If you have one niche offering for a defined market then you are likely to only need one website. But what happens if you have a second niche offering that is for a different market? Do you run both under the same umbrella with a single website, or create a separate brand and website for the second niche offering?
There are pros and cons to both approaches and which option you go for will depend a lot on your scenario.
Single brand - pros
- Only one website to run, keep up to date and write content for
- Only one social media profile to manage
- You can cross promote content. If people are reading content that relates to your first offering, they may also enjoy content that relates to the second.
- SEO work for one can benefit the other
- Surge in traffic for one can benefit the other
Multiple brand - pros
- Each brand and its website is focused on its niche offering and market
- You can target the specific audience and be much more specific with your copy and content marketing
- Because it is more focused, you are likely to get a high conversion rate and it is likely to rank better in search engines for the keywords it targets
- Less confusing for the target market of each
Which do you choose?
The option you choose will depend on your scenario. So let's look at a couple of different scenarios.
- The second offering is for the same target market as the first. Recommendation: a single brand
- The second offering is for a totally different target market to the first. Recommendation: two brands
- There are some people in the target market from the first who will benefit from the second offering. Recommendation: It depends on the amount of overlap.
The third scenario is the grey area. This is not an exact science, so there is no exact amount of overlap that warrants a single brand. If you feel like the bulk of your audience for the first offering would not be interested in the second offering and any related content, then it still makes sense to split them. It is better to really hone the copy and maximise the conversion rate (proportion who contact you, become subscribers or some other important metric) then to try and cross promote. You can still have a promotion block on your site for the second website for those that are interested. Even better, create a landing on each site promoting the other with links directly to the most relevant content.
The audience rule
When making this decision, the most important factor is your audience. Try and define who the audience is for each of the offerings. Are they teachers, builders, freelancers, parents? They should identify themselves by this audience (don't make up something that they don't see themselves as). Defining the audience up front makes everything else easier. It makes it easier to research their pains/needs/wants, write the copy for your website, create blog posts and find groups online with potential customers. Once you define your audience, you can create a website per audience.
There are plenty of examples in the wild where entrepreneurs do both approaches. Let's look at some of them:
- This site and BeFused.com. Both are run by me. This site is aimed at savvy business owners who want to grow their businesses online. BeFused.com is aimed at web developers. They are totally different audiences. BeFused.com is always going to be highly technical and this site is focused on market and business results. Therefore, they are separate, focused brands.
- LeahKalamakis.com and The Freelance To Freedomproject, both run by Leah Kalamakis. This is similar to the above point. LeahKalamakis.com is aimed at business owners and offers freelance web design. Freedom to Freelance is aimed at, well, freelancers.
- Paul Jarvis. Like Leah Kalamakis, Paul Jarvis creates content and has products and services for both business owners and freelancers. Unlike Leah Kalamakis, Paul Jarvis has everything under a single brand and website.
- NathanBarry.com - Nathan has a single brand with two main audiences - web designers and online marketers/bootstrappers. There is strong overlap between the two because plenty of web designers also do online marketing and are trying to bootstrap and market their own products. So Nathan can run a single site, a single email list and a single social media profile and cross promote between the two audiences. He then segments his content on his website with two primary categories - Marketing and Design. This is a net win for him.
- i-escape and i-escape with kids. i-escape is a website for independent travellers, which aims to find travel locations off the beaten path. i-escape with kids is a sub-brand that is focused on holidays for families. The i-escape with kids website looks like it is separate from the main i-escape website. It is not actually a totally different website, instead it is a sub-site of the main site. The web address for i-escape with kids is http://www.i-escape.com/kids
- BBC and websites for each programme. Websites for each BBC television programme are sub-sites of the main BBC website. Each one is branded separately and looks and feels different. But the main web address is still bbc.co.uk. For example, the Question Time website is bbc.co.uk/questiontime. This is a similar approach to i-escape and i-escape with kids.
What about you? Are you considering splitting your websites and brands?