Should you still place more emphasis on benefits than features?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One piece of sales copywriting advice that has long prevailed among marketers is that of the importance of outlining a given product or service’s benefits, rather than its features. It’s much more crucial to tell your target audience about how the product or service in question actually helps them, than to simply list its properties – or at least, that’s what we’ve long been told.

Widely accepted advice, and not entirely wrong

It’s a mantra that seems logical enough. After all, if you simply tell prospective buyers that your product or service has a certain feature – for example, that a given health supplement contains vitamin A – the buyer may be simply left asking, “so what?” But if you then tell them that vitamin A could have real benefits for their health, including for their skin, vision and immune system, their imagination is much more likely to be captured.

It can sometimes be worth mentioning even obvious benefits – such as that a given flight will take the buyer to a particular sunny resort – if it helps to transport the prospective customer’s mind there. That’s simply the way our brains work.

However, it doesn’t always hold fast

There are, though, times when it can actually be detrimental to even mention benefits. That could include when the benefit is unimpressive or obvious, such as if you are a new or used car dealer mentioning a given car’s 0-60 figure or top speed.

While it may be worth mentioning such features of the car, you hardly need to then explain what the benefit is of the car being fast, especially if the vehicle in question is a city runabout.

Nor should you avoid all mention of features...

So often, a marketer’s well-intentioned words to a client to “talk about benefits rather than features” is interpreted as meaning “don’t refer to features at all”, which is evidently ludicrous.

For example, stating that a given smartphone’s camera produces “really sharp and vivid images” isn’t enough, as the customer will also want to know what features – such as optical image stabilisation or the number of megapixels the camera has – actually make that the case.

Listing features alone may leave the reader asking “so what?”, but stating only benefits may have them thinking, “yeah, right”.

...save for certain circumstances

Can you get away without mentioning features in certain circumstances? Yes, you can – such as if the stated benefit is so obviously true that it doesn’t need to be backed up with any mention of a specific feature, or if there isn’t much space and it would be best to provide an alternative form of proof for that claimed benefit.

A good example of the latter is a fitness video, where endorsements by celebrities and testimonials from past customers who have actually used the product will probably be much more persuasive than a mere explanation of the various exercises or chapters covered in the video.

Both features and benefits can have their role in sales copy

When you are next writing web copy and you need to consider the vexed matter of ‘features vs benefits’, it’s best to put the oft-stated ‘rules’ to one side and instead consider how your readers will respond to certain content.

If you are listing a feature that will cause the reader to ask, “so what?”, you should go on to describe the benefit. If, though, you are describing a benefit to which the reader will inevitably say “yeah, right”, it’s important to back it up with a specific feature or another form of proof.

Grasping the respective functions of features and benefits, and how these can be explained in web copy, will help you to determine when a feature should be stated, when a benefit should be stated and when both should be stated.

Why not take a closer look at our extensive search engine marketing (SEM) services here at Piranha Designs and how they can assist your efforts to boost your online business’s sales throughout 2018 and beyond?

#MeToo hashtag is used more than 100,000 times in a single day

Piranha Designs - Monday, October 23, 2017

If you haven’t seen the #MeToo hashtag being used on social media at any point in the last few days, we would hazard a guess that you haven’t been on social media at all during that period. Indeed, its widespread use has been just one part of the massive response to the disturbing news that has emerged in the last few weeks about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Much of that news has – of course – centred on film producer Harvey Weinstein, with the more than 30 women to have said they were sexually harassed or assaulted by him ranging from Lysette Anthony and Angelina Jolie to Heather Graham and Rose McGowan.

However, questions have also been asked of other Hollywood figures about the extent to which they may have enabled his behaviour or suppressed attempts to speak out about it earlier.

An unprecedented social media response

We have long been able to depend on social media to give an emphatic response to sexism, harassment and assault, as shown by the success down the years of such hashtags as #EverydaySexism and #YesAllWomen. However, even by those standards, one hashtag in particular – #MeToo – was used a staggering number of times as women well beyond the boundaries of the entertainment world cited their own experiences.

It began when Hollywood actor Alyssa Milano posted a message on Twitter on Sunday, asking users to respond “me too” to her tweet if they had been sexually harassed or assaulted to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within just 24 hours, Milano’s tweet had been retweeted more than 17,000 times, while on Sunday alone, the #MeToo hashtag was used 109,451 times, according to social analytics firm Crimson Hexagon.

Even by the standards of the other feminist hashtags to have seen widespread use in recent times, that is an astonishing number. #YesAllWomen, for example, exploded onto Twitter in response to the 2014 Elliot Rodger shooting that targeted women, and was used 61,500 times on 25th May that year. #EverydaySexism, meanwhile, has continued to see heavy use throughout the year, including more than 9,000 times in August, according to Crimson Hexagon.

A great social uprising against injustice

With Rose McGowan’s temporary suspension from the microblogging platform having prompted the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement, the immense response to Milano’s tweet shows that female voices remain in full force on the site. It is a firm sign of their determination to ensure they will continue to be heard in the wake of the troubling reports that we have had to digest from the entertainment world, and which we may be continuing to read for a long time to come.

Would you like to learn more about how your organisation can make a greater impact online? If so, talk to the Piranha Designs team today about any one or more of our vast complement of services.

How can you strike the balance between being useful and ‘salesy’?

Piranha Designs - Monday, October 16, 2017

It’s one of the conundrums at the heart of marketing – how can you impart genuinely useful and relevant information to your target customers in your content so that your brand begins to build a reputation as a trustworthy industry authority, while also actually selling your products or services?

Quality really does have to come first

First of all, we’ve got some bad (or maybe good) news for you: if you really want to attract and retain high-quality customers, you simply have to put the emphasis on ensuring that the content your business produces is high-quality, too – certainly over short-term sales.

Many in content marketing would even go as far as saying that your company should cultivate its image as a publisher or broadcaster before it places much overt emphasis on the selling of products.

But we realise, of course, that your business might not have that luxury. It has to sell products or services, and it has to do so now. So, what can you do to leverage your content so that it has that effect, without either cheapening your content or producing useful content that nonetheless does little for your brand’s bottom line?

First of all, is there useful content you can share about your product?

Striking the right balance between usefulness and ‘salesiness’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean leaving your products or services unmentioned in your videos or blog posts until a brief call-to-action (CTA) at the end. There may be scope for you to produce interesting, entertaining and useful content that nonetheless still has your products and services at its heart.

Maybe you could produce documentary-type videos showing how your products or services are made or used in ‘real life’ situations? However, it’s vital to get the tone and style right here. You won’t make much impact with this content approach if your business simply comes across as self-interested. Content, on the other hand, that communicates passion and value in a captivating manner for the viewer can be very successful indeed.

Another way is to promote your product in a pretty unsalesy, ‘matter of fact’ way – for example, introducing it midway through a tutorial video that otherwise does not overtly relate to your company, and explaining the product’s usefulness or relevance in simple terms.

Then, there is the option to simply treat your content production almost as if it was a TV show or magazine, aiming to produce genuinely engaging content in its own right before incorporating advertisements for your products or services into it.

There’s a lot that your firm can do to get more out of its content and broader online presence. Get in touch with Piranha Designs today about the search engine optimisation and marketing packages that could help to cultivate the right image for your business heading into 2018.

Grow customer confidence and increase your Google rankings with an SSL Certificate

Piranha Designs - Thursday, September 28, 2017
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Is your website secure?

Grow customer confidence and increase your
Google rankings with an SSL Certificate.

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Protect your rankings

Google now adds more weight to sites that are protected by an SSL certificate and use HTTPS on all their pages. So as well as protecting your customers, you will have better search engine results, even if you do not host sensitive data.

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SSL Encrypts Sensitive Information

The primary reason why SSL is used is to keep sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can understand it.

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SSL Provides Authentication

This means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to an imposter trying to steal your information.

SSL Provides Trust

Web browsers give visual cues, such as a lock icon or a green bar, to make sure visitors know when their connection is secured. This means that they will trust your website more when they see these cues and will be more likely to buy from you. SSL providers will also give you a trust seal that instills more trust in your customers.

How your site displays with SSL

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How your site will eventually look without SSL

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SSL is required for PCI Compliance

In order to accept credit card information on your website, you must pass certain audits that show that you are complying with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. One of the requirements is properly using an SSL Certificate.

SSL options (packages):

Providing your visitors the security they deserve

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Simple SSL

£99/yr

£75 installation fee

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check.png128-256-bit encryption

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Standard SSL

£239/yr

£75 installation fee

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check.png£10,000 warranty

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Extended SSL

£349/yr

£75 installation fee

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How can we Help your Business succeed online?

Contact us for a free, no-obligation chat about your website or marketing.

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Making your website accessible isn’t a waste of time – it actually boosts sales

Piranha Designs - Monday, September 25, 2017

Group of people holding the ACCESSIBLE written speech bubble

What value do you place on designing your website to be accessible for those with disabilities and special needs? Is it something that you have already done and continue to keep a close eye on, in line with the latest government guidelines?

Or do you feel that you lack the time to bolster your site’s accessibility, or that it’s something that would only benefit a tiny proportion of your prospective customer base regardless?

Is ensuring accessibility actually that important?

There is certainly a moral argument for ensuring that everyone – and we mean everyone – can access your business’s website.

There is also a legal one, as if your website fails to meet certain design standards, you could be sued for discrimination. Such legal action isn’t something that many companies have faced so far, but it also isn’t unheard of, with several such cases having been initiated in the past by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

Given the relative lack of legal repercussions so far for organisations that fail to make their websites accessible, it may seem that ignoring this aspect of web design is something you can ‘get away with’. However, there’s another, potentially much more powerful argument for boosting a site’s accessibility: the financial one.

Even the smallest adjustments could make a big difference

Yes, the number of visitors to your site who are blind may be very small... but there will be many others who have some level of visual impairment, while others may be trying to view small screens in bright environments. By following accessibility guidelines for those with low vision, you can therefore boost the profits that your business gains from all of the above people.

It’s a similar situation when you optimise your site to be easily understood by those with dyslexia. There may be only a small proportion of people visiting your site who are actually dyslexic, but there will be many more people who are non-dyslexic and highly academic, but who might not understand certain specialised terms that you have used on your site. A site that is accessible for dyslexics therefore potentially benefits a much wider range of people.

Or what about designing your site to be more usable for those with physical disabilities? Again, it’s worth thinking here about all of the people who are not physically disabled, but who have previously had to grapple with website buttons and sliders that are so small, it takes five attempts to tap them on a touchscreen device. A website that is easy for a physically disabled person to use is also easy for everyone to use.

Enquire to Piranha Designs today about accessible web design

In fact, many of the guidelines that you may have read on how you can design a more accessible website – and the Government Digital Service has released some great ones here – overlap with the advice you may have previously read on how you can make your website easier for the entire population to use.

So, why not join the accessibility revolution? Talk to our team here at Piranha Designs about your concerns, and we’ll bear them closely in mind when providing you with a website design that will enable your company to grow among all of the segments of its target audience.

How can your small retailer get involved in ecommerce for the first time?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Some of you with widely-held views of the situation between small firms and ecommerce today may be rubbing your eyes at the title of this piece. After all, isn’t every retailer selling online these days? Are there even any genuinely successful brick-and-mortar retail businesses around these days that have no ecommerce presence at all?

The answers to those two questions are no and yes – you probably only need to look around your town or city to see some retailers still exist that apparently do just fine without an equivalent ecommerce portal. 

Such a firm may continue to thrive on account of the standard of customer service that it provides, an enviable local reputation or simply the lack of an alternative retailer for its given products anywhere in the immediate area.

So, does every retailer even need to become an ecommerce business?

Alas, while companies fitting the above description may seem to be doing perfectly well for now, there’s no guarantee that this will remain the case forever. Indeed, pretty much all of the relevant statistics point to online sales still growing at a much swifter pace than general retail sales.

Yes, your average neighbourhood pet shop or hardware store may have fared alright outside the ecommerce world until now, but their task of competing is probably getting stiffer every month and year.

However, it’s also understandable that if you are such a retailer, you will likely have legitimate concerns about the wisdom of developing an ecommerce presence at all.

You obviously won’t have the resources of the big enterprises to give you the luxury of incurring losses or taking on the additional financial burden of ecommerce staff as you get your ecommerce site up and running. Nor may you necessarily have the low overheads and agility of the start-ups that begin life as ecommerce firms while never having to maintain a high-street presence.

There are many feasible ways to get started

Even simply the costs of delivering goods across the country or beyond can seem crippling if you are a brick-and-mortar retailer looking to enter the ecommerce space for the first time. So why not simply offer a ‘click and collect’ service to begin with, whereby customers can order from you online and then collect their purchased item in person from your store?

Alternatively, you may be able to get some of the suppliers from which your retailer already purchases to deliver their products directly to your online customers on your behalf. Or what about starting out on an existing trusted online marketplace, such as Amazon.co.uk Marketplace? This will enable you to select just a limited number of products to sell online initially, as you get to grips with the basics of ecommerce and as a result, minimise the risk of poor customer service.

Would you like to gain a more in-depth appreciation of your retailer’s many options for venturing into ecommerce? Here at Piranha Designs, we have professionals in ecommerce website design that will be more than happy to speak to you, taking into account the specific circumstances and needs of your business.

How catering for clueless shoppers can help you to amass more sales

Piranha Designs - Thursday, August 31, 2017

Given how long online shopping has been a routine element of commerce, you could be excused for thinking that most people know exactly what they want, and how to get it, when they arrive at an online store. However, you should be wary of any unwarranted complacency about how informed your store’s customers really are.

RAM - no, not a misspelling of a 1980s pop duo

Even decades after the World Wide Web came into being, you can't entirely rule out the possibility of your company's online store attracting people who have never previously shopped online. However, there is another, quite different kind of uninformed shopper...

Whatever your store actually sells, there could still be too much jargon attached to your product descriptions. If you sell smartphones, for instance, you shouldn’t be too quick to assume that all of your shoppers know what "GB" and "RAM" mean. If, on the other hand, it is flooring that is on offer, not everyone visiting might understand what "laminate" means in relation to certain products.

How confusing terms could be explained

How can you assist shoppers who might clock particular descriptions in your product listings, only to leave because they can't comprehend the vital terminology? One option is inserting brief explanations where a description uses what could come across as bewildering jargon.

Still, when you use this tactic, the descriptions could become too wordy if each one has more than two points that require clarification. If this is indeed the case, you could instead put together a separate article to list and provide definitions for potentially problematic terms.

It's a matter of SEO, too

Another reason for you to widely use easy-to-understand words and phrases is that this could make it easier for potential customers to find your site and its product listings through the search engines.

This is because, when conducting searches, many people are likely to use such simple terms as "memory" rather than "RAM" or "shiny" instead of "laminate". That doesn't mean you have to do away with specialised phrases or acronyms completely - just add the simpler terms as well, which is one of the many ranking-boosting measures that we can help you to implement as part of our renowned SEO services here at Piranha Designs.

5 reasons why it’s so crucial to optimise your conversion rates

Piranha Designs - Thursday, August 24, 2017

Turning as many of your website’s visitors as possible into actual customers has never been more important – and here are just five reasons why.

1. It’ll give you more customers, free

Even without spending a single penny on SEO or advertising, if you can improve your site’s conversion rates, you will be able to enjoy more customers, and therefore make more money.

2. Even just a slight advantage makes a massive difference

Think of the average sporting competition, where it’s a case of ‘winner takes all’: does the actual margin of victory matter? The football team that wins 1-0 thanks to a scrappy own goal in the 90th minute still gets all three points, while the loser ends up with nothing.

Internet marketing works similarly. Even the most modest improvement in your conversion rate could make a huge difference to your company’s profitability and success. You don’t have to be twice as good as your competitors to make twice as much profit as they do, because even just a ‘slight edge’ makes you the winner regardless.

3. Every additional sale is effectively free money

Remember that for every additional conversion you get, you’ll make money that goes straight to your company’s bottom line, and nowhere else. That is why upping your conversion rate by a mere 50% could boost your profits by an incredible 500%.

4. It improves your business’s robustness

The better your conversion rate gets, the more revenue your firm will generate, meaning more money is available to plough into such other marketing efforts as SEO, social media marketing, print and radio.

These measures will help to give your site even more visitors, boost your brand’s profile and generally make your business more robust so that its fortunes do not hinge on the next Google algorithm update.

5. You can enjoy ‘first-mover advantage’

Let’s face it: whether or not you’re working to optimise your site’s conversion rates right now, your competitors will either be doing it already or set to do it in future.

Wouldn’t you rather your firm be the one that is already ahead? After all, the company that is ahead is the one making money, while the one that is behind is effectively losing money due to the sales on which it consistently misses out.

Take advantage now of website design, SEO and other services that will enable you to bolster your online business’s conversion rates. Talk to the Piranha Designs team today, and we can discuss your most specific needs with you.

Reusing your content is just an ‘easy way out’, isn’t it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Erm, no, not really – especially given how difficult it can be to constantly think up great new ideas for your content. You might just, instead, use certain content repeatedly to reach many more people and boost your company marketing’s all-round effectiveness.

You’ve probably seen certain content ideas used again and again – maybe initially in a blog post, then in an infographic, and perhaps later in a podcast or YouTube video. This might have been the case across several different companies, but you can easily do it within your own business – and there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you do it well.

In an age in which organisations seem to be spending more and more time and money on their content marketing, the astute reuse of your content can help you to extract more value from each and every content idea you have.

Content is made to be reused!

If you have any doubts about the ethical side of reusing content, think of it this way: when you tell a famous bedtime story like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Cat in the Hat to your children, you don’t feel guilty about not being the original source.

In fact, to do so would miss the point. Great stories deserve and indeed, need to be told time and time again, and great content tells such great stories. It’s why you should create your content from the outset with the potential for its reuse specifically in mind.

Furthermore, the effective reuse of content brings many real benefits to your business, including the ability to spin off more pieces of content given the fewer ideas you will need overall, as well as the scope to promote a single piece of content across many mediums, including your blog, email newsletters and social media.

Yes, you can reuse your content – to brilliant effect

So consider today how you might create and then reuse content on a ‘multiplication’ schedule that will help to keep it relevant and effective for longer. Could that new blog article you’ve just posted be given an extended lease of life when you share pictures from it on Instagram, grab a quote from it for your company’s next Facebook status update or post a YouTube video based on it?

Whatever anyone tells you about reusing content, it isn’t just ‘lazy’ – indeed, it could be one of the most powerful ways of telling and retelling your company’s most compelling stories, and generating more traffic, sales and revenue in the process.

Check out Piranha Designs’ wide-ranging online marketing services to discover just how far your company could go with our help.

After a long decline, Flash will finally meet its end in 2020

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who remembers Flash? The plugin was certainly ubiquitous once upon a time, to the point of downright notoriety. However, it seems that the freeware software that has been with us since 1996 – and reached a peak of popularity in the late 2000s – will finally be phased out by 2020.

That is according to an announcement by Adobe, which said it was planning to “end-of-life” the plugin, ceasing to update and distribute the Flash Player by the end of 2020 and encouraging content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to new open formats.

In the meantime, security updates will still be made available for Flash in Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google browsers. After that, though, Adobe will no longer offer any new Flash features and the plugin will be, for all extents and purposes, dead.

A protracted demise for once-dominant software

This announcement isn’t, in many ways, a major shock. After all, Flash is no longer the force in web design circles that it once was, and even in its heyday, the combination of its wide distribution and outdated versions of it helped to make it a key target for hackers.

The death knell for Flash may have been sounded as early as 2010, when – in a famous letter – then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticised the software for falling “short” in a then-emerging mobile era that he described as being “about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards”.

Apple never did support Flash on its iOS devices, and even Adobe in recent years has made noises suggesting that it would like to phase out the plugin. After years of declining popularity – accelerated by such developments as Flash support being gradually dropped from Adobe applications and Google making it a ‘click-to-play’ plugin that users must explicitly enable if they wish to use it – it seems that its death is finally coming to pass.

Embrace the new era of web design with Piranha Designs

Adobe’s VP of product development Govind Balakrishnan has declared that the company remains “very proud of the legacy of Flash and everything it helped pioneer”, and so it should be – after all, it played a key role in bringing video and gaming to the web.

However, the world of web design is also a fast-moving one now embracing many alternative formats – and here at Piranha Designs, we can help your own organisation’s online presence to do the same. Whether you seek the complete CMS, ecommerce or mobile-friendly website for 2017, our web design professionals can use their up-to-the-minute expertise to show you the way.


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