As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
At any given point, customers are comparing you to other companies with similar offers and products.
At any given point, customers are comparing you to other companies with similar offers and products.
However, since customers don't necessarily have the expertise or experience to assess which choice is better for them in the long-term, they seek guidance to find the best fit. By explaining those key differences between you and your competitors, you can provide valuable context. With an unbiased approach, you not only give a lot of value, but you position yourself as a trusted advisor.
We do this through a thing we call comparison posts. And, when done right, comparison posts can both position your product or service, frame the value, and build trust with your audience, all at the same time.
Why You Should Use A Comparison Blog Post Template
During the consideration stage, your customer is doing a lot of research. They've finally identified their problem or challenge, and they're looking for potential ways to solve it.
This is your time to shine.
However, promoting your product or service in a way that doesn't come off as salesy is difficult.
How can you push a customer in the right direction without scaring them off?
The answer: unbiased advice.
With content focused on being helpful instead of tipping the scales in your favor, you can actually nudge a customer towards choosing your brand. By providing an unbiased summary of the fundamental differences between you and a competitor, you earn their trust. Notice, I said an unbiased summary of the key differences - the comparison post is not about positioning your product as “better.”
The comparison post must simply show the differences, and allow the reader to determine which is better for their needs. And, in some cases, that will be your competitor. And, that’s okay!
The truth is, no brand is the perfect fit for every potential customer. If you sell fiberglass pools, for example, your competitor may sell cement pools. The truth is, some people want/need a cement pool. Selling them a fiberglass pool is a disservice for them.
A great comparison post would help the reader understand when the fiberglass pool is the best choice, and when cement pools are the best choice. You may lose a customer, but that just means you don’t have a potential disaster on your hand when that customer is unhappy you sold them something that wasn’t the best choice.
Pick A Competitive Brand, Product, Or Service
Choosing what to compare is the first step to a comparison post. You can compare and contrast brands, products, or services.
Here are a few examples:
- HubSpot vs. MailChimp
- Uber vs. Lyft
- Renting vs. Buying
- Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
You can also use SEO tools to discover comparison post opportunities. You can use tools like SemRush to find common searches in your industry. You can even just go to google and start entering a phrase to see what common searches Google suggests.
Try searching with keyword phrases such as:
- [brand name] versus
- [brand name] or
- what company does [service] best
- and so on.
Any comparison a customer may make while considering your solution is worth writing about. Also note, comparison posts could be about rival services or products you offer. Using the pool example again, if you install both in-ground and above-ground pools, your comparison post might be about the pros and cons of each of those options. You should compare your own product or service options against each other if it adds value to your customers.
Don't Show Bias
While it's important to demonstrate the benefits of your offering, showing a clear bias destroys trust. And, in online content, trust is a priceless resource. Before a reader believes the positive things you have to say, their guard must come down. We call this disarmament, and it’s sometimes as easy as adding in a single sentence.
When talking about our marketing agency, for example, when we make any comparison, we usually include a statement like, “we’re not the best fit for everyone.” When we make statements like this, it shows that we’re going to be honest with you - if you’re not a good fit, we’ll tell you, and we won’t apologize. We also say things like, “we’re not the biggest or the fastest agency,” which is admitting there are others out there that are better, faster, and bigger. This positions us away from some people who want big, fast, or the absolute best.
- If you want the best, you will have to pay a lot more than we charge.
- If you want the biggest, you’ll have to deal with the disadvantages of the large, corporate structure.
- If you want the fastest, you’ll have to deal with potentially lesser quality than we can deliver.
All of these are polarizing, but there are people who are looking for “fast.” We’re not a great fit to work with those people. So, when we’re honest about that, it not only builds trust, but it qualifies our customers during the decision phase. Those who are the perfect fit to work with us can see it clearly, and the sale is a mutual benefit between them and us.
Back Up Your Claims
The team at HubSpot obviously feels they have an exceptional product. And they do. They could easily make biased comparisons and get away with it. However, on their comparison pages, they show instead of tell.
They use facts, statistics, and external proof to show the pros and cons of each platform, rather than basing the piece on opinion.
For example, when they make a claim such as "HubSpot is the top-ranked marketing automation tool," they back it up with a third-party opinion. HubSpot was awarded the title of "top-ranked marketing automation tool" on the comparison site, G2Crowd. When they showcase that claim on their website, it’s kind of like, “we didn’t say this, they said it.”
Here are some additional direction in making a fair comparison:
- Use the differences and similarities to make a side by side comparison
- Provide context on pricing, subscriptions, etc.
- Include customer reviews and feedback from third-party sites and forums
- Use facts and stats from third-party sources to back up claims
Most companies avoid writing comparison posts on topics or products they consider to be apples and oranges comparisons. For instance, inbound marketing and demand generation aren't an exact comparison, since inbound is technically part of demand generation. Yet, there's a ton of searches every month on Google for “inbound marketing vs. demand generation.”
Because there are people out there that don’t understand either of those terms as well as we do. Therefore, they are going to Google to try and get clarification and understanding. And, if you can attract someone’s attention and trust at this early stage, you have a huge head start on earning their business.
This goes back to writing for the customer. Many times, customers don't have the experience to ask the right questions. They need additional context to understand their misconceptions, and education to learn what are the right questions to ask, and why.
With a comparison post, you can explain why those two things aren't a direct comparison, and possibly find a better comparison for them to consider. Rather than avoiding the topic completely, use the post to talk about why the two things cannot be compared. Provide background and context to each issue, then explain the relationship between the two. Doing so gives the reader a clearer picture as to what each term means, why they can’t be directly compared, and what the right answer should be.
Another example is for customers looking to build a house. They may search for “how much does it cost to build a house.” Rather than rejecting that content because, “there’s no way to answer that question,” you should create the content and address the question.
Defer To Defining Features
Chances are, you're not the only one out there offering your particular product or service. When developing a comparison post, make sure you point out what's special and unique about your version of the offering. Refer to your Unique Value Proposition or UVP for inspiration. By the end of your comparison post, it should be clear to your potential customer when you are the perfect fit, and when you’re not.
HubSpot's all-in-one, integrated platform is one of its most compelling features, for example. HubSpot uses that differentiator to showcase unique value in all of its competitor-focused content. While the brand could come out and just say, “HubSpot is the best,” they instead show it through all of the extra features and benefits.
Need help with your UVP? Check out how you can improve your Unique Value Proposition, and see some real-life examples.
Make It Look Great
Comparison pages need to have exceptionally valuable content, but they also need to present that information in a visually pleasing way. The entire goal of a comparison post is to help people easily compare and contrast products and services, and with a wall of text, it can be difficult to do that.
Here are a few tactics to improve the look of a comparison post:
- Grids. A feature grid can help show clear comparisons between features and benefits. In this post comparing HubSpot to Wordpress, grids are used to line each feature up side-by-side.
- Images. Pictures of your product in action help potential customers understand functionality and features.
- Headings. Headings and subheadings break up a post into bite-size pieces, which make it easier to consume. In our HubSpot vs. Marketo comparison, we used subheadings to break apart the pros and cons.Bullet Points.
- Bullet points. Bullets are also a great way to make comparison posts digestible. No one wants to look at a wall of text.
How A Blog Post Template Can Increase Traffic
There are a lot of additional best practices we use to get the most potential from our content, including transcribing video content, republishing old content, creating an internal linking system, and more.
Because if you're going to invest time and resources into blogging, you may as well do everything you can to ensure results. In our Ultimate Guide to Increasing Website Organic Traffic, we walk through every tactic we use to increase the reach and visibility of content. With these tactics, your team can make sure every blog post counts.
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