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Posts Tagged ‘Value Proposition’

Ask MarketingSherpa: Balancing search engine optimization, conversion optimization and conversation

December 12th, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: My question is about balancing the SEO needs with the conversation needs, an issue when driving traffic through organic rankings.

I think the issue I am struggling with is “the thing that a customer might search for is not what they want to buy.”

I know how to rank any page for anything, and through your training, I am beginning to know how to think about a page that achieves its objectives.

I think what I am struggling with is balancing the two and deciding what keywords to optimize the home page for when trying to combine the two objectives, i.e., SEO optimization versus buyer optimization, and then you have to go through the stage of the buyer’s journey as the language they use will be different at each stage.

Regards,

Adrian Tatum
Director
Effective Business Growth

 

Dear Reader: Adrian, you have hit on a deep challenge that many marketers feel. Some marketers come at it from the opposite direction. They view SEO (search engine optimization) and conversion optimization as separate. And I think this is because of the “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” effect. Too often we’re siloed within our own disciplines.

I’ve heard the theory that load time and various other SEO factors give you a better quality score and therefore must be the factors that improve conversion.

While decreasing page load time has been shown to increase conversion, a myopic focus on SEO factors can hurt conversation with your visitors on your webpages. For this reason, the factors that improve SEO are not necessarily the same factors that improve conversion. They aren’t diametrically opposed either, but they are not one and the same. In one instance, you’re optimizing for an algorithm. In the other, you’re optimizing for a human thought process.

The hammer-nail challenge faces many companies and agencies, and it’s probably a blind spot for all of us in some way. For example, a company can be so focused on SEM (search engine marketing) and traffic-driving that they overlook where they are sending that traffic. The same holds true for SEO. You don’t just want traffic, you want traffic that will take an action.

The companies we work with have come to the realization that SEO landing pages need conversion optimization, their bigger concern is they don’t want to make changes that improve conversion but then lose their traffic so they’ll ultimately be down overall. Google is the big scary wizard behind the curtain, and when a marketer has won it over, the last thing they want to do is lose that.

Essentially, you need to make conversion changes without losing SEO, add value without risking search rank.

Really, this isn’t just an SEO problem. This is the challenge of marketing as a whole. What customers need isn’t necessarily what customers think they need, what customers will actually buy isn’t always the same as what they search for.

Let’s use marketers as an example customer. A marketer may search for “how to increase email list size” or “how to increase sales” but the solution isn’t necessarily tied to an email product or a sales product. The real solution for them may be to improve the value proposition.

Here’s another example. I’m on the board for my Homeowner’s Association. We recently had an unlocked car broken into in our neighborhood. So I started searching for security cameras. Most of the websites had security cameras with similar functionality. However, one of them had this headline: “Don’t capture faces. Capture license plates. 70% of crime involves a vehicle. Police say a license plate is the best evidence to solve a crime.”

I wasn’t searching for a license plate reader. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was searching for a security camera, but I didn’t really want that either. I wanted a deterrent to crime, and I wanted a way to catch the perpetrators. A few of my neighbors had security cameras, and they were interesting because you could see the perpetrators in action. But then what? You still didn’t know who they were and didn’t have any evidence to help the police catch them and stop them from re-offending. So the license plate reader copy on that homepage tapped into my true pain point.

Adrian, you are savvier than many in that you understand this challenge. As Harvard professor Theodore Levitt has said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

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Marketing 101: What are microsites? (plus 3 successful microsite examples and 2 missteps)

November 21st, 2019
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

Microsites are somewhere in between a single landing page and an entire website. They are small, special-purpose websites for a single, dedicated communication (and conversion) goal set up by companies that already have a full site. They work well for the communication of an idea or product that requires more than a single landing page, for example, an event.

Successful microsite creation requires a clear goal and focus for the microsite and should be built from the ground up optimized for achieving that goal.

Here are a few tips to help you use microsites.

 

Tip #1: Tightly tap into visitor motivations

Microsites can be more focused on an ideal customer subset than a company’s overall website that often must serve multiple audiences. For that reason, microsites can be used to create a more forceful prospect-level value proposition.

For example, MECLABS Institute (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) was engaged in conversion marketing services for a national land and home sales organization for consumers. The company had microsites for individual communities.

In an A/B test of a community’s microsite, the control offered a community guide to prospects and used sales-oriented language like “… learn why [community name anonymized] is Paradise Found.”

 

The treatment offered a community map to prospects and a more helpful tone. The map was described as something that would help prospects. “Be prepared for your visit to …”

By better tapping into the motivations of people interested in visiting the community, the control produced a 326% increase in conversions.

 

Tip #2: Use microsites to target specific locations to garner local search

A large brand that sells warranty and car servicing options was performing well on keywords for the United Kingdom as a whole, but there were towns with service garages where the brand was off the top of the search rankings.

The team at agency DFY Links built three microsites for their client’s least competitive towns — Bath, Chepstow and Swindon. There was a similar technical setup to the main site, but with a heavy focus on the town, and the team went to work building links to these microsites every month. The team chose microsites because any increased effort to help the main site rank in certain areas would dilute the UK search and also reduce rankings in other local areas, according to Brett Downes, SEO Specialist, DFY Links.

“Within a year, Chepstow and Swindon sites featured in [spots] one to five on SERP (search engine results page) results for 90% of keywords we were targeting,” Downes said. “Bath was slightly different, as competition was higher and the other sites had a lot more backlinks. However, we did rank on page one for 50% of [keywords] we were targeting, with around 10-20% ranking in position one to three, especially on long-tail keywords.”

The sites also appeared in the local map pack, the listing of nearby businesses that appear under a map on the main SERP.

“The microsites were minimal in code and very simple. Having a lean site ensured we would have a very fast-loading website, as speed has become more of an important ranking factor (especially on mobile) this has given us the advantage [over] local, bloated sites,” Downes said.

The microsites were completely different sites, not subdomains or subfolders. Local businesses they were competing against usually had less than 50 referring domain links, so the team knew they could match the best competitors within six to nine months of link building.

“We could have used the extra budget and created subfolders on the [main] site and had targeted sections for different locations. This may have diluted the main site; plus with the microsite, the assumed location managed to qualify us for proximity searches,” he said.

However, your business may have a very different competitive mix and that can affect how you consider your URL structure, so read the next tip …

Read more…

Ask MarketingSherpa: Value proposition layers versus communicating the value prop concisely

August 1st, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: Thanks for the great resources. I have been in touch in the hopes of getting some direct support around our value proposition.

We’ve taken insights from the Value Proposition course (and Flint’s new book) and redesigned our site (note, we haven’t yet implemented these new designs).

Is it common to present the value proposition in layers or should it be communicated more concisely? How early in the user journey should the value proposition be presented? Is it typically done on the homepage? Do you have examples of companies successfully implementing the value proposition in this way? How did they guide users through the value prop from the homepage?

Thanks so much for your insights!

 

Dear Reader: Thanks for your email, and glad to hear you’re working on getting some direct support.

I’m also glad to hear you’ve taken some insights from the value prop course and Marketer as Philosopher book for your site redesign. If you’d ever like to share some of that work publicly to help other marketers and product managers and get some recognition for you and your team, please let me know. Happy to consider it for a MarketingSherpa article. Here are some examples:

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MarketingSherpa Podcast #5: Ten things you should think about before you do your next website redesign

April 25th, 2019
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Education is the ability to use other people’s experiences (mistakes) to avoid making your own mistakes.

In that spirit, we prep you for avoiding some serious potholes on your journey while taking on that biggest of digital marketing projects — a website redesign. You can listen to this episode in whichever way is most convenient for you — or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode. And scroll down to read more about website redesigns.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

 

Listen to the podcast audio: Episode 5 (Right mouse click to download)

 

More About Episode #5 — Website redesign

“The point is: You get to capitalize on a fellow human being’s misfortune. That’s the basis of real estate.”

The above quote is from “The Money Pit,” the 1986 comedic movie where Tom Hanks and Shelley Long attempt to renovate a recently purchased home to comedic effect. Or tragic effect, depending on your point of view. After all, as Mark Twain said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.”

If you’ve ever been in charge of a web redesign project, you might think that “The Money Pit” was just a prescient allegory for a web redesign project.

After all, your company’s website is its most prime real estate. And if your site is old or large, once you start diving into a redesign project you never know quite what surprises you will unearth.

To help you avoid pitfalls with your own web redesign (both tragic and comic), Austin McCraw and I delved into 10 considerations you should keep in mind for your web redesign projects (while providing a few light house-remodeling tips as well).

We’re giving you this advice from the marketer’s point of view — not the (website or real estate) developers’ point of view. So before you create a web redesign project plan, watch out for these things (time stamps included if you would like to jump around):

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Internship for international student in the US

February 15th, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi, Daniel Burstein. I appreciate it that you are so warm-heart and nice to offer to help.

Currently, I am a graduate, major in Social Media and Mobile Marketing. I want to seek a Summer Intern in the field of Marketing or Digital Marketing, either full-time or part-time. I am an International student from China.

According to my current situation, do you have some advice to give me? When you are free, could you let me know your suggestions. I am so grateful to hear from you.

Regards,

 

Dear Reader: Congratulations on your academic achievements and thanks for writing. I assume you are looking for an internship here in the US?

I’ll be honest, the fact that you’re a non-native speaker could be a challenge.

So …

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Value Proposition: Before you express the value, you have to deeply understand the value (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #3)

January 29th, 2019
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You think your product is great. Your service is top-notch. And personally, I have no reason to doubt you.

Your ideal customer, on the other hand … let’s face it, they don’t live in the four walls of your office. They aren’t thinking about your product every moment of every day like you are. They — and I hope this doesn’t sound harsh — really don’t care.

This disconnect is normal, of course. But here’s where you’ll get in trouble.

The next time you hire an advertising agency to create a campaign, when you redesign your website, when you launch a product — if you use that same insider thinking, you will undercut your marketing investments. Because those advertising and marketing creatives need to be armed with an essential reason why the ideal customer should buy your product.

Without that core reason — that marketing creativity isn’t being put to its most effective use. Just like a painting without a viewpoint isn’t really art, it’s just nice colors on a canvas.

Without that core reason, all you get is “we’re the bestest, greatest, amazingest [product type] you’ve ever seen.” You can buy all the media you want and blast that message out into the world but really … c’mon … how many customers will truly believe it?

Your product needs a value proposition. In our latest podcast, Austin McCraw and I have a robust yet light-hearted conversation about pitfalls marketers can get into when crafting their value prop. You can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.

 

 

Listen to the podcast audio: Episode 3 (Right mouse click to download)

More about episode #3 — consider the competition

A value proposition created in a vacuum is no value proposition at all.

And this is what makes crafting a value prop so difficult. You’ve got to take a good, hard look at what other options your customers have. Even when it isn’t direct competition. For example, customers taking a short trip aren’t only considering which airline is best, they are considering if they should drive instead. Or take a train. Or perhaps not go at all.

Read more…

How to Structure a Story in a Presentation

September 12th, 2018
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A MECLABS Institute Research Partner was putting together a major presentation and recently reached out for thoughts on how to structure it. As with conversion and many other areas of marketing, MECLABS (the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) has a specific framework for crafting engaging presentations.

Using a trusted framework can help, because public speaking — whether on webinars, in-person at conferences, to prospects on a sales call, or in an internal meeting — does not come naturally to many people. In fact, public speaking is often ranked as a more common fear than death in national surveys, prompting Jerry Seinfeld to remark, “In other words, at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

How morose. But it points out the need to support whoever in your company is speaking on behalf of your brand — sales reps, subject matter experts, C-level execs, even yourself — with a well-crafted presentation that helps them engage and convert the audience. You want to leverage the power of story and not rely on their speaking abilities alone.

The fundamental marketing challenge behind every presentation

Since presentations are communication and a representation of the brand, they are inherently a marketing challenge.

And like any marketing challenge, the goal is to make sure the value delivered outweighs the cost to the potential customer.

This is true for any call-to-action you have in the presentation, for example, moving to the next step in the sales process for a sales presentation or visiting a website for a presentation at a conference.

However, it’s even true for just getting your audience to pay attention to you. Let’s be real, it is very difficult to pay attention to anything for an extended time in 2018. If the value isn’t higher than the cost of avoiding email or putting down their phone or leaving the webinar or simply zoning out, you will lose them.

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Ask MarketingSherpa: How to get high-paying customers and clients

September 6th, 2018
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: I am so happy I came across your site. Just flipping through and reading this email alone convinced me I’ll learn a lot from you. I am also grateful for the high-value report, I have downloaded it and will schedule time to really consume it.

My current challenge in my business is how to package my services for high-profile clients and charge them the premium fees for what I am worth. My business suffers from [in]consistent cashflow and high-paying clients.

I appreciate your help in transforming my businesses to target the affluent.

Dear Reader: So glad you found it helpful. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you overcome your challenges. This is a very frustrating challenge I’ve heard expressed by business leaders and companies ranging from ecommerce sites to consulting firms.

To charge premium fees you must have a powerful and unique value proposition.

What you offer must be appealing, however, in your situation where you are able to sell the service but must sell it at a low price, the likely culprit is lack of exclusivity in your value proposition.

To illustrate the point, I worked with James White, Senior Designer, MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa), on the below visual. Let’s walk through it.

The letters in the equation-looking grouping in the upper right are from the MECLABS Net Value Force Heuristic, a thought tool based on almost 20 years of research to help you understand which elements to adjust to increase the force of a value proposition. As you can see, exclusivity isn’t the only element of a forceful value proposition.

To the left are products and services with a low level of value differentiation. And to the right are products with a high-level of value differentiation.

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Value Gulfs: Making sure there is differentiated product value when marketing upgrades and upsells

May 31st, 2018
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unique value proposition in the marketplace is essential for sustainable marketing success. You must differentiate the value your product offers from what competitors offer. That is Marketing 101 (which certainly doesn’t always mean it’s done well or at all).

However, when you offer product tiers, it is important to differentiate value as well. In this case, you are differentiating value between product offerings from your own company.

This is a concept I call “value gulfs” and introduced recently in the article Marketing Chart: Biggest challenges to growing membership. Since that article was already 2,070 words, it wasn’t the right place to expand on the concept. So let’s do so know in this MarketingSherpa blog post.

When value gulfs are necessary

You need to leverage value gulfs in your product offers when you are selling products using a tiered cost structure. Some examples include:

  • A freemium business model
  • Free trial marketing strategy
  • Premium membership offering(s)
  • Good, better, best products
  • Economy paired with luxury offerings
  • Tiered pricing

The customer psychology of value gulfs

MECLABS Institute web designer Chelsea Schulman helped me put together a visual illustration of the value gulf concept:

Allow me to call out a few key points:

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Screw the Competition: How to avoid dreaded commodification

February 16th, 2018
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In high school, I never quite found my niche. I wasn’t a jock or preppie, neither freak nor geek. I just had to be me.

In other words, my focus was on my intrinsic value proposition, not what the competition was doing.

Competitive analyses are valuable, don’t get me wrong. They are necessary to ensure you have a unique value proposition. After all, your product isn’t for sale in a vacuum. I’ve worked with a competitive sales office in the past and you can learn a lot from win-loss reports as well.

But don’t go too far with this business intelligence. My point is this …

Don’t let the competition define you

At some point, you have to say, “screw the competition.”

If your focus is on the competition, you’ll just be another Why Bother Brand.

And if your focus is on the competition, it’s in the wrong place. Your focus should be on the customer. That’s the way you create differentiated value.

Here are three examples of focusing on the customers, not the competition, from otherwise commodified industries:

Example #1: Southwest Airlines

Airlines have become a dreadfully commoditized industry. Just look how they move in lockstep. One airline adds baggage fees, and then every other “me too” airline jumps in behind it.

Not Southwest Airlines. I’m sure it has analyzed the competition. I’m sure it is aware of fee revenue.

But that simply doesn’t work for this brand. So Southwest offers “No change fees. No matter what.” And communicated that value proposition cleverly in a recent TV ad about a coach who believed in his basketball team so much, he already booked tickets to the championship game.

The kicker, of course, is that the team doesn’t make it to the championship game and has to change their flight plans. Cue the tagline — “That’s Transfarency. Low Fares. Nothing to Hide.”

Does this mean you’ll fly Southwest every time? Probably not. I know I prefer non-stop flights. And you might have a favorite frequent flyer program.

But I tell you this — next time you’re charged $200 for canceling a flight, you’re going to remember that Southwest commercial. And if you go through negative experiences with your current airline enough, you may choose not to shop only on price but to favor flights from Southwest Airlines.

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