Reading this great post from Henneke I thought that traditional Marketers get it (the difference among Features, Benefits and Value) but not all online marketers and entrepreneurs do. And it's important.
Understanding what are each and when to use them is crucial for CRO success, so let's talk about them a little bit.
Features are plain and simple characteristics of your product which are easy to compare with other competitors, like facts and specifications. The millage per gallon of a car, the megapixels of a camera or the services that your software provides are examples of features.
What are Features for?
A common startup mistake is to use features to explain your product right in the home page, using features to "explain what it does".
Features are for experts and users who are very late on the purchase process (evaluating the best option for them). Only these users have the expertise to understand what this features mean in terms of benefits and value for them.
Let me phrase it in a different way: The more you know about the product, the more important the features are. And if you don't know much about it (for me, 3d printers, Smart bracelets and make up), features are really not that important (and they can be harming conversions by confusing us more).
You are probably an expert online hotel booking user and the "features" of the room are crucial for you: wifi, location, parking, tv size, etc.. But if you were buying something you don't really know about (let's say an air compresor) you don't care that much about features, you will probably focus on price, brand, reviews and other factors.
It'd be easy to show an example of "features" with a physic product, so let's use something more challenging like Booking.com. What are the "features" of Booking.com? The number of properties they list. This is a cold fact.
If Features are cold facts, Benefits are the objective advantages of the product. Advantages that no-one would argue.
Using the previous Booking.com example, the Feature is to have 599,305 properties listed. The Benefit, tho, is that "You have all the properties in one place" or "Booking lists more properties than anyone else". Notice how this fades into a value prop.
The thing to highlight about Benefits is that they are straight forward, and almost no-one would argue them, but still need to be told! Many websites stop in features and don't mention the benefits of their products. The secret is to find what Benefits of your product are unique and can't be easily replicated by your competitors.
What are benefits for?
Benefits are used to persuade and convince your user to make a purchase decision. Is the previous step in the purchase process to "alternative evaluation". Therefore benefits are specially useful when your product is still not very well known or understood and you need to help understand what it makes, what advantage it means for the user.
Features and Benefits are objective. They are what they are. If something is cheaper, will help you save money. Period. If something is faster will help you to have more time. Easy.
Value, in the other hand, is personal and subjective. Value is how the product benefit impacts in each and every user. Value is highly dependent on the user motivation. Value is the deal, features and benefits can't work if we don't communicate what's the value of our product for our user.
"Save time" ain't no value. Really. Is a benefit. The value is what that "saved" time means to you. Only to you. Spending more time with your family, with your lover, building plastic WW2 models or playing poker online. Whatever it means for you.
Let's see an example from Freshbooks.com:
Notice how the Green boxes refer to values "What would you do with extra time?" / "Double the revenue in 24 moths" and the red box is just a Benefit "Get paid Faster". Yeah, so what?
What is Value for?
Value is for super early stages. Value is the first thing that a user needs to get from your product. What specific / personal problem are you solving and how are you making your user's life so much better it's worth paying for. Some great products fail not because of features or benefits, but for value. Can you tell me what's the value for you of Google Glass or Apple's Watch? Status? well, then you got me there! Status is a perfect valid value.
In short: If your product is new, don't start with features, start with the value (uhmm that can easily correlate with Simon Sinek). Don't asume that everyone get's it.
The difference is subtile, but crucial.