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What’s the Difference Between Features and Benefits and Why Does It Matter?
Copywriting / 05 Apr 2022
How does stand-out marketing copy sell so many products? By communicating the benefits and/or features of a product or service in a clever and succinct way.
This ensures prospects quickly and easily find out exactly what they need to know. But it can also create connection and ultimately be the first step in building brand loyalty. And that’s why any copywriting service worth their salt has a firm grip on the difference between features and benefits. It matters if you want conversions.
Get features and benefits confused and the power of your messaging (the power to convert) is lost.
So what is the difference between benefits and features? And when should you use one or the other?
What is a feature?
A feature is a functionality or attribute of your product or service. It can be something your product has or something it can do.
Listing features helps describe your offering to people seeking a specific product or service.
In most cases, it’s important to show off features because they’re a part of the product that can be supported by data collected via testing and measurement.
People looking for a particular product or service often want quantified information that shows its usefulness. For example, what is the speed of a broadband connection or the cashmere content of a jumper.
What is a benefit?
On the other hand, a benefit is how a product or service can enhance or add value to a person’s life.
Typically, benefits answer what the product or service can do for someone. Listing the benefits of a product can be especially important when its features are highly technical.
For example, if you talk about the speed of a broadband connection, not everyone will understand how fast is fast enough for their purposes. But if you mention that the whole family can stream Netflix at the same time without someone’s show freezing, they’ll understand how valuable that feature is to them.
What is the difference between benefits and features?
It can be easy to get benefits and features confused. Even great marketers use them interchangeably by accident.
Features are what the product or service does, aiming to show how it’s different from the competition.
Benefits show why those features matter and how they’ll improve the target audience’s lives.
For example, a coffee cup’s feature may be that it’s reusable. The benefit, however, is that using it helps the planet and may save you some money when you buy your morning coffee.
Features vs benefits: when to use which
As any good copywriting agency will tell you, it’s best to lead with benefits when writing copy.
While a list of features is important – it gives people the key information they need to make a purchase – it’s almost always the benefits that result in those all-important conversions.
Benefits typically compel people to purchase as they can envision the advantages the product or service would bring them in their lives. Instead of thinking about that high broadband speed, they are dreaming about streaming their favourite show in HD, and that’s something worth leaning into.
That said, it’s also important to know that in some cases, features can help sway a consumer – especially in a saturated market.
For example, a meal-delivery company in London will have plenty of competition. After all, big-name brands like HelloFresh and Mindful Chef are already on the market.
For most of these companies, the benefits are similar – meal services help people save time, offer nutritious meals, and so on.
A newcomer to the playing field could communicate their brand’s competitive advantage by listing unique, one-of-a-kind features to stand out. For instance, highlighting a specific cuisine, offering a lower price point than their competitors, pushing their sustainability credentials, or presenting a certain perk such as a free dessert or discount with a purchase.
Features are not only useful for your ideal customer, but they are also a great tool to utilise in SEO content writing.
Benefits work well for products already within a niche market or for ‘drier’ topics.
Product benefits should answer the following questions:
- How does the product or service work?
- How does the product or service improve a person’s life?
Transforming features into benefits
If you want to focus on benefits, it’s best to determine your features first and work from there.
The best way to transform features into benefits is to ask each feature: ‘So what? Why should anyone care? What’s the big deal?’
Answering some of the following questions can also guide you to your benefits:
- What specific pain point of theirs does the product solve?
- How does the product make their life better, easier, more successful, and more enjoyable?
- What value does the product add?
- What’s unique about the product?
- How will the product improve their business, world, and life?
- What, specifically, do your existing loyal customers rave about?
Just consider Mindful Chef. Their tagline doesn’t say ‘Healthy meal kits delivered to your doorstep’ (feature, feature, feature) but ‘Get healthy. Save time. Reduce waste’ (benefit, benefit, benefit).
That’s an easy example but in reality, it can be difficult to pull out the benefits from a list of complex features. This is where a copywriting service can help. Stuff like this is our bread and butter.
Applying benefits and features in your copywriting
In the battle of features vs benefits, there is no single winner. Either marketing method can be applied to almost any product or service.
So, next time you create landing page copy for your product or email copy for your service, determine what you want to say to your audience and work out which messaging method will work best. You may find that you want to use both features and benefits, but try not to overwhelm your reader with information.
Always ask yourself ‘does this ad convey features or benefits?’ It’s essential to know the difference so your audience picks up clear messaging that shows why they should choose your product or service over the other guy’s.
Need some help with your messaging? We’re a copywriting agency that can make your copy sparkle and most importantly, convert. Get in touch with us today to find out how.
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