Common eCommerce Mistakes | No Perceived Value – Part #5
In this series we are discussing what this digital marketing agency, Viral Solutions, has witnessed over the years when it comes to mistakes made by businesses with an e-commerce presence. So far we have written about buyer personas, written strategic plans, understanding buyer decisions and more.
In this article we are moving on to perceived value, also called a value proposition or unique selling proposition.
Wikipedia Definition: A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value (benefit) will be delivered, experienced and acquired. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services. Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy. Kaplan and Norton say “Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.”
Those of us that have an e-commerce platform have some sort of product or service we offer to a given targeted prospective customer. Ultimately we are hoping that this customer will make an online transaction that is profitable for both parties and that everyone is satisfied.
The problem? In reality, it is not that simple.
A quality value proposition is the difference between people reading and absorbing your offer, as it relates to their need, versus hitting the back button.
Poor value propositions are one of the most common shortcomings of many ecommerce websites. The less your company is known, the smaller your website traffic is, the better your value proposition needs to be.
Commons mistakes with value propositions
Website visitors are bombarded with similar offers, unsubstantiated hype and oversold offers. This is why they hit many websites for a few seconds and leave. The most important item on your site is not about you, it is about your value to the visitor. Your value proposition is your word, your promise, your deliverable, your commitment, your specific benefit, your solution to their problem. Your proposition is not about your talent, your experience or your brand. I'm sorry – people do not care about you until after they buy. Never forget, your competitors can prove that by drawing them in with a simple Google search.
Most ecommerce businesses get caught up in price wars, product/service deliverable comparisons. Your ecommerce prospective customer is considering many options before they decide to do business with you. Concentrate on what makes you stand out and different from the million sites that compete with you.
Armed with all this information there is one mistake ecommerce businesses make with their value proposition. They evaluate value based upon cost of delivery, desired revenue goals or greed. Yes, these are important metrics and yes you need to have such objectives listed in your business plan. However, the customer has the leg up. The online customer today determines value. They determine value by making a very quick decision. Is the money I am parting with worth less than what I am about to purchase? Is the prospective customer willing to pay for your offer?
The most common mistake with a value proposition is falling in love with your deliverable more than the targeted buyer.
Your Ultimate Goal
The reason you sell online is to ultimately improve your customer lifetime value by utilizing a method that is automated in both delivery and collection.
You must present your value proposition on every page that is a major entry point as defined by analytics derived from testing. This value proposition isn't just for good looks or to appease the company leadership. It is there to maximize the conversion of visitor to satisfied customer that buys repeatedly.
Your goal is to have a value proposition presented in such a way that real people understand your core offer. A poorly written offer is one loaded with meaningless jargon. Instead, you want to communicate as if you know what the conversation is that already exists in the mind of your reader. If you are not sure what that is you must interview your customer.
How to design and write a value proposition
The value proposition is typically text based with a headline that grabs attention, supported by some visual aid, such as a hero shot, digital image or graphic. Creating one is not difficult, but highly criticized.
First define the end user benefit, in a bold headline in one sentence, that is short and to the point. Here you can mention the product or targeted customer but the most important part is the benefit they receive.
Follow that headline with a short paragraph that explains what you offer, for whom you make this offer and why it is useful to THEM. Keep the tone about THEM, not you.
Now list the key benefits in greater detail in bullet point fashion. Benefits sell, features do not.
Lastly, communicate with supportive video testimonial, product reviews, demonstrations and a reinforcing image that reinforces their need for your offer.
Your value proposition must contain answers to these key questions your prospective customer has. What are you selling? What is the benefit of using it? Who is this best suited for? What makes your offer unique, different, special and worth the separation of cash in exchange for the offer? Be clear and brief. Long form copy is for sales pages and SEO, not for unique selling proposition ecommerce purchase pages! Avoid hype. Avoid business jargon. Avoid copy that cannot be read in less than seven seconds.
How do you know when you have the right value proposition?
Testing removes the emotion from a product or service you love. It either converts or it does not.
Run an A/B split test of two offers, landing pages or price points. Those that you test will needs lots of traffic to gain enough conclusive information. Here you will measure heatmaps, clicks and conversions.
Google AdWords or Facebook advertising is a fast way to support and drive traffic to your split test. The higher the click through rate, the lower your cost of acquisition the better your provided accurate data. You know you have the correct value proposition when all of these factors align and your offer is both profitable and receiving praise.
Next week we will discuss the common mistakes ecommerce websites make in managing their digital advertising and media investments.
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