When you hear someone talk about a writer’s “voice,” what comes to mind?
It’s probably the article you read this morning or that well-written blog post from that marketing guru you’re following. The writers behind this content have their own voice when writing, a distinctive tone and turn of phrase all their own. But what about other kinds of copy, like in ecommerce?
Ecommerce copywriting often gets overlooked as boring, but giving it a voice can improve your business tremendously. Find out why you should care about your ecommerce copy and how you can clean it up (or dress it down) to reach the right customer.
Why should I care about my ecommerce copy?
It’s just words on a page, right? Not necessarily.
Sure, a lot of companies treat ecommerce copywriting like a chore, and it seems easier to just flatly describe a product’s features and move on. But while your landing pages and product descriptions don’t have to be Shakespearean, jazzing them up has clear benefits.
Good copy helps define your brand
In social media posts, website copy, emails, everywhere you use the written word, your content establishes and cements your brand voice.
Consider the marketing email below from lifestyle media company UrbanDaddy Enterprises:
UrbanDaddy doesn’t take itself too seriously, as reflected by its dramatized tone. Instead, it’s a little silly, entertaining readers while selling to them.
And it’s not just UrbanDaddy’s emails—the company maintains a consistently lighter, humorous tone throughout its web presence, including its editorial policy page:
Good copy speaks to your target audience
If people can relate, however subtly, to your copy and voice, they’re more likely to identify with your brand. This can turn them into customers, or better yet, repeat customers. If people feel like you “get” them, they’ll be far more likely to return than a brand whose tone skews more generic.
Be careful with this, though.
It’s one thing to use slang and informal language that your target audience will identify with because it sounds more human, and another to bury any useful information underneath a mountain of aphorisms. Make sure the reader still learns what they need to know quickly.
Good copy improves your site’s SEO
Copy that utilizes SEO best practices can go a long way toward helping you land the coveted first page of Google's search results. Done right, your copy can enhance your online presence and drive more traffic and leads in the long run.
Research what keywords are relevant to your brand and product, and how they’re being used. Then apply these findings to your own content. Work keywords into the headers, subheads, and body copy of your site in an unobtrusive way.
6 Ecommerce Copywriting Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you know the “why,” let’s look at the “how.”
As in, how can you tweak your ecommerce copy for optimal results?
Find out through the ecommerce copywriting do’s and don’ts below.
Do: Write for your target audience
Rather than using a scattershot approach in your marketing, zero in on the customers you know will be most receptive to your message and will benefit from your product or service. A more personalized experience will go a long way in both winning customers over and retaining them for the long term.
- What customers would find the most benefits from your product?
- What are their main concerns and problems?
- Where do they live, and what other brands do they like?
Remember that your target audience is not limited to a single demographic.
Create multiple landing pages and A/B test them to see which message is most effective. Create ads that send people to different pages depending on where that ad is shown.
<div class="tip">Consider creating customer personas to distinguish between unique segments of your audience. Once you know the proclivities of each, you can make your messaging more targeted and specific.</div>
Do: Format for readability
According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, users generally scan content, seldom reading the entire thing. They also tend to look for the information most relevant to them so they can read that bit of the blog post or product description and get what they need.
Knowing this, you should format your copy for optimal scannability. You can do so by using:
- Ample line breaks
- Bulleted and numbered lists
- Bolding or italicizing to emphasize key points
Firebox does a great job of both speaking to its target customer and outlining useful information in its product descriptions. Check out its listing for light-up unicorn slippers, for example.
Key snippets of information are bolded for emphasis, and major highlights are bulleted for easy readability.
Do: Tell your brand’s story
An About or “Our Story” page helps tell readers about your company’s ethos and purpose while reinforcing brand image and personality.
For some inspiration, check out clothing company Marine Layer’s About page.
Marine Layer’s founder shares how he was inspired to start the business and how it makes its tees on its About page—all in a casual, personable tone that aligns with the rest of the brand.
Remember that your About page’s copywriting should be in line with the rest of your website’s voice and tone. If the rest of your site is lighthearted, keep it the same here. If it’s sincere and cause-driven, make sure the customer understands that, too.
Don’t: Only describe your product features
The goal of ecommerce copy is to encourage readers to convert. It appears on landing pages and product descriptions, which is why ecommerce copywriters and marketers generally think of this copy in rather simplistic terms.
But there’s more to product descriptions than, well, describing your product.
Instead of only discussing your product’s features, use your copy to highlight its impact—how it can benefit your users. This is your value proposition, which you’ll need to communicate clearly to stand out from the competition.
Here’s an example of how that might look, from Rareform.
Rareform creates and sells bags made from repurposed billboard vinyl. But the company doesn’t focus solely on this unique selling point. Even though just about any reader knows what a bag is, Rareform’s product descriptions reiterate the value of their bags and how they can be used. Phrases like “spacious enough for daily essentials” and “perfect for the beach or farmer’s market” convey to readers ideas for how they can use the bag.
Had Rareform focused simply on its bags’ features, its product descriptions would’ve sounded uninspired and matter-of-fact: “15 in (H) x 22 in (W) x 7 in (D). Two 20-inch straps. Inner zipper pocket.”
Don’t: Use bland, generic language
What sounds more appealing—a computer mouse with great precision or one with razor-sharp precision?
Chances are, the “razor-sharp” mouse sounded more enticing to you. Why?
Descriptive adjectives beyond the standard “good” and “great” catch readers’ attention. Add a dash of this kind of language to transform your copy from bland and cookie-cutter to exciting and memorable.
For an idea of how descriptive language livens up ecommerce copy, take a look at Amazon’s Watch & Shop pages.
Words like “transformative,” “pulses,” and “powered” make Amazon’s tech products more compelling.
You can also liven up your page copy by using verbs that imply a sense of action and urgency. For instance, try phrases like:
- Boost your productivity with…
- Get ready to…
- Breathe life into your…
In other words, invite customers to act. By hinting at action and movement, your copy can make readers subconsciously pair that action with themselves and the given product.
<div class="tip">Amazon's best-selling items are a great source of insight for finding out what ecommerce copywriting techniques work. You can learn how to write Amazon product descriptions simply by studying the best.</div>
Don’t: Overcomplicate your copy
While the previous tip stresses the importance of using descriptive wording, be careful not to go over your reader’s head.
That is, avoid jargon or any overly complex terms that the average reader won’t understand.
Complicated language can overwhelm and even distress readers, making them think, “This product isn’t for me.” So keep things simple. Your ecommerce copywriting isn’t getting submitted to an academic journal, after all.
Every interaction with a potential customer, no matter how small, is a chance to let them know who your brand is and what it’s about.
With a little effort, you can turn your ecommerce copy into something that cuts through the static—something that feels more like a friend and less like a salesperson. And you can do it without being unethical or inauthentic. Putting in work on your copy now will pay dividends for your ecommerce store’s sales in the long run.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer John Bogna.