Our last conversion rate exercise asked you to perform several very simple exercises to answer the question for your visitor: why she should¬† do business with you. Did you come up with a good TweetVP and identify the 25 interesting things about your business?
There are dozens of these exercises that you need to do to achieve the proper fitness level for maximum persuasionability.
Today, I’d like you to focus on identifying the value that your visitor needs, while differentiating yourself from your competitors. This exercise works equally well for retail as it does for business to business products or services.
First, how this works for retail:
Pick a few of your products and find the same model (or something similar if you are selling non-branded items) on at least 2 of your competitors’ websites.
Print off the product descriptions for each and as you go through your product description find the copy on your competitors’ descriptions that say approximately the same thing (even if it is in slightly different words).
As a working example, I’ll choose the digital camera Sony DSC-W80 (it’s a bit older now and fewer retailers have it in stock today). Take a look at the description for the Sony DSC-W80 from these retailers below:
They all are pretty much identical in what they say. They may say it in different formats, some in sparse bullet points, others with the details a bit more fleshed out, but essentially they aren’t providing the visitor with any unique, new information from which to make a purchase decision.
This is what Amazon figured out early is one of the advantages of having review information. If all you are going to provide is the manufacture information, you can not communicate anything of value differently to your visitors other than price (and competing on price alone is not the best strategy).
Unless of course you’re in a commodity business, in which case the only thing to communicate that has any value is your differentiator. What would you bet that all the retailers above would strongly object to being described as being the commodity business — despite that by their action and inaction they are treating their product precisely like a undifferentiated commodity.
So once you realize there is nothing very different in your description from your competitors,¬† how can you find out what is of value to your visitors? In Amazon’s case it is reviews. Let’s look at the summary of reviews for this product on Amazon using the Pluribo plugin for Firefox:
Almost all the reviews talk about the speed of the camera as a key benefit. Now go back to all those retailers and notice how not one listed speed anywhere in the description. This is where all the customers are seeing “value” in this camera –¬† don’t you think your visitors who haven’t yet made that decision to buy might find “speed” as important? What you should be doing is incorporating copy that plays on speed as an important aspect of the product. If you don’t have the benefit of all these reviews, it is your responsibility if you want increased sales to find out these key benefits and communicate them. Someone is going to sell that camera to that customer — and if it’s isn’t you, then that’s your fault.
On the B2B side, let’s look at online meeting or conferencing software as an example, since so many people are familiar with it.
If most of what you are saying is that you can easily give presentations on both Mac and PCs, that people can meet online all across the globe, that you can use the product for training, sales or collaboration, is that seriously enough to differentiate you from all your other competitors? As Bruno might say, “Ich don’t think so.”
Take a look at competitors who offer similar solutions and focus on the benefits that differentiate you. You still need to include some of these basics so that people know that you work on both the Mac and PC — because if all your competitors offer the same benefit it almost “converts” the benefit into a plain ol’ feature –¬† but you need to find out why your potential customers would choose you over your competitors.
Keep in mind as you (and your competitors) evolve your online efforts, you need to evolve this approach as well.