From the first blog in this series, if you answer “YES, my site should exist even if it doesn’t generate revenue!”, how do you define a site strategy and measure its performance for a federated corporate site? First, let’s answer the question –
What is a Federated Corporate site?
The primary purpose of a federated corporate site is to promote products and secondarily to sustain the brand. Corporate interests are the main audience and to a lesser extent customers and prospects.
Federated sites typically reflect the following principles
- Associated with parent brand
- Streamlined corporate site that includes limited product information, and/or links to products or product sites
- In certain cases product sites may link back in global navigation to parent site
- Corporate site can be trimmed down to focus specifically on corporate audience
- Product or business groups are not restricted by the corporate platform messaging, technology, or timelines for their campaigns or sales cycle
- Product sites may not receive the same benefit from the close association with the parent brand
- Customer confusion may arise due to differences between parent brand, products, and wholly-owned subsidiaries
- Fewer opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell
An example of a federated corporate site is Microsoft with its customer focused navigation. It uses a consistent fat-footer (through many of the sites) that links back to the parent site. Major products and solutions associated that are associated with the brand, but are located separate sub-domains (msdn.microsoft.com, support.microsoft.com, etc.).
The Good: Microsoft has achieved a cohesive federated strategy that allows products, its solutions and support to be associated with the parent brand (Microsoft), while the major product sites remain largely siloed. The use of the consistent footer makes it easy for users to find a variety of corporate or product information no matter their current location. There is also a link to the Microsoft Store, one of the few federated examples of a site that also functions as a product portal.
The Bad: Despite the consistency of branding and association with the parent site, the shear mass of content can make for a confusing user experience. While there are links back to the parent site, they are not always obvious and a user can get lost in a rabbit hole. In addition to the product segmentation (office, windows, azure, etc.), there are also customer segments, which can increase the cognitive strain on the user.
GE is a federated corporate site with cohesive corporate content. The corporate site provides a list of products and categories with links that take the user to the content off the primary corporate domain. With a diverse customer base of those looking to buy a dishwasher to those looking to buy a jet engine, a federated corporate site make sense. With these divergent needs, the individual product and solutions sites provide the right content to the user.
Measurement for Success
With a site purpose to promote products, success of a federate corporate site starts with the defined objectives for each of the corporate and product site segments. The focus is on the content that impacts the brand, where the user is asked to engage with the content, as well as how the federated model facilitates the cross-linking between the product (revenue) and corporate sites.
A complement to online metrics are online customer satisfaction and brand awareness studies. This combines the quantitative and the qualitative data to evaluate the overall success of the corporate federated site.
In the Series