Federico isn’t just any old comparison page enthusiast—he’s the founder of Stack Against, a company that specialises in comparison pages.
In the following interview, we cover:
- Why comparison pages are value for both Saas companies and buyers
- What makes the difference between a good and mediocre comparison page
- How to research comparison pages and create a strong narrative
- How to decide which features to talk about
- How to use graphic design on your comparison page
- What to do if you’re trying to educate prospects in a totally new space
- How to speak to different types of prospects on your comparison page
Q: Why are Comparison Pages Helpful for SaaS Companies?
Federico: Comparison pages are valuable because clients and buyers find them valuable. This is because tech and SaaS spaces are getting more and more crowded every day.
New competitors are popping up every single day because the barrier to launching a new SaaS product is getting lower and lower. Every space has tons of competitors.
There are thousands of CRMs, thousands of project management tools, thousands of time tracking tools. Regardless of the type of tool, you probably have a bunch of competitors.
Selecting the best product from a large pool of SaaS products will inadvertently lead to customer anxiety.Most businesses—especially those in the B2B space—want to be assured that they are making the best decision possible.
When businesses see so many SaaS competitors, and so many options to choose from, they want to get the fastest and clearest answer to the question ‘How are you different from others?’
Comparison pages help customers decide if the product can solve their problem
Federico: Clients need as much product information as is possible to ensure that the SaaS product they’ll eventually purchase will address and resolve specific problems.
Therefore, a comparison page provides much desired clarity to frequently asked questions such as:
- I have a particular problem. In comparison to your competitor, how are you going to solve it differently?
- What unique features does your product have that your competitors don’t?”
Comparison pages reassure prospects that they won’t have to change again later
Federico: Picking the right SaaS product, ideally the first time, helps clients avoid the inconvenience of switching and migrating to a different alternative at a later date.
Nobody has time to spend switching from one product to another and migrating a database from here to there.
When considering a SaaS product, the average B2B has to think about relocating their databases with thousands of contacts, data, data points, etc.
Moving all that from one place to another takes time. In addition, retraining people also takes time. Therefore, clients spend a lot of time researching SaaS product features and comparison pages to get as much clarity as is possible.
Jon: Great. I don’t know about you, but I’ve come across companies that have obviously put a lot of thought into their comparison page. I’ve also come across some that just use a template and don’t actually think about the page that much.
Q: So what makes the difference between a good comparison page and a mediocre one?
Federico: One of the things you said is the key. If your comparison page uses a commonly used template or headline, your message will appear to be a copycat version and will not resonate with your audience.
The problem with that is buyers, do this research and they get to know a little bit about each competitor. They start to understand the minor and and the bigger differences between each alternative in the space.
Normally, during the decision stage, customers will shortlist two or three different products that they feel could resolve their problems.
At that point, maybe they get a demo with each alternative, or maybe they get a free trial if there is one, right. So the goal is getting to that shortlist.
And if they feel like your comparison pages are not really detailed enough and knowledgeable enough to convey the differences between you and a competitors, they're just going to close the page.
How SaaS shoppers decide between competing SaaS products
Federico: During the evaluation stage, the prospects will often conduct research by looking at:
- Competitor websites
- Online reviews on, e.g., G2 and Capterra
- Product reviews on, e.g. TechCrunch
- Specialized review sites that deal with a specific SaaS product, e.g., CRM tools.
From looking at all of these, they will start to get a very strong idea of what each tool can do for them.
And if what you're telling them on the page doesn't meet their level of research, and doesn't meet the level of nuance they want to get from you, then it's not going to resonate with them. And you've lost them.
SaaS businesses need to tell a unique story on every comparison page
Federico: So you can’t just rely on a template. You have to go deep on the research and understand how you’re different.
When Stack Against creates comparison pages, we can have similar structures because some of the talking points are going to be similar. But the reality is that each company is different. And because of that, each product is going to be different.
Each product comes from a different set of values or a different approach to solving a problem.
In addition, when a company launches a successful new feature it’s just a matter of time, possibly a couple of weeks or months before every competitor has that feature.
So the biggest issue is understanding the story behind each product, and how each product can solve a problem with a different approach.
We strongly believe that each product has a story and a unique way of addressing a client’s problem and that's what you need to bring to the comparison page.
Q: How can SaaS businesses use research to create a narrative for your best-fit customers?
Federico: At Stack Against, we always try to create a specific narrative for each comparison page that we create, based on the combination of three main ideas.
Your positioning should be a combination of:
- Something you’re great at
- Something your competitors can’t match
- Something your customers care about
You need to be focusing on the strengths of your product. Because if you're going against a competitor and call themselves the fastest hosting solution, and they're known for that, then maybe you want to avoid that battle. You want to pick a different battle instead of talking about speed.
Your narrative also needs to be focused on something customers care about. Because if you're not talking about the things that customers care about, you're going to miss the mark entirely.
And that's where research becomes really helpful.
How Stack Against uses research to shape their comparison page narratives
Federico: At Stack Against, we go straight to the source to see what customers are saying about each competitor.
We dissect what they're saying, trying to understand different:
- Benefits that they expect from these tools.
- Objections that they have about these tools.
- Pain points that bring them to look for different solutions.
Once we do that, we can prioritise what they're saying about each competitor.
Finally, we come up with the strengths and the weaknesses for each one of our competitors. And then we compare that with our strengths.
In creating our story we combine the above three ideas—something you're good at, something your customers care about, and something your competitors can match.
That's how we come up with our big idea for the comparison page.
Q: How do you decide which features to talk about on a comparison page?
Federico: When a client has loads of features that they want to discuss, you have to decide what to leave out in order to achieve a reasonable length.
At the beginning of projects, Stack Against first discusses and captures the vision of the customers—that is, the founders, CEO’s, and lead marketers of the companies we work with.
After that, we always contrast their talking points with what we hear from users of the software, and from what they’re saying online.
There needs to be a match between what a company wants and what the customers want—you shouldn’t do a blanket list full of all the features just for the sake of it.
Federico’s top four tips on what features to include on your comparison page
1. Be selective about which features you highlight
One common mistake that comparison pages make is using a big comparison table full of Xs and checkmarks.
If you have a disruptive or innovative feature that really makes sense to highlight, then it should be on the page. Otherwise, be selective about the features you include in a comparison page.
2. Provide perspective for your features by choosing a ‘big idea’ for the entire page
Before people can even begin to compare features, they need some perspective about the problem being resolved.
Let’s say I'm kind of new to this space. Let's imagine that I'm making my first decision on which CRM I'm going to be using for my company.
If I just look at the features, I won’t understand the impact that all of those features are going to have.
If you suggest lead scoring, yet I don't know too much about the space, how will I know that lead scoring is going to help me? Do I even know what lead scoring means?
So before we get down to comparing features versus features, we need to provide the reader with an idea, a big idea that frames the content for the entire page.
It’s basically our way of telling them, ‘This is the way we think about your problem.’
If they connect with that, then everything else that they read throughout the page is going to be supporting that idea.
So you first need to make that emotional connection. After that, clients can start going through their ‘must have’ and ‘good to have’ lists of features in order to compare you with your competitors.”
3. Group features around themes
As a final note, I would say you don't need to cram every single feature that you want to sell on your comparison page. You should instead group certain features around themes.
For example, you could talk about speed, or you could talk about accuracy. Then discuss certain benefits that they’ll get from using your tool, around those topics.
We also always try to have a section that basically explains in a natural way, stuff that you can do with our product that you can't do with our competitors. That’s the point when we explain the kind of features you're going to get with our product and not theirs.
4. Update your comparison page regularly
Your competitors are going to be launching new features, and even you will change your own products. So, you should keep your comparison page updated.
Even so, make sure that you don't put everything in there. Only talk about your obvious wins—the problems that you’re solving.
Q: How important is good graphic design to comparison pages?
Federico: Visuals make comparison pages easier to navigate and fun. When thinking of comparison pages, most think of the comparison chart—the Xs and checkmarks. Now, because people lose interest at some point, we don't advise having a huge, infinite scrolling chart.
Therefore, we try to simplify how comparison charts look like. Clients would get overwhelmed with so many features, so we tried to create themed comparisons.
We also talk about pricing, and how—in comparison to our competitors—our pricing differs.
Or we can talk about, for instance, speed. Thereafter, we group the specific features that we have pertaining to speed. Smaller comparison charts are also created to make sure that the information is easy for people to understand and digest.
Another aspect of design in copywriting is ‘show not tell’. Illustrations, photos, animations, and videos can help contrast a product against a different one by showing you:
- How it accomplishes a task.
- How it sold an item.
- How a competitors specific feature works in comparison to yours.
Q: Most SaaS niches are quite crowded now, but there’s always the possibility that new markets will open up. How could a SaaS create a comparison page when it’s in a new market and can’t do the normal research you describe?
Federico: OK, so we’re talking about a new market where there are not a lot of well-established competitors, and not a lot of knowledge from the buyers.
In that case, don’t do competitor pages in the normal way we’re talking about now, which is the classic “us vs them” competitor page.
Because I think classic comparison pages work better for more sophisticated spaces where there's more knowledge around what you do. So instead, I would try to do it the way Slack did when they launched. They positioned themselves as the replacement for email.
Because if you’re an innovator in a new space, your biggest problem is going to be educating people around how you solve this problem and why they should trust you.
You have to go against the Status Quo. Show what you believe is a better way of approaching the problem. Which again, is the fundamentals of the product vs product comparison we’re discussing.
Another great example of this was hey from basecamp. When they launched, they had all these great manifestos on their home page saying ‘email is great, but all these companies ruined the way you work with it in your inbox, right? And they even call out like Gmail, Google, Yahoo, Apple, saying ‘they basically mess up your privacy, they're reading through all of your emails, everybody gets to spam your inbox, there's no way to prioritize how you work in your inbox, and all of these challenges’.
And they said, ‘we are solving all of these issues with a new way to think about your inbox’. So it was, again, the old way versus the new way.
So I would say, make a comparison, but don’t worry about comparison pages. That comes next. Talk about the new way of doing things, and make that your value proposition.
Q: So how much should you sculpt your page to to new people versus people who are jumping from another product? Or how do you make sure a page kind of speaks to both people who are new to this problem?
Federico: People looking at comparison pages basically come from two different perspectives:
- First time buyers.
- Those making the switch to a different vendor.
What's great about comparison pages is, chances are, someone who is interested in reading through a comparison page is more educated than somebody learning on your homepage. Or someone who landed on your blog and is reading top-of-funnel and middle-of funnel-content.
By clicking on your comparison page, a prospect reveals that they are actively considering either you or your competitor and are probably well past the education stage.
They know their problem. They know how many solutions are out there in that space and they just want to get to the final stage of choosing between you or your competitor.
So, even though they may be new to this base, they've already been doing their research. So you can cut you can cut to the chase more, and you can go straight to saying ‘this is what we know about our competitors’. And hopefully, when you state the problem with the prospect’s competitors, it resonates with what they already have in mind and what they've already been researching.
So let's say they've been looking at online reviews and they see a lot of people complaining about Salesforce, for example. They are reading that it’s super clunky to use right and it’s hard to get started with. And then they go to your comparison page, and big story is ‘we are the Salesforce alternative that it's easy to use’.
And that’s where you win the conversion. You can cut to the chase faster, because these are visitors that are more educated than your usual home page visitor.
Jon: Great. And I think that really ties into just making sure you really understand what people are looking for and what you can what problem you can solve that your, your comparison searchers are fed up with in that moment.
I think these answers are going to be super helpful to anyone who's creating a comparison page. So thank you so much for your time.
Q: Where can people find you online?
Federico: I appreciate you inviting me. I always love talking about comparison pages and, and just competitive advertising in general. I think it's a it's a great topic.
People can find us at StackAgainst.com. I'm also on LinkedIn, and you can find me on Facebook too. For anybody that wants to reach out and talk about comparison pages, I'm always down for that.
Key Takeaways from this interview
- Don’t just rely on templates and generic headlines—tell a unique story on every comparison page
- Start by researching what customers say about both you and your competitor
- Build a ‘big idea’ around an area where you’re strong and the competitor is weak (ensuring it’s also something customers care about)
- Be selective about the features you highlight, grouping them into themes
- Use illustrations, photos, videos and animations to help tell your comparison story