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Value Propositions for Ecommerce sites

Author's avatar By Jill Robb 03 Oct, 2012
Essential Essential topic

Examples of how to communicate your offer effectively

OVP as a sales tool.jpgSimply put, value propositions are the reasons retailers use to persuade us to buy products or services from them rather than competitors. From a retailer's perspective we also consider them sales tools. This includes benefits provided by products/services or even the website, functionality, customer service, loyalty schemes etc.

This tends to be done really well by retailers offline, but for some reason online value proposition (OVPs) becomes a watery-at-best version – and this is something that is quite possibly MORE important online than offline.

One common theme that I’m sure many can resonate with is that website owners will often say ‘I thought the designers would do that’. But here’s the thing: most designers have studied design, not marketing. Typically, when you ask for them to design an ad, you usually provide the value proposition / message you want to get across and they work from that. I ask you, how many people when having a website designed have provided the value proposition to the designer in advance and asked for the design to be centred around the communication of that? The evidence suggests it's low, judging by the number of confusing carousels!

Yes, there are lots of other elements which must be considered when it comes to website design, but you must ensure that you don’t lose sight of your OVP and that it is visible through the user journey- not just when they hit the home page of your website.

Research has shown that you have just a few seconds once a customer hits your website,  on whichever page they land to impart your value proposition. Let’s consider that for a moment. That’s less time than it takes to eat a bite out of an apple! If a user clicks through onto your site and an OVP isn’t visible, you’ve potentially lost their custom! If your page is relevant, you have the calls to action you are almost there- but without an OVP you are losing conversions!

Examples of including your value proposition across customer journeys

So if your site already has good calls to action and the traffic coming to site is relevant yet you still have a relatively low conversion rate – the answer could be the lack of an OVP. But with so many different value propositions, how do you choose one and who does this well?

Simply put, you can have more than one for different audiences, channels and situations. It’s just important to ensure that you use the most appropriate OVP for the channel because value propositions can be communicated even before a consumer reaches your site.

For example, play.com have included OVPs in their title and meta tags so that the consumer is aware at the stage that they are browsing on Google that they offer free delivery, great deals and gifts for all occasions.

Take a look at this Google SERP listing:
play com SERP

The clear OVP continues when you click through onto the page- although on a variation of the theme used in the meta description and title. This time the OVP is immediately visible include the strength of the brand, low prices, savings and the very obvious immense amount of product options available on the site.

play com OVP on landing page








The reinforcement of OVPs run throughout the site with the free delivery proposition again being reinforced at category level:


play com OVP on sub category page


Free delivery, positive customer feedback scores and their ‘Superpoints’ loyalty scheme savings feature at product level:


play com OVP on product page


So in terms of the bottom line, what does having an OVP actually mean? Some tests we have conducted on our clients have provided some really interesting results.

In the case of inclusion of OVPs within page meta descriptions, we saw the percentage Click Through Rate (CTR) to a client’s website more than double - just by the inclusion of the OVP of ‘Free Delivery and Returns’. What is interesting to note however is that this increase in CTR was only evident on SERPs listings of products of lesser values.

For higher ticket branded items it was a different OVP included in the Meta description - detailing that they were Official Suppliers- which resulted in the increased CTR, where all other on-page OVPs remained the same.

In other on-page examples, the inclusion of an OVP in the header image on the top right of a client’s site (every page, site wide) resulted in an over 30% increase in the goal conversion rate on that site. For OVPs to provide these kind of conversion increases, it is important to be aware that they must be highlighted site wide- through every step of the buying process (remember you only have between 8-13 seconds to get across what your OVP is).

But as touched on in the meta description example, it is also very important to understand the different personas of people using your site to enable you to identify which OVP is likely to work best for which persona.

In the above example on our clients’ site, CTRs to lower priced products’ pages increased as a result of pushing their ‘Free delivery and Returns’ OVP. Yet on their high ticket items it was the ‘Official Supplier’ OVP which worked. So understand the customer journey and buying decisions of your customers to work out which OVP is most suited to different personas.

Taking another look back at the play.com example you can see how they change their OVP to suit their different personas. In this example for customers looking for appliance they push the OVP that they have a great range of ‘trusted household brands’ indicating that they are more than well aware of the persona that is likely to look at this category of product:

play com example of persona change OVP

To sum it up your OVP is one part of your online sales team. If you don’t put prompts in place to close the sale, your sales tool won’t work! But ensure that you know what value your customer holds dear. You wouldn’t try to push an OVP of huge product choice on a page where you only stocked two products of a brand range would you?

Author's avatar

By Jill Robb

Jill Robb is the Smart Insights Expert commentator advising on more effective Ecommerce approaches. Jill is the CMO of Origin Digital, a Creative Digital Agency based in Belfast. Jill is also an Associate Lecturer at Ulster University on Digital Marketing and Communications. With a vast array of experience in retail, both online and offline, Jill's approach to online marketing is both refreshingly energetic and commercially astute. Jill is a regular speaker on topics such as search engine marketing and ecommerce and a contributor to business magazines both in the UK and Ireland. Connect with Jill on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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