value proposition

Your website visitors need value propositions because, given too many options, most people’s decision making process shuts down and they default to making no choice at all.
Out on the internet, consumers have a million choices.  And most of the time, all of the choices look the same to consumers.
This drives people crazy.  How are they supposed to know which choice to make?  
They try to figure it out, but doing so often leads to analysis paralysis which then leads them to not make any choice at all.
Have you ever had one of those nights where dinnertime was fast approaching and a unanimous decision had to be made on what to choose for carryout…. only nobody could decide what to get?
You might hear a lot of ….”just not burgers again”.  Or…” please not pizza”. Everybody has something that they’ve just had too much of and they don’t want the same old thing…again.  
Everyone is looking for that something….that oomph for dinner…that dish that just makes you feel good.  Something different. Because a good meal can change a bad day.
And then all it takes is for one person to mention Chinese and the thought of trying to eat rice and wontons with chopsticks while drinking piping hot tea and cracking open a fortune cookie to find out your fate afterward seals the deal.
Now we know that for most of us, eating with chopsticks is almost impossible.  But c’mon, it is kind of fun. And not all of us drink hot tea with dinner. And we know that those strips of paper inside our fortune cookie aren’t really going to predict our future.  But it’s kind of fun, right?
It’s so simple and yet so genius.  It probably doesn’t cost more than 30 cents for the chopsticks, fortune cookie and tea combined – but it adds a unique value to your eating experience.
For decades Domino’s pizza offered one of the best value propositions around.  Get your pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free.
It’s probably the only time you’ve wished your pizza would get there a couple minutes late so you could eat for free.  It’s a little like playing pizza lottery. One too many red lights and heavy traffic means 31 minutes and you win.

What Is a Unique Value Proposition?

A unique value proposition is something that you offer that stands out from your competitors.  
When consumers hear the same offerings over and over and over, they begin to tune them out.  If it requires a lot of thought to choose one over the other with not a lot of differentiation, they tend to experience cognitive overload.  They begin to shut down.
Until a product or service enters the picture that makes their ears perk up again.  
Something uniquely refreshing, adds value and doesn’t make them think too hard.
When visitors arrive on your website and they are greeted by a strong unique value proposition, it stops them in their tracks and keeps them from immediately clicking over to your competitor’s website.
It also helps them to commit to engaging further with your website.
Visitor motivation is always going to be the number one driver in consumer decisions.  If they’re not hungry – they’re not going to eat at your restaurants. If they don’t want to be followed every moment of the day with emails, text and social media – they’re not going to buy your smartphone.
But visitor motivation is not something we can control.  We can harness and steer it. But we can’t control it. That’s in our visitor’s hands.
However, a unique value proposition is something that we can control.  That’s why it’s imperative that you invest in drilling down, uncovering and revealing a really good one.

Identifying Your Strongest Value Proposition

Not every value proposition is created equal.  And as you’re about to find out, just being “different” or “unique” isn’t enough.
First, dig deep and write down every possible way in which your business and offering is unique.  Every possible way. Don’t leave anything out. Just like no question is a dumb question – the same holds true for brainstorming for value props.  Include them all. You just might have a hidden gem and don’t even know it.
It’s been a long held belief that if you just come up with something really unique and different then that is enough to define a unique value proposition.
But what if nobody wants it?
A toy that teaches kids the nutritional value of eating broccoli is great for parents.  But if the kids still don’t want to eat their greens – it’s useless.
So when you nail down your UVP, make sure that it’s something that your audience really wants.

Secondary Differentiators

Once you’ve identified your strongest value proposition, don’t stop there.
Also, identify secondary differentiators.  These secondary differentiators will help support your unique value proposition.  It will help to strengthen it when it comes to visitors making a choice whether or not to choose you.
These secondary differentiators can be things like free shipping, membership rewards – anything that provides added value.

Display Your Unique Value Proposition Prominently

Sometimes businesses have already have a pretty cool value proposition but it’s hidden from the world.  I was analyzing a website recently and didn’t discover their unique value proposition until I was reading their About us page.
It was awesome.  But it shouldn’t be hidden only on their About Us page.  Only a certain percentage of visitors will read that page.  
It should be smack dab on the Home page.
Most people aren’t willing to invest 5 minutes on 10 different websites to see if they have a unique offering.  Their time is too valuable and to spend 50 minutes total browsing websites only to find out at the end that nobody provided anything with unique value is too much of an investment.
They’re likely to only spend a few seconds before deciding if they should stay.
So make sure you convey your unique value proposition immediately.

Other Ways To Differentiate Value

Having a unique value proposition that sets your business and your offering apart from your competitors is a crucial first step.  But there’s also other areas where you need to highlight your value props.
When you provide different services and products to your prospects those services and products need to be differentiated by their unique value.  Why? Because it helps them to better understand which one they should choose. Remember, if they don’t know or can’t make a choice, they might not choose anything.
Not only will you be differentiating your products and services from each other so prospects can make a choice.  But you’ll also be specifically differentiating them from your competitor’s specific products and services as well.
And what about your About Us page?  Are you differentiating the value of your team?  Your team members are like no other team. Make sure that you are highlighting their very unique value too.

Delivering a Strong Value Proposition

I hope you have a little bit better of an understanding as to why a value proposition is so valuable.  Not only does it give you an advantage over your competition, it also helps your visitors to sort through all the marketing messages they receive.  Without it, it can be very hard for them to make a choice.
Value proposition’s are effective in that they stop visitors and grab their attention.  Once they see something they like, they are now more willing to commit to reading more of your message and delving deeper into your site.
So take the time to identify your strongest unique value proposition.  Add on secondary differentiators to support it and make it stronger. And remember to find the unique value in each and every one of your products and services – or in any other area when you can.

At the outset, your form may seem quick and easy. Everyone should know the answers to easy questions like name, email address, and birthdate. Furthermore, these are questions that everyone asks online. People should expect to answer these questions.

Yes, we know the answers. Yes, we’ve given this information up before. But, don’t call it quick and easy. It takes effort to decide if you’re trustworthy. It takes effort to decide if you’re safe. And it takes more effort than watching TV.

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You may think that we want “quick and easy”, “simple” or “short and sweet”, but we don’t. We’re completely happy with “hard but worth it”, “expensive but exciting”, and “painful in all the right ways”. These make us happy when you are able to present “worth it” clearly. They work when you make us feel the excitement. We buy when we know the right ways. Yet, it takes effort and skill to communicate “worth it” and “exciting” and “right” online.

So, we just say, “It’s easy.” Sometimes it works. In my Marketing Land column To Buy Or Not To Buy: When “Quick And Simple” Is Just A Lie, I propose that you will enjoy more success if you take the time to build value in your offering, rather than assuming your visitors are lazy and can’t be bothered to work for or spend on something valuable.

Quick And Simple Is Not A Metric. It Is A Perception.

Too often “Quick and Simple” is a lie.

Quick And Simple Is Not A Metric. It Is A Perception. I offer the following flowchart in the article:

The Quick and Easy Test flow chart.

Quick and easy is probably different for your visitors.

Mobile experiences are getting more and more sophisticated, which means we are doing less and less work. You’re definition of “easy” is getting eroded. I recommend you build value.

The inventors of Lean Product Development graced us with the concept of the MVP — the Minimum Viable Product. The idea is that you identify the absolute minimum feature set necessary to test the validity of a product, and then you launch it.

When it comes to validating ideas, conversion optimization tools make you leaner than Lean. You’re ultra lean. You’re 45-days-in-a-lifeboat lean. You’re hide-behind-a-flagpole lean.

Instead of building an MVP, we prefer to build an MVNP: the Maximum Viable Non-Product.

The idea is that you identify the absolute maximum feature set without actually building anything, then you launch it.

While we’re not in the business of validating markets per se, we do spend a great deal of time building facades, fronts, simulations and prototypes to see what will make a website more productive before we invest.

This is why the entrepreneur creation company Tech Ranch asked me to present to their Venture Forth entreprenuers on the topic of market validation.

I summarized my presentation in a column for Marketing Land entitled Using Conversion Optimization Tools to See if That Product Will Fly. Listen here.

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The main reason we like the MVNP concept is that, if you spend all your money building an MVP, what will you use to test your ability to market it. How many good products have been killed simply because the market never heard about them.

The testable market is defined by your ability to reach your addressible market.

The testable market is defined by your ability to reach your addressible market.I think it’s more important to figure out if you can market an idea to an audience cost-effectively than to find out if people will use it.
In my column, I talk about:

  • The role of secondary and primary research.
  • The role of qualitative and quantitative research.
  • The difference between the total market, the addressable market and your test market.
  • How to design an MVNP.

Listen now and go to the article to see the visual aids.

Feature image by Hans Gotun via Compfight cc

How would you find a 508% increase in leads from your most important landing page? Here’s how Comnio did it.

What Makes Up Your Value Proposition

I’m often asked questions like, “What would you test first on a landing page?” and, “What do you test on landing pages that most often increases conversions?” At Conversion Sciences, we ask ourselves these questions almost every time we start designing a test. When we “place a bet” on a landing page test, we are most likely to start with the value proposition.
The catch is this. [pullquote]Your “value proposition” is communicated by the offer, copy, images and proof. It’s complex.[/pullquote] So, when we say “start with the value proposition,” we’re talking about several potential tests.

Case Study: Comnio

I first came to know Comnio shortly after they had made a change to the over-arching component of their value proposition: the brand promise.
They had originally considered ShtLst.com.

The original concept did a great job of communicating the value proposition in a NSFW way.

The original concept did a great job of communicating the value proposition, but in a NSFW way.


The value proposition starts with, “Keep your company off of peoples’ Sh*t List.” I loved this approach mainly because I got the value prop in a very humorous way. The company uses customer complaints to market their services to companies that need help managing complaints. It’s hard to market a product to corporations that requires (Not Safe For Work) NSFW warnings, however. Here’s the original video (NSFW).
They decided to go with a safer corporate approach, branding the product as Comnio. The more customer complaints they are trusted with, the more businesses they can approach to sell their service.
So, the home page is an important landing page.
When I spoke with Ross Clurman the site offered a straight-forward value proposition to the consumer.
The Comnio home page served as a landing page for people needing customer support.

The Comnio home page served as a landing page for people needing customer support.


Visually, the most important parts of this value proposition are:

       

  1. The company. Note the large logo and company name top center.
  2.    

  3. The features of the service – History tracking, Rapid Response and Friendly Feedback.
  4.    

  5. A chance to offer an Email address. The white field is the most visually distinct item on this page.
  6.    

  7. The white glove treatment. See the large background image.

The Second Evolution

This value proposition didn’t work well, and this lead Ross to reach out to me for a free consultation.
My recommendations for Ross would certainly have been to focus on the company less and on what will happen more and to use a hero image that is more relevant. By September 2015, the home page was taking a different approach, focusing on the service value and defining the steps that make it work.

In September of 2015, this page had a conversion rate of 3.6%.

In September of 2015, this page had a conversion rate of 3.6%.


In this case the “proof” comes in the form of the logos of companies that Comnio has worked with. This can be a very effective way to increase conversions.
In September, the new landing page enjoyed a 3.6% conversion rate with 822 visits over 30 days.

Evolution Number Three

Updated Home Page Design
Again, included full-size version so you can scale down as needed…

The revised page that ran in October 2015 had a conversion rate of 18.3%.

The revised page that ran in October 2015 had a conversion rate of 18.3%.


In October of 2015, Ross’s team launched a new version of the page with a different approach to the value proposition. With just over 1000 visits, this page delivered a mind-blowing 18.3% conversion rate. That’s a 508% increase over September’s version.

What They Changed

The Comnio team changed several things to make their value proposition more effective. In their own words, here’s what they changed.

       

  1. Changed main tagline to explain what we do (as a benefit, not a feature)
  2.    

  3. Added secondary tagline to explain the pains/problems Comnio solves for users
  4.    

  5. Changed email [field] placeholder text from “Email address” to “Enter your email address” (a directive to visitors – people respond to being told what to do)
  6.    

  7. Changed CTA button from “Sign up for free” to “Try Comnio For Free” (resonates, and sounds like less of a commitment if people don’t feel like they’re “signing up” for something)
  8.    

  9. Added social sign-up options
  10.    

  11. Swapped out the position of company logos with the position of testimonials from users
  12.    

  13. Added a gradient line below hero area to separate it from the rest of the page

Which Elements Made the Difference?

Since all changes were made at once, it’s hard to know which contributed most. One of the changes may have even reduced the ultimate conversion rate. I think that, in this case, all elements work together to make one compelling value proposition. The sum is greater than the parts.
By translating the page into prose, we can see clues as to why.

Speak Your Value Proposition

If we were to write the value proposition of each page as a paragraph, you can see why the latter made more sense to visitors.

September Page

“Comnio offers on-demand customer service for any business at any time for free and it works on your smartphone. Just share your feedback. We contact the business and your issue gets resolved. Signup for free and start using Comnio now. We want your email address to sign up for free. Companies that you recognize use us, like beats by dr. dre, Lufthansa, Panasonic and more. You can trust us because @Kane007 tweeted that they are very grateful to us for helping.”

The italicized text is taken from the background image.
I think that this value proposition sounds like it focuses on the businesses, not end-users.

October Page

“Comnio deals with customer service so you don’t have to and it works on your smartphone. Submit your issue. We contact the business and your issue gets resolved. No waiting on hold. No repeating yourself. Just real, good customer service. Enter your email address to try Comnio for free. Or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook. You can trust us because we took just days to fix a problem for JASON that he’d had for years. We work with companies you recognize like beats by dr. dre, Lufthansa, Panasonic and more.”

The addition of “No waiting. No repeating yourself” really drives the point home that this page is for the consumer, and does it in a way that helps the visitor imagine what they are in store for if they do this themselves.
Overall, the new value proposition is more powerful and logical – about five times more powerful.
Our tests are showing that the contents of testimonials are very important. I believe that the message told by JASON is superior the the tweet by @Kane007, especially since JASON sounds like a person.
Finally, the company logos have been moved from the meat of the value proposition to a supporting role. This removed confusion about who this page is for, companies or consumers.

Social Signup Success

The impact of the social sign-up options in the October page is two fold. First it’s easier to do on a mobile device. Second it puts well-known brands on the page. This is a way of “borrowing” trust from Twitter and Facebook. There may be few social sign-ups, yet more form completions with this approach due to the increased trust on the page. In this case, Ross reports that about 49% of leads used the social sign-up buttons.
The magic question here is, did people who were going to sign-up use the social buttons for convenience, or did the social buttons drive visitors to sign-up who wouldn’t have otherwise done so.

Missing Ingredients

There are some specific elements we like to see in every landing page. The thing missing from this value proposition is proof. At some point they are going to be able to say something like, “15,324 issues resolved successfully.” The number doesn’t have to be that large, in my opinion.
For a potentially disruptive service like this, media mentions would be another nice addition to the page. This delivers more trust building and more proof.
To learn more about what makes landing pages convert at higher and higher rates, watch our free webinar The Science of the Landing Page.

Write Out Your Value Proposition

Whether you’re selling an application, a report or a free consultation, your value proposition should unfold in the visitors’ minds through the words, images and emphasis you place on the page. If your page is compelling written as a paragraph, you can enjoy high conversion rates like Comnio.
If not, test your way through to a value proposition that works.
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Feature image by stan via Compfight cc and adapted for this post.

The most important part of your website is your value proposition. Find out how to communicate it in words and images.

Too often, we confuse our tag line with our value proposition.
For a website, the value proposition is the critical message that asks a visitor to explore further and to purchase.
Famous value propositions include Zappos’ “365 day return policy and we pay shipping both ways.” Warby Parker offers “Order up to 5 of our vintage-style sunglasses. Keep the ones you like and send the others back at our expense.” These sound like expensive value propositions.
Yours doesn’t have to be.
No matter how simple or complex, your value proposition should be communicated clearly in the words and images on your website. Most value propositions can’t be communicated in a sentence or two.
Let’s see how one company communicates its value proposition in words and images.

iMagnetMount.com Value Proposition

I’m not going to tell you what iMagnetMount does. Let’s discover it from their home page, which acts as a landing page.
The value proposition for iMagnetMount is simple:

The “Hero Shot” should tell visitors that they are in the right place.

The “Hero Shot” should tell visitors that they are in the right place.


“We make a phone mount for your car.”
If I didn’t read the text, I wouldn’t really know what this is. The headline tries to be cute, but has the magic words, “Phone Mount.”
If we scroll we get the next part of the value prop pretty easily from an auto-play hero video.
If your product is easily demonstrated, consider using video.

If your product is easily demonstrated, consider using video.


BAM! I get it. Viscerally. Nothing fancy. No catchy music. I don’t even have to read the text.
It’s solid. It’s easy. It works on the dash or on the windshield.
This is the value of having a demonstrable product. If you have a demonstrable product, use video. To demonstrate.
If anything, I would have put this at the top of the page.

Objections: What’s missing from your Value Proposition

As potential customers, what we haven’t been told will quickly gel into objections. Objection questions begin with “What if I…?” and “Will it…?” and “How can it…?”
However, these questions aren’t asked on a web page. They must be anticipated.
It’s apparent that iMagnetMount believes to be the first objection to be, “Can I trust you?” Trust symbols are seen in two places on the page.

Logos can increase "borrow" trust from better-known brands.

Logos can increase “borrow” trust from better-known brands.


 
Be careful introducing objections with little proof to overcome them.

Be careful introducing objections with little proof to overcome them.


Objections are funny things, though. If you address the right  concern, you move the prospect closer to buying. If you raise the wrong one, you create a new objection.
Here, iMagnetMount introduces an objection, “Magnets might hurt my phone” by stating that there is “No Magnetic Disruption To Their Phone.” The objection is addressed with some social proof, so the objection is raised and addressed.
If you raise an objection, handle it quickly.
What is the next thing we should learn about this “phone-destroying” product?

More Demonstration

Next is a video with a marquee frame showing the phone turned horizontally, like a GPS. Awesome!
The copy next to it says, “Life is too short to fumble with your phone.” iMagnetMount’s copywriter thought cute was the way to go.
The goal of this particular headline is to get the visitor to play the video. Instead, they introduce a new objection: “Will I fumble the phone? Will it fall off?”

Headlines should tell the visitor what to focus on.

Headlines should tell the visitor what to focus on.


In your copy, avoid cliché phrases like “Life is too short”. Instead, be more direct.

Watch this short video to see how flexible this magnetic mount is.

Managing the Big Objections

When speaking with iMagnetMount, they confirmed that a big objection is that the magnetic mount would damage or interfere with the phone.

Will it hurt my battery?
Will it fry my electronics?
Will it burn my screen?
Will it affect reception?

iMagnetMount addresses the issue in small text under an unrelated headline.

The answer to the big objection is buried in hard-to-read copy under a cutesy headline.

The answer to the big objection is buried in hard-to-read copy under a cutesy headline.


Here, the copy asks the visitor to “Turn smartphone mounting on its head.” Another throw-away headline. As above, tell them to watch the video and see the advantage.
The video demonstrates the strong suction as well as the grip of the magnet on the phone. Demonstration rocks value propositions.
These two messages – that the magnet is safe and that the suction is awesome – address two of the biggest parts of the value proposition. They should be separated and proven.

Marry Messages and Copy

Your headlines should support the image.

Your headlines should support the image.


In this part of the page, I felt that the background image used was pretty effective for making a statement about suction. It shows a suction cup sticking to a rough dashboard surface. In this case, the overlaid text supports the message of the image. Words like, “Finally” and “hassle-free” are not as powerful. Chuck these words to advance the value proposition.
Phrases like “patented” and “secure for months” are going to be more successful.

Managing Risk

Buying anything is perceived as risky, especially online. Managing the risk is a key part of the value proposition.

Risk management is a key part of your value proposition.

Risk management is a key part of your value proposition.


There are several messages at the bottom of the page that address risk.

        

  • You won’t have to buy a new mount if you think you’ll change phones.
  •     

  • Our mount is safe for your phone (with a link to a FAQ page)
  •     

  • Our product is built from strong stuff (in South Korea)
  •     

  • We offer a one-year warranty.
  •     

  • Over 100,000 drivers have bought your product.

The cornerstone of risk management is risk reversal. The use of a familiar gold seal tests well in many industries. The use of plain-English text describing the warranty and return is done well here.
A link to a FAQ page offers up many more objections, but also handles them well. Methodical buyers will appreciate the detail on this page.

Repeat the Offer at the Bottom

Anyone who has read through your page to the end is probably pretty interested. Always repeat the call to action at the bottom, as iMagnetMount does here.

Bringing it Home

Copy is more than words. Copy is words and the images that support them.
If there is one issue with the copy on this page, it is that copy is trying to be cute and isn’t supporting the very strong images and video on the page.
After our conversation, iMagnetMount modified the page to address some of these issues.

Proof is important when handling value objections.

Proof is important when handling value objections.


Here they’ve added copy to handle the objection, “Will the magnets hurt my phone?” Unfortunately, the image and copy no longer collaborate.
I don’t think they expend enough effort in managing this objection. Proof is key, and they have it. However it is buried, even in this treatment. They should state that it’s SAFE.

Safe for your phone. Safe for your battery. Safe for your screen. Proven with over 10,000 hours of road testing over 2 years.

Are we introducing some objections here? Yes, but if the proof is there, we can consider it handled.
With one change, iMagnetMount significantly improved the image-headline relationship in another part of the page.

When text and image work together, value propositions get wings.

When text and image work together, value propositions get wings.


What a powerful headline that begs me to watch the video to see the proof.

The Complete Value Proposition

The keys to a communicating a strong value proposition are:

        

  • Demonstrate your value with images and video.
  •     

  • Support your images with headlines.
  •     

  • Provide proof whenever possible.
  •     

  • Manage risk with proof and a straight-forward return policy.
  •     

  • Repeat the offer at the bottom of the page.

There are other aspects of this page that may be hindering conversion rates, and those are discussions for another day.
However, with a well-crafted value proposition, buyers will find their way through many obstacles on their way to purchase.
Thanks to iMagnetMount for allowing us to write about their site.

Apple has joined the posers.
“We love our customers!”
“We are the leader!”
“We start by asking, ‘How will it make you feel?'”
Apple was one of those brands that just didn’t have to say how they worked. They created products we didn’t expect and then showed us the products — with the same style that they built them.
This commercial is beautiful, a stylistic way to make an important point.
But it’s all about them. Not me.

I don’t think this bodes well for Apple.
If you can show how you’re different, remarkable or interesting don’t say it. If you have to say it, it probably isn’t true.
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Perhaps the hardest thing to do in Conversion Science is getting the art right.
Your value proposition, value statement, unique selling proposition or offer are critical to getting seen, heard or read.
At Enviromedia the art works, but the science keeps them from capitalizing on their genius.

Enviromedia's Great Value Proposition
Enviromedia Value Prop Enviromedia has a great value proposition but their implementation is not conversion friendly

Good Art

I love bold value propositions. “Business-savvy Tree-hugger” and “Capitalist pigs with a social conscious” communicate the value system of this company much better than something like “An environmentally-focused communications company.”
It will totally turn off businesses that aren’t concerned with environmental issues. Conservative republicans will leave the site quickly. This company has staked it’s claim and isn’t worried about losing the wrong business as it enchants the right clients.

Bad Science

For some reason, this fabulous value proposition was implemented as a flash panel. It took close to five seconds to load on a very fast broadband connection.
I almost didn’t see it.
Search engines won’t see it.
Why? So that the words can shimmer.
Why is this bad science?
Slow load times increase bounce rates and reduce conversion rates.
The human brain is hard-wired look at movement. Movement draws the eye.
In this case the eye is constantly drawn away from the page content. Doesn’t Enviromedia want me to click on “Who we are” and “What we do?” If not, why put them on the page.
The coup de tat? This big attention-drawing graphic isn’t clickable.
DOH!

Good Science

Rip out the flash. Put the exact same words in an image. Make the image clickable so that I can see what you mean by “business-savvy tree-hugger” and “capitalist pigs with a social conscience.”
Now I’m engaged. I’m into the site. I’m vulnerable to offers to start a conversation.
I’d hire Enviromedia.  I like and understand their value proposition. Of course, they could make it easier for me to hire them with a little conversion science in the mix.

Your Turn

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