Brands use the alternative page strategy to boost trust and “steal” clients from their competitors. Chances are you’ve seen tens of these pages and even bought some products because of them.
There are 2 main reasons why founders may be reluctant of this strategy:
- They believe these pages trash-talk their competitors. This is FALSE. The idea behind an alternative page is to be objective and use facts when comparing products. The copy should let the reader make the decision, not the other way around.
- They believe that these pages sound too much like self-promotion, but this is not a bad thing. The alternative page’s copy goes over both the pros and cons of each product. Also, your readers are not stupid, they know they’re being sold to. Just be sure not to go overboard with the pitch and you might end up with a new customer.
People are most likely to purchase when they are aware of the problem you solve, they understand why your solution is superior, they can afford it, and they feel they can rely on you.
By following the “alternative page” strategy you will be able to capture high intent traffic, and, more often than not, convert it on the spot.
In this article I will go over:
- What this strategy is about (jump to section);
- How and why you should implement it (jump to section);
- How this type of content worked on a brand new website (jump to section).
What is an “alternative page”?
An “alternative page” is a piece of content that compares you against one or more of your competitors.
This page should go over all the features and benefits your ideal customer is looking for and show them why you are better than the competition.
There are 2 categories of “alternative” pages:
- One on One Comparisons – use this page to compare your brand against the biggest players in your niche. This type of page can also be used as a PPC landing page.
- Multiple Comparisons – use this type of page to highlight the advantages of your product and make it stand out from the crowd.
These pages allow you to get in front of people that are actively looking for a BETTER solution to their problem and already know what others are offering. The search intent is to convert, so you can consider these pages from middle to bottom of the funnel.
Through these pages, you can even outrank your competitors because of the focus keyword you use. In fact, the process of choosing these keywords is rather straightforward.
This is what you have to do.
Hijack branded keywords
This strategy is widely used in PPC campaigns. Try searching for a big brand’s name (like “Mailchimp”) and you’ll see a whole lot of ads from their competitors.
On the other hand, if you’re searching for a brand name + alternative, the intent behind your search is to find a better solution to your problem.
As a rule of thumb, whenever you decide to start using this strategy, be sure to go after the biggest competitor or the one that recently got funding.
A little while ago I’ve worked with a client in the project management niche. One of their biggest competitors raised a rather large amount of money in their Series B funding and doubled down on their PPC efforts. This resulted in a lot of new users coming their way, but as you can expect, some of them were not happy with the product.
Most of these users started to actively search for alternatives. Needless to say, the alternative page quickly filled up the sales pipeline and generated a lot of conversions.
This happened because the page went over what makes Product A better than Product B and answered the right questions.
Show what makes you better
Trash-talking competitors will surely backfire.
People don’t want to hear how bad others are, they need to know why you are better.
Make a list of the most common problems your product solves and use it as a reference for your comparison. To get your point across you should aim for the biggest advantage you carry over your competitors.
Here are the most common things new products do better than old ones:
- Price – If you go against a billion-dollar company, chances are you might offer a better price just to get your first users. To get the point across you have to clearly show what features are included in your pricing plan. Make them feel confident that you can deliver the same things as your competitors, but for a lower price.
- Ease of use – Price is not always the decisive factor when users look for a better alternative to a product. Ease of use and accessibility also play a role. If your product does a better job at onboarding customers and helps them figure out things on their own, then you should lead with it. For example, Shopify is pricier than WooCommerce, but it’s way easier to set up by non-tech users.
- Customer service – Customer service plays a crucial role. If you have live chat available in multiple languages make sure to point it out. Depending on your specific niche, this might not be a decisive factor, so it all comes down to what your customers are looking for.
These are 3 general differentiators you can use to compare yourself against your competitors. I haven’t included features as they are product-specific. This makes them hard to generalize.
You have to analyze your competitors and buyer persona to generate a list of features users look for. The whole process of creating an alternative page will be way smoother once you’ve done that.
To increase the chances of ranking, you need a clear and to-the-point alternative page, with all comparisons metrics explained. You want to tell users why they should pick you and let them make the decision.
This strategy focuses on ready-to-buy users
Who is going to search for an alternative to a product? People that acknowledge they have a problem and know there is a solution, but want something better.
In addition, the sole purpose of an “alternative page” is to provide users with all the facts they need to make a decision and give another product a try. That’s why these pages are so powerful.
That’s not all, compared to other pieces of content, you can recycle the same template over and over. You can create multiple alternative pages targeting different branded keywords. This is great in case a new competitor appears out of nowhere, as you can quickly put together a page that goes after their brand name.
Reach results faster by using a template
Almost all “alternative pages” feature the same template, with small variations here and there.
We’ve analyzed hundreds of websites throughout the years and conducted extensive competitors’ analyses. Based on the experience we’ve gathered so far we’ve created an easy-to-follow “alternative page” template that works regardless of industry.
In essence, an “alternative page” should contain these sections:
- Introduction of competitor – A small 100 to 200 words introductory paragraph about the competitor you want to go after. People already know what that brand does so don’t go into too much detail. You want to lay down the problem it solves and make it instantly relevant to your readers.
- Comparison table – This allows users to instantly get an overview of the most important features they need and quickly compare you against everyone else. You can think of this in the same way you would think of a pricing table, it helps users quickly see what they get for each price point.
- Competitor explanation section (one for each competitor) – Here you will briefly introduce the competitor. At the end of the section, you want to add Pros and Cons in a bulleted list format to further get your point across. You should have a section for each one of your competitors.
- Your section – this is perhaps the most important part of the alternative page. Here’s where you go over what makes you a better choice than everyone else. You can place this section above the first competitor one or immediately after. To truly understand what position is better, you will have to A/B test it.
- Conclusion – the last section of the page should conclude the points you made above and close with a CTA pointing to your product page. If people reach this point, chances are they are not yet convinced and need more information. This is the perfect time to direct them to a more persuasive page that offers a great solution to their problem.
If you decide to start with the first type of alternative page that I presented (one-on-one comparison) you can also use it as a landing page for a PPC campaign.
Get a conversion-ready PPC landing page
It’s common practice to go after branded keywords when you run paid search campaigns. It’s also quite common to create a landing page for each campaign.
The problem with this approach is that most brands try to sell their products without even analyzing the user intent. Think of it this way, someone who is looking for an alternative to a product knows there are multiple options available. They need to understand how your solution is better than others and why they should give you a try.
If your landing page doesn’t tackle this, you might end up wasting a lot of money.
On the other hand, if your page helps users make a calculated decision your conversion rate will go through the roof.
Since you have already created a persuasive “alternative page”, you can always use it as a PPC landing page.
Besides, if you are just starting, most users will be reluctant to give you their credit card. It doesn’t matter what you write if people don’t trust you. Trust is a decisive factor in the conversion process.
Boost trust, increase conversions
A quick way to boost trust is to associate your name with established businesses. And what better way to do so other than an “alternative page”.
You want to make your brand look familiar but innovative at the same time. The fastest way to achieve this is by comparing yourself with a big player in your industry. You want to show what makes you a better choice by explaining to users what you do better than your competition. Ideally, you should also clearly state what feature is unique to you and nobody else has it.
We used everything I described so far to apply the “alternative page” strategy on a brand new website, and the results we got were interesting.
We applied the “Alternative page” strategy on a new website
At the beginning of 2021, we took on the challenge to create and market a shipment tracking Shopify app. We worked with these types of apps before, but this was the first time we created one.
Our main selling point was the app loading speed and how it can adapt to all Shopify themes.
We created a brand new website. Our strategy was to create hyper-targeted content, attract and educate merchants and then sell our app.
As with any new venture, we had some wins and losses. One of the things that worked was the “alternative page” strategy.
This is how we applied the strategy, which is closely related to how we approach content marketing at Chillital.
While you plan your “alternative pages” strategy you have to take into consideration:
- Your biggest competitors – to target their branded keywords;
- Your biggest selling point – to give users a reason why they should pick you;
- Your customer’s pain points – to give them the solution and close the deal;
Put your findings in a Google Doc and move on to the next step.
Decide on a goal
Our goal was to help people understand why we are better than our main competitor.
We decided to pick this goal based on a previous market analysis. We noticed that the vast majority of people were asking the same questions over and over again: why should they pick us instead of AfterShip, which was their shipping information provider.
As we kept discussing with prospects, we noted down the most important features they were looking for. We then bundled everything and created the Aftership Alternative page which we shared with anyone that had second thoughts about giving our app a try.
Your goal has to be based on your growth stage. In our case, we wanted to show users why we are better than a single competitor. You can aim to capture emails or get leads if people already know your brand well.
Choose the right angle and outline the page
Based on your goal, it’s time to choose the right angle. Say you want to capture emails and enroll users in an email sequence. You have to carefully integrate a few CTAs inside the page at natural breakpoints.
Alternatively, say you want to educate people about the products in your niche and why they need them. In our case, this was one of the angles we approached.
We noticed people knew about AfterShip but didn’t understand why they need it. They heard about it from friends and fellow merchants checked the pricing and looked for a cheaper alternative.
In addition to positioning ourselves as a better alternative, we also had to explain why a shipment tracking app is important.
With this information in mind and after we picked an angle, we created the page outlined and moved on to write it.
Create the page
This step is pretty self-explanatory. You want to write the first draft, then add a few images and spice things up with a few CTAs.
We created a 1000-word page featuring:
- A comparison table;
- Side-by-side comparison of the most important features (with supportive copy);
- Our best features and their benefits;
- CTA pointing to the App Store.
Make sure to go over your draft again, edit and publish it.
Analyze the data to understand your results
You have the alternative page up and running, now you have to check its stats and optimize it.
We managed to rank on the second page of Google for the “AfterShip alternative” keyword. This might not sound like a lot, but it was an achievement considering we just launched the website a few weeks before.
The website had a domain rating of 0, which means no authority in the internet world. We’d normally expect content to rank after 3 months in these cases.
This was our highest-ranking BOFU keyword. As a side note, all other keywords we ranked for were targeting TOFU users.
You should keep an eye on rankings and conversions, run A/B tests and keep optimizing your page.
Who is the “Alternative page” strategy for
We found that the “alternative page” strategy works best for SaaS businesses that innovate in their niche.
These types of pages help ready-to-buy users understand why your product is better than others in the market. In addition, you shoot two birds with one stone. You can use this page as a PPC landing all while it generates organic traffic.
Moreover, it helps you increase trust because users will subconsciously associate your brand with the biggest players in your industry.
You can also actively promote the page organically on Reddit, Quora, and even Facebook Groups. You will surely attract new customers by positioning yourself as a new and better alternative to old players.
Try the “alternative page” strategy today
Now you have all the knowledge you need to start creating your own “alternative pages”. The sooner you get them published, the faster you can start generating traffic and sales.
We can create these pages for you as a part of our content marketing service. Find out more about us!