Take our test: Are your sales messages aimed at you… Or your customers?

Take our value proposition test to see if your messaging can sell better …
Paul Stratford, Creative Director

Take a look at your website home page. Do your opening phrases begin talking from the first person perspective, i.e. ‘We are X company’ or ‘Welcome to X company’?

If so, you might not be focussing on your customers’ needs and be leaking leads to your sharper competitors. It’s one of the earliest performance indicators we look for when assessing companies online. It’s also one of the fastest fixes to connect with visitors and generate more leads.

Why it works?

  • Your home page visitors care about themselves and their own problems. Appeal to the by including the most relevant solutions to these scenarios. 
  • Your home page visitors care about real results, not rhetoric. Use stats and references to support your biggest claims.
  • Home page visitors are looking for timely solutions. In less than a second, your visitors (hopefully) should have decided ‘this provides the outcomes I need’.

When it doesn’t?

As well as low volumes of enquiries, the issues might show up in your Google Analytics as high bounce rates or a low percentage of visitors scrolling down more than 10% of the page. So, if this sounds familiar, read on.  If you haven’t studied your analytics and need help, get in touch >

Read on and discover how to escape ‘We, me and I’ content and engage better with new visitors, yet still tell people who you are.


Test 1: Who and where – mapping Personas and channels

Are you focused on a specific group of people or everyone? Ask yourself questions like ‘who are your ‘ideal’ customers?’ ‘What (if any) problems are you solving for them?’. Then discover where your ideal customers exist. What behavioural characteristics do they share? How can you help? From these foundations, you can build Build semi-fictional profiles of ideal and not-ideal customers to ensure your messaging resonates.

1a. Win/Fail Deal reviews. Interview clients and even ex-clients. Include clients who should have used you but didn’t and clients who did use you but shouldn’t. The intelligence from these stories all forms the rich source of relevant information needed to connect with future audiences. There’s no good guessing this.

1b. Website performance. The most popular pages on your website (by visitor volume, time on site and engagement) are a good indicator of intent, but verify this with real people. If budget permits, you can also use tools like Hotjar to analyse which paragraphs and words that visitors focus on and engage with.

1c. Language. Ensuring your messages match your clients’ actual needs is crucial. If you can, locate keyword data from Google Analytics. Try to extract the top phrases typed into Google as well as on your website’s search bar. Focus specifically on the keywords that brought in the most valuable or most relevant visitors.

1d. Test and refine your best theories. With an outline of your customer personas and their needs and your solutions defined, we recommend surveying the exact phrases you use. For example: with each client at Usable Media, we build a panel of relevant respondents and invite them to study and respond to several messaging variants – including competitor’s examples. This enables us to get a more certain idea of how a website or campaign will perform when live. This process saves time on guesswork and also budget.

Test 2: Define your value proposition

Your value proposition will consist of an appealing headline and simple sub-head with descriptive intro. It’s best practice to accompany this with a ‘purposeful’ or relevant visual or graphic, that acts as a shortcut.

The following formula works for our clients:

2a. Attention-grabbing headline. Describe the end-benefit your customers will enjoy that is unique to your solution, expressed in one short sentence. Reference your product / service / industry.

2b. The Summary, or story. A detailed explanation of what you do or offer and why certain clients and job roles find it essential. Use two to three sentences within a paragraph.

2c. FABs. List at least three features and benefits. Map these to your own unique product set or features – where possible, use examples as proof of your claims.

Test 3: Purposeful imagery.

Visualise your product or service improving or solving a situation. This helps viewers imagine a better scenario for themselves and reinforces your key messages and FABs. Because visual devices (graphs, photography and icons etc) convey meaning far quicker than words, they need to be accurate. Ensure the impressions your graphics give are on-brand and reiterate the messages they are illustrating. Here are some simple visual guidelines we’ve seen used by the world’s biggest brands:

3a. Illustrate your personas carefully. HubSpot defines personas as semi-fictional marketing profiles with many assumptions made to fill the gaps in reality. Some of these guesses might be stereotypical (or worse, offensive), so be careful how you demonstrate your product helping. Before you know it, race, gender, age body image etc become a challenge. Think of it as a chance to show your product solving something in a unique and compelling way. Focus on the result, the process or anything that avoids showing ‘people’.

3b. Icon sense. Don’t be afraid to follow the crowd when showing already established metaphors. An example is the magnifying glass icon for ‘Search’ or a symbol of a Cloud for ‘Cloud Computing’. Inventing metaphors or icons has the exact opposite effect. Just choosing icons that you like challenges your visitors and wastes valuable time and effort. If in doubt, test your icons with a small group of respondents.

3c. Animation. Exciting right? We’ve seen enough evidence to suggest homepage and landing page animations distract and prevent visitors from reading key messages or fulfilling calls to action. According to Usability experts UXPin specifically, animated header sliders (or Carousels) are a poor waste of space with a very low engagement rate. In our tests, only 0.3% of visitors engage with content after the 2nd frame.

There is a very useful tool I have referenced before, from Strategyzer, called the value proposition map. This helps to research, write, illustrate and test your value proposition map with actual client needs: https://www.strategyzer.com/canvas/value-proposition-canvas

So how and where do you talk about yourself on your own website?

Save it.

Yes, save it for the About Us page, but consider this:

  • On the About Us page, the rules change. ‘We, me, I and our’ is okay but use a storytelling narrative to keep it interesting.
  • Cite real examples and key milestones that are relevant and appealing to buyers – and build rapport.
  • Consider a timeline and milestones chart. Set the scene for the company vision (or goal) and then show the stages of getting there – first big win, product or service launch, winning an award, number of staff, key partnerships.

With credibility now established, you can set out your values and mission, in a way that looks believable and achievable.

Impact

Being customer-focussed is more nuanced than just saying ‘we care about our customers’ and a website chat box saying ‘I want to help?’. This article only covers the externally facing side of your marketing – to be truly customer-centric, it’s important to gather and use data to evolve your product or service so it matches up with your marketing promises.

If you want to know more about increasing leads the fastest way, get in touch. Everything from  Persona Workshops and Messaging to User Testing and Campaign Management.  

Usable Media helped our clients raise nearly £80 million in 2019. We’ve helped clients as large as the NEC and JCB to many mid-tier software and healthcare brands starting that journey. The Value proposition framework we use, follows proven behavioural patterns and is the cornerstone of all our lead-generation activities, including branding – which you can read more about here >

Market leaders in your industry probably know these techniques. We see evidence every day. If you want to know how your successful competitors are winning, we also offer digital due-diligence to discover and use open opportunities in your field. Talk to one of our experts now.

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