When it comes to ecommerce, the copy you create has a direct effect on your conversions.
No matter what you sell, you need to be able to nail your copywriting strategy on every single channel. In this article, I’ll go over some of the key things that e-commerce brands need to know when it comes to copywriting.
What You’ll Learn:
- How copywriting differs from content
- What kind of copy drives conversions
- How psychological triggers effect copy
- How to write ecommerce copy that speaks to your personas
- Ecommerce copywriting best practices
- Ecommerce SEO best practices
- How to write ecommerce copy for ads
- How to write ecommerce product pages
Is Ecommerce Copywriting Different Than Content?
While both copywriting and content refer to writing for the web, each serves a different purpose. Often, people use copy and content interchangeably, but the main difference is that copy aims to persuade people to take a “next step.”
This action could be anything, like signing up for a free trial offer or making a purchase. Anything that you can measure against a goal.
What Kind of Copy Drives Conversions?
Well, beyond just being plain good writing, conversion copywriting is a very specific process.
The aim, of course, is to drive action by using words that stir up the particular kinds of emotions that make someone want to buy.
In e-commerce, just about everything you do is conversion-oriented. So, where a SaaS company might aim to yes, sell products, they may also have other goals like positioning themselves as an industry thought leader, hosting events, and so on.
When you sell consumer products, it’s all about conversions. So, you need to get this right and really nail the art of persuasion in order to get the highest ROI from your marketing strategies.
Understand the Psychological Triggers
In another post, we looked at some ways brands can use psychology to drive more clicks, views, and impressions. All still backed by science, but not necessarily specific to triggering the urge to buy.
E-commerce brands that embrace psychology can benefit big time by capitalizing on those universal parts of the human condition.
- Speak to a Shared Identity–Customers love it when they find brands that care about the same things they do, be it helping those in need, taking care of the environment, or working to protect the environment. If your products or company mission connects to a greater good, make sure you include this on your website and in your social media posts in order to attract like-minded customers.
- Create a Sense of Scarcity–Sales and marketing have long been using scarcity to convince prospective buyers that goods in limited supply are somehow more valuable or exclusive than those with plenty to go around.
- Play into FOMO–Greed, Lust, Sloth, and well–FOMO. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is similar to scarcity, in that it drives people to act based on loss aversion. Where scarcity focuses on the idea that there’s not enough of something to go around, FOMO latches on to our fear of being left out of something our peers are doing.
- Maintain Consistency across Channels–For brands, the ability to create a sense of consistency across every touch point helps build trust among customers.
- Surprise and Delight–Things like free gifts that show up at checkout or a policy that’s built on trust (think Warby Parker’s at-home try-on kits or Nordstrom and REI’s long-standing return anything policies). This idea of going above and beyond – without making a huge deal about it – helps brands connect with their audience and says “hey, we believe in this product so much, we’re willing to take a hit on the off chance you don’t love it, too.”
Combine Power Words with Action
According to OptinMonster, you can boost conversions by using so-called “power words” in your landing pages, web copy, social media ads and so on. This is especially important if you’re writing copy for Google PPC campaigns, as you need to make an impact using just a few characters.
Power words speak to our human desires, fears, and aspirations. They spark our curiosity, greed, sloth, vanity, and more—and they put the customer at the center of the narrative.
Power words don’t necessarily work without action. As such, you’ll want to combine an emotional trigger word with a means of taking the next step. Action words simply describe an action—i.e. get, download, choose, act.
When you’re trying to convince someone to buy something — or take any next step like providing an email address or registering for a webinar, you need to tell them what to do.
Write Ecommerce Copy that Speaks to Your Personas
We’ve talked about personas a few times—namely how to build them and how to advertise to them.
While the concept of developing personas feels a bit “marketing 101” these days, this tried-and-true approach to understanding your audience makes it easier to craft laser-targeted, high-converting copy.
According to Moz, customers fall into one of four categories—Caring, Impulsive, Aggressive, and Logic-driven. If you look back at the above section where we brought up action and power words, you can pair them up in a way that speaks to each of these “shopper personalities.”
Here’s a bit of background on each type:
- Impulsive—Impulsive personas represent people who are spontaneous, optimistic, and don’t mind taking a risk. This group tends to buy things on a whim and focuses on the benefits associated with the purchase over features.
- Caring—This person is empathetic and cares a great deal about others. This is the type of person that reads the About Us page to make sure they’re not purchasing products from a company that doesn’t share their values. As you might imagine, caring persona types prefer brands that donate money to a cause or participate in an initiative like Toms or Warby Parker—donating a pair (of glasses or shoes, respectively) every time someone makes a purchase.
- Aggressive—This person is rational, but instead of focusing on how a brand helps others, they want to know how it benefits them, specifically. This persona responds to copy that speaks to a desire for self-improvement.
- Logic-Driven—The logical persona represents a person who reads consumer reports and lots of reviews before making a purchase. This person is detail oriented and needs to know that they are getting the most bang for their buck. They expect to see a comprehensive list of features, social proof, and will shop around until they find what they need.
For example, here’s a product description for a dress found on Dilliards website.
This is clearly written for a logic-driven audience, with copy that’s concise, informative, and sans fluff. The bullet point format makes it easy to scan, while highlighting the most important features and qualities of the product.
Now, take a look at this dress description from J. Peterman.
Clearly, this will appeal to an entirely different audience. This is geared towards impulsive personas, who value stories, descriptions and detailed descriptions that capitalize on their impulsive nature. (Notice J.Peterman calls this a product “story,” not a product description).
They’re two entirely different approaches, both effective in their own right. But, if you tried to sell a logic-driven person on the J.Peterman example, you’d likely find far fewer checkouts than you would with the straightforward approach of Dilliards, and vice versa. This is excactly why it’s so important to narrow down your target audience and personas and write ecommerce copy accordingly.
Write Ad Ecommerce Copy for Different Shopper Personas and Audiences
As you might imagine, different types of shoppers respond to different types of ecommerce copy. An impulsive person might respond quickly to an ad for a “limited time offer” whereas the logical persona type will seek out a brand that provides all of the information they are looking for.
If you’re marketing to a “logical” person, you’ll want to build landing pages and ads that highlight features and product details.
That said, types won’t necessarily tell you anything about who these people are. See, you might have customers who fall into all of these categories, but have a similar set of interests or belong to the same age group or live in the same area.
As such, you’ll want to look toward your analytics dashboards—Google Audience Report, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics—anything relevant to where you do business online to learn more about your user’s habits.
From there, you can use that information to create ads that speak to these different personas.
By taking interests into account, you can craft copy that speaks very directly to consumers you’re trying to target.
ThinkGeek does an incredible job of this throughout their site and product pages. This example
Segment by Context
The other thing you’ll want to keep in mind here is that you’ll need to consider how you address the same personas across varying contexts.
For example, consider how you might speak to someone in the context of a shoppable Instagram Story versus on your website.
The Story might contain a powerful call to action, but your job is to build an emotional connection by displaying your products in a way that speaks to their emotions.
If you sell beauty products, how can you convey this idea that your product can provide clearer skin that gives the buyer confidence? If you sell clothing, you’re selling an idea that your latest collection will make the buyer appear fashionable and on-trend, or make them look more professional, put together.
Establish a Brand Voice–and Stick with it
Context aside, your brand should have a clearly identifiable voice across every channel. This voice can help cement your brand identity and make you clearly identifiable to your audience.
The voice you choose should be clear within all your ecommerce copy, and should be crafted to speak directly to your target audience.
A few things to consider:
- What kind of personality does your brand have? What about your audience?
- What are your values?
- What kind of colloquialisms and industry jargon do you use–or don’t use?
- Is your brand serious? Humorous? A friendly expert or more of a cool older sister?
In addition to establishing a brand voice, you’ll also want to tell your brand story through your ecommerce copy.
As marketing guru Seth Godin says, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy stories and magic.”
Going back to Tom’s, they state clearly who they are at the very beginning of their website.
Anyone who lands on the site quickly learns that this is far more than just a shoe site. Tom’s, the brand, stands for something bigger, and by supporting them, you’re contributing to that bigger picture.
Your Ecommerce Copy Should Lead Your with the Benefits
The feature/benefit conversation is critical when it comes to ecommerce copywriting.
A feature is a factor or statement about your business or product. But a benefit outlines what that feature can do for your audience.
The following are features:
- Open 24 hours
- Individualized programs
- One-click checkout
The correlating benefits would be:
- You can buy or visit whenever you’d like
- Unique programs designed based on your needs
- Convenience and saved time
It’s incredibly important that you focus your ecommerce copy around the benefits your product provides.
Sure, highlighting the features is a good practice – especially if you’re marketing to a Logical persona – but at the end of the day, people want to know more than what your product can do. They want to know what it can do for them.
Take a look at this example by Dollar Shave Club. Not only do they good job of pointing out the features of its razor blade in the bullet points at the top, but it elaborates on the benefits those features provide in the description that follows.
Not to mention, they do it in a way that’s fun and on-brand.
See? Instead of using a bland description like “this blade prevents razor burn and irritation,” they describe the shave as “buttery.” Some pretty sleek copywriting right there.
Sperry’s uses a similar feature > benefit approach in their product description.
Though their brand voice is certainly more refined then Dollar Shave Club’s (they’re likely catering more towards a logical audience seeking comfort than a younger, hipster audience seeking comfort and accessories), they make sure to highlight why each feature is important to potential buyers.
To that end, it’s also important to center the conversation around pronouns like you and your, not I and we. If you’re talking more about yourself or your brand, the conversation is not focused on making things better for the customer. Save the self-serving dialog for your about page.
Don’t Bury the Lede
Think about this: if you were writing a news article, you would never stick the most essential details in the middle of the piece. Important stuff comes first. Brands often fail to do this—leading with fluff and industry buzzwords, without giving people a reason to care.
Start with the benefits—and what’s unique about your offering. Smaller, less significant details can be placed further down the page in a clickable blurb or bullet point list.
The point is, you’ll need to make it clear straight away why someone needs this product, what it does, and why it has value. If people have to wait until the second or third paragraph to learn more, you’re probably not doing it right – and losing customers in the process.
Follow Ecommerce SEO Best Practices
We went over some e-commerce best practices in another post. We found that things like using video in your marketing efforts, along with an email marketing strategy aimed at
A few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you check for duplicate content–we see this a lot, but e-commerce companies sometimes copy and paste product descriptions or reuse landing page content. If Google’s algorithm detects duplicates–whether you own that content or not, it could be a potential hit to your rankings. Use a tool like Copyscape to make sure there aren’t any repeats in the mix.
- Showcase testimonials to build trust–be it star reviews or case studies, product pages and landing pages can both benefit big time from adding social proof to the equation.
Copywriting for Ecommerce Ads–Or, Making the Most Out of Limited Space
Unlike a product page or blog post, when you’re running PPC campaigns, there’s not a ton of room to highlight everything about your product that makes it great.
Often, e-commerce brands will use search ads and Google Shopping as the cornerstones of their paid marketing strategy.
However, it’s important to understand that the two ad formats require a different approach to e-commerce copywriting.
With Google search ads, copywriting is all about placing the most important information front and center.
Meaning, you need to front load your target keyword and make the offer very clear. There’s little room for wordplay, so don’t worry about trying to be cute or clever here.
Google Product Listing Ads
If you’re using Google Shopping, keywords won’t be the focus of your campaigns.
Google has started emphasizing relevance across all its features—think rich results guidelines, local services ads, and so on.
That said, you still want to incorporate keywords in your product descriptions. These keywords should be purely descriptive—what is it that you’re selling—think “women’s relaxed fit jeans” versus “blue jeans.”
Copywriting for Shopping is more about following Google’s guidelines for submitting a feed, so follow the taxonomy breakdown, and really read those webmaster rules, or else you’ll probably have to re-do the feed submission process.
For step-by instructions on how to create Google Shopping Ads for your business, check out our full guide here.
Ecommerce Copy for Product Pages
Your product pages are absolutely vital to the success of your brand. If they’re poorly written, disorganized, or otherwise unsatisfactory, you risk frustrating customers or making a bad impression.
Some things to keep in mind as you create your product pages:
- Product descriptions are clear and provide the details needed for customers to make a buying decision.
- Pages have a descriptive headline.
- You’ve included multiple, high-quality product shots that represent a 360-degree view of the product. It might also be helpful to include a video so visitors get a better sense of what to expect when they receive this item.
- Product pages follow a consistent format throughout the website.
- All pages clearly display pricing, shipping information, and an obvious path toward completing a transaction.
A solid product page will include a mix of these elements – photos, videos, scannable bullet points and a more in-depth description. Bonus points given for any that include customer reviews, testimonials, or social proof.
The Man Crate does a good job of this, with a uniform design on each product page.
Wrapping Up Ecommerce Copywriting
Copywriting and conversion rates are so closely linked that good e-commerce copywriting should be a priority for any online store–regardless of what you sell and who your customers are.
While there’s certainly a lot more to the delicate art of copywriting for e-commerce, we’ve outlined the basics from tapping into buyer psychology to making sure that offers remain consistent between ads and their landing pages.