— August 2, 2019
So you have multiple products and want to know if they should have their own websites. Perhaps you started with one product and have gradually added products to your site, and now you’re wondering if that was the best approach. Or maybe you’ve undergone a merger or acquired a new product line and you’re not sure how to handle it.
Most of the time, the answer to the title question is “No.” Thanks for reading, folks. Check out our other blogs at …
Seriously though, this is an important decision that impacts brand awareness, user experience, SEO, and lead generation. So let’s dive into this question further to look at why the typical answer is no and see if you may be in the unique situation to say yes. To do this, we’ll start at the beginning of most marketing challenges—your buyer personas. Specifically, it’s important to take a quantitative and qualitative approach and answer two questions:
- WHO — Are the buyers of each product generally the same?
- WHY — Are the reasons for buying each product generally the same?
I say “generally” here because there will be nuances in the buyer personas of each product, so a little wiggle room is understandable. If you’re able to answer yes to either one or both of these questions, then your best solution is to present your products on one unified website. If you answer no to both of the questions above, then you may want to consider separate websites.
Here are four scenarios with examples of how other organizations have addressed this problem.
Same WHO + Same WHY = ONE Website
If your buyers are the same and their reasons for buying your products are the same, it’s pretty clear that one website is the way to go. Let’s look at Apple. Across its entire product line, Apple’s audience demographics remain fairly consistent. And even though its products now range from phones to laptops to watches, they are all forms of personal computing experiences. It makes sense for Apple to reinforce its monolithic brand architecture and promote all of its products on one website. This approach also increases cross-selling; “those AirPods would be really convenient with my new Apple Watch.”
Different WHO + Same WHY = ONE Website
Let’s say you’re selling a scheduling software and you have different versions targeted for doctor’s offices, hair salons, and mechanic shops. Your buyers are distinctly different and your messaging to each audience needs to be personalized, but the problem which your products solve is essentially the same. One website will allow you to convey all of the key features, benefits, and differentiators of your software in one place. You can then use custom industry landing pages to further demonstrate how your product is suited for your buyers’ industries.
Nike falls into this category. It distinctly markets to men, women, and kids, and each demographic has unique needs. But despite the numerous product options, it is all athletic apparel. Nike’s approach to UX mapping is clean and minimal, devoting its main navigation to audience self-selection. Being able to jump between product lines while remaining on one site makes for an easier e-commerce experience.
Same WHO + Different WHY = ONE Website
An interesting example of this scenario is Tory Burch. Their buyer demographic is pretty tight. The company knows who it is targeting and caters their web experience to that audience, even as the product line continues to grow well beyond traditional apparel and accessories into fragrances, home goods, and even beach towels. The company continues to build brand equity in the recognizability of its stacked “T” logo, and the one-website approach aligns with that goal.
Different WHO + Different WHY = MULTIPLE Websites (maybe)
Finally. We might have a case for multiple websites. If your audience demographics vary and the need for or use of those products also varies, separate websites may be the right approach. This is seen most frequently with pluralistic consumer brands such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever. When a product line ranges from laundry detergent to paper towels to razors, and there is significant brand equity in the individual product brands, it is logical to develop separate websites. In these cases, the corporation typically maintains a corporate site and each product has a smaller, customized site with its own URL.
There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but if you’re considering separate websites for your products, be sure to weigh the pros and cons. If you go the path of multiple sites, be prepared for a much larger investment in development and marketing costs. A singular website is easier and more economical to maintain, not to mention the SEO benefits from driving traffic to one site. Either way, be sure to employ a strong UX strategy to ensure your buyers have a smooth and seamless experience.