Most CPG sites are still characterized by top-down content architectures and traditional navigation.
Duncan Hines and its digital agency, Tenthwave, took a different approach. They started from scratch (so to speak) in designing the brand's new site, researching what avid bakers most wanted.
The result is a site with a responsive, Pinterest-like design and smart, predictive search.
"For bakers, it's all about inspiration," and finding just the right recipe always begins with a search, says Andy Reichgut, SVP-Marketing for Duncan Hines.
"The site's design prominently features the search box at the top of all pages -- not the typical brand product or 'about us' pushed-out information -- because the goal was to put the
user in charge by providing the best-possible search experience," he says.
Avid bakers beta-tested the site, as well as providing the upfront input.
Recipes and ideas are grouped together based on similar characteristics: Search a color, ingredient, holiday or other theme and all relevant recipes will pop up.
Search results are driven both by individual consumer activity and preferences and what's trending (seasonal and other trends). Content is continually refreshed based on the user’s searches, and builds cumulatively as users interact with the site.
Displaying the search results in visuals makes the options easy to scan, and also emphasizes an element that's crucial to bakers: what the end product looks like, says Reichgut.
User-generated content is critical -- in fact, about 80% of recipes on the site are UGC, versus brand-supplied. Duncan Hines' test kitchen vets all recipes before they're posted to the site. (Recipes not using Duncan Hines products wouldn't be posted, but Reichgut says he's not aware of any instance in which that issue has come up.)
Commenting and sharing through the site are "hugely important," he says. Baking is nearly always motivated by wanting to do something nice for others and being recognized for skill, and having one's recipe on the site brings added accolades from people outside friends and family who can appreciate that skill, he notes. Bakers also love to try recipes and then share tips for making them better or easier, or adding a new flavor or decorative twist.
Call-outs encouraging users to submit recipes and share baking tips rotate on the front page, and links to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram make sharing easy.
Since the site went live in early October, time spent on the site is up by more than 50%, and time spent in specific recipes is up by 100% to 150%, Reichgut reports. "Usually, traffic goes down when a brand introduces a new site," he points out.
There are also already early indicators that bode well for the site's sales-driving power.
Popular recipes that include
Duncan Hines Comstock fruit fillings and toppings are inspiring bakers to use these products in all kinds of baking, not just pies, which is driving a sales bump for these products, Reichgut says.