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Value proposition showdown: Your company vs. your product or service

September 26th, 2008 4 comments

Expressing an effective value proposition is one of the biggest keys to conversions. So it’s no surprise that it was a popular topic on day one of our Landing Page Optimization Workshop.

Problem: Most companies still struggle with value propositions.

This is fertile ground for optimization, and we’ll continue to cover it in more depth in our clinics and workshops. But for this post, I want to focus on a distinction that can help clarify two different types of value proposition — and provide compelling tests that you might run with PPC ads, landing pages, SEO, and other marketing channels.

value-prop-ppc-ads1

As the image above illustrates, you can focus your value proposition on your company, or on your specific product or service.

In this example, a search for “lap pools” shows the PPC ads and organic search results include a mix of both styles. (Note: What the image doesn’t show is that all of the sidebar PPC ads use product-centric value propositions.)


What’s the difference between types of value propositions, and why is it important?

Product-centric value propositions and company-centric value propositions appeal to different types of searchers, with different motivations and purchase intentions.

So the style you present in your various marketing channels should match the mindset of the prospects in that channel.

In a search for “lap pool”, the copy from the second PPC ad states: “Enjoy a lap pool in your backyard. Spa Trainer also seats 12 adults.” This line focuses exclusively on the product features.

But the copy from the third ad states: “Whatever Your Needs Are, We’ll Do Our Best to Build You a Dream Pool!” In contrast, this copy is all about the company and the lengths it will go to for customer service.


Tailor your value proposition to the fit the searcher

Each of those approaches is likely to appeal to a certain type of users. In many cases, the copy that is product-specific will appeal to prospects just starting their search. Once the prospect has zeroed in on the product he or she wants, their search may shift to other factors, such as customer service or installation options. At that point, the company-centric copy becomes more valuable to the decision.

This works with SEO, too. Look at the top organic result for that search — it’s another company-centric value proposition: “Really EZ Pools offers complete portable pool packages starting at $999. A proud member of the Better Business Bureau and a one-stop source for portable lap …”

The second organic result is product-focused: “You can put your Endless Pools Swimming Pool and Lap Pool just about anywhere. Take a look at Custom Pools by Endless Pools.”


Identify the right style to use with your search campaigns

Can we tell you which style will win hands-down every time? Of course not.

That’s why you should be testing this with your own products/services, customers, and marketing channels. Especially if your PPC ad or SEO results are surrounded by a bunch of similarly focused (and struggling) value propositions.

This is a powerful way to test how your value proposition sets apart your offer and connects with the right prospects, in the right way, at the right time.

Have you tested similar variations with your PPC ads, landing pages, or SEO? Let us know. And look for more on value propositions, including a contest, in the near future …

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Writing headlines that don’t sell — but get much higher conversions

September 8th, 2008 2 comments

Here’s a paradox of successful headlines: the less they sell, the more they can sell.

Our most recent web clinic looked at research and ideas that support a vital, yet often overlooked, principle: The objective of your headline is not to sell, but to connect with your reader.

That split-second connection only has to compel readers to continue — not necessarily to buy right away. You want them to read the next line (subhead), then the next one (first paragraph), and then start to engage them with your offer.

This idea isn’t new. It’s just extremely easy to forget. Tight deadlines, heavy pressure to increase ROI, a propensity for sticking with what’s worked in the past … there are dozens of reasons why we approach headline writing from the wrong angle.

8-27-08-clinic-screenshot.pngOften, we either try to do too much and follow the old “sell the sizzle” formulas, or contort our copy to placate search engines and spam filters and wind up with drab, keyword-laden Mad Libs.

There are better ways.

In the clinic, Optimizing Your Headlines: How changing a few words can help (or hurt) conversion, we explored three key qualities of winning headlines, looked at recent tests and examples, and broke down two methods you can use to test and optimize your own headlines.

That clinic is now available online in three formats for your convenience:

We also polled the audience during the session. Thanks to the positive feedback and the record-breaking attendance of the clinic, we’ll be conducting a follow-up webinar this Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 4:00 p.m. ET, that will include a live optimization session with audience-submitted headlines and new test results.

Secure your spot for Optimizing Headlines Pt. II today, as our free clinics are capped at 1,000 attendees.

(Use the comments field to post your questions and/or headlines you’d like to have our optimization team address.)

P.S. If you’re looking for more in-depth information about copywriting, including myriad tips and techniques for headlines, you won’t find a better resource online than Copyblogger.com.

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Mobile search means businesses better get mo’ or get left

September 20th, 2007 1 comment

Google said this week they are expanding their AdWords service, offering businesses the chance to place ads next to cell phone search results.

They are also rolling out a new Adsense for Mobile service, where contextual ads will appear on web sites specifically optimized for viewing on cell phones. Mobile users clicking on ads are sent to the mobile-version of an advertiser’s webpage or offered the option of connecting to a business phone.

According to a Monday press release, “AdSense for Mobile is intended for AdSense partners who have created websites specifically for mobile browsers, and who want to monetize their mobile content via contextual advertising. Like Google’s other AdSense products, mobile text ads run on an auction model. The system automatically reviews the content of publishers’ mobile websites and delivers text ads that are relevant to the websites’ audience and content.”

Google will use auctions to set prices and advertisers will pay when a user clicks, just like the online version. Google says conversion tracking is available for their mobile offerings.

AdSense for Mobile will cover at least 12 countries besides the U.S., including England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Russia, Australia, India, China and Japan.

Google joins Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft in jockeying for the best position in the emerging mobile search marketplace. All four have recently snapped up intellectual talent and treasure. AOL bought Third Screen Media and Microsoft sucked up Frances’ ScreenTonic just three months ago. On Monday Nokia said it would buy Boston’s Enpocket.

As of this week, Sprint customers can take advantage of both MS mobile and LoMo search technology. Sprint’s Mobile Shopper allows users to search and compare prices on 7 million products from online stores like eBags, Bluefly, and Shoes.com with in-store prices. The tool is from a Boulder, Co. company called mShopper. Sprint also offers GPShopper’s “Slifter Mobile” local mobile search tool for finding an item a user wants as close to the user as possible.

According to Strategy Analytics, $14.4 billion will be spent on mobile advertising by 2011, an estimated one-fifth of all Internet ads.

Savvy businesses will optimize mobile versions of their Web sites, if they haven’t done so already.

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Which converts better – organic search or paid search?

September 29th, 2006 No comments

This is a big question with serious implications for online retailers in the months before the holiday buying season.

A recent article at Clickz throws some light on this topic.

Here is an excerpt:

The [WebSideStory ]study looks at traffic and conversion data from 20 business-to-consumer e-commerce sites during the first eight months of 2006. Paid search had a median order conversion rate of 3.4 percent, while organic search results produced a conversion rate of 3.13 percent. The data set included more than 57 million search engine visits.

There are arguments to support both sides, Rand Schulman, WebSideStory’s CMO, told ClickZ.

“On the one hand, because you control the message of paid search, you’d expect higher conversions. On the other side, because people value the ‘editorial integrity’ of organic, you’d expect higher conversions,” he said. “Ultimately you need to do both. I think the eye-opener here is that neither side has a significant edge.”

It would have been interesting to get some more details on the variables within the study.

For instance, were they comparing organic vs. paid, regardless of the position of either link on the page? In other words, did they compare an organic listing in position two with a paid listing also in position two? Or was the comparison between the two listings, on the same page, but regardless of position?

And did they compare paid and organic links which pointed to the exact same page? Paid links almost always point to an optimized offer page. But that often isn’t the case with organic links.

And were those 20 companies in the study of similar sizes? And did they represent a fair spread of industry categories?

However, putting aside those questions, and assuming the basic validity of the test, there is a big lesson to be learned here.

Keep your PPC campaigns going…but also pay attention to your organic search positions.

Remember, organic search traffic costs you nothing per click. So if you get the same conversion rate from organic listings, your net revenue could make a nice jump upwards. (Assuming you don’t spend an arm and a leg on search engine optimization.)

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