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Ecommerce Content Writing Guide (2022)

Ecommerce Content Writing Guide (2022)

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E-commerce is a thriving market. The industry generated $4.9 trillion in 2021 alone, and it's expected to crest at $5.5 trillion in 2022. 

This translates to a growing need for content. In fact, a recent survey by freelance writing guru Elna Cain ranked e-commerce as one of the top three niches to write for. A poll from Peak Freelance showed similar results.

The industry continues to grow, and that means even more content writing for e-commerce. And when your content drives sales, you'll be in even higher demand.

Ready to get started? Here's what you need to know.

Understanding the Buyer Persona

All great content writing for e-commerce has one thing in common—it's specific and speaks directly to the reader's needs. To make that happen, you need to think of the reader as a unique individual. The best way to do that is with a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a sketched-out character of a company's target shopper. It takes the generalized concept of "buyer" and turns it into a fictional, flesh-and-blood individual. It includes key details like:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, income level, family status, etc.
  • Character traits: How the person interacts with the world
  • Professional background: Job title, education, and key experiences
  • Personal preferences: Hobbies, interests, and favorite brands
  • Psychographics: Values, goals, and frustrations that drive buying decisions

Many companies create buyer personas as part of their marketing efforts. Before you start any e-commerce writing job, ask the client if they've created personas for their target audiences.

If not, you can create one yourself. If you'll be doing a lot of work for this client, you can take an in-depth approach with focus groups and customer interviews. 

Don't have that much time available? Don't worry—you can create a rich persona with publicly available information.

Start by downloading Compose.ly's free user persona template. Use it to go through the client's existing marketing materials, including any website content they've already published. You can also get demographic information from the client's website using Google Analytics.

Types of Content

To drive conversions, brands need high-quality content at every stage of the sales funnel. Think in terms of these three categories.

Top-of-Funnel Content

Top-of-funnel content is where you find the brand's target audience and make them aware of the product. It's more informative and entertaining than sales-focused, and it doesn't push the brand too hard. This level of content includes:

  • Social media ads
  • YouTube explainer videos
  • Blog content

Blogs are particularly helpful for search engine optimization. When hosted on a brand's site, they drive organic traffic from people who aren't anywhere close to buying. The reader is simply looking for information about a need or problem, and the blog answers their question with engaging content. When the time is right, the blog subtly introduces the project.

Blogs make ideal SEO content because they can target different keywords. For example, if you write for an e-commerce brand that sells baby products, you can focus one post on the keyword "great gifts for 6-month-olds" and another on "safest strollers for your baby." With those two posts alone, you reach two buyer groups (parents and non-parents) and introduce two product types.

This kind of content establishes the company as an authority in its space, introducing the brand and its products in a less sales-focused context.

Mid-Funnel Content

This stage is also called the "consideration phase" of the buyer's journey. The potential customer knows your brand exists and is considering:

  • Comparison guides (Brand A vs. Brand B)
  • Case studies: Real stories of how the brand helped a customer
  • White papers: Detailed explorations of a product and its benefits

Higher-ticket e-commerce brands, including B2B and tech, will have more mid-funnel content. Shoppers take longer to make these kinds of decisions, and they usually need more information. Engaging content provides that information without pushing the sale too soon.

Bottom of Funnel Content

When the potential customer gets to this point, they're just about ready to buy. They're looking at product descriptions, pricing, customer reviews, and so on.

At this stage, you're primarily writing for the client's website. Your goal is to present their products and brand as the best solution for their needs. You need to establish trust and show how the brand's products stand out. Highlighting the brand's uniqueness is key.

Take the fashion industry, for example—the world's most competitive e-commerce space. If you want to get attention for your client's line of women's coats, you need to show why they're better than any other.

Buyers at this stage are close to purchasing, so they're ready for details. Ask yourself and your client what makes their products stand out. The answer could be sustainable and high-quality materials, fair trade production, or a unique design. Whatever it is, call out those details across the website.

Key Pages for Ecommerce Websites

In content writing for e-commerce, a brand's website is its central focus. It's the destination for audiences across the web, from blog readers to social media followers. When someone is ready to buy—or nearly there—they go to the website.

A brand needs quality content and copy across all of its web pages, especially those that guide the potential customer down the sales funnel.

The Home Page

The home page is a reader's introduction to the site. It should express the brand's personality and offer a road map to different parts of the site, including product pages.

Home pages shouldn't overwhelm the reader with too much text. Think of it more as an introduction, focusing primarily on guiding the reader where they want to go. 

Limit text to a few key sentences that communicate the brand's essence. For many brands, this is the perfect place for a values statement. You can also use the home page to convey the company's mission or the one thing it offers that no one else does.

Landing Pages

If a website is an e-commerce brand's digital storefront, then a landing page is the featured display. It's a standalone page created to work with a digital marketing asset such as a paid search ad, email promotion, or blog post.

Each landing page is geared specifically to a target audience. It usually includes:

  • Products the campaign promotes
  • Enticing images
  • Style and tone geared to the campaign's target demographic
  • A call-to-action encouraging purchase

The CTA is important for maximizing conversion rates. Landing page viewers have already responded to marketing material and are thinking about buying. The CTA needs to pull them in closer with a "can't-miss" offer, like a discount or free gift with purchase.

Landing pages may also feature customer quotes and reviews as social proof. All content should drive the reader toward the CTA.

About Pages

Today's customers care about what kinds of companies they support. Nearly half of all customers check a brand's values before making an online purchase, and 60% have purchased because they believe in what a brand stands for. The About Us page—sometimes called the Our Story page—is where you communicate those values.

An About Us page is where a brand becomes human. It tells the story of why the company exists and what it wants to do for the world. More importantly, it communicates what it does for the customer and why. Check out this example from Compose.ly's About Us page:

At Compose.ly, we recognize the power of storytelling for your business, and we believe that every business has a great story to tell. The problem is that many businesses struggle to share theirs in an authentic way that drives results. That’s where Compose.ly comes in.

Right away, it establishes why the company exists and what it does for clients. And it does so in a way that sets up a story—enter Compose.ly, stage right.

Category Pages

Also called product listing pages, these are where you introduce a brand's products. A category page features multiple products of a single type—a technology brand's smartwatches, for example, or a shoe retailer's winter boots.

Category pages target shoppers who are serious about buying but don't know exactly what they need. Each listing includes the basics about a product and a CTA to learn more.

Successful category pages highlight the most important details about each product, including what sets them apart from each other. For example, if you're writing a category page for laptops, you'll want to include details about storage and memory. Be sure to include photos to draw the eye.

Product Pages

Product pages let you describe each item in more detail. You'll usually have one page per product and include specifications as well as price and shipping information.

If possible, your product pages should also include customer reviews and testimonials. A whopping 99% of customers read them, and they increase conversion rates by upwards of 52%.

But as a content writer, the description is your focus.

Creating Effective Product Descriptions

Every e-commerce company has the same goal—to sell products potential customers can't touch or hold. Your job is to describe those products so they come alive for the buyer.

Keywords

Keyword inclusion is a delicate balance in commerce content creation. SEO demands you use words that people will enter while searching, but you don't want Google to penalize you for keyword stuffing. When choosing keywords you should consider the following:

  • Search Engine Rankings: What are the top-ranking pages? What is their content like? How can you improve it?
  • Search Volume: Every keyword has a monthly search volume, try to find keywords with low competition and high search volume for maximum results.
  • Long-tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and are oftentimes easier to rank for. If you're starting a new website, target long-tail keywords for better results.

E-commerce platform Shopify recommends using the target keyword no more than twice in the body copy. That's in addition to once in the URL, product description title, and image tag.

These guidelines are for descriptions under 300 words. If your client requests longer product details, you can add a few more keywords uses.

Structure

When shoppers encounter product descriptions, they start with a quick scan. It's how people read web content in general, and e-commerce is no exception.

If your product description is more than a sentence or two, you need to break up the text. Dense paragraphs are difficult to scan and easy to abandon. Adding white space helps the eye and directs readers' attention to important points.

Make your product descriptions more readable with:

If your client's style allows for it, you can even emphasize certain words with bold type. This helps key details jump out when a reader scans the description. For example:

  • Our 3-year warranty covers you against damage outside normal wear and tear.
  • HD screen includes blue light filtering for easier reading at night.

Bolding is helpful in longer product descriptions, but use it sparingly. Too many bolded words are the print version of a pushy salesman.

Style

Product descriptions can easily become dry lists of specifications, especially if the product is highly technical or niche. But people don't buy based on facts—they make emotional decisions and justify them rationally.

For years, marketers have been quoting Harvard business school professor Gerald Zaltman. He's famous for pointing out that 95% of consumer decisions happen subconsciously, in the emotional brain. Unless your product descriptions meet the consumer on that emotional level, you'll miss many potential sales.

Emotional selling is all about tapping into the brand's personality. It's about saying "I get you; I know what you need, and this can help."

Inject character into your product descriptions by embracing brand voice. What personality do they convey in their marketing materials? Bring that personality into your product description.

Benefits, Not Features

Consumers have one question when they're thinking about making a purchase:

What's in it for me?

To answer that question, you need to describe a product's benefits, not its features.

  • Product Features are details about the product: 16 GB of RAM on a laptop, waterproof boot soles
  • Product Benefits describe how the product will improve the buyer's life: Faster downloads, drier feet

Benefits let the shopper imagine using the product. They can picture how the product will make their life easier, and that's what drives their purchase decisions.

Developing Content Ideas

Product descriptions are the easy part. You know exactly what you need to write about and who you're writing for. It can be harder to develop unique ideas for readers higher in the funnel. They aren't ready to hear about specs yet—so how can your content marketing draw them in?

Keyword research is a great place to start. When you know what search terms are popular in your industry, you can create content around those words. For example, if you're writing for an audience of home goods buyers and "snow removal" is trending for winter, you might start with a blog post about shoveling techniques—linking to your new line of shovels, of course.

Once you've started creating content, pay attention to what performs best. Remember, content writing for e-commerce is all about driving revenue. Do more of what works, and your content marketing strategy is bound to get results.

Need help developing and executing your content strategy? Compose.ly has you covered.
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