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What’s the easiest way to increase the conversion rate for any eCommerce business? Develop your own unique value proposition. That’s a brief marketing statement telling visitors why they should buy from your site instead of competitors.
Studies show that a well-crafted value proposition can boost conversion rates by 10% or more. That’s because it evokes an emotional “gut” reaction that forms an instant bond between you and visitors.
If you want more sales, keep reading. In this article we’ll explain what is a value proposition, and how to boost sales by developing your own version.
What do you offer buyers that nobody else can?
The value proposition is a marketing concept that tells visitors why they should buy from you instead of competitors. A well-crafted value proposition instantly portrays the features and benefits of your products.
Here’s a blunt way of saying it: Your value proposition is the benefit of doing business with you minus the cost of doing business with you.
Value = Benefit – Cost
It’s a powerful marketing tool for getting ahead of any competitor who doesn’t have one.
Focus on the target audience, don’t worry about anyone else
The key to creating and implementing a successful value prop is to know that you can’t be everything to everybody every time.
By choosing the fattest target markets and tailoring your message to appeal directly to those consumers, you’ll sell more overall.
The proposition should speak directly to targeted readers, even if outsiders don’t understand the underlying message.
So, if your eCommerce business operates in a specialized niche you’ll do best by crafting your value proposition to exclude non-members of the desired demographic.
That’s because consumers are accustomed to personalized approaches. They see generic pitches as unsuitable or insulting.
For example, the Herman Miller company makes high-end chairs for offices. Their value proposition is: “At Herman Miller, we want you to do great things. That’s why we make problem solving designs that are as beautiful as they are useful.”
Clearly, the proposition excludes slackers. It’s aimed squarely at executives and office workers who sit in chairs all day while solving business problems.
Your value proposition should tell prospective buyers
✔ How the products/services solve their problems
✔ Which specific benefits they’ll receive
✔ Why they should buy from you instead of competitors
Here’s what a proposition should not be
✸ Advertising slogan (Nike’s “Just Do It”)
✸ Positioning statement (“The No. 1……”)
✸ Mission statement (“Our mission is to become the biggest and best…”)
Characteristics of a good value proposition
✔ Clear and easy to understand
✔ Understandable within 5 seconds
✔ Communicates the successful results a customer expects to receive
✔ Distinguishes and differentiates how it’s better than the competitors
What’s your unique value to consumers?
Your unique value proposition is the reason why people buy from you instead of your competitors. Here are some examples of ways to distinguish your eCommerce business from competitors.
- Unique technology
- Customizable product or interface
- Overnight delivery
- Free shipping
- Cancel subscription anytime
- Refund guarantee
Steps to create a winning proposition
✔ Identify target customers
✔ Identify & list customer benefits
✔ Combine the benefits together into a single value for the customer
✔ Differentiate & distinguish your competitive advantages
✔ Create the content
Marketing tactics for developing effective value propositions
- Clearly explain the unique value of products/services
- Tell readers why an ideal buyer would choose you instead of the competition
- Develop separate, parallel value propositions for separate product/service lines
- Target separate value propositions for different buyer personas
- Deep research on competitors
- Test multiple value propositions through A/B testing in various media
Don’t reinvent the wheel
If you’re struggling to create a proposition for your own eCommerce business, a good start is to use one of the examples in this article as a template.
Just change the wording to create your own version. Substitute your products and benefits for theirs.
But what if you don’t know your unique value in the marketplace?!?
Let’s back up a few steps and assume that you’re don’t yet know exactly how the products offered by your eCommerce store are better than the products being sold by competitors.
Before creating and managing your value proposition, you’ll need to do enough research to identify your target marketplaces and target customers.
Read our recent articles about how to find your target customers and marketplaces.
Once there’s a clear idea of what you’re selling and to whom, you’ll also understand why you’re different and better than competitors.
Now you can focus on crafting a unique value proposition.
Free shipping is the best benefit for eCommerce value propositions
According to several recent studies, free shipping is an eCommerce company’s first and best incentive for customers.
If free shipping is already the norm in your online niche, find another way to differentiate yourself from competitors – and make sure it’s written into your value prop.
You can also offer promotional swag or other customer-rewards programs.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably need to offer a combination of unique tricks – not just one – to stand out from the herd of online sellers.
Here’s a potent combination for highly competitive eCommerce niches: Fast, free shipping, free gift with each purchase, and generous warranty.
Test your own store’s features and benefits until you find the right mix.
Use these elements to explain your business in one glance
- Headline to describe the best benefit for the consumer
- Sub-headline or brief statements to explain how and what you offer, and to whom
- Bullet points or lists showing benefits and features
- Graphic or visual element to catch the eye
Use an edgy headline to describe your best features and benefits for the buyer. A “clickbait” headline is best.
As long as you’re not misrepresenting merchandise or breaking laws, you’re free to use any words that appeal directly to your audience – even if they might offend or be misunderstood by people outside your target demographic.
Here are some hypothetical examples to compare bad slogans with good value props:
Bad: ABC Vitality Juice…. Drink a cup and you’ll live forever.
Good: ABC Vitality Juice… Drink one cup a day and you’ll get all the vitamins and nutrients for healthy living.
Sub-heading & bullet points
This part is a bit longer than your headline, maybe 2 to 5 sentences. Use it to explain your headline, and offer summarized details about what you offer, and to whom.
Use bullet points to outline or summarize all benefits and features. Or, you can just write a headline followed by several short, blunt sentences.
Graphic or other visual element
Be sure to use a small graphic or visual element to catch the eye.
Readers are constantly distracted. That’s why anything you can do to grip their attention will ultimately increase your sales.
Visuals can show exactly what you’re offering, how the product will work, and the benefits customers expect to receive.
Use a logo, small photo, or graphic that’s consistent with your niche message. That way visitors will associate your brand (and value proposition) with a consistent message across all media.
For example, have a look at the main graphic used by VapeCommerce, a company that sells website design services for vape shops.
They portray the demographic that their clients serve by showing a line of motorcycles and a couple of bikers parked outside a vape shop.
It’s such an effective graphic because it polarizes viewers – If they’re prospective customers they instantly identify with the biker demographic and form and emotional bond with the website.
Site owners don’t care about anyone who bounced because of the biker graphic, they’ve already scored a hit with their target audience.
Also, graphics are useful for more than just screening and qualifying site visitors. Visual elements or graphics are essential to catch a wandering eye as the reader skims your page.
Where to place your value prop
If you want to increase conversion rates, then your unique value proposition should be the first thing visitors see when they land on the site.
- Product pages
- Checkout pages
If you don’t put a value proposition on your home page and all sales-landing pages, visitors probably won’t convert into buyers. The value proposition should also be reflected consistently across all marketing materials.
Test the theory
The value proposition is such a powerful marketing tool because you can optimize it to evolve with your business over a period of time.
Use A/B testing or split-testing to work toward a stronger proposition with higher conversion rates. To avoid confusion, test only one element at a time.
For example, you could test headlines to find the best click-through rates, then focus on the bullet points to see which is more successful.
Likewise, you can also test value propositions through Google AdWords, Facebook or PPC advertising campaigns.
Speak to the tribe in their native language
Are you an inexperienced “outsider” looking to break into a specialized eCommerce niche?
A focus group is the quickest way to learn the mindset, needs and jargon of target buyers in any community you don’t already know.
You can speak the same language by incorporating niche-specific keywords into all your marketing content.
Great examples of eCommerce value propositions
Now that you know how the overall concept works, let’s look at some great examples from leading eCommerce companies.
We’ll dive into how you can use similar ideas to create your own while avoiding the pitfalls.
Here’s a clear example of a superior value proposition: Build your business…. You’ve got the will. We’ve got the way.
Shopify’s headline instantly grips the reader. You immediately know they help online sellers set up and run their stores.
The sub-heading implies that any entrepreneur can be successful by using Shopify’s tools. It also suggests the platform creates empowerment instead of dependence.
The accompanying graphics show a wide range of eCommerce store owners at work. It suggests the platform is useful for all sellers, regardless of niche.
It’s worthwhile pointing out that an earlier version of Shopify’s value prop was equally well-written: Shopify is everything you need to sell everywhere.
Notice the similarity between the two versions, apparently separated by about one year. The earlier value prop mentioned “sell” while the later version uses the word “business” to convey a similar-yet-broader scope.
This seems like a natural evolution as the Shopify platform grows larger.
This eCommerce company sells glasses and other eyewear. Their VP is a true gem: It’s short yet gives the entire sales pitch. Try 5 frames at home for free. Buying glasses should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. Glasses starting at $95, including prescription lenses.
That says it all. Warby Parker delivers a package of top-quality eyeglass frames to a customer’s door. The customer can try various styles at home, and choose any they like.
The value proposition conveys the company’s business model in just a few words.
The company’s value proposition is unique because they send good-quality eyewear to prospective buyers “on approval.”
If you wear glasses, you already know it’s easy to find cheap eyewear online, although it’s usually a disappointment.
Even worse, the high-end retailers with brick-and-mortar stores let shoppers try different frames, but many people still feel pressured by the lack of time and in-store privacy.
Warby Parker’s proposition – shopping for high-quality glasses without high pressure – is aimed squarely at this fat demographic.
There’s no need for bullet points or blather. After promising the customer will be “happy and good-looking” the rest of the company’s marketing content is devoted to describing the quality of materials, low prices and convenience.
A winning value prop needs the right blend of benefits for a specific demographic of buyers. For example, people want guidance when they’re buying expensive audio and video equipment.
Except for luxury concierge shopping services, when you’re shopping for consumer electronics it’s hard to find friendly, knowledgeable onsite advice before you buy.
In contrast, Crutchfield uses a personalized service model. This seems to be the foundation for their continuing success.
✔ Warranty support
✔ Lifetime service guarantee
✔ Easy return policy
✔ Expert personal advisers to help choose the right equipment
This company was founded a generation ago to serve the legacy marketplace of car stereo equipment, before the Internet was born.
Many retail dinosaurs were driven into extinction by the Internet and eCommerce. Yet, Curtchfield has survived and thrived online by expanding its sales to include home theater and pro audio equipment.
Crutchfield’s current value proposition is: Transform your system with [name of featured audio equipment manufacturer]….
That’s it, there’s nothing complicated. The word “transform” encourages aspiring buyers to build their existing audio systems up to the next level of professional quality.
At the same time, it implies that Crutchfield has the power to change ho-hum audio systems into great ones.
Competitors in the consumer electronics niche have followed Crutchfield’s lead toward comprehensive services and expert personal advisers.
But they haven’t caught up yet. Until they do, Crutchfield will own the demographic of audiophiles who want to build their systems using the right components recommended by knowledgeable advisers.
If you want more sales from your online store, or you’re having overall problems with marketing, the best solution is to develop an winning value proposition.
Write a headline that catches attention, and a few sentences or bullet points that quickly and clearly explain why customers should buy from you instead of competitors.
Most important, make sure you show the benefits the customers should expect to receive.
If your value proposition can tell a website visitor within 5 seconds what you do and why you’re the best in your niche, it’s probably a winner.
What are your own experiences with value propositions? Send a comment to let us know, and share this article with someone else if you found it helpful.
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