What is Your Value Proposition and How Do You Present it?
Many people like to optimize the call to action or other elements of landing pages but overlook the crucial aspect of any business website or even online interaction, the so called value proposition.
I'm doing a lot of blogger outreach lately and some additional short consultations. In both cases one of the most important things I look at first is the value proposition. It's not just outreach or landing pages that require a value proposition. Any business activity on the Web has to provide a value proposition because it's not about wasting time it's about using your time online to reach your business goals.
So a blog post, a Google+ share or even a tweet need a value proposition.
That's why I rarely use Facebook for example as it's private in its nature. All those cute baby photos are great to look at but beyond strengthening your bonds with the people who show them there is no value in viewing private photos. Also I prefer real life babies instead of virtual ones.
So what is your value proposition and how do you present it? It depends on who you are any what you sell. Are you a blogger, a start-up entrepreneur, a local business owner, an architect, doctor, lawyer or any other independent professional, a non-profit representative?
As a blogger you ideally have several value propositions.
Your blog name is already one, your tagline offers another, you have one on the article level. One reason why I don't like weblogs that are just real name domains like johndoe.com is that you have to know who that person is to see a value proposition on that blog.
That's why I called my blog SEO 2.0 a few years ago. At that time it meant something like "the next level SEO". So there was my first value proposition. The so called tagline, the short sentence explaining your blog is a crucial factor. In it you can add a very powerful value proposition or you can just explain your blog which is not ideal but still better than no tagline.
Until recently I had an explanatory tagline that said "Search and Social Media Survival Guide". The proposed value was of guiding you through search and social media but with mere survival at as the result.
Who wants just to survive? That's why I changed it recently to a more positive value proposition: "I help people with blogs, social media and search". This is not yet perfect, I will probably optimize it further but it's already a rock solid value proposition. You can get help with all three disciplines. Also it's ambiguous, either I help you once you already are actively using a blog, social media and search or I help you with my or other blogs, social media and search.
A value proposition is like a promise you have to keep.
In case you say you have the "ultimate" resource on link building, you have to deliver and it must be ultimate one or at least so comprehensive that most people will be satisfied with it.
Ideally you guess your visitors' "user intent" before they arrive on your site. Some people will want to buy immediately whatever you have to offer, others will just want to peruse. On some sites there are even at least two different audiences, for example on ad network sites you will have advertisers who want to display their ads on other sites and publishers who want to sell ad space on their sites visiting the homepage. In such cases you have to align your value proposition with each of your audiences. The process of doing so is called traffic segmentation.
Usually the common approach is to have just one call to action on each page, for example a "buy now" button.
In reality as you have different audiences and many user intents you rather need more than one call to action. The immediate buyer type of visitor needs a "buy now" button, the researching type of visitor needs a "read more" type of link and someone who wants to sell their product to you, a manufacturer for example needs "contact" form. Thus a landing page and any page on your site is basically a landing page needs several elements. Here the clutter begins.
So in an ideal world you divide your audiences first before delivering on your value proposition. On ad network sites you will most likely have a button for "advertisers" and one for "publishers". Likewise online shops that sell fashion will have a women/men choice on the frontpage.
So presenting the value proposition is not as easy as it might sound at first. Also you must make sure that the value proposition comes first and the call to action comes second. There have been test results published recently that contrary to industry best practices claimed that having your call to action below the fold, that is hidden in the invisible area of a page so that you have to scroll actually, has boosted the conversion rate (aka made more people buy). Why? Most probably in these cases the value proposition took a while to get delivered. It was presented as lots of text or a video you have to watch first. Thus the people who saw the call to action were not ready yet to perform the action the call to action asked them for.
So ask yourself: what is your value proposition and how do you present it?
Also once you determined the value you propose make sure the proposition gets fulfilled. Also probably you need to segment your visitors into two or more audiences first before proposing your value. Last but not least keep the promise you give.
* Creative Commons image by Curtis Perry