Published January 2015, updated May 2019
Imagine you’ve just released an amazing new product that’s going to make your customer’s lives significantly better.
You craft up the launch email, add some amazing imagery, and hit send.
But, when you look at the reports, you notice a worrying trend. You’re getting great open rates, but your click-through rate is low. Why aren’t people excited about the new product?
It could be that the value proposition you used in your email missed the mark.
Read on to discover what a customer value proposition is as well as the three critical elements of a killer value proposition that’ll get your emails clicked and your products sold.
What is a unique value proposition?
A value proposition is a short statement that concisely explains the benefits you get from using a particular product or service. A good value proposition explains to the reader what the offer is and why they should care about it and take action.
As an example, take a look at the value proposition from the announcement email of our new drag-and-drop email builder (formerly branded as Canvas):
The value proposition here is simple and clear: “Create beautiful emails in minutes.”
It tells readers what the product does (creates emails) and the benefits they’ll get from it (beautiful email campaigns in just minutes).
Why are value propositions important?
Value propositions are important because they’re one of the first things people see in your email campaign.
Everything in the email is focused on guiding the user towards the call to action at the bottom of the email, but notice the first thing the user sees: the value proposition.
In today’s time-stretched world, where customers receive more than 121 emails every day, if your email campaign doesn’t have a relevant, appealing value proposition then you’ve killed your chances of the receiver moving further down the pyramid, reading the rest of your campaign, and clicking the call-to-action button.
So how do you create a unique value proposition that instantly appeals to your reader and encourages them to read more and click-through on your call to action? Consider the following three critical aspects of a killer value proposition.
3 critical elements of a killer value proposition
Regardless of whether you’re sending a campaign about a new product, a new feature, or even a new blog post, there are three critical elements of a successful customer value proposition.
One of the most common mistakes people make when crafting value propositions is thinking that they need to contain marketing buzzwords that make the product sound innovative or revolutionary.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
A great value proposition uses the language your customers use and clearly explains what the product can do for them.
Consider this example found in Peep Laja’s excellent article on value propositions:
Revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solutions that unleash collaboration throughout the revenue cycle
From reading this, do you know exactly what this product is and what it can do for you? Not likely.
Compare it to the value proposition in our previously mentioned campaign for our new email builder:
Create beautiful emails in minutes
As you can see, this value proposition makes it very clear to the reader what the product is and what it enables the user to do.
Clarity is the single most important aspect of your value proposition, and, if you take anything away from this article, it’s to focus on making it super simple to understand what your product or service does for your customers.
Here are a few tips for crafting a simple value proposition in your next email marketing campaign:
Use your customer’s language – It’s important to be using the same kind of language your customers are using to describe the product they’re looking for. If your potential customers think they need an “email marketing tool” for their business and you are calling your product a “revenue-focused marketing automation and sales enablement tool,” then chances are they aren’t going to be clicking through to sign up.
Remove the jargon – Even if your product is “world-leading” or has a “revolutionary” new widget system, these kind of buzzwords are often brushed over by customers. By removing these kind of adjectives from your value proposition, you add clarity that helps people truly understand how your product can help them.
People don’t buy your product or service because they simply love spending their money. They buy from you because they want to solve a problem they’re experiencing or receive the benefit your product offers.
So, in order to write a killer value proposition for your email campaign, you need to focus on the benefit a user will get from using your product.
Again, using our campaign for our new email builder as an example, the logical thing to put in the headline would have been something like:
Introducing the world’s most advanced email builder
However, we didn’t. Why? Because people don’t care about how advanced our email builder is; they care about the benefits that it gives them, like being able to “create beautiful emails in minutes.”
So, when you’re crafting the value proposition for your next email campaign, make sure to double down on the benefits the product or service you’re offering provides to users, rather focusing on how advanced it is or the amazing technology it includes.
Although unfortunate, it’s a reality for all marketers that you’ll have competitors offering similar products and competing for a similar customer base.
So, in order for potential customers to choose you, your value proposition must differentiate your product or service from competitors, outlining why you’re the right choice for them.
Let’s look again at the value proposition example from our email builder campaign:
Create beautiful emails in minutes
The differentiator here comes in the form of the “in minutes” part, because anybody can create beautiful email campaigns with the right knowledge and an abundance of time. If you have the skills, you can design and code your own templates, or you can even purchase templates from somewhere like ThemeForest and upload them into your chosen email marketing tool.
However, the main point of difference of our email editor is its ease of use and how it enables people to quickly and easily create beautiful campaigns, so we made sure to add that in to differentiate it from other options available to customers.
So, when creating your value proposition, consider what differentiates it from the other options available to customers and make sure to highlight that in your value proposition.
Examples of killer value propositions
Now that you understand the three critical elements of a killer value proposition, take a look at some example email campaigns and see how the value propositions hold up against our framework.
InVision is a prototyping and UI mockup tool used by startups, corporations, and design agencies. They used this email to announce the launch of a new tool they offered called Tethr.
The value proposition reads: “Create beautiful iOS interfaces.”
Here’s how this value proposition example stacks up against our 3 elements framework:
Clarity: The value proposition is clear, and it’s easy for people to understand what the tool enables them to do. It uses the same language their audience does and there’s no unnecessary jargon.
Benefits: The value proposition is focused purely on outlining the benefits the reader receives from using the tool (being able to create a beautiful iOS interface). There’s no mention of technical details, like fully-layered PSD files or vector shapes—just a 100% focus on outlining the benefit for the user.
Differentiation: An area they could improve the value proposition is in differentiation. There are hundreds of iOS design kits out there, so why is Tethr worth the reader’s time? Is it the easiest to use? Does it have a particular feature that makes it quicker than the others? Adding a differentiator (like “Easily create beautiful iOS interfaces”) could have strengthened the value proposition and helped increase click-through rates.
Help Scout is a simple help desk tool for software companies and online retailers. They use this email to tell users about their latest blog post.
The value proposition reads: “How to get useful feedback from your clients.”
Here’s how this value proposition stacks up against our 3 elements framework:
Clarity: Given that this email is promoting an educational blog post, the value proposition is very clear. It uses the same kind of language customers do, and there’s no unnecessary jargon or business talk that would put people off.
Benefits: The value proposition clearly outlines the benefits for the reader. They know exactly what they are going to learn (how to get useful feedback from clients) by clicking through and reading the full post.
Differentiation: Again, the main area they could improve this value proposition is in the differentiation. There are plenty of articles on collecting customer feedback on the web, so how’s this one better? Is the methodology they are teaching easier to execute? Is it quicker? Adding a differentiator (Like “The quickest way to get useful feedback from your customers”) would help differentiate their offer from others and give readers more incentive to click through and read the full post.
How to use social proof to back your value proposition
When something is valuable, chances are the word will spread. If you want evidence that people are fixated on social proof, or the opinions of those they share society with, look at reviews. Feedback is hugely important to companies, primarily because people trust the experiences of others.
The truth’s in the numbers. About 63% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase from a website if there are product reviews and ratings. Social proof is as valuable as a long list of handy product features or a great price.
Due to these statistics, it’s wise to consider the importance social proof plays in your value proposition. You aren’t just trying to convince people your brand is valuable because of what it offers. You’re convincing them it’s valuable because of how well it has benefited others.
Social proof is helpful because it’s user-generated content—not company-generated content. What’s the difference? Prospective customers know a company is in promotional mode when they write content. Even if a company is being honest about the limitations, or even the shortcomings of their product or service, they’re aiming to make a sale.
Users, however, are focused on talking about their experience. They’re more relatable to prospective buyers and can be a better way to show off your brand’s value.
Consider these unique value propositions using social proof. The examples demonstrate how to implement feedback, reviews, and interaction into your value proposition.
1. Hotels.com’s real-time booking information
The travel and hospitality industries are tricky, because one poor review can be especially problematic. Hotels.com uses a nice strategy by showing visitors the real-time booking schedule of locations.
It may not be an actual review, but it does demonstrate how popular a location is. If people are planning on staying and see others are already checking in, it could reinforce the idea that they’re making a good choice.
2. CNET’s hybrid feedback system
Some people like hearing about the experience other users have had with a product, while others prefer to listen to the experts. CNET decided to give them the best of both worlds.
If you think the customer reviews aren’t giving the technical insight you need, or that the in-house experts may be a bit biased, you can always get a second opinion. This system also helps the site appear more impartial, which is a big plus for any brand.
3. Netflix’s trending section
How do you know if something is well-received by the community? If it’s popular. When Netflix advertises a new movie option in its trending section, it’s a sly way of demonstrating how other users are enjoying it.
Netflix certainly isn’t the only company to use this tactic. It goes to show that social proof is demonstrable even without user reviews or user-generated content of any kind. As long as the use of the product or service can be demonstrated in some way, the proof is there.
Regardless of whether you are sending an email to promote a new product, an event, or even a simple blog post, the value proposition is incredibly important in outlining to readers what the offer is and why they should care.
So, when you’re crafting your next email campaign, ask yourself these questions about the value proposition you have chosen:
Is it easy for people to understand? Will they comprehend it in the few short seconds of attention they’ll give it?
Does it focus on the benefit and make it clear to readers what they’ll get out of it?
Does it showcase why the product or service is the best option for the reader?
It’s hard to come up with compelling value propositions that tick all these boxes, so don’t think it needs to meet these criteria perfectly every time. However, if you’re asking these questions about your value proposition and you can’t answer yes for at least two of them, then it may be time to go back to the editing screen and rewrite.
Social proof can greatly improve your brand’s value proposition and help facilitate all the engagement that comes with value. Learn how to improve click-through rates using social proof.