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Value Sequencing Decider Graphic

Expressing value is the core of marketing. But you shouldn’t express the same value messages at every point of the customer journey or to every customer.

Different people need to understand different elements of your product or service’s value at different points.

Complex, I know. But let’s try to have a little fun with it.

To help you create a primary testing focus that will allow you to better understand the most effective value sequencing for your website, we created an entertaining visual tool — the “What kind of value prop should you add to your webpage?” decider graphic. (Why should “Which Kardashian are you?” or “What is most likely hiding under your date’s couch cushions?” have all the fun?)

Our goal is to provide a visual flowchart to help you flex those customer curiosity muscles and understand the theory of value sequencing during the customer journey. And hopefully, we’ll inspire some impactful test ideas along the way.

value sequence decider infograph
Click to enlarge

Here is the value sequencing decider graphic (and major thanks to designer Chelsea Gunlock for taking my scribbles from two giant whiteboards in my office and making them look this sharp). Click on the thumbnail for a bigger image, click here to download a PNG version, or click here to download a PDF version. Scroll below the graphic for a full explanation.

And feel free to whip out your own Expo markers and draw a possible value sequencing decider graphic for your unique customers on your office whiteboard (if you do, we’d love to see it. Just mention @MktgExperiments on Twitter when you share it).


Does the purchase decision occur on the webpage you are working on? Marketers can easily fall into the trap of sell, sell — that is, selling a product the same way at every single customer touchpoint. But that’s not always what the customer needs or wants. Every website — whether B2B or B2C, whether the product is a set of steak knives or a white paper download — generally has pages created specifically to sell the product.

Every other page happens either before (e.g., homepage or category page) or after (e.g., payment page or cart page) that purchase decision. When you think of value sequencing, you should not express the same value across each of these pages.

That would be like running into a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, and saying, “Hey Todd, how have you been?”

After Todd answers, you then respond, “Hey Todd, how have you been?” He then gives you a quizzical look to which you respond, “Hey Todd, how have you been?”

That would be an annoying conversation. Your customers feel the same way and will back away from your website as quickly as Todd does from your conversation if you don’t sequence the value correctly across these types of pages.

If the page is before the purchase decision

Just like a journey in the physical world, a customer journey has momentum. That motion isn’t physical though, it involves mental actions. In other words, cognitive momentum.

Think about when you go to a nice restaurant. The maître d’ doesn’t hold out his hands and yell, “17 BUCKS FOR THE SOUP!” He welcomes you in, asks about your preferences, complements your wardrobe, directs you to a table, gives you menus, tells you about your waiter, etc.

In other words, he directs your cognitive momentum. He’s not trying to sell you yet, but he likely is smoothly prepping the sale by articulating the top value claims of the overall restaurant. “Our chef just received another Michelin star, and we are so very proud.”

This is the same thing your pages should do before a purchase decision — you want to direct the cognitive momentum to the place that will best serve the customer.

For a homepage — the front door of a website — in addition to that clearly expressed primary value proposition, you want to create a process-level value proposition to get the customer to the most effective destination.

On the category page, this gets even more granular. You should help customers get to the right page (and often identify the right product) for themselves. So emphasize unique product-level value props to help customers identify the best product fit. When there are different product options, you might want to use a configurator to help clarify the value. When the different product offerings are different levels of the same essential product, make sure there are clear value gulfs between the offers.

If the purchase decision is on the page

When the purchase decision is on that specific webpage or landing page, you want to boost the cognitive momentum. Whatever brought them to this page was strong enough to get them to take the action to visit the page (clicking through an email, clicking from the homepage, etc.).

Now you must boost customers’ cognitive momentum to get them to the point of actually acting and making the purchase decision.

In general, this is where you want to express the full value proposition with images, copy, etc. (please note: there are exceptions based on your target audience, which we’ll cover next). This is your central, core conversion point. You want customers to experience the clearest expression of product value to overcome the cost they will have to pay to get it.

For a product display page, focus tightly around the product-level value prop to encourage conversion. The only expressions of the overall company value proposition should be in support of building credibility for the product-level value prop. One mistake some companies make is bragging too much about the overall company, and not focusing tightly on what matters most to the customer about the specific product.

Another key page where a decision occurs is a landing page. In this case, we use the definition of “purchase a product” a little more broadly. For example, the product might be a content download and the purchase price may be filling out an information form, not necessarily paying with money.

Regardless, a key conversion is happening, and it is essential to boost cognitive momentum. For a landing page, stay focused on communicating value in line with the page’s objective and reduce distractions from that key value. That doesn’t necessarily mean the page has to be short. Long landing pages can convert better than shorter ones when the value is focused around the key conversion objective.

If the page is after the purchase decision

Depending on your funnel, getting a “yes” on the key purchase decision may not be enough. Don’t overlook the pages that come after that decision.

This doesn’t mean you need to continue selling the customer like you did on the purchase decision page. But you don’t want to assume the decision is final either.

After the key purchase decision, you need to support cognitive momentum until a final conversion is made (and, really, even after that final decision). To do so, just remind them of value while reducing friction on the payment page. Or reinforce the product-level value proposition in the shopping cart.

But whatever you do, don’t take the sale for granted.


All of the above is generally applicable to a general customer. To make your value sequencing even more effective, consider the specific type of customer you’re talking to by building a segmentation strategy that leverages technology — like marketing automation, a customer data platform, a data management platform, and/or a customer relationship management platform. This will help personalize that value communication.

When to focus on getting out of their way

Previous customers understand the value of your company and its products on a level that prospects don’t because they have already experienced it firsthand. How you communicate to them is determined by the level they have experienced it.

If the customer has already purchased that product from that page before, testing should focus primarily on the most effective approach to just get the heck out of their way. Forget value communication, they already understand the value. Simply reduce friction and anxiety.

Amazon is a master at this technique. From the “Buy it Again” button and “Subscribe & Save” to off-page optimization tactics like the Dash button and voice shopping with Alexa, Amazon has mastered the tactic of getting out of repeat customers’ way and making it easy for them to make another purchase.

You should also test getting out of their way if you have reason to believe that customers understand the exclusive value of your offering already.

These could be prospects that are familiar with your brand, and you have reason to believe they’ve heavily researched your product beforehand and understand its value — repeat visitors who are customers of your content and have just been waiting for the right time to buy, or customers that have bought other products from your brand and understand the value of this product type. Whatever the exact path, if you have reason to believe customers already understand the value of your offering and company, value communication can sometimes decrease conversion. Test the idea of getting out of their way and see what you discover about your customer. It will either affirm your belief that they already understand the value, or help you build a more robust customer theory around where they are in the buying process and what value they need to understand.

When to focus on paving the way

If the customer has bought the product before but through another channel, say, a brick-and-mortar store, for example, you simply want to pave the way for them to purchase on this page. Focus on communicating the process-level value prop and reducing friction so they understand why it is worth making the purchase through your website while making it easy for them.

Another great example of when you want to take the paving-the-way approach is transitioning a customer from purchasing your product(s) through a third-party marketplace to purchasing on your own e-commerce store (Pro tip: Understand the marketplace’s terms and conditions and don’t violate them).

When to focus on making them informed

Whether customers have bought from your brand before or not, you need to determine how familiar they are with the product type. Let’s take an example that isn’t a typical ecommerce purchase, to exaggerate the value communication that is necessary. If the landing page is for a Nissan LEAF, you need to inform them of the value of an electric vehicle. You should sell the category while selling the car — communicate the category’s (in this case, electric vehicles) value prop, in addition to the product-level value proposition and the process-level value proposition.

If the product type isn’t different enough, don’t assume they understand the value. They need to understand that category value before (or at least while) they are assessing the value of your specific product.

This use case is especially prevalent when you have an innovative product. Whether it’s cloud computing or flying cars (“Back to the Future Part II” foretold AI-driven voice assistants, so you know flying cars are just around the corner), most people won’t buy the product until they buy into the category. Communicating category value correctly will also increase the likelihood of satisfied customers (because they know what they’re getting into along with the limitations of the new technology) and positive word-of-mouth that speeds widespread adoption. If the true value of the new innovation isn’t clearly communicated (or there to begin with), the word-of-mouth could kill a nascent technology before it has the chance to blossom.

When to focus on making it clear

If customers are familiar with your brand and understand the value the company provides, but don’t understand the exclusive value of your offering, take an approach that will help make it clear. Communicate the product- and process-level value prop. You want to especially leverage exclusivity in that product-level value prop, so customers can easily understand the key differentiator between what you offer and what the competitor offers.

For example, if I understand the value of two different electronics companies, those will both be in my decision set when I am shopping for headphones. But as I get deeper into my customer journey, I discover only one of the products has a lifetime warranty. That is the one I will likely choose. By understanding the value both companies bring, I trust them both, and they have both made it into my decision set. But the exclusive value for the specific product set it apart and ultimately led me to choose it over the competition.

When to focus on relieving anxiety

If customers don’t understand the value of your company, you usually want to at least communicate some level of your brand’s primary value proposition along with a product- and process-level value prop. But space and time are limited, so what aspects of the primary value prop should you focus on? The risk level of the purchase should inform that focus. If a product is high risk — for example, it is expensive or customers are worried it’s a safe product — relieving anxiety is a key element to focus on.

Emphasize the credibility aspect of the company’s value proposition while communicating the product- and process-level value prop. For example, if it’s a life insurance company you likely not only want to communicate product details, but also message how long the company has been in business and how financially solid it is. Most customers will not buy even the most appealing life insurance product (or vitamins or a bet-the-business-on-it software platform) from a company they don’t trust.

When to focus on looking more appealing

If prospective customers don’t understand the company’s value but the purchase is low risk, you could focus on testing ways to make the company look more appealing. The element of the company’s value proposition you should most emphasize is appeal, in addition to communicating the product- and process-level value proposition. When risk is low, you can tie in with the positive elements of the company’s value prop without having to work to overcome concerns as much.

Related Resources

How a Value Proposition Workshop has enabled companies to optimize their marketing and sales funnels

Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #4: What do you lead with?

Value Proposition Development on-demand certification course

The post Value Sequencing Decider Graphic appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community


The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community


Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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