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A Crash Course on Proper Messaging

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A Crash Course on Proper Messaging


Great marketing copy doesn’t just sell a product, it builds a connection with the audience. The beauty of proper messaging is that by communicating either the benefits or features of your product or service, you can tell customers what they need to know in a clever, concise way.

Without knowing when you should use benefits versus features in your content (and the difference between the two), you could run into poor, or ineffective messaging. We’ll dig into when it’s best to use each of these options below.

The difference between features and benefits

Both terms are useful and give customers important information they’ll need during their buyer’s journey, such as design, price, and real-world relevance. Ultimately, the benefits of having a product or service are what make consumers purchase, which means it is often best to highlight benefits over features when writing marketing copy. This paints a picture of what life will look like after the customer purchases the product or service. If you do decide to highlight features, you’ll want to make sure consumers understand how they’ll benefit from those features.

Take this ad from Qordoba, an IT company that utilizes AI to help organizations manage communication.

Qordoba marketing messaging benefits example

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The company’s ad caught my eye by communicating the benefits reading the report will have when it comes to customer-facing content, which does interest me.

‘How are tech companies managing their voice, tone, & writing style guides across their various types of customer-facing content?’

After reading this caption, I knew exactly what I would gain from this product, and why it was worth my time.

Let’s look at another example of features and benefits at work. This is a marketing email I got this morning from Marriott hotels:

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Marriott benefits messaging example

This ad starts with the benefits of becoming a Marriott member — ‘yes to vacation views’ — while the rest of it explains the features of the program, including ‘no annual fees’ and ‘3X points per $1 spent at more than 7,000 Marriott locations.

Emphasizing that Marriott members enjoy free perks, then expanding on how this is done (by earning rewards points), is a really effective way to explain the benefits and features of the rewards membership.

This is relatively straightforward — but what if you have multiple products being sold at once?

If you’re working with more than one campaign, the answer to whether you should use features versus benefits ” can change depending on the product or service being marketed.

How to Tell When it’s Best to Use Features or Benefits

If you’re unsure whether you should list features or benefits for a given product, consider this — features are an optimal choice in a saturated market. For instance, a small business making a meal-delivery kit would have some competition (such as HelloFresh or Home Chef), meaning they would have to communicate their service’s competitive advantage by naming one-of-a-kind features. This would include price, dietary restrictions, menu configuration, etc.

Benefits, on the other hand, are the way to go if your brand exists within a niche market or a “drier” topic. You’ll want to answer the following questions with your benefits:

  • How does it work?
  • How does it make a consumer’s life easier?

To resonate well with an audience who perhaps haven’t heard of your product or service before, try to include benefits in your demos, ebooks, and other marketing content.

Now that we’re more clear on features vs. benefits, let’s explore some examples to see both in-action.

Examples of Features and Benefits

For the visual learners like myself, below are some real-world examples of how to work features or benefits into ads, product pages, email, or any other marketing materials:

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1. Calm (features)

 

Calm feature messaging example

Why This Is a Feature: Calm used singer Lindsey Stirling’s material as an exclusive offer only available to app users. It’s a unique attribute the audience can’t get anywhere else.

This email about an exclusive deal made me excited, which is another way highlighting features in your marketing material can be beneficial — to build excitement. Here’s how sleep meditation company Calm did it:

Framing singer/songwriter Lindsey Stirling‘s work as an exclusive feature improves customer relationships and makes them feel special. Opening this email made me think about how glad I am to be an email subscriber (especially since I grew up watching Stirling on YouTube) because of cool offers like this.

If you’re running a promotion or want to improve customer relationships, consider sending them an offer that reminds customers of your product or service’s unique features.

2. HubSpot Academy (benefits)

hubspot academy messaging example

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Why these are benefits: HubSpot Academy gives customers the opportunity to invest in themselves by learning new skills and getting certifications they can display on LinkedIn – all things that will help them grow their business and individual careers.

In this product page for HubSpot Academy’s social media course, three benefits are listed at the bottom, so prospects can see how completing this course will be worth their time.

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Benefits don’t always have to be short phrases – in fact, on product pages, more is often better. On web pages, it’s critical you give your customers the helpful information they need — including cost, structure, time required to complete, and a description on how your products or services’ benefits outweigh the benefits of competitors’.

3. OrganiGrowHairCo (benefits)

Organigrow benefits example

Why these are benefits: This ad effectively communicates the reasons why OrganiGro’s co-wash product is better than typical conditioners. It alleviates dandruff, decreases breakage, and cleanses – all things that will aid a buyer’s hair health.

If you’re team natural hair, you’ve more than likely stumbled upon the heaps of content stressing the benefits of co-washing (using conditioner only) as a way to avoid overwashing your hair with regular shampoo. Since shampoo often strips the hair as it cleanses, co-washing is seen as a method to replenish moisture between washes.

In the Instagram ad above, OrganiGrow clearly makes the case for why its co-wash formula is superior to the competition as it’s designed to cleanse while moisturizing, aiding the customer’s overall hair health.

4. Arcadia (benefits)

Arcadia benefits messaging example

Why this is a benefit: The ad draws the audience in immediately with the potential to save on their utility bill. Who doesn’t want to save money? The promotion also throws in a Google Home mini, which further incentivizes the customer to buy.

Can you spot the benefits energy company Arcadia used in this promoted tweet?

If you chose the entire tweet, you’re right!

Almost every word helps describe to the reader why they should open the linked website. As a consumer, I would think, “Well, what is the easiest way to save on my energy bill at no cost? That thing is sky high!”

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Words that help the consumer are going to resonate with those who are just mindlessly scrolling and not necessarily looking to buy anything. To build interest in their promotion, Arcadia’s use of benefits to entice prospective customers was a good choice on Twitter.

Impress a scroller by using benefits in marketing messages. You have just a few seconds to leave a mark.

5. Airtable (features)

airtable features messaging example

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Why this is a feature: By playing up its fun colors and project management attributes, Airtable entices viewers to switch from boring spreadsheets. All of its sleek features are on full display in this Facebook ad. How is it better than traditional spreadsheets? It’s ‘flexible, beautiful, and fun.’

Beautiful, descriptive features in this Facebook ad told me exactly what Airtable is and what their software does, despite having no previous knowledge. In less than thirty words, I know that Airtable must be a product or service that makes dull spreadsheets a thing of the past — for free.

6. KeVita (benefits)

Kevita Drinks benefit messaging example

Why this is a benefit: This scenario-based ad positions KeVita kombucha as the perfect natural energy drink, giving customers a boost for whatever activity they partake in, no matter the location.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink with probiotics, which aid in helping digestion and improving energy levels. So, when marketing their kombucha on Instagram, the KeVita brand wanted to show that kombucha isn’t just a summer drink, contrary to popular belief.

Aesthetically pleasing, benefit-enforcing GIFs like this make visual platforms like Instagram a perfect canvas for an ad that displays benefits.

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Animation often stops scrollers — especially animation paired with bright pink text. The backdrop, a ski lift covered in fresh snow, (“powder” to skiers), shows the accessibility of the drink, while the caption alludes to kombucha-fueled energy to get through a long ski trip.

Two benefits that instantly stuck out to me about this post are accessibility and energy. On snowy mountains, those two functions are going to be essential when thinking about snacks. Consider a scenario-based ad if your product is like KeVita, commonly perceived as a summer drink.

7. Dyson (benefits)

Dyson benefits exampleWhy this is a benefit: This animated ad focuses on how Dyson’s humidifier removes pollutants from your home to improve air quality. It’s an all-in-one solution for customers combining the perks of a humidifier, air purifier, and fan.

Our homes are full of contaminants, or at least that is what this ad will have you believe. With this ad for its air purification system, Dyson really drives home the “why” for customers using some pretty convincing animation. Microscopic pollutants like dust, pet dander, and others are in our home, wreaking havoc on sensitive respiratory systems. This device will remove them, enabling customers to breathe better. It addresses the problem and clearly explains how their product is a solution to that problem.

Applying Benefits and Features to Your Marketing Strategy

From phones to shampoo, the features or benefits marketing method can be applied to almost anything. When creating copy:

  • Determine what you want to say, and which messaging method will be best for that.
  • Ask “Does this ad convey features or benefits?”

It’s important to know the distinction between the two so the audience receives clear messaging that explains why they should choose your product or service over the rest.

This article was originally published February 27, 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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9 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About from Q3 2022

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9 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About from Q3 2022

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Did Q1 and Q2 whip past you? They did for me, but the pace of life often seems to slow down a little in autumn, and I hope you’ll join me for a relaxed and studious look at interesting local search marketing developments from the third quarter of 2022.

1) A small harvest of review-related changes

Google has updated its content guidelines to forbid incentivizing the removal of negative reviews

I’m grouping four different review-related developments under this heading. First, Joy Hawkins spotted a change to Google’s guidelines on prohibited and restricted content. As I’ve covered here exhaustively in my Moz column, there are lots of things a business can do to rectify a complaint in hopes of seeing an unhappy customer update their negative review to reflect an improved experience, but outright incentivization of negative review removal has now been declared out-of-bounds by Google.

Second and rather related, Greg Gifford captured a good stat from Aaron Weiche’s LocalU presentation that I’d not heard before: over ⅓ of negative experiences referenced in reviews mention communication problems. This means that you not only need to have your local business listings up-to-snuff with ongoing management of the accuracy of your contact info, but that all of your communications technologies (texting, live chat, phone, etc.) must be responsive!

Thirdly, Barry Schwartz spotted early testing of a Find Places Through Reviews feature in July, but as of September, I have still not been able to replicate this interesting result, which is a further indication of Google’s continuous experimentation in the review space.

Finally, another tip from the inimitable Hawkins as tweeted by Brandon Schmidt: longer reviews tend to remain higher up in your Google review corpus for a longer time. The problem with this is that lengthier reviews are commonly negative, with unhappy customers taking the time to wax poetic about their complaints. Take some time to consider whether you can finesse your review requests so that your delighted customers are inspired to leave more voluble reviews.

2) HCU near you

It’s my belief that local businesses which have already made a habit of publishing content that thoughtfully serves their specific customers should come out well in the much-talked-about Helpful Content Update, which finished rolling out on September 9th. While many SEOs are trying to ascertain which changes can rightfully be attributed to the update, our friends at NearMediaCo are having interesting discussions about whether the HCU is, in fact, part of Google’s response to the rise of TikTok as a vehicle for search. As Greg Sterling notes,

Right now the most influential internet company is arguably TikTok. Google’s HCU appears to be partly a response to the popularity of the site and its much-touted “authenticity.”

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Local SEOs and their clients cannot have failed to notice how many Google searches (including local searches) return low-quality results made up of optimized filler rather than human-worthy help. While the search engines and social sites play ball over who will win the authenticity trophy, my best advice to independent local businesses is to be sure that everything on your website is a proudly-published source of information for your community.

3) Beyond content: communication

Conference speaker Aaron Weiche presents slide stating that your content can't answer everything, but you can.

There may be times when I’m willing to wander about in the Google maze or the morass of site search hoping for an answer to a complex query, but usually, I don’t have the patience and want to be able to ask a business directly, “Do you have size 8, man-made, furry boots, with fluffy linings, but not from this brand, and only from this brand, and can you deliver them to my house, and can you do that contactlessly, and is there a surcharge for that?” Local businesses can certainly publish content to cover all of these bases, but bless the brand that makes it easy for me to have a conversation with a human being.

Brandon Schmidt did us the favor of photographing Aaron Weiche’s recent presentation on this topic. Ahead of the holidays, be sure your texting, live chat, and phone staff is ready with all the answers via highly visible numbers and links (and my boots!).

4) Toggle to hide your address

Tweet from SEO Barry Schwartz capturing new toggle functionality for hiding your address in Google Search and Google Maps.

Barry Schwartz highlighted Stefan Somborac’s screenshot of a new toggle feature in search and Maps that is meant to make it easier for business owners to hide the address on their Google Business Profile. The hidden address drama is one of the longest-running plots in the soap opera that is the Guidelines for representing your business on Google. I would personally like to see this character written out of the script in favor of businesses having the say in whether they want their exact location to be visible on their listings. I’ve never understood Google’s logic for requiring SABs to obscure their locations; living in an old house as I do, I’ve had too many opportunities of needing to know which 24-hour plumber is actually nearest to me.

5) Linked FAQs in Google Messaging

New Google messaging form lets you add linked FAQs for automated customer responses.

This might be one of the most exciting developments of the third quarter and we again have Stefan Somborac to thank for noticing it first. You can now populate Google Messaging with up to 10 FAQs with questions of up to 40 characters and answers of up to 500 characters and your answers can include links! While I’m not personally fond of automated consumer-brand communications, I can see a good use of this for answering really common questions about hours of operation, premise accessibility, or the availability of top brands in your inventory.

6) Filter local packs by days of the week

Tweet from Shameem Adhikarath shows new ability to filter Google local pack results by open hours on specific days of the week.

Google has long offered searchers the ability to filter packs by hours of the day, but Shameem Adhikarath realized that, at some point, the ability to filter results by specific days of the week was added. When a customer wants to know on Monday which are the best restaurants that are open on Saturday, a little feature like this makes sense. Word to the wise: be sure your hours of operation are always up-to-date on your listings!

7) Evaluate the role local SEO should play in property hunting

Tweet from SEO Elizabeth Rule shows slide from speaker Andy Simpson's presentation on why local SEO is just one consideration in choosing a business location.

Elizabeth Rule brought us this screenshot of Andy Simpson’s LocalU presentation in which he reminded local SEOs that our concerns are not the only ones that should be involved when a client moves or opens a new branch. While I’m sorry to have missed Andy’s full presentation, I can see the sense of it, just from this slide. So many of the goodies of reputation and profit will flow naturally when other factors like the location, convenience, and size of a new locale are properly considered, so definitely weigh in with local SEO recommendations during times of change, but prepare to be in a queue of many priorities.

8) Maps Photo Pins exist, but have you seen them yet?

Tweet from SaaS provider Bright Local shows test of circular Google Maps pins containing images.

Our honored colleagues at BrightLocal captured a version of Maps-based photo pins in September that is different than the ones reported by Barry Schwartz back in July as spotted by Vishal Sharma. These latest examples are round instead of square. I have not been able to replicate this test with similar search terms from my location in the US, and so I have no way of sussing out what the source of these images is or how to nudge Google into giving a business pin like this. For now, keep adding photos and keep checking Maps for this intriguing feature.

9) Be the winner next-door next year?

Screenshot of landing page at Nextdoor.com highlighting their 2022 Neighborhood Favorites Awards.

Nextdoor users voted many local and ten national businesses as their favorites this past August, and the winners have received press, badges and $500 ad credits. It’s definitely a platform worth getting listed on, and home service providers came out especially well in the contest. Nextdoor highlighted how showing up on time for appointments, providing excellent service, offering specialty goods and services, and earning recommendations from neighbors all contributed to winners’ successes. Sounds like good advice to take with you into the fourth and final quarter of 2022!



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