have several different sites and I can tell you that it is daunting to try to develop them all out. We’ve ended up abandoning some and consolidating some, because we could not give them sufficient attention.

    If you’re a very large corporation, then presumably you have plenty of resources. Many companies don’t, though — no matter what their size, they only have so much attention and mindshare to place on developing the potential of a website.

    Just a thought to keep in mind….

    - Anita
    Anita Campbell recently posted..Start at The End to Start Your Best Business StrategyMy Profile

  4. Tom Shivers says:

    Great points Anita!
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  5. Sallie Boyles says:

    Tom,you’ve offered a thoughtful topic. Another point to consider is the significance of the added product/line/service. Would establishing a separate website force the business to invest in a marketing effort that the addition deserves?

  6. Tom Shivers says:

    Good point Sallie. It’s one thing to create a site for a target audience, but it’s another to promote the site to that target group.
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