shopping comparison charts

Getting the Most Out of Those Pesky Comparison Charts

For as long as there have been eCommerce sites, people have comparison shopped online. The fact of the matter is, if a user isn’t buying from you or signing up with you, then they are buying and signing up with someone else. If you’re selling a valuable product with a strong value proposition the risk of a consumer going elsewhere is lowered, but it’s still present. If only there was a way in which you could stack your competitors against yourself to prove you have the better product/service/offering/etc. Enter the infamous “comparison chart.” Seems straightforward enough; you list all the things you do and or offer and how your competitors stack up against you. Seems to be a slam dunk win, yet so many sites aren’t using the comparison chart correctly. So before you spend time and resources putting together a comparison chart, make sure you’re doing it correctly by addressing three primary principles:

  1. Comparing the right competitors
  2. Defining the standard and typical decision criteria
  3. Addressing those users who ultimately chose to do nothing

Comparing the Right Competitors in Your Competitor Chart

As we’ve already touched on, users arriving to your site will be in various stages of research, those applicable to this blog post fall within two categories: Higher in the Funnel and Lower in the Funnel. Those Higher up in the Funnel may be in the research phase – price and feature shopping a variety of business to determine which the best choice is. Those deeper in to the funnel will have narrowed their decision down to a few choices and now their decision is ultimately determined by a few minute details (hello comparison chart!).

Now, who you think your competitors are and who your customer thinks your competitors are is what will make or break your comparison chart. If you choose a competitor or two who aren’t applicable to your users the information you present them will be irrelevant; congrats! You’re better than a company they’ve never heard of before!

A client came to us recently after they had come across a landing page in which a competitor of theirs was comparing themselves to our client. In retaliation, they wanted to put a comparison chart on their own page refuting what this “competitor” was saying on theirs. The first question we asked was: do your customers even know who this other company is? No sense in calling out you’re better than someone no one has ever heard of. There are many companies out there on the internet – make sure you’re focusing on the ones that matter and directly affect your bottom line in the long run.

Defining the Standard and Typical Decision Criteria

So once you have mastered phase one and established the appropriate competitors to feature in your comparison chart, now you have entered into Phase 2: defining the standard and typical decision criteria. Seems pretty straightforward, right? You’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen a comparison chart put together based on what the client thinks their users’ need to know to make a decision. There is a standard of knowledge that is required to make the right decision; the decision to go with you vs. a competitor. Determining typical decision criteria is paramount to getting users to only engage with your comparison chart. Every user arriving to your site has a specific question they need to be answered, a specific problem for which they are seeking a particular solution. How does your decision criteria align with your users’ needs? Price point may not always need to be included; customer service, feature set, and engagement commitment may take precedence. The goal here is not to list all the ways you outperform your competitor, the goal is to present your users with the decision criteria they need and how those criteria stacks against your competitors. Understand the difference – it can make or break your comparison chart.

Those Who Choose to Do Nothing

The trickiest of all the phases brings us to Phase 3: addressing those users who ultimately choose to do nothing. This segment of traffic most likely won’t be easily swayed by your comparison chart. So how do you address them? Well, for one, don’t put all your eggs in your comparison chart basket. Leveraging value on the page will still be necessary to offset those users arriving who will fail to convert not because of going with a competitor, but because they make the decision to do nothing.

So how do you leverage your value? You’ll want to ensure that your Value Force outweighs your Cost Force. Tipping the scale ultimately determines if your users convert. Every action you ask a user to take comes at a cost; increased cost results in increased anxiety; increased anxiety leads to increased bounce rates.

Before you decide to roll out that new Comparison Chart on your landing page, let’s recap:

  1. Compare the Right Competitors – Focus on the competitors your users are aware of and, more importantly, actually care about.
  2. Define the Standard and Typical Decision Criteria – Present your users with the applicable decision criteria they need and actually want.
  3. Address Users Who Choose to Do Nothing – Don’t neglect page value in favor of a comparison chart.

When all’s said and done, remember it’s less about you and more about your users and what they need. If you can nail the reasons, answer the questions, and present everything clearly, the need for your users to venture elsewhere will significantly decrease, resulting in you getting the most out of your comparison chart.

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