2022 Website Trends: Competitive Differentiation with Jason Oakley
We spoke with Jason Oakley, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Klue, an AI-powered competitive enablement platform designed to help product marketers collect, curate, and deliver actionable competitive insights to empower revenue teams to win more business.
Jason has over ten years of working in small to medium-sized startups and previously built up product marketing teams at Chili Piper and Uber Flip.
In this interview we discuss:
- Using your website as a differentiation tool
- Non-traditional comparison pages
- Competitive enablement for everyone at a SaaS company
To start, give a high-level introduction of your background
I’ve been in product marketing for just about a decade now working at startup B2B SaaS companies that have anywhere between 150 to 200 employees. I built out product marketing teams at Uber Flip, Chili Piper, and now I’m building up the team at Klue.
One of the big things that I owned in most of my product marketing roles has been the company’s website. At Klue in particular, we’re about to roll out product pages, so I am heavily involved in that.
It helps that I did freelance website design when I was younger, so when I see something I like, I like to think that it clicks, which is why I’m excited to talk about some of my favorite pages today.
What are some gold standard websites that you love right now?
At Klue, we love competitive enablement. We love all things competition. So one of the things that we just started doing is a show called “Compared to What,” where we break down comparison pages.
And one of the things I find is that every marketplace is so much more crowded these days, meaning your ability to differentiate is more important today than ever.
Because of that, many companies are starting to do a great job of differentiating their website. So I want to talk about examples of that in action.
Website #1: Ahrefs
Ahrefs has a fantastic three-way comparison page on their website. The first, most obvious reason to create a comparison page is to present yourself as a leader in the space.
But beyond that, Ahrefs uses their comparison page to piggyback off of the SEO related to their two competitors. People are searching for Ahrefs competitors already, so they can ride that wave and establish a name for themselves as an alternative solution.
The other aspect of this page that stands out is its use of social proof.
At the top of the page, Ahrefs asks the million-dollar question: How is Ahrefs better than SEMrush or Moz?
And basically, they say that while this is a fair question, there’s no way to answer it without injecting their own bias.
Rather than creating another tedious side-by-side comparison, they share valuable, unique features that only Ahrefs provides. Instead of throwing up G2 badges, Ahrefs has pulled social proof from other communities that they’re heavily involved in.
They have testimonials from Proper SEO Group, SEO Signals Lab, and others that drive home the fact that Ahrefs is a winner. Today, if I see an opportunity to grab a screenshot of social proof that I can bring to our website later, I’m always going to do it.
Next, we scroll down to the eight unique things you can do with Ahrefs.
This isn’t another boring feature comparison chart, it’s very specific, showing screenshots of each feature and sharing data related to those features.
For example, Ahrefs boasts the largest database of US research queries, 4 billion, which backs up the social proof at the top and ties that data back to value; in this case, traffic potential.
Explore an interactive demo of the Ahrefs vs page:
See why Jason choose Ahrefs as his gold standard websites.
What are top trends you’re seeing for websites this year?
For me, it’s this idea of differentiation.
Buyers are more educated than ever. Before they talk to your sales team, prospects are doing so much research on their own, they know so much about your product and your solution before they come to you.
Your website then becomes one of the biggest tools to explain why you’re better than a competing solution. Clearly differentiating your product on your site is what makes the difference between sites that are really high converting and those that fall flat.
Knowing you have competitors, leaning into that, and being very transparent about how your products or services are different on your site is one of the things that I’m starting to see more.
Doing a good job at this requires product marketing, competitive enablement, and competitive intelligence. These functions have more of a strategic lens, which translates to websites with stronger messaging, stronger differentiation, and stronger positioning.
What is a trend you’re ready to see end this year for websites?
You probably hear this from everyone that you interview, but gating things, like a tour, versus leaving them open to anyone should go away.
I personally would love to be able to consume content on people’s websites without always having to offer up my information.
And even more importantly, if I give you my information once, I do not want to have to see or fill out a form ever again. This still happens a lot because of the website builders people are using, but I would just love to see that stop.
The other thing is getting rid of a checklist of feature comparisons. I want to see more specificity about value.
Don’t showcase a 15 to 20 featured checklist with one or two competitors on it. Have a page where you lay out value propositions and reasons why a prospect should care about your product.
A small table with just two or three features enables you to talk more in-depth about why they matter and the business value behind them.
What are some of your favorite tools for website design or optimization?
I’m not saying this just because I’m on your show, but I actually do love Navattic. Interactive demo solutions are great.
We are using Chili Piper to streamline filling out a demo request or meeting form and not have to wait for someone to follow up with you or email to book a meeting is also a no-brainer to reducing drop-off.
If you get them on the calendar immediately, your conversion rates on inbound leads are going to be significantly higher than if you do have to wait a couple of days to hear from an SDR.
Any type of data enrichment tool like Clearbit is something I recommend.
For companies who are on a budget or don’t have a designated designer, I recommend using a tool called Jitter to make animations. I use Screen Flow as well for video editing or creating gifs that you can put on your website if you don’t Navattic to do a full walk-through tour.
Lastly, I suggest people use Figma. I use it for webpage mock-ups and anyone can get a free plan with exposure to tons of landing page templates.
Tell us more about Klue
The competitive landscape is getting more and more crowded.
There are companies out there who are coming for your market share. They may be primary competitors or new entrants you don’t even know about yet.
Most companies try to combat this by gathering competitive intel. But not enough companies are taking what they know about a competitor and actually turning it into actionable insights, content, and tools that everyone in their company can use to compete better.
In this economy, every deal is that much more important一in fact, based on our research 50% of deals are competitive. So everyone in your company, not just one person in the back office, should be collecting and acting on intel.
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