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John Waghorn

Compelling Copy for Ecommerce Sites

16th Dec 2013 SEO Blog 6 minutes to read

Writing-laptop-300x200With Christmas fast approaching, many ecommerce websites are trying their best to draw in an audience and make those all-important last minute sales before the big day arrives.

Whilst offers, bargains, and promotions in the run up to Christmas will encourage customers to buy your products, you should never underestimate the power of website copy in aiding this process.

So if you own or work for an ecommerce site, big or small, take a look at the following tips to see if you could go that little bit further with your copy  in order to receive more sales back in return.

Here are some of the key ingredients ecommerce websites should focus on.

Quality product descriptions

One of the most fundamental criteria for ecommerce copy that shouldn’t be overlooked is creating effective product descriptions.

Remember – search engine optimisation will help to bring customers to your website pages, however, this won’t be effective or relevant if you’re not detailing what each product has to offer.

SEO will bring in your audience, but your copy has the power to convince them to click buy or add to basket and complete a purchase. A page without product descriptions is close to redundant.

So instead of letting all of your images do the talking, write copy alongside each individual product. Detail the benefits and the features of these items so that you can state why each product is right for those making a decision to buy.

Two great examples:

Barbour web copy

Although ASOS is a common choice when highlighting effective ecommerce sites, there’s a good reason for this.

In the above example, on one of their product pages for a Barbour jacket, the company use a simple format to display the product information. The page includes product, price, the standout features/benefits, and background information about the brand. In addition to this, the page clearly displays a colour and size drop down menu, and an ‘Add To Bag’ button to make it easy to add the product to your basket before checking out or continuing to shop.

A similar format is also used on the Fred Perry site too:

Fred Perry web copy

Both pages contain a decent amount of written information alongside pictures of the products for maximum impact. This format is simple, yet effective for the fast paced online environment where people want to observe details and quickly purchase products with ease.

Stay clear of block text

In contrast to including a detailed product description, you also need to make sure that you don’t overdo it by adding bulky and block sections of text.

The majority of your customers are likely to skim through your copy in order to find the information they desire before making a decision to buy or not.  So, make it easy for them to locate the information they need.

Avoid long sentences and big blocks of text and use bullet points to break down the copy into sizeable chunks. Remember that the online buying process is supposed to be quick and easy, from the moment a customer lands on your page, to navigating through the checkout process and completing a purchase. Therefore, stick to this structure from the off.

If your text is too heavy on your pages, this may cause your customers to find an alternative site to shop, where the copy is slightly easier to digest.

Strike a balance and ensure that the fundamental features of each product are clearly displayed without writing an essay about each item you are selling.

bigstock-The-words-Find-Your-Voice-on-a-34656893Use a consistent tone

Effective copy can give your brand personality and allow your customers to relate and connect with your values and identity. However, this is only achievable if you use the same tone across all of your pages.

Each company has their own style of writing, but this should transcend across every page and stage of the buying process.

Therefore, keep your personality and tone present on all of your pages, so that it’s easy to build and maintain the connection with every one of your customers.

If you have written five product pages in one style and another five in a completely different manner, customers will struggle to get to the essence of what exactly they are buying into.

If you’ve recently started to create new pages, go back and check that the tone and style is carried across to your existing and older pages too.

Sell, but don’t exaggerate

Website copy gives you the chance to sell your products to your audience and tell them how each item can make a difference to their lives.

This means that within your copy there is a requirement to sell your product to an active audience. Although you may slip into sales copy in places, remember not to exaggerate the benefits or qualities at any stage.

Making false promises can cause people to feel disappointed when the item arrives and can also make them lose trust in your company.

Building trust is an important part of the buying process which can be achieved with your own copy, so long as you state what is true and aim to provide accurate product information.

If you are accurate in detailing information, customers are more likely to return to your site in future to make another purchase.

A clear customer checkout

It’s not only your product pages that need to use copy to guide your customers through a process. Copy can also be used during the customer checkout stages too.

During this stage, once customers have found value in a particular product and decided to purchase it, you will then need to make them aware of the details for payment, delivery, returns, and purchase confirmation.

This is where your copy can help as it will guide them through each stage.

Amazon checkout

In the above example, amazon focus on the following areas before a purchase is complete after reviewing your basket – shipping and billing address, items selected, method of delivery, payment options and confirmation to buy.

The copy for each of these sections is short but concise and provides enough visual information to make sure that customers know what they are doing during checkout.

Follow a similar pattern, so that your copy helps customers navigate through checkout and complete a purchase. Failing to display clear instructions within your copy can be highly frustrating for the customer if they become stuck. Again in this situation it’s possible that your soon-to-be customer will leave your page and look elsewhere.

You don’t have to use masses of text, so long as each step is clearly defined. It’s also worth testing the buying process first, before it’s made live on your site to make any needed refinements first.

Laptop-mobileTesting on other devices

Remember that not everyone purchases products via the same device these days, so it’s important to test that the points above are reflected on mobile and tablet screens.

If the copy is being presented in a slightly different format, or there are inconsistencies then these will need to be addressed.

Just as SEO will bring in an audience and copy can convert, your copy will be even more powerful if it’s displayed clearly across all devices.

This will make the buying process easy for everyone, regardless of whether they are at home on the computer, or they are purchasing on the go via a tablet or mobile device.

Get your copy up to scratch first, and then make sure it’s viewable on all devices for maximum audience reach.

The power of copy

Remember that copy really can transform your website, help to draw in a wider audience, and encourage more sales too.

Spend a moment looking over your own ecommerce site to evaluate where you could improve your copy – from individual product pages, to the full checkout process, it’s usually the case that you’ll spot a few areas to enhance.

Once you’re happy with your copy, review this across all devices, to make sure that the words you use can create maximum impact to the widest audience possible.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to add your thoughts below in the comments section.


Image credits

Computer thumbnail image from Bigstock

Find you voice image from Bigstock

Devices image from Bigstock


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John Waghorn

John used to be in a band. Hey, if he can still go on about it, so can we! He’s an Apple Sour drinker, a positive thinker and we’re always mesmerised by how he styles his hair. Answers on a postcard if you think you know how he does it.

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