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eCommerce Marketing

Sell It With Words: 7 Tips for Creating Effective eCommerce Copy

Sell It With Words: 7 Tips for Creating Effective eCommerce Copy

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

6 years ago

Sell It With Words: 7 Tips for Creating Effective eCommerce Copy

Before you paste that copy direct from your manufacturer’s website take a peek at this stat: 98% of eCommerce copy has a direct impact on conversions. 

As a small business owner you’re tired, tight on time and lacking in resources. You’re the accountant, the programmer, the sales person and the tea-maker - we get it. But what if we told you that crafting compelling copy can help you connect with your ideal customer, build trust for your brand and influence people to click, share and buy? 

The great news is that you already possess the one insight that can help you create powerful messages. You know your customer better than anyone else. Below we’ll show you how to create engaging and sellable copy, using customer insight alone. 

1. Become Your Customer

‘If you can’t turn yourself into a consumer, you probably shouldn’t be in the advertising business at all.’ These are the famous words spoken by legendary copywriter, David Ogilvy, a powerful truth that still applies today. Keep your customer at the core of your copy to create a brand that excites, influences and, above all, sells. Creating powerful personas (or profiles) from the outset, will help you unlock hidden desires, fears and motivations.

How do I do it?

Pick one ideal customer and sketch out a basic persona, taking into account details like age, gender, goals and career choice. Now flesh out their profile by answering deeper questions. Ask: ‘What challenges does she face in her day-to-day-life? What does she crave above all else? What would make her life easier?’ Before you start writing, read through your persona. Then start thinking like your customer. 

2. Mirror Their Language

As a copywriter, you are first and foremost a sales person. And what do effective salespeople do? They listen, mirror and adopt their customer’s tone, sometimes even taking on facets of their accents. Try building a connection with your customer through a conversational and deeply authentic tone.

How I do it? 

Picture a conversation between your customer and his best friend. Write down a few phrases you think he might use to describe your product. Think, ‘What tone would he use? What words would he choose? What jokes would he make?’ Try fun phrases, try honest phrases and choose the words that feel most relevant and real for your audience.

The Example

Check out this example from Chubbies, a unique shorts’ company with brilliant ‘bro-branding’. Their copy is built on a fun, cheeky and conversational tone that will no doubt appeal to college freshmen and pants-hating graduates. Look at how it entertains with jokes and clever quips, from the title, ‘The Legend’ to the subtle instructions, ‘Need ‘em sooner? You can pay to expedite those mothers!’ Immediately we are met with a picture of their ideal customer, a fun-loving guy who loves a good laugh.  

3. Want Action? Use Action

If you want your customer to take action try telling him what to do. Yes, this means choosing strong and specific action verbs over adjectives and generalities. According to a test study by L’Axelle creating action-oriented copy causes 93% more people to click.

How do I do it?

Are you still thinking like your customer? Okay, good. Then you have permission to consult Google for a list of powerful verbs. But before you select a verb straight from the list -  think. Remember that the power of a word lies only in how your customer responds to it. Words like ‘act’, ‘achieve’, ‘click’, ‘buy’ and ‘grab’ might have worked for your eCommerce competitor. But that doesn’t mean they will inspire your customer to act.

Choose a verb, test, change the verb and test again. That’s the beauty of an eCommerce site - there’s no need to guess. Instead follow your customer’s clicks, drop-off rates and transactions and don’t be afraid to make changes where needed.  

4. Consider Their Time

Should I stay or should I go? According to a Nielson Norman Group study most customers decide within the first 10 to 20 seconds whether to stay on the page or click the exit button. They scan the page quickly to try and identify your value proposition. Have you made it clear what you are offering? The easiest way to do this is to create easy-to-read, scannable and inviting copy.

How do I do it?

The most important thing to consider is where your customer’s eye will first hit the page. It is essential to consider elements like spacing and formatting and yes, bullet points are a great way to break up your text. Or if you really want to grab attention you could consider including your value proposition in the headline. Get a friend or colleague to take a quick glance to ensure your message is immediately identifiable.

The Example

Zappos, a savvy online shoe and clothing store uses short and sharp bullet points that are instantly scannable and readable. What’s more, each feature is cleverly accompanied by a benefit, saving the customer valuable reading time. The customer can quickly assess whether the product is for them.

5.  Let Them Imagine

A travel bag that holds a ticket, a dress that starts a great night out, a perfume that leaves a lasting memory. Your job, as copywriter, is to make your customer imagine how your product would make them feel. Have them hold your product in their hands, if only in a metaphorical sense.

How do I do it? 

Make a list of your product’s features. Now scribble in a benefit beside each feature. Wouldn’t it be more exciting to let your customer imagine the feel of a cotton top against her skin rather than leading with the thread count?

The Example

The expert storyteller’s from J. Peterman sure know how to craft a sellable tale. The headline ‘Hanging-Out Wear’ cleverly captures their jumper’s value-proposition. Immediately, the customer attributes the benefit of comfort to this item of clothing. And the accompanying story increases the desirability to own, encouraging the customer to imagine cosy walks in the woods, chilled-out Saturdays, relaxation, nature and love. You see, it’s not about the jumper, but rather about the experiences it inspires.

6. Sell it To Them Straight

According to a KISS Metrics study, adding reviews to a product page boosts conversions by more than 35%. Establishing trust, is therefore, essential. As people can’t hold your product in their hands they need to be convinced of its authenticity and desirability before they ‘‘Buy’. It’s your job to help them believe.

How do I do it?

You can build trust by keeping your copy clear, accurate and honest. This means removing exaggerations, jargon or anything that confuses or misleads. Do include a customer review section and consider adding a badge of authenticity. Don’t make any claims you can’t back up and never make any promises you can’t keep (this includes expected delivery dates). Transparency is the best gift you can give your customer. But the best part is that you will be rewarded too with loyalty and sales.

The Example

Below is one of 63 customer reviews of a ‘boyfriend sleeve top’ from Halftee. It’s a good example of how a customer can really sell the benefits of your products. You could even consider taking elements of your customer reviews and using them to enhance your next piece of copy. 

7. Don’t Lose Them Now

Your customer is just about to buy, her soon-to-be-dress is resting in her cart, she’s imagining looking sensational at her sister’s wedding. But wait, ‘What if it doesn’t fit? Can she bring it back?’ She’s frantically searches for the exchange policy. Wouldn’t it be silly to lose her now? 

How do I do it?

Here’s the fun part - I like to call it ‘detective time’. The aim of the game is to look for any barriers to buying. Review your product page and start asking questions, the kind of questions your trickiest customer might ask. Think terms and conditions, delivery charges and dates, FAQ pages, return policies and product details. If you don’t want to detract from the focus of your story, links are a great way to declutter your copy.

So that’s it. It’s all about taking a customer-centric approach to your messages. The next time you have a product to display but are not sure what to say, relax, take a big breath and remember: no-one knows your customer better than you.


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