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?

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

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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.

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.

Responsive website design - what is it?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Mobile usage is continuously growing. Websites are finding it hard to keep up with all the different devices and screens.

Responsive website design is a solution to this problem.

In simple terms it means that the website 'responds' to the device screen size it is on. This website is responsive. If you view it on a desktop with a large screen you will see that it expands to fill the whole screen. If you then try the site on your ipad you will find that it looks very similar but has condensed the content a little to fit perfectly within the screen. Now when you switch to an iphone or Android smart phone you will see that the site has changed quite dramatically. The menu across the top has become a menu icon which can be expanded on tap. The overall layout has become much more vertical, one column rather than a few columns. 

The important thing with responsive design is that there is only one website with all the content in it, but it responds cleverly to the users device. 

It is a lot more work for web designers like us, but the end result is really worth it. Stats show that over 70% of mobile users switch to a competitor if they find the site they are looking at is not mobile friendly.

Is your site responsive? Is it mobile friendly?

6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.

More people buy from the experts. Are you an expert?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, June 09, 2011
On the web there are some websites that sell everything. Amazon and ebay are the biggest ones. These sites are hugely successful.

However there are also a large number of businesses that seem to offer a load of different services. This can be rather confusing and not as beneficial as it sounds. As business owners it seems good to have as many bases covered as possible, but as a customer this is not always the case.

Let’s imagine you are looking to buy a fountain pen.

Now you search online and you find many different websites selling fountain pens. One of them is a stationery site that sells thousands of products, it has good prices and looks interesting. Now you check another site and see that this one is a fountain pen expert site. It is a store focussed on fountain pens. They have a lot of information, good prices but above all they know their stuff, and that’s all they sell.

Who would you most likely buy from?
The stationery site that happens to sell fountain pens? Or the fountain pen expert?

On the web it pays to be an expert. There are many people out there who claim to do everything. It is often better to claim to do very few things and do them really well.

Can you focus your website a bit more? Can you perhaps make multiple sites each of them concentrating on one area of your business? Analyse your site, do your visitors know what you do straight away, and are you portrayed as an expert?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to buy from the experts.

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid!

Piranha Designs - Friday, May 13, 2011
When I was at University my advertising tutor always used to remind us of these four words:

Keep it Simple, Stupid!

When you are designing or creating something, the tendancy is to over complicate things. We naturally think, it would be great to have this and this. Slowly what began as a simple, clean idea turns into a monster, with loads of different options and calls to action.

When planning your website you need to remind yourself of KISS, it will help you to work backwards. Always going to the lowest common denominator.

There is an interesting story about Google and how one customer helps to keep there website as simple as possible.
Google began receiving an email every so often with just a number on it, say 32. Then another number 37. There was nothing else in this email. After a while they figured out the message. The number was the number of words on the google homepage. This helped them to continuously simplify and remove words, the lower, the better. This simple strategy helped make the Google search engine so incredibly simple that it is extremely successful. Compare it to Yahoo who had hundreds of words and links. People just got lost. They just wanted to search.

When you are planning your site or trying to improve it, think, what are my visitors wanting to do or to read? How can I make the whole process as simple as possible? What steps can I eliminate?

Rather than adding more and more options, try removing some.

Websites need to be designed to sell.

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 13, 2011
When you start building your first website or redesigning your current one. It is very common to focus on the looks. Here are some common thoughts, I hear from my clients:

My logo needs to be big.
I want some strong colours.
I need loads of options so people can choose whatever they want.
I like some movement, maybe even an intro page.

Sometimes we can end up building a website that is very attractive, original and looks great to you, but is not much use to your customer. There is no clear message and no call to action.

We must remember that websites are there to sell (most of the time), we need to constantly put ourselves in the customers shoes. Thinking that a customer may not even know what we do, or may not be sure of what they want either.

We like to design sites that have high conversion rates, that turn visitors into leads. Convert people on your newsletter into real customers.

Here is an article which will help you understand the difference:

Your web design is killing your conversion rate.

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