Part 3 of 5 - Optimizing For Conversions: Measuring Your Value Proposition
What You'll Learn In This Post
How to better explain and gain conversions from your Unique Value Proposition.
- What a Unique Value Proposition is and what some only think it is
- Hits and misses with the UVP on three e-commerce site landing pages
- What a UVP requires and how to tell whether yours is effective
- Where your website needs – or may already have – elements of your UVP
You are in charge of making your website perform at the highest level, which means you are in charge of increasing web revenue. You are convinced that you are spot on with its content and how it is presented.
So why is your boss asking why there aren’t more leads or why sales are down?
Naturally, you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and start to ask yourself questions about your website and the products it promotes:
Why should I buy it? What are you really doing for me? What makes it worthwhile for me to spend my hard-earned money, not to mention my time and effort, to order it? Why from you?
What you are really asking is: What is our unique value proposition (UVP)?
Marketers know that offering a clear and persuasive UVP is central to making a sale or ensuring any other conversion on an e-commerce or SaaS website.
In a previous article, we’ve identified the value proposition as one third of the Conversion Triangle. The three interconnected factors of relevance, motivation and value proposition drive conversions.
If a solid Conversion Triangle does not exist on your site, you are potentially losing conversions and money.
The value proposition may be the most difficult leg of the Triangle to develop.
You probably have a pretty good handle on the value of your product or service. But that doesn’t automatically mean you can convey it in a manner that your prospective customers will understand and respond to. And I’m sure you know that your understanding of the UVP isn’t necessarily the same as anyone else’s who has a say in the matter.
What it takes to identify and state a solid UVP, and then use it to enhance conversion rates is no day at the beach.
Below, I want to help marketing directors and in-house conversion optimizers understand the need for a strong UVP, how to go about putting it together, and how and where to use it on e-commerce and SaaS websites.
My value proposition to you is that by understanding the UVP and the rest of the Conversion Triangle, you can increase conversions and, ultimately, revenue. Still interested?
What is a Unique Value Proposition?
This Google Knowledge Graph, with its second sentence, defines a unique value proposition, i.e., about “one particular product” that’s better than the rest:
The UVP answers a website user’s “What’s in it for me?” question. It focuses on users’ pain points and how the product or service will relieve their suffering. Offering and explaining this value makes the site relevant.
When properly used, the UVP is stated immediately and reinforced throughout the conversion funnel. The UVP helps to motivate users at each level of the research / evaluation / decision / purchase process.
The UVP is not:
- Your logo or catchphrase. Putting just your logo and a slogan at the top of a landing page offers the user nothing of value. A catchphrase should echo an aspect of the UVP, but conveying the value you offer the consumer requires much more.
- Your website. This is a common misunderstanding. The UVP is not your website’s purpose or what the site is all about. Your website is a tool to attract shoppers, show them your wares and convert them into paying customers. Your UVP explains why your efforts to take shoppers’ money is ethical. It explains what they gain from the transaction.
- Cute. A UVP is a rational argument for why your product or service is worthy of the site users’ time, attention and, ultimately, money. It must make them understand and agree. This is no time to substitute cleverness for helpfulness.
Do Most Websites Understand the UVP?
Multiple tests show that headlines and images are what a user sees first when they come to a landing page. The expectation is that information here will, within seconds, tell the site visitor that the page is relevant to their needs and that there’s enough value in what’s being offered for them to continue along the unseen purchase funnel.
Let’s say you will be in charge of revenue for a new e-commerce website. You have to research the multiple commercial e-commerce platforms available. What do they offer up front as their value proposition?
Here are above-the-fold screen shots for three I searched for by name and opened through the SERP:
Beautiful hero shot (he’s actually doing something sort of heroic). The headline promises “new heights” with a market leader, and “2.0” implies improvement. Sounds good, but what does it really mean? I guess I can “Discover” what they mean.
This is the first of three slides on a carousel. Each states a facet of their value proposition in a headline and subhead (the other two headers are “Launch Quickly” and “Simple Automation”), and illustrates it. You get a vital point about the value SpreeCommerce offers right away and the three main points of the UVP in about eight seconds, if the whole slideshow runs before you move on.
Right below the fold is a 52-word value proposition statement:
The Spree storefront offers a full feature set and is built on common standards, so you don't have to compromise speed to market, efficiency or innovation. The modular platform allows you to easily configure, supplement or replace any functionality you need, so that you can build the exact storefront that you want.
The entire UVP is not explained immediately, but it’s all there and it is clear.
You have to scan for it, but it’s there. A solid and succinct value proposition: Find your customers and grow your business easily and economically. Apparently they’ll help you with photography, too (it’s a blog post, actually; but helpful nevertheless). The hero image is a subtle .gif; the plant and price tag sway, directing your eye to one of two prominent CTAs.
Why the UVP Gives the Director of Marketing Headaches
You can bet that none of the companies above came up with what’s on those pages overnight (well, Magento, maybe).
In our explanation of the Conversion Triangle, we said a UVP must have four elements:
- Clarity: Make sure the potential customer understands what you offer.
- Appeal: Reinforce the site visitor’s desire for what you offer. Sell them.
- Exclusivity: Explain why your version of this product is better than your competitors’.
- Credibility: Support the claims you make for your product or service, company or self.
And, you know, make it punchy, not stuffy and full of jargon. Show that we’re cutting edge, agile, young, hip …
Identifying and deciding how to best communicate your company’s UVP may be one of the most difficult projects to ever land on your desk. I’ll confess that I sigh when I think about the time we spent going round and round trying to create ours, and I’m still not thrilled with it.
People above you won’t understand the purpose of a UVP, and people alongside and below you just won’t quite get what you’re trying to say about the UVP.
Creating a UVP will be the topic of multiple meetings and memos. Once you decide what it is, you’ll have to figure out how to communicate it effectively. This will require all of your copywriting skills and powers of persuasion.
And for that matter, you have to ask yourself, what is effective?
It’s one thing to compose a beautiful piece of prose that explains why you answer your customers’ needs better than anyone else. It’s another to know that it reaches the people who come to your website.
Knowing whether your UVP will be effective is the other half of this onerous project, and it probably won’t be done by committee. That may be a plus or a minus, but you’ll need to understand some of the nitty gritty of conversion optimization:
- Customer personas. You need to know who your customers are to understand what they value, and what speaks to or resonates with them. Previous studies you or others in your industry have done can help you identify what your customers care about most. Social media related your company or your competitors can also be valuable.
- A/B testing. As you prepare iterations of your UVP for your landing page and various points along the conversion funnel, you’ll have to test to see whether they’re effective. You may test a statement of your UVP on the landing page vs. no UVP, one version of the UVP vs. another, a call to action that reflects the UVP vs. a CTA that doesn’t, and so on. (If you find yourself at a stalemate when deciding in committee between two or more UVPs, A/B testing comes to the rescue!) (Image source)
- Analytics. The quantitative data supplied by your analytics program may show where your UVP is not motivating shoppers to move forward. Friction and anxiety are primary detractors from the Conversion Triangle’s support of conversions, but the appeal of your UVP is meant to mitigate their harm. Where the conversion funnel breaks down and users leave, something, perhaps your UVP, is not doing its job.
This is work that never ends.
Your customer base changes; your products and services change. Ideally, each product and service you offer has its own UVP, though they may be based on company-wide values or principles.
Where to Find or Place an E-Commerce Site’s Value Proposition
Even if your company has not adopted a formal, CEO-approved and codified unique value proposition, there may be some semblance of one on your site.
Marketers tend to think in terms of expressing value to the consumer, so if yours is an established concern, your website is likely to speak to fulfilling your customers’ needs.
Rather than waiting until you can rally support to start a UVP definition project and then get the job done and the final product accepted, there’s no time like the present to audit your site for how well it’s presenting your existing value proposition.
Here are the places to check, and maybe add or rewrite some copy. They’re the same points you’d adapt a newly minted UVP to:
- E-commerce site headlines should name the product and, if possible, the problem it solves. Images can do more of the heavy lifting for tangible products than for SaaS and other services.
- Headlines for SaaS sites should identify the first problem the software solves or whatever it does best.
- Sites for services need headlines that stress how easy they make the user’s life, or how they save time or money.
Below, Nordstrom says and shows that they can help men dress well this spring.
- Sub-heads should expound upon the value expressed in the headline, or state an additional problem resolution your product or service provides.
- E-commerces sites might use a product blurb or a short description in a sub-head.
- A SaaS site or a service might run a product testimonial as a sub-head if they have one from an instantly recognized and highly regarded company / client.
Landing Page Descriptive Copy
- In addition to describing what you are selling, the landing page must explain its value to the buyer. Most probably, any sales language your site uses will already be reflected in landing pages’ main body copy.
Call to Action
- Instead of some form of “Buy Now,” have your CTAs call for customers to solve their problems now. Think in terms of a customer gaining not spending.
- SaaS sites should focus on clarity in the terms of signups and “trial periods.” The difference between 7 and 14 days can have a huge impact sometimes and none at all other times. Test it! What about the perceived value of 7 days vs. 1 week? That’s worth testing, too.
- Prices should be clear, but will look better (i.e., provide more value) if they are:
- Sale prices
- Discounted / BOGO
- Exclusive to orders from this website
- Exclusive to returning / frequent customers
- Available for a limited time only.
Dick's shows clearly that this first baseman's mitt is a deal at a third off and that it qualifies for free shipping.
Shipping and Handling Charges / Delivery
- All extra charges should be clearly explained as soon as possible in the purchase process.
- You can’t beat free shipping, and it’s everywhere.
- Options for lower fees (for slower delivery) will be appreciated.
- E-commerce sites that offer free delivery for spending a certain amount may see customers buy more to qualify.
- Advise customers at the top of the checkout procedure about any items that can’t be shipped promptly, and provide the most accurate availability date possible. Offer to hold one just for them.
- For products that are out of stock, remind customers that the problem is that so many satisfied customers have bought them. Validate their purchase decision!
- Anything you can offer a customer for their inconvenience, from the smallest discount to a company t-shirt or cap (which is free marketing if worn), is added value.
- When you thank your customers, add that you value their patronage and/or their trust in you.
- Ask for a rating or testimonial about shopping with you, a sign that you value their opinion.
- Offer similar purchases, as in “Customers who bought X also bought …”
- Offer — as an option — to update customers via email about new products, sales, specials, etc.
A unique value proposition is more than a neatly crafted statement that you put on a landing page for the world to admire. It is a foundational tool for conversion optimization that should be put to use again and again throughout any website.
If you can’t already state the value you offer visitors to your website, it is worth the blood, sweat and tears that will go into identifying your UVP. Explaining it on your landing pages and throughout the conversion funnel will reinforce your product’s relevance to site users’ needs and motivate them to buy from you.
Learn more from our series about the Conversion Triangle — how to use relevance, motivation and the value proposition to boost conversions, and how to eliminate conversion-killing friction and anxiety.