Building A Powerful USP That Gives You An Advantage

When it comes to increasing conversion rates with your eCommerce store, it is important to clearly communicate to customers why they should purchase from your website.

This messaging is called your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

The term USP originally was coined by E. Jermone McCarthy is his book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach and has become a cornerstone marketing strategy for growing your business. In fact, how well you clearly define and communicate your USP will be the major indicator determining the long-term success of your business.

Once you realize the importance of your USP, the question becomes: how to define your USP?

The best ways I have found to help clients clarify their USP is to have them answer the following question:

Why should a customer purchase from you instead of purchasing from your competitor OR not purchasing at all?

These are actually two different questions that need to be answered separately and it is important to note the difference.

Why Should A Customer Purchase From You?

If you are selling widgets, chances are other companies are also selling the same or similar widgets. The chances are also pretty good that someone is selling more widgets than you are selling, and do you know why?

Stop and think about it for a minute….

You may answer that they started selling their widgets earlier than you or perhaps they have better advertising, or they have better pricing. These all could be true, but the main factor is that they have done a better job defining their USP.

Remember the Results Triangle we previously discussed.

There are 3 sides: Process, Proposition and Prospect.

Reasons such as a better website or pricing or images are all apart of the Process, but here we want to look at the Proposition and defining the USP that is the centerpiece of your ‘Proposition’, and it deserves your utmost attention.

The first step is to determine how you currently defining your USP. To do this, you need to take a concentrated look at your website, not as the business owner or head of marketing, but as a first-time visitor.

You also need to examine your competitors. Both those doing more business than you and those doing less. Trust me. If done right, this exercise can reveal the initial keys to significantly increasing your conversion and ultimately increasing your business.

On a piece of paper, list why a customer should purchase from you and why they should purchase from each of your competitors (ideally one bigger and one smaller).

It is important to be honest with yourself.

In the end, you probably have a list like this:

All of these are important. But NONE of them define or at least should define your USP. Instead, these are a list for commodities that comprise a solely transactional purchase.

If you don’t define your USP then you will always end of chasing and competing solely based on the list similar to the one above which especially includes price.

Again, it is important to define your USP in terms other than a commodity. It is your USP that will be your defining factor that sets your company apart from your competition.

Here are some famous and powerful USPs

‘Expect more than a coffee.’ – Starbucks

‘Sleek, state-of-the-art design, user-friendly products, reliability, innovation, and being a ‘cool’ alternative to the PC.’ – Apple Computer

‘Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.’ – Nike

‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.’ – M&M

‘You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.’ – Dominos Pizza

‘When you’re only No. 2, you try harder. Or else.’ – Avis

‘Making eCommerce Success A Reality’ – Make Each Click Count University

You might have guessed. The last example is my favorite!

Now that you have seen some examples of USPs that effectively communicate and have been used to grow businesses, it is time to define your USP.

But how?

When looking to define your USP it is helpful to consider the following:

  1. Focus on your customers. Who does your company serve what is your target market?
  2. Root your USP in your business values.
  3. Highlight your company strengths.
  4. Position your company in direct contrast to your competition.
  5. Make your USP clear and concise.

Creating your USP will take time. You will likely need to test and then test again, but once you perfect your USP it will guide your company’s growth both externally by defining who you are to your customers and internally by defining who you are to yourself and your team.

Don’t Become Just Another One of Those

You may be saying, wow creating and communicating my USP is going to be a ton of work, there must be an easier way.

The danger of not fully developing your USP is becoming just another one of those. Just another t-shirt company, just another sporting goods company, just another whatever you sell type of company.

And today, in our transactional based world, you can’t afford to become just another of anything because that will make you compete as a commodity.

I have clients all the time ask; how do we compete with Amazon?

The companies who are asking this question are really asking: how can we compete with Amazon as a commodity?

The answer is you can’t.

Whether it is Amazon or another competitor, someone will either be cheaper, be faster delivering products, create a nicer looking website, etc.

However, if you develop and communicate the reason that customers should, no must buy from you, then that is infinitely more difficult for competitors including Amazon to replicate.

Building A Tribe of Loyal Followers

One of the biproducts of creating an effective USP is building a base of loyal customers.

A great example of this is Apple.

Have you ever met a Mac user? Or perhaps you are a Mac user.

Mac users only make up about 10% of market share of personal computers. However, they would never dream of changing to a PC. Why, because they identify with the brand’s identity. Apple has created a movement and by doing so has created a loyal customer base where they no longer need to compete as a pure commodity.

When I was purchasing my last car, I wanted a Ford Explorer. When my wife asked me to check out other cars, I refused and again stated I wanted the Ford Explorer. This left the only option as what color. And this is what establishing your brand identity and USP has the potential to do for your company as well.

Final WORD

Creating your USP is not easy. No one ever said it was. Creating a successful business is not easy and again no one said it was.

However, creating and communicating your USP is essential in today’s world. As we discussed, it is virtually impossible to compete (at least long-term) as a commodity in our transactional based world. Someone, usually Amazon, will come along and be cheaper, be faster or be more convenient.

By developing your USP that resonates with your customer base, you can effectively stop competing on price and start competing as a unique solution to solving specific customer problems.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He has been called the foremost expert in eCommerce Marketing Growth Strategies. He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Great Is Not A Goal – Especially When It Comes to Conversion Rates

One thing you may not know about me is that I like to read. Most of the books I read are about marketing with a bit of self-improvement and motivation books thrown into the mix.

Recently, I just finished the book Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen by Steve Sims. The book is about the author’s journey from a bricklayer in England following in his family’s occupation to a club bouncer to becoming an Executive Concierge, running his Bluefishing agency.

The book is fascinating read of a man that Forbes magazine dubbed, “the modern-day Wizard of Oz”.

In his current position running his Bluefishing agency, Steve works to deliver the most elaborate dream experiences for his clients.

From becoming the lead singer for the band Journey for the night to playing a round of golf with Tiger Woods to watching the Formula 1 in Monaco with royalty, Steve has delivered some amazing experiences.

However, the number one lesson that I took away from his book is when he talks about ‘Great is Not A Goal’.

This is an interesting concept. Most people who own their own businesses, myself included, want to have a great company. Our company is something that we have created and why wouldn’t you want it to be great?

However, the point he makes in the book is that your goal can’t be to have a ‘great company’ because it is too abstract. Instead, your focus should be to make your company better tomorrow than it is today.

Now there must be hundreds or even thousands of ways you can make your company better tomorrow than it is today, but as with most things for me it circles back to eCommerce. And the #1 way to make your eCommerce company better today than it was yesterday is to improve your conversion process.

Working on improving conversion rates can be immediately rewarding because just the smallest change can make such a big difference. Increasing your average conversion rate even incrementally can be the difference between a struggling company and a successful one.

Crunching some quick numbers, a company with a 2% conversion rate that is doing $2,000 could be doing $3,000 a day if they had a 3% conversion rate.

Therefore, without adding any new traffic, it is possible to add substantial growth to your company all by working to improve conversion.

So how do we improve conversion?

We test and we measure!

Testing and measuring the results allows us to optimize for the best possible result.

You probably are saying yes, I know to test, but what should I test and how?

For eCommerce stores, there are two types of testing:

  1. Testing the sources that bring you traffic.
  2. Testing elements on your website to improve conversion rates.

Testing Vehicles That Bring You Traffic

Typically, websites have many sources from where potential customers can discover their products or services. Common traffic sources include organic traffic (free placements on Google), paid traffic (Google Ads, Bing MSN ads), social paid ads (Facebook), referrals (traffic from other websites), email (traffic from emails you send) and direct traffic (customers who type in your URL).

Although your traffic arrives from multiple sources, some are sources difficult to test.

Traffic generated from organic traffic, for example, is difficult to test. Managing your title tags and meta description can’t quickly be changed to test what percentage of potential clients are clicking on a change to the listing or how changes will affect (at least quickly) in what order your listings will appear for a specific keyword search.

I’m not saying that your organic positioning cannot be improved. In fact, there are thousands of companies who provide SEO services that will be very willing to help you do just that. In fact, I think SEO Services currently may be the number one export from India.

Likewise, direct traffic cannot be tested. Users and typically return users, either will type in your URL to visit your site or they won’t.

Referral traffic also cannot be tested. It is great to have websites refer traffic to you and it is a great source of traffic indeed. A referral from a trusted source such as a partner, directory, or others commonly brings quality traffic as they act as an affirmation source to their traffic by linking to your site.

Since we cannot test organic traffic, direct traffic or referral traffic that leaves us to test paid traffic and email traffic.

Testing Paid Traffic

For my private clients, one of the most profitable traffic sources I use continues to be Google Ads.

Google allows multiple ways to test. For search campaigns (the text ads that appear when you go to Google.com), advertisers can test multiple ads simultaneously. Google will even serve the ad more often with the higher CTR (click through rate).

In addition, you can also run a Google Experiment to test different elements of your campaign for Search campaigns. If you are looking for more information on this type of testing, I wrote an entire blog post on the subject – Using Google Drafts & Experiments Doesn’t Mean You Are A Mad Scientist.

I won’t go into full detail here, but Google experiments are a great way to test different elements of a campaign such as bid strategy using the same time frame for your test.

Google Shopping ads prove more difficult to test at least in that side-by-side format. I usually test in different ways such as changing the structure of the product title in some items or test the effectiveness of using different promotions.

Just remember, even in Google Shopping, where it is more difficult to test you want to always be striving to improve.

Then, there are Facebook ads.

Facebook was designed for advertisers to be able to test and it can be a whole lot of fun.

Advertisers can not only test their copy (aka their ads), but also segment their audience (who sees their ads) by interest and demographics. In addition, you can tag customers who have interacted with your ads and focus on serving ads to those who have previously shown interest.

When it comes to testing your copy with Facebook, it is not just the words in the ad that can be tested. From static images, to videos to static images made into video Facebook, allows for a variety of ad formats all for basically the same price.

Therefore, to be successful with Facebook ads, it is an absolute must to test in this platform.

Testing Your Emails

Regardless of which ESP (email service provider) that you use, you will have the ability to test. I have never worked with an ESP that doesn’t have the ability to test at least the subject line of your emails.

As long as you have a large enough list and are sending emails regularly, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be testing trying different headlines with each email send.

When you are constantly testing headlines, you will quickly discover which type of headlines and which words will provide higher open rates.

And with email, it is all about open rates. The more customers who open your email the more likely it is that your email will successfully generate sales.

Also, don’t forget to keep a log of what subject lines you have tried. Afterall, what gets measured gets improved.

Keeping a log of different subject lines will help you determine which subject lines provide the highest open rates and allow you to continue to use those type of subject lines in the future.

In addition, to subject lines, you can test email layout. Play around, by that I mean test different layout, to see which layout generates the highest clickthrough rates.

Because after they open your email, the next thing you want to improve is how many people click on links inside your email.

Whether you are using a starter program such as Mail Chimp or you use a premium service, testing and consistency to your email sends are the keys to improving your email results.

Testing Elements of Your Website

When you first build your website, you likely put a ton of effort into planning the design? Hopefully, the number one goal of that design was conversion.

I say this, because having a great looking website is absolutely great, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

Having a great converting website is what we all should be striving to have!

In fact, it is what we all should be CONSTANTLY strive to have. You heard me right, CONSTANTLY striving to have.

This means that after your website design is complete, you are far from finished. If that sounds like work, you are right it is. However, as we discussed earlier making small differences in your conversion rates can add very large increases to your overall sales.

When helping my private clients optimize their websites for conversion, I always start with the checkout pages.

Place orders yourself putting yourself in the role of your customer. Not only the role of your customer, but the role of a customer that has never purchased from your website and does not know you.

Does your website have all the trust factors that a customer typically looks for? Are you taking the opportunity to display testimonials, stress positive aspects of your shipping (such as a free shipping threshold) in addition are you reinforcing the fact that your site is 100% secure?

Now I realize that some eCommerce platforms limit the ability to customize to optimize the checkout process. This is a shame. Website platforms like Shopify and Big Commerce in my opinion are doing a real disservice to those who use their platforms.

However, even if you lack the ability to customize the cart, you typically will have control over button colors and language to use in various fields within your checkout pages.

Review your competitors’ checkout pages and see what they are doing. Google the term ‘high converting eCommerce websites’. See what those sites are doing with their checkout pages.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to see what is working for eCommerce when you are working to increase your conversion rates.

Once you have finished working on your checkout pages. Move onto your product pages.

The most important element of your product pages is going to be no surprise, the add to cart button and what surrounds it.

A/B Testing or Multi-Variant Testing.

On average, companies spent $92 to acquire a customer, but only $1 on testing how to best convert those customers.

Look at yourself and how much you are spending to acquire a customer and then look at how much you are spending to test how to convert them.

Beyond, eyeballing it and improving your conversion based on your gut (which is better than doing nothing), there are services that you can use to discover real-time results.

By using A/B testing, you can test anything from colors and placement of your call to action buttons to images on your pages, to headlines, to elements in your navigation bar.

As long as you already have a solid amount of traffic, you are able to make data-driven changes to improve conversion rates on your website with this type of testing.

Companies such as VWO, Sitespect, Convert.com, Puffin just to name a few offer the ability to test all elements of a webpage. In addition, most of these companies offer a free trial so you can get a good feel for their interface and how they work before committing any budget.

Have you ever not been able to go to sleep because you think maybe you are leaving money on the table? Well, you might be and testing using one of these companies will be a great way to find out.

Final Word

Remember, great is not a goal. Not because great is not great, but because wanting to become great is not actionable. Instead, concentrate your efforts on becoming better than you were yesterday and you will put yourself closer to becoming great.

Regarding eCommerce, the two most important things are your traffic and if your traffic is purchasing once they reach your website.

You can have the best website in world selling the world’s best gizmos, but if no one knows about you then you won’t do well.

On the other hand, you could be driving tons of traffic to your website, but if no one buys once they get there then what is the point?

By clearly focusing on these two aspects: traffic and conversion you will be able to make those small improvements today than will lead your website into being better than it was yesterday and it might eventually become great.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.