In this post, we’ll analyze how effectively some websites communicate the benefit of their offer. The longer it takes for a visitor to understand what’s in it for them, the lower your conversion rates are likely to be.
Features vs Benefits
Understanding the difference between features and benefits is one of the fundamental lessons of marketing. We know that people are motivated to buy when they understand the benefits a product or service delivers to them. On the contrary, details about the product’s features alone fail to make the connection that drives action.
This is a marketing axiom. Yet somehow, when businesses are creating their messaging and value proposition, it gets missed. Too often, we have trouble letting go of the features of our wonderful products, so we focus on them instead of the benefits our customers care about.
So what’s the difference between features and benefits? Let’s break it down.
People don’t actually buy umbrellas because of how they’re made or what they’re made of (the product features). They buy them to stay dry in the rain or block the sun (the product benefits). These two images clearly communicate the difference, with the benefits one showing the umbrella in context of use.
This is a simple example, but it makes our point. You’ll never sell a single umbrella unless people understand how it makes their life better.
Ideally, when someone visits your website, you want them to understand the benefit of your offer immediately. When the benefit hits them right away, you’ll peak their interest. On the other hand, when you lead with features, you’ll lose people because they have to decipher how your product will solve their problem.
To illustrate, let’s take a quick look at some website homepages and rate them on how well they communicate the benefits of their offer. A 10 is content that is perfectly clear in every way, a 1 is content that communicates no benefits whatsoever.
(Click on image to view site)
Second Wind CPAP
This homepage doesn’t totally miss the mark, but they’re less obvious about the benefits of choosing them than they need to be.
The big problem is that they’re wasting space above the fold. I’m told to scroll down to see inventory before I know why I should buy from them. The “Why we’re different” image is stranded there, without any immediate content giving me the crucial information I need (it doesn’t link to anything).
In the header I see “The Internet’s only Discounted and Gently Used CPAP & BIPAP Outlet”, but it’s hard to notice and only starts to suggest the benefits I seek.
Within the “Trust” section, we get “discounted new, and clean, reliable used CPAP Machine and used BIPAP machine”, and “Peace of Mind” lets me know they have a 6-month guarantee.
What this site lacks is a strong, benefits-focused headline. Something like:
Save money with the Internet’s best pricing on high quality new and used CPAP machines
- Huge savings on top CPAP brands
- 6-month quality guarantee
- All machines come with new filters, power cord, and factory sealed tubing
- Free live Respiratory Therapist support
Just that amount of content lets me know about the benefits of buying from this site. They need to tighten their content so these benefits are immediately understood.
For a number of years now, Square Payments Processing has been an exemplar of how to communicate benefits with web content.
This content is brief, yet it communicates the essential benefit customers want. One simple statement, “Accept every way your customers want to pay” encapsulates the benefit. The images clarify this, giving a sense of what the features of the product are.
The video goes on to show some of the features of the point of sale app, but continues to connect those features to the benefits for business owners.
This site makes it crystal clear why customers should care.
IT services have a well-earned reputation for using jargon and feature focused language. While some vendors are doing better, they often struggle to communicate specific value.
On the homepage, the benefits statement is there but it’s vague. When I click through to get details, I get the unfortunate, business-focused copy that dulls any sense that they could help me. Notice how much they use the possessive pronouns “us” and “we”.
“At Connecting Point, we have built a dedicated IT project management team of professional, certified, experienced IT consulting engineers. Our managed IT services team has built a customer-centric process that allows us to provide expert IT consulting, cloud-based solution development, and IT project management and planning. Additionally, we have added a project coordinator to ensure that the client and Connecting Point are in lock step during the project implementation phase. These combined elements allow us to deliver successful IT projects to our clients that are on budget and on time.”
This is an example of feature-focused copy that never gets to the benefits. After going on about how they do things, all we get at the end is their projects are on budget and on time. Again, too vague to trigger the feeling that this company solves a specific problem.
The Ultimate Cuff
Here is an example of communicating benefits mainly through images (mobile version):
The images of this type of product play a major role in communicating the benefits, and this design highlights them. Also note the strong wording with free shipping and returns with clarity that these are for Apple Watch or Fitbit. “High Quality” and “Gorgeous” also communicate the benefits of wearing this product.
Avaya is a technology company that seems to assume visitors already understand the benefits of working with them. Their content is so unclear it’s peculiar.
They don’t communicate the benefits of their offer, and they’re not even clear about the features. This is an umbrella you can’t figure out how to use.
This statement is typical of their content:
As a global leader in delivering superior communications experiences, Avaya provides the most complete portfolio of software and services for multi-touch contact center and unified communications offered on premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid. Today’s digital world centers on communications enablement, and no other company is better positioned to do this than Avaya.
How this is supposed to help clients is anybody’s guess. Maybe if you know what “communications enablement” is supposed to do, you’d have an idea of what they can do for you.
Wow 1 Day Painting
Wow 1 Day Painting makes the strong move putting the benefit of their offer into their business name. The benefit is clear and simple: get your house painted with speed and quality. This couldn’t be more clear, easy to understand or fast to act on.
The reason your offer has features is to deliver benefits to your customers. The reason they care about you – in any way – is that those benefits improve their lives.
It is absolutely essential to communicate with a focus on the benefits people derive from your product. Those benefits are the topic of your content, particularly as you advertise and introduce your product.
After people know what they get from you, they’ll research how you do it. They still want to know what the umbrellas are made of.
Imagine you sell umbrellas and you’re marketing to someone who has never seen one. They don’t know what they’re for.
Which image is going to sell them?