Usability tip: create a USP bar

At SEM Days 2012, Paul ROUKE, Head of Usability & Conversion, PRWD talked about the USP bar.

What’s USP?

The Unique Selling Proposition (a.k.a. Unique Selling Point, or USP) is a marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to understand a pattern among successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands. The term was invented by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Today the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects. (source)

In other words, an USP differentates you from a competitor. It’s what you have unique.

So, if you’re a brand, where to put it?

One solution would be to put it in the “About” section of your website.

But there’s another option. See the header of ASOS | Shop women’s fashion & men’s clothing | Free Delivery & Returns:

Now have a look at how PC Garage (PC Garage | Notebook, calculatoare, sisteme, periferice si componente PC) does it (they actually have two areas for this:

And two photos during the session with Paul about the subject:

A quote (source – Useful e-commerce trends: the promo strip | Econsultancy):

The benefits of placing these under the top navigation are:

  1. They appear on every page, so no matter where someone lands on the site they see it.
  2. Even if visitors are on a low screen resolution, they still see it immediately.
  3. The top navigation is where visitors are looking, so – whether they register it consciously or not – almost everyone sees it.

Another example:

OK, my thoughts on this:

  • Do put the USP in the about page.
  • I’m not 100% sure about the USP bar. Yes, it’s nice to boast on every page “Hey, we have a USP. Just look at it, isn’t it gorgeous?”. On the other hand, there is also the concept of Banner blindness – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
  • Still, despite the above argument, would I recommend putting it? Yes, I would. With slight hestiation, though.
  • Also, I’d try to make it simple. Quick & easy tips.
  • Also, I’d make it purely horizontal, not vertical, like PC Garage.
  • Also, I’d put symbols, not like ASOS.
  • Also, I’d avoid promotions & banners, like PC Garage & ASOS, and actually put USP. You’re USP is usually not a temporary price discount. It’s something which totally differentiates you from your competition. Usually, this is not a 10% discount.
  • I’d consider putting it not only on the homepage, but on the interior pages as well. For both consistency and the fact that the inner page has no bar like this.
  • I’d avoid mixing USP bar with a promo bar. Either put something which differentiates you, either a price discount. Don’t put money & values on the same bar.
  • There is a USP (Unique Selling Proposition – something which is unique for you, your competitors don’t have this; for example “We show you on the product page price history, only on our store you have this openness”) and there is VSP (value selling proposition, something which a whole category of sellers have; for example “if you buy online, things are cheaper; if you buy online, it’s safer to buy with the card; if you buy online, you don’t have transportation difficulties” – all your competitors may claim this, yet, there is a value in this for the buyer). OK, I’d avoid in the same bar both a USP and VSP. Separate them, I’d put USP.

Note: Also see the Yahoo! Group on which I present similar issues:IMRo. To join, email imro-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and reply to the confirmation email.

I am a Digital Marketing Manager for The KPI Institute. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading, watching movies, listening to music.

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