Conversion Copywriting Tip: How to Know Which Features to Emphasize
by Joel K

So your product has tons of features – how do you know which ones to draw attention to?

No, this isn’t a “features vs. benefits” sermon – so strap yourself in, because we’re going deeper than that.

There are two extremely common and utterly devastating problems I see on landing pages:

The first is feature/benefit overkill.

In an attempt to persuade leads that their solution is the best, companies go BANANAS, rambling off every single feature in a gargantuan list or creating an extremely long landing page with space to talk about all of them.

The second is even easier to make: improper emphasis.

The copy shines all the attention on the features the company thinks are important while burying the features customers actually care about.

Both of these problems are rooted in the same false belief:

That your customers are equally excited by all of your features (or the benefits of those features), and weigh them all as heavily when making a purchase (or conversion) decision.

That’s how you wind up with things like this (via a student in my conversion copywriting workshop in Adelaide who knows better now):

featureoverkill

Oof.

I’m sure there’s some gold in that list for a lead – but the trouble is, they have to go digging for it.

Truth is, your leads probably don’t care one iota about the majority of your product’s features – but there are one or two that seal the deal.

Your goal is to dig up which ones are the most important to the customer, then use that information to emphasize the features (and corresponding benefits) they’re most excited about.

To get that information, you need more than just qualitative feedback.

DO NOT…

  • Go read a bunch of reviews, see how often “X” feature is mentioned and use that to make your decision, or
  • Conduct a few interviews and see what those customers mention most often when asked.

If you’re hunting for sticky copy you can steal or trying to understand your customers’ journeys better, this kind of qualitative feedback is still incredibly valuable. It also give you clues and starting points for narrowing down your list (which I’ll get to in a moment).

But if what you’re trying to do is prioritize your messaging, this information can be misleading.

Just because out in the wild you see a lot of mentions for “x” feature does not mean it’s actually the most important – just the most talked about.

To find “tipping point” features, you need to turn the question into a quantitative one.

To do that, you need to get customers in a situation where they have to choose – a situation where they’re forced to rank their priorities and pit features against each other.

The method for this isn’t complex, but it does require that you have an email list/means of contacting your client base – or if you don’t HAVE a client base, a budget for some research.

How?

One way to do this is to conduct a survey where you ask a customer (or potential customer) what drives them to seek out a solution like yours, and to rate their top three features, selecting from a predefined list one at a time (choosing their #1 feature, then second most important, and so on).

It might look something like the below.

survey

Aside: I love using Typeform for this – their pro account (a mere $35/mo that you can cancel any time and start at will) gives you the ability to create logic maps for forced-rank questions. What’s more, their reporting is doooooope and fully exportable to .csv if you want to mash it up further.

That first question (“What was going on in your business that motivated you to seek out our solution?) will get your customers talking about the early experience and problems – which often reveals a natural alignment or emphasis they had on specific features.

The remaining questions are force-rank questions for their most important features; how you find those “tipping point” features. By getting the top three instead of just the number one (which will vary from customer to customer), you can mash up the data further to see things like…

  • Which feature was consistently rated most important?
  • Which features showed up most frequently within the top 3?
  • Which features routinely showed up in the bottom 25% (least important)

You can use these insights to determine where to shift your message.

Here’s how to move forward from here:

First, some lead-in work. You’re going to need to narrow down your feature set to a manageable 10 or less (I like having 8 or less when possible).

More than this will overwhelm those taking the survey and keep them from giving you a meaningful response. Remember, you’ve got your “other”option in the list.

If, during the survey, you see a large number of people routinely adding something different to the list, you may want to start including it in future iterations.

To narrow down…

1. Start with what you know makes you unique.

If there’s something you, and ONLY you offer – or something you feel you do better than your competitors (be brutal here!), roll it into the list for evaluation.

2. Roll in what you learn elsewhere.

If in reviews and testimonials you keep hearing about “x” feature, include it for the sake of validation.

3. Group similar smaller features into categories or tasks.

Going back to our accounting software example, they may have MANY customizable parts of their invoices, but it makes the most sense to find out if “Customization” is important as a category. And even if you offer phone, email and chat support, combining them into one (“support”) will help you see, in general, how important this is.

4. Add “Other”.

You may also choose to add an “Other” category as a fail safe to allow customers to add a feature that may not have made your list. I generally opt to NOT have an other category if I feel we’ve nailed down our feature list quite well.

Next, distribute the survey – but don’t call it a survey.

People HATE surveys, but they like being able to talk to the people behind the products they use about how they’d improve them.

To improve response rates, make request for feedback – and actually giving the customer the opportunity to answer a question about what they’d improve about the product/service.

If you’ve got an email list and permission to contact your clients, this is the time to put it to use. You’ll need enough responses to make the data meaningful. Whenever possible, I try for at least 50.

Finally, analyze the data and write accordingly.

Once you’ve given the survey a suitable time to run, it’s time to tally up the data.

With any luck, you’ll now have…

  • A list of prioritized features from your customer’s perspective
  • A number of client stories as to what motivated them to choose you (or what would)
  • Some constructive feedback you can use to improve your offering in the future.

What about all those other features?

Just because they’re not TOP priorities doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention them at all – but rather than devote enormous sections to them, begin by testing smaller mentions.

For example, with Looop, we brought some of these features back nearer to the end of their landing page, after emphasizing the primary features of interest. To give them some life, I framed them using verbs (Customize, Send, etc.)

Here, it’s a last-ditch effort to showcase the robustness of the tool – but because it’s placed near the end, it doesn’t distract from the more important elements we’ve already covered.

looop expansion

In other situations, you can use feature or benefit lists to your advantage in a comparison table, like Clockspot did here:

ComparisonTable4

This is just another example of how you can showcase more features or benefits without being overwhelming – again, after you’ve already made the case for those of most interest.

Something like this can also be used to reinforce what you’ve already established in a more visual way.

Anyways – I could write a novel on this stuff, but for everyone’s sake, it’s better I don’t (for now).

I sincerely hope this was helpful – but if I’ve left you with questions, or you’d like me to get into the specifics of writing to these results, let me know in the comments and I’ll do a follow-up!

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment
  1. David Clark says:

    I’m in the middle of writing a number of product reviews. This post is a big help. I like how you give a step by step approach. Thanks.

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