The second most important thing on your Web site

by Guest Expert

The most important thing about your Web site is targeting the right market. If you don't get this right, nothing else matters.

But even if you have the right market in mind, you need to know their level of understanding about your service. If you get this wrong, you'll confuse and bore them!

I'll explain ...

Broadly, when people make a decision about something, they go through four stages, based on their current knowledge:

For example, if you’re a financial planner, your Web site visitors fall into these four broad groups:

1.    (Why) “Do I require financial planning?”

2.    (What) “What sort of things does a financial planner do?”

3.    (Who) “What makes you different from other planners?”

4.    (How) “How do I work with you?”

Your Web site must match their level.

Based on what you know about your market, you design your Web site to match their needs, like this:

For example, let's look at the financial planner again, and what she does when she knows most of her target market is at a certain level. Let’s work backwards through the four levels, from easiest to hardest:

  • How: If most people are already asking how to work with her, she’s in a lucky position, because they already trust her and now simply want information about how to work together. Her job now is to inform them. On her Web site, she could simply list her products and services, and clients will choose from them.
  • Who: If they are asking how she is different from other financial planners, that’s more difficult to address, but at least they understand something about financial planning. So her job is to persuade them to choose her. Her Web site needs to focus on her credentials, expertise and authority.
  • What: At this level, they don’t know much about financial planning at all, so her job is to educate them. On her Web site, she could explain the benefits of using a financial planner.
  • Why: This is the most challenging level, because they haven’t even been convinced financial planning could be useful at all. So her job here is tomotivate them. Her Web site needs to work even harder, to convince visitors to start thinking about their financial future.

That's why Apple markets computers and iPads differently.

When Apple started selling computers, they didn't have to motivate and educate people about personal computers, because Microsoft had already done that. Instead, they could focus on persuading people to choose the Macintosh rather than the PC.

In contrast, when Apple started selling the iPad, they did have to motivate and educate people about the benefits of tablet computers. Now, other suppliers such as Samsung can piggy-back on that knowledge, and their marketing is persuading consumers to choose their tablet computer instead.

Focus at the right level, or you'll bore your site visitors.

If you know where your market is, you'll be able to tailor your Web site to suit them. For example, if most of them are asking “Why” questions (the “Why do I need a financial planner?” type of question), there’s no point letting them download Product Disclosure Statements. Instead, you need to motivate them, so perhaps you could start by giving them a free report to download (without asking for their name or e-mail address first).

The reverse is true as well: If you’re dealing with a market niche that understands and values financial planning (your existing clients, for example), they will be asking “Who” and “How” questions. You will frustrate them with a Web site that constantly talks about the benefits of financial planning. They do want all the facts and details, because they are ready to buy.


Gihan Perera

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