As a manufacturer, you may have different customer types to whom you market. They could be other small business owners or CEOs of very large companies.
Or, you may have customers in different industries, such as agriculture or mining. When different customer types are looking for specific information, have different needs, or require a specialist language, you’ll need to communicate this through your website’s messaging and organization.
When it comes to home page design and addressing multiple customer or audience types, however, things can sometimes get a little tricky.
One reason is due to the limited amount of real estate on the home page. Another reason is you may have more than a few customer types – so how do you address them all? Companies go about this in various ways depending on what they’re selling and to whom.
Providers of a software application, Hawksearch has three grey boxes that allow people to self-select who they are: Marketer, Merchandiser, and Developer (Figure 1).
Select one of the boxes and the image / copy changes. This method of addressing multiple audiences enables the company to present an overview for each customer type without overwhelming visitors. Very nice and easy!
MacroAir Fans, manufacturers of large fans, also has three audiences or “fan space” types: Industrial, Commercial, and Residential (Figure 2).
Each blue box describes the respective audiences within each space, which makes it easy for people to self-select and learn more. The “Industrial” box, for example, includes “warehouses, manufacturing, and agriculture.” A manufacturer looking for a warehouse or factory fan sees it and thinks, “manufacturing warehouse . . . yep, that’s the one I need.”
Again, very nice and easy.
K2 Castings, a client, also had the dilemma of reaching multiple audiences within the industrial recycling industry – and each with a very different purpose: Selling industrial shredder parts, shredder performance consulting, and construction management projects.
Founder and CEO Tom Stanek used a similar format to MacroAir: three images with descriptive copy on each one (Figure 3). Each image links the searcher to the appropriate area of the website.
These are just three examples of how to address multiple audiences. Others exist as well.
In addition to using three images to address their respective audiences, all three examples have one other thing in common: they use static images rather than rotating images.
Static versus Rotating Images
Many designers and web usability experts aren’t fans of rotating images. Research shows that rotating images (also called sliders, carousels, sliders, and slideshows) are largely ignored by site visitors – usually because they’re viewed as ad banners.
Here’s what Craig Kistler, Founder of conversion rate optimization firm Strategy & Design Co., had to say about them after 15 years of running usability tests:
“In all the testing I have done, homepage carousels are completely ineffective . . . In test after test, the first thing the visitor did when coming to a page with a large carousel is scroll right past it and start looking for triggers that will move them forward with their task.”
When you have multiple audiences, it’s important to immediately indicate your key messages to all your visitors. When rotating images are used to address multiple audiences, you end up hiding information from the vast majority of your visitors – because few will take the time to view all the slides.
Other disadvantages of having rotating images include making the page slower to load, which can frustrate visitors and impact search engine ranking. One website we viewed, for example, had 20 rotating images on the home page header!
Rotating images that include text in the images themselves are typically difficult to read on smaller mobile devices and ignored by on-the-go searchers.
When considering how to address multiple customer types on your home page, keep in mind the following:
Less is more – The tendency for marketing teams is to cram everything onto the home page, which is why a website ends up with a large carousel. Think through your audiences, who you’re trying to reach, and why.
Keep it simple – The easier it is for people to self-select, the better. You want people to have a glitch-free user experience.
Think “next step” – The goal, when addressing multiple audiences, is to get people to where they need to be on your website without a lot of clicking around. In other words, you want to make it easy and fast – without any thinking required by the site visitor.
Employing sound marketing practices, such as choosing static versus rotating images, is very similar to keeping your machines regularly maintained and in tune.
As with any in-tune, well-maintained machine, the more efficient your website, the less it costs you in lost sales in the long run.