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Increase Conversions by Improving the Clarity of Your Value Proposition

jellyfish
Your Unique Value Proposition should be clear, like a jellyfish in calm tropical water. Image via Unsplash.

I’ve noticed a recent trend, where browser interaction influences search behaviour. It goes something like this:

  1. Person searches for “this is a search term”.
  2. SERPs appear.
  3. Person holds down the Ctrl/Command key and clicks every ad (and perhaps one or two organic results). This opens each page in a new browser tab.
  4. Person enters rapid-comparison shopping mode, quickly tabbing through the results, closing anything that doesn’t immediately look like a viable solution. The process often involves a quick analysis of the value prop (reading the headline and subhead, studying the hero shot, etc.).
  5. Tabs are closed in rapid succession with a few lucky souls surviving.

What I’m getting at is that, the whole “attention span of a goldfish” is not really the point anymore. It’s not about the length of our attention span, it’s about how our lack of attention is influencing how we interact with technology.

This is why clarity is the most important part of the conversion equation.

The Conversion-Centered Design principle of Clarity is all about how to make your value prop so clear that you are one of the tabs that remains open.

Conversion-Centered Design (CCD) is a framework for leveraging principles of persuasive design, copywriting, and psychology throughout the campaign process to nudge your visitors toward a conversion.

UVP vs. UCP

There’s an important distinction to draw when thinking about dedicated campaign-specific landing pages versus your website’s homepage. Your homepage’s primary job is to communicate your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), whereas your landing page’s job is to communicate the Unique Campaign Proposition (UCP — hat tip to Bryan Eisenberg for that term).

Your Unique Campaign Proposition is related just to the purpose or offer of your campaign, which might not be the same as the value proposition of your website/homepage. For instance, for a webinar, you want to talk about the topic and guest — not your product or service.

If you’re doing branded search PPC then the landing page may well have an identical UVP and UCP, but for other campaigns (like a sale, special offer, webinar invite, ebook download, new feature launch, etc.) the UCP is much more targeted on that specific goal.

Another important factor to consider is what I call information hierarchy.

Information Hierarchy

Information Hierarchy is concerned with the order with which the copy on your page is presented, both in literal terms (which comes first) and in terms of the visual dominance (what stands out most).

Consider the page below from an unnamed email marketing solution.

Notice how the prominent headline is super generic and doesn’t even reference email marketing? It isn’t until you read the subhead that you understand what the page (and the service) is really about:

headline

To drive this point home, I ran a five-second test on the headline/subhead at Usability Hub to see what happened when people answered the simple question: “What does the product do?”

We make it easy to grow your business
It’s Easier Than You Think to Create Professional Emails that Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Below is a word cloud  showing the responses — common words in the responses appear larger. So if you see a giant word that you don’t like such as “don’t know, no clue, no idea”, or something even more concerning, like “adult diapers” when you’re selling padded evening wear, you’ve likely got a problem.

word-cloud-1

The test resulted in a paltry 6% of respondents answering the question correctly.

6%!

A 6% conversion rate is probably amazing, but as the result of a five-second test it’s pathetic.

How would you feel if only 6% of your visitors could figure out what your business does? That would be like if you showed up to your own birthday party and only three out of the 50 people who showed up even knew who you were. You’d feel like a giant lame-o.

I’d seen this phenomena occur many times (where the subhead held all the clarity), and I hypothesized that a simple headline/subhead flip (below) would improve the Clarity.

It’s Easier Than You Think to Create Professional Emails that Keep Your Customers Coming Back
We make it easy to grow your business

The result?

word-cloud-2

With the subhead and headline reversed, 20% of respondents answered the question correctly — a dramatic increase.

Five-second tests are a great way to uncover Clarity problems, and if you have both a headline and subhead communicating your UCP, consider trying the headline flip for a followup test. (Note, the headline flip works just as well for your homepage, but in this instance I’m talking about landing pages).

Now, I’m not recommending you simply flip it and forget it. What you should do is think about your Information Hierarchy, and make sure you’re telling your story in the right order, and that your subhead is there to add Clarity, not be the sole holder of it.

Clear vs. clever

Another reason pages often lack Clarity is that marketers are often sucked into trying to be cute or clever in their communications. You can see from some recent changes in CISCO’s homepage headline below how distinct this difference can be when it comes to clearly communicating your UVP or UCP.

digital-means-dollars

The headline “Digital means dollars” could stand in for any online business. It doesn’t speak to benefits or describe what the services actually does. It’s trying to be cute and doesn’t add any Clarity.

it-is-fast

The new headline, “IT is fast again,” speaks a little more to what makes CISCO unique. It could stand to be more specific, but it at least explains a little to the benefits.

Similarly, in the next example, the old version (below) is trying to ride the “unicorn” buzzword wave, a vague word that adds zero actual value.

lp1

Conversely, the updated version (below) speaks directly to a startup company (the intended target market segment), with the subhead clarifying what there is on offer:

lp2

If you’re worried that you might be using wishy-washy, jargonistic terms on your pages, we’ve created a Chrome extension to help.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download and install Unbounce’s Dejargonator Chrome Extension
  2. Run it on any landing page or website — offending phrases will be highlighted in red. (You can test it on this extra sleazy page here.)
  3. Hover over the red text and see what’s wrong:
dejargonator
  1. Finally, update your page to be:
    • Less sleazy and superlative-y
    • More specific (and thereby more persuasive)

Clear landing page copy, full hearts, can’t lose

Clarity is (clearly) incredibly important in creating effective landing pages, but it’s certainly not the only thing that matters.

In addition to a clear message, you need to align every element on your page with your singular campaign goal in order to win those conversions.

This is where the fourth CCD principle of Congruence comes in. Read on to learn more about Congruence or download a PDF of the entire CCD framework to read at your leisure.

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About Oli Gardner
Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet. He’s obsessed with identifying and reversing bad marketing practices, and his disdain for marketers who send campaign traffic to their homepage is legendary, resulting in landing page rants that can peel paint off an unpainted wall. A prolific international speaker, Oli can be found at marketing conferences worldwide – travelling with his fiancée and fellow marketer Nicole Mintiens – on his mission to rid the world of marketing mediocrity by using data-informed copywriting, Conversion-Centered Design, interaction, and psychology to create a more delightful experience for marketers and customers alike. You should follow Oli on Twitter
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  • This is a good article with an interesting point of view. I my opinion, the majority of the companies is doing the e-mail marketing totally wrong. They are spamming and annoying people, same time they don’t build a positive image of its brand. Hope to see more articles like this in the future.

  • Harry Chittenden

    This is really good. It benefits from practicing what it preaches. Clarity. Thank you.

  • It’s amazing how many companies still don’t make it clear exactly what they do… quickly.

    • Shocking really, but then, if everyone got it right I wouldn’t have a job ;)

    • Rick Mason

      I find it’s infinitely easier to do it with a strangers website than with my own. You’re too close, especially if it’s your company and you came up with the idea and wrote the code. I’m learning you’ve got to reach out to others and get an objective read. Also it’s not just companies, have you ever browsed Github ;<)?

      • Yeah I agree. We can’t all be marketers i suppose.

  • Nice Information.

  • Topher Knowles

    I liked this article, then you threw in a Friday Night Lights reference and I loved this article