Companies that sell and install photovoltaic panels often need to reach diverse audiences with a single website. Residential, commercial, industrial, government and even utility. All with one website. Yikes!
This puts solar companies in the position of having to mix B2B with B2C, to use some business jargon. In regular English, it means making a website work well for both businesspeople and consumers.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity. The benefit, of course, is that it’s cheaper and easier to manage a single website for your company than to run separate sites for business and consumer audiences. But it’s hard to make a single website work well for several customer audiences.
Business and consumer — can’t we all just get along?
First, if you’re offering information on different product specs and financing options for homeowners, commercial businesses and non-profit groups as well as government and utilities, it’s easy for your site to get cluttered and confusing.
Perhaps a bigger challenge is making a single site appeal to audiences with vastly different knowledge, experience and taste. For example, you may need to make your site welcoming for rural homeowners seeking reliable backup power but who don’t know whether solar would be best for the job. But you may also need to make your site seem credible to a power company procurement guy with an electrical engineering background who knows inverters and capacitors from the inside-out.
If the design and language of your website are too techy, you’ll scare off the homeowner. But if the look and feel appear simplistic, you could turn off the procurement guy.
How to achieve the right balance to serve disparate audiences on one site? Here are the five things you must do.
1. Audience-Specific Content
Create a section of your solar website with different text and photos for each of your main audiences. Focus the content and visual look on what each audience cares most about when it comes to your product. For example, homeowners may care more about impressing their neighbors and helping the environment, while industrial customers may care more about technology being up-to-date and reliable.
2. “Funnel” Homepage
There’s a lot of talk among web marketers about how to make websites “sticky,” or appealing enough to get visitors to stay a while and to keep them coming back in the future. But if you’re serving multiple audiences, you want your visitors to leave your homepage quickly for the inside section of your site made for them. Make it clear how each audience can get off your homepage as soon as possible and get into the section built just for them.
3. Landing Pages
Even better than getting a visitor to your homepage is to sort them into audiences before they reach your site. Do this through social media links or pay-per-click ads that take visitors directly to a landing page intended for their type of customer. You should build separate landing pages with content and visual look most likely to appeal to each of your main audiences — residential, commercial, utility, etc.
4. Visuals Appealing to Common Values
Unless you want to make things really complex, you’ll want to keep the colors and design of the website consistent, even across sections intended for different audiences. So use colors, typefaces, site layout and background graphics likely to appeal to anyone interested in solar power. To do that, appeal to the values all your audiences will share: affordability, ease of use and reliability. The psychology of color and design is key here.
Test your solar website overall with everybody and test each audience section with members of the appropriate audience. You want to hear, for example, from real homeowners whether the residential offering is clear and compelling enough for them to take the next step and request a quote or a visit from a sales rep. Likewise, you want real commercial energy managers to tell you whether your site makes them want to pick up the phone and place an order for an array over their parking lot.
Beating the competition
If you’re a solar marketer, many of your competitors are already effectively reaching different groups of customers, both business and consumer, on their websites. You can catch up and pass those competitors, all while turning more of your web visitors into qualified solar leads and sales prospects, by making your site work well for each of your main types of customer.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group