I am writing a Comparison Post about Mobile POS Terminals for my demonstration site: PaymentMonkey.net and I want it to be compelling.
I am writing this tutorial post at the same time as I write the PaymentMonkey comparison post, putting all the suggestions I describe here into practice. You can follow the processes in this article and then make your own assessment of the results based on the actual Mobile POS Comparison.
Once we’re finished, we’ll understand how a comparison post can be structured and we’ll be able to look at a real comparison post that was written based on these guidelines … and we’ll also know which Mobile POS device to buy should we be so inclined.
For those who are not familiar with POS – or Point-of-Sale – devices, they are the little boxes with buttons that merchants present to you when you need to make a card payment. You can either insert the card into the device and enter your PIN, or tap it on the contactless reader. The choices available will depend on the value of the transaction.
A Mobile POS Device delivers exactly the same services as a fixed, retail Point of Sale device but it is connected, usually via Bluetooth, to a Mobile Phone. The mobile phone is necessary to fulfil the communication elements of the transaction … without it, card payments cannot be completed.
Just so you know, this is the sort of thing that we’re going to be comparing, but you can compare anything you like.
What is a Comparison Post
A Comparison Post is an article that compares two or more similar products or services … for the benefit of the reader!
For the purpose of researching and writing this article, I am going to be comparing a number of UK Mobile POS devices, and writing a Comparison Post. The subject matter means that it is going to be somewhat UK-centric, but then most comparisons will be subject to some degree of geographical constraint. The principles behind the application of the Comparison Post can, however, be applied everywhere.
Why should I write a Comparison Post?
Comparison posts can be super helpful to your readers … and they can also form part of your Affiliate Marketing strategy. So if your Comparison Post is constructed and presented properly, it can be super helpful to you too!
Writing a Comparison Post can be an ideal opportunity to expand your knowledge and increase the information content of your website at the same time. The Comparison Post will help your readers, it will help to attract more readers and will improve your rankings by growing your Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-A-T) scores.
If you dig around, you would quickly draw the conclusion that the Internet runs on commissions being paid by one organisation for leads and sales driven by another. Your Comparison Post pages are at the top of your funnel to this nice little earner. You can learn stuff, you can help people make decisions and you can make some cash. The Comparision Post is a feature of your Blog that is worth thinking about.
Who should read a Comparison Post?
People read comparison posts to save themselves time, and they are able to save themselves time because someone else has already done most of the heavy lifting. The Product Decision lifecycle follows five steps: Identification and recognition of the problem followed by research into the potential solutions, then comparison and assessment of the solutions followed by a decision to purchase, and finally a feedback cycle assessing the success.
All five steps are necessary in the process but if you’re in a hurry, you can get away with just Step 1 and Step 4 on the grounds that someone else has covered the other three!
A good Comparision Post will allow your reader to bypass the time-consuming research phases and to jump straight to the Purchase Decision – this is why trust is so important. Your readers must believe that you have done the research diligently and that it has been presented without bias.
Whilst Feedback is the last of the decision maker’s activities, and it’s last because you can’t do Feedback until after the product has been purchased and used, Feedback from other users can be extracted from review sites and incorporated into the Product Research.
People are usually more than happy to read a Comparison Post … if it saves them time.
This is what the Internet is all about and in a small way, you can add to the sum of human knowledge and add value to the lives of others. The internet is successful because it connects people looking for information and answers with people who have the information and answers. There is a relationship between the two groups and the relationship is maintained by the search engines.
What makes a Comparison Post compelling?
It is absolutely about the Post, make no mistake, but it’s just as much about the Headline. What makes a post compelling in the first instance is the Headline! If the Headline isn’t compelling enough to elicit a click, it really doesn’t matter how compelling your post might be … no one is going to see it.
Writing a Compelling Headline
If no one feels compelled to read your post, it really doesn’t matter how compelling your post might be.
If your post is going to attract readers, it’s going to need a strong headline … and a strong headline is one that carries with it some emotion and one that gives the promise of some benefit.
Each and every one of your headlines should convey a clear benefit to the reader. I saw somewhere a refrence to the 4 Us of headline writing:
- Ultra Specific
So … I am going to be writing about how to choose a Mobile POS – interesting?
What is more interesting is that I am actually writing it at the same time as I am writing this.
And … to be honest, I chose the subject because I have spent a long time in the Payments Industry, and this MobilePOS stuff does interest me.
So much so that I think I would like to reflect these feelings in the title: How to fall in love with your first Mobile POS
Write a Compelling Post
You need to grab the attention of your reader.
Your headline has already done a lot of the work as it’s managed to draw them to your Post … and it’s drawn them to your Post with expectations. This is a good thing.
The Featured Image is a picture that is associated with a specific post and will be displayed prominently when the post is served. It should grab the attention and draw the reader to the article.
I have had a look around some of the Graphics Sites and found this picture and the POS icons on Snappa, so I thought I would use them. Mobile POS is associated with outside retailing, and Camden Market in London is very fashionable.
The Snappa link and the link in the picture are both affiliate links. I thought I would try them out since I do use Snappa and it seems pretty good. Follow the next link if you are interested in Affiliate Marketing and would like to know some more about applying the principles of Affiliate Marketing to your site.
Writing your Comparison Post Opening Paragraphs
The Opening Paragraphs are your introduction and they should draw the reader in, giving them an idea of what they can expect and making them want to read more. Broadly speaking, you want to:
- Grab the Reader’s Attention
- Set the Scene
- Pose the Question
The first part of my introduction is an attention grabber, which is then followed by a couple of paragraphs outlining the subject before ending with a statement about the purpose of the post.
The introduction should give the reader the assurance that they have landed in the right place, and the confidence to carry on reading. The reader will probably be skimming the text, as is the nature of reading on the Internet so the Headline should grab, the Featured Image should grab and the Opening Paragraph should grab.
We can assume that the subject matter we have provided is broadly in line with what the reader is looking for as Google (other Search Engines are available) will have assessed the Search Results as being appropriate responses to the questions being asked.
In this example, I have chosen to adopt a somewhat frivolous tone, in the style of the PaymentMonkey, for the first paragraph. The Opening Paragraph is congruous with the Headline but incongruous with the subject matter. Hopefully, this lighthearted shock tactic will help draw the reader into the body of the post.
An alternative approach would be to state, very briefly, the result of the comparison … and the reasons why the forerunner has been chosen as the forerunner. Here, the reader has been provided with the answer they are searching for quickly, and they can follow through the arguments behind the conclusion at their own pace, should they want to. In the case of the Mobile POS example, an alternative opening paragraph might look something like this:
Not that long ago, it seemed that every payment organisation was in the process of developing some sort of Mobile POS device. It looked like there was potentially going to be a lot of competition with so many devices to choose from but since the early days, market forces seem to have acted in favour of only a few. It wasn’t the result that I expected when I began this comparison but for me, the clear forerunner in the MobilePOS race is the device that was developed by sumup. As an all-round payment performer, it is a clear leader and the merchant pricing is more than enough to give the competition a run for its money.
Both approaches have their merit and I am not prescribing any particular direction. There are no rules, there are only guidelines.
Choosing your Comparison Subjects
This is going to depend a lot on your knowledge of the subject matter although there is nothing inherently wrong with writing a comparison post about items that you were not previously familiar with. I refer the reader back to an earlier statement about using the writing of a Comparison Post as a means of expanding your knowledge of a subject. However you approach the writing of your Comparison Post, you will need to do some research and you will need to take notes and you will need to present what you have found. In short, your efforts are going to help your readers by saving them time. If you have done the research and you have presented your thoughts properly and fairly, you will be adding value … and you can’t ask for much more than that.
The subject of Mobile Point-of-Sale devices is one of my areas of expertise, though it’s a while since I was heavily involved in their development or implementation. The basic principles, however, haven’t changed much and the underlying operation and human interface designs are pretty much the same as they have always been. There have been some changes, but they are beyond the scope of this article and are not particularly relevant to the exercise. Bear this in mind when you are making your comparison selection.
I began with a Google search on Mobile POS in the UK because my intention is to make this a UK-centric post. If my initial searches reveal that this is the wrong approach, then I can always change it. I also have an Affiliate Marketing angle in mind, but I don’t want that to unreasonably bias the article. In my book, honesty sells.
Define your Subject Scope
You probably have an idea as to what you want to compare and what the comparison results might be, but keep an open mind. Maybe make a list to help keep you on track. If you are searching the Internet, you may find you are presented with more than you can usefully manage … and things you hadn’t considered. Don’t let your subject scope creep.
The first thing I noticed in my search results was the range of products presented back to me by Google didn’t line up with my expectations. Was this an opportunity to expand my knowledge of the subject, or was there someting I was missing?
As it happens, I wasn’t missing anything. The Google search did indeed return what was essentially an assortment of Mobile POS devices, but they were not quite the devices I was expecting. In this example, the reason for the extended range of options was down to the interpretation of the word “Mobile“. A lot of the POS devices used currently are not tethered by wire – which was the case in the past – and these apparently have now been lumped into the industry’s “Mobile” category. You can see why … but it doesn’t help. Mobile POS has been infiltrated by Mobile POS!
When I set out to do the research and write this comparison, I had in mind the card payment devices that can be connected to a mobile phone via Bluetooth. These devices provide a stand-alone, cost-effective payment solution for small merchants.
So, I have refined the scope of my comparison and I am considering only products that use the mobile technologies of cellphones. The post will be a comparison of products that can deliver a stand-alone POS service using only a phone, a card reader (contact and contactless) and maybe some associated charging device. Here, the cellphone component is the key, and it’s also the limiting factor as all devices to be compared must operate over the mobile networks (GSM).
But there’s more …
Some manufacturers have combined all the essential components of a Mobile POS into a single package. I shall therefore also be including these in the comparison.
So, in order to qualify for inclusion in this particular comparison, the products must:
- be available in the United Kingdom
- communicate via the GSM network (WIFI is acceptable as an extra)
- support contact and contactless payment cards
- be self-contained (either as a stand-alone device or as a mobile phone and card reader)
Note: The diagrams in this section, which are used in the payment monkey comparison post, were created using Snappa. Diagrams are important for conveying messages and information … and they also help to break up the monotony of text, resulting in a more visually appealing article.
List the Product Features
The next thing is to choose which of the product features you are going to highlight. As a starting point, you might consider:
- the cost of purchase
- the costs associated with using the product
- key features
- what others have said in reviews
- value for money
For a Mobile POS device, it is my opinion that the key product features are going to be reliability and usability. Pricing will be important but it is not going to be the primary consideration given the potential for disruption that can result from a failing checkout device – reliability and usability are much more important. For my Mobile POS comparison post, I shall therefore be concentrating primarily on the look and feel. I haven’t done the research yet but because of the market, I suspect there isn’t going to be much of a pricing differential.
One of the reasons people are reading your Comparison Post is for the expertise that you bring; one of the reasons your post is presented in the first place is that Google thinks you have expertise to bring. Make sure that you are adding value.
Research your Comparison Post
Now you have yourself a framework, it’s time to go searching … and remember, Google is your friend.
- Company Websites
- Review Sites
You might want to adopt a similar research approach for each of your comparison subjects. If you go chasing rabbits down rabit holes, you may well end up with points of view that are interesting but which you can’t easily compare.
Approach your research as a reiterative task. With each iteration comes an increase in your knowledge and the more that you know, the more theat you read will make sense.
It’s good if you can get something out of this exercise for yourself. I know quite a lot about POS systems and because of this, I understand what a Mobile POS device must be capable of delivering. As I have been doing the research for the Mobile POS comparison post, I have been able to update my knowledge and learn about the latest technologies. I especially like the stand-alone option that doesn’t need to be paired with a separate mobile phone, and which uses the data transmission capabilities of the mobile network, without voice!
After all your efforts, you should end up with a heap of information, possibly in no particular order. Your job is to present that information to a reader so that they can benefit from the research without having had to do the research. You are adding value to the sum tottal of human knowledge, via the Internet.
Format your Comparison Post
The final format of your Comparison Post will depend on your writing style and on the website theme, but the function of the formatting is to take the heap of information that you have amassed and present it in a logical and straightforward manner to the reader. The reader has a decision to make and is doing their research. They are probably unfamiliar with the subject and are looking for an unbiased perspective on the options that are open to them. They will spot a sales pitch a mile off and if they are not looking for a sales pitch, they are unlikely to hang around.
Showing bias will destroy trust … and trust is hard to come by, so don’t destroy it!
Make use of tables and images, which are great for comparison purposes, and make sure that you use plenty of headings and lists, with bullet points.
Obvious stuff maybe, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
We have written the introduction and the opening paragraphs. Now we need to make the case for each product, and then we need to compare them.
Components of the Comparison Post
- Pros and Cons
Start with an Introduction
This is where you get to convince your audience that they have come to the right place.
Before you start, make sure that you are comfortable with your target audience and that you are writing to their level. If it’s too simple, they will get bored and move on; if it’s too complex, they will get frightened and move on. You need to adopt a Goldilocks position and write to the personas you have already developed and defined.
Set the scene. There are going to be questions and there will be problems to address. A good start to show your readers that you may have the answers is to show that you recognise their situation by showing that you understand the questions.
Follow the Introduction with a List
I am starting with a list of the products that I shall be featuring in the Comparison Post. In the case of the Mobile POS example, I am hoping that the reader has at least heard of one or two of the devices. If they have, they already have a connection, which will then serve to draw them in further.
If your reader already knows something of the subject matter, seeing something they recognise will help them confirm their investment in the process. They are feeling involved, they are feeling like they are in the right place and they are feeling like they want to learn more.
First, explain what you are including in the list and how the list was derived. In my example, I have stated that I have excluded anything that doesn’t operate across the mobile phone networks, and I have given my reasons. I have therefore included only mobile devices that are either self-contained or are linked to each other via Bluetooth (or maybe a short wire).
I have then listed the devices.
You can use a standard bulleted list, like this one:
- List Item Number One
- List Item Number Two
- List Item Number Three
- List Item Number Four
- List Item Number Five
Or, you can use the alternative table approach, which will give you something like this:
|Item Number One||A very short description of item Number One.|
|Item Number Two||Another short description, but without giving too much away.|
|Item Number Three||Same again, but try not to use the same words. Keep it interesting.|
|Item Number Four||Writing short descriptions will become easier as you practice.|
|Item Number Five||A description of item Number Five that doesn’t repeat anything you have already mentioned.|
Each device to be compared will be given its own bit of introductory text. There could also be space for pictures and logos, dependent upon the theme being used and the available space. The Product Listing for the MobilePOS example can be seen here.
Comparison Post Body Text
The Body Text includes the sections where the description, including the features of each product (or service), is presented. Now you may be trying to promote a particular item here … or maybe you’re not, but in either case, your writing should be presented without bias. A biased account of the comparison will come across as a sales pitch, and people are not reading your article for the sales pitch, they are reading it for the advice … so they can make the decision themselves.
The Comparison Post body text should include, for each item:
- a description,
- some pictures,
- product features,
- and where necessary … evidence.
Third-party opinions are important as they bring additional value to the comparision. The more information that you can present to your reader, the less likely they are to want to look elsewhere.
Comparison Post Comparisons
This is where you get the chance to compare and contrast the different product options, it is essentially the discussion part of the post.
You should probably include a table showing how the features of each of the products compare. It’s not compulsory but it will help both you and your readers to assimilate the information, and it will give you something to refer back to when you draw your conclusions and present your recommendations.
You may also wish to include some sort of decision tree to help your readers follow your thought process. You should be a little cautious here as what begins as an aid to the thought process could very easily turn into something that looks like a hard sell.
The idea of the comparison is to take the content from the previous sections and work through the information already presented in a thorough but engaging manner.
You should not be adding any new information in this section … so if you do come up with something new, like a feature that you had previously missed, you should return to the previous sections and add it. Then you can come back and discuss it. The reader won’t feel like they have missed something.
Comparison Post Conclusions
Here you should summerise the main points. Including hints of what you were discussing previously will help re-engage the reader.
Your conclusions should bring together the key points and then lead the reader to your recommendations. What you don’t want is a reader looking at your conclusions and wondering how you reached them.
You should be using the information already presented to lead your reader through your thought process to draw for themselves a conclusion that you are both comfortable with.
This article describes the composition and construction of a Comparison Post: a post that compares a collection of similar products or services using a systematic approach. A Comparison Post should save time for the reader by providing them with all the information they would have otherwise found for themselves, but quicker!
The Comparison Post should add value. It should add value to you, the writer, as you learn more about your subject. It should add value for the reader by presenting solid information in an easily accessible format, providing answers and saving time.
The Comparison Post should be full of verifiable – and interesting – facts about the products and services you are discussing, and they should be presented in parallel with a logical flow from the initial product list to the final product choice.
You need to grab the reader’s interest, and take them on a journey … with you. As long as you are interested and excited, they will be too.
The text should be well written and engaging, and don’t forget the headline … it’s the headline that will encourge the reader in search of an answer to click on your answer.
And don’t forget … it doesn’t matter how good the article is if the headline isn’t!
The Comparison Post delivers the information the reader is looking for using a well-organised, methodical approach that doesn’t feel like a hard sell, which it shouldn’t be.
And Finally …
Give yourself some time to proof-read everyting you have written. Check for grammar and for a consistency in the style. You don’t want the article to feel like it’s been written by a committee! You should ensure that your conclusions really do match the brief … and that you have provided enough supporting evidence to give the reader confidence in your judgement.
Try reading your article to yourself – out loud. You will find that if there are any errors, there is a good chance that they will jump out from the page and introduce themselves. You will also find yourself tripping up over clumsy sentences. Listen carefully and you can correct the errors before you publish.
Remember … a Comparison Post is valuable to the reader who is wanting to assess a set of possible options. Don’t forget, the reader is valuable to you.
Make it look like you care!