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Your Ecommerce Store Copy Can Make or Break Your Sales (and Your SEO)

Ecommerce store copy

Published by

January 16, 2018

To continue with the approach from our last article, you should be able to create a ecommerce user experience that delights your audience. But for all the importance of a good user interface, solid web design, and attention to customer relationships, none of it is complete without copy (AKA words) to back it up.

Using copy, you can point out the benefits of your products that cannot be discerned from product photos. Text is a natural and convenient way to transfer ideas, values, and facts — but to be effective, it needs to be clear and relevant.

Ecomerce store copy - Patagonia
Ecomerce store copy – Patagonia

Providing relevant copy and content, packed with information and an engaging story or narrative, is a must. Your copy should provide prospects with convincing reasons to spend their money. To be effectively persuasive (and thus convert more customers), you need to point out the ways your product benefits that prospect — by alleviating their pain, improving their life, or benefiting them in some other way.

Copy’s primary function is to establish trust and convince prospects to purchase products. Its secondary function is to provide content for search engines to hone in on. This is important to attract customers who research your products online and direct them right to your product pages.

Many ecommerce sites make the mistake of omitting product page copy entirely, or simply duplicating the product manufacturer’s copy. This is a mistake for two reasons:

  1. The product manufacturer’s copy is likely very different from the rest of your website copy, which creates consistency issues. Your prospects will be the first to pick up on the disconnect, and it will negatively affect their trust.

Think of it like this: If you go to a store to buy a household appliance, and the owner is only able to tell you information already written on the device’s box and nothing more, you’re likely to shop elsewhere for that appliance.

  1. Duplicating manufacturer copy on your product pages will also negatively affect your SEO. Why? Search engines notice duplicate content, and lower your page ranking.
Ecommerce store copy - Samys Camera
eCommerce store using product specifications from manufacturer page

To avoid both of these problems, use original, clear, and simple copy to explain the benefits of the product to your prospects.

Copy also needs to provide information that is relevant to the customer. To make your copy more relevant, you have to get to know your customers and target audience. The better you know them, the more relevant copy you can write.

Personalization is a key feature of most successful ecommerce sites that can help you create more relevant copy and offers. Take Amazon, for example. Amazon offers a deeply personalized experience by constantly collecting data about their customers (they facilitate the collection process by dangling attractive offers if you register for an account). Once you register an account with Amazon, every interaction with the site is noted and taken into account to provide more relevant offers.

Amazon tracks what customers buy, what products they view, what they write in their reviews, and what they put in their wishlists. All this data combined enables Amazon to surprise customers with personalized offers every time they log in.

Now, you’re probably not Amazon. But if your site offers a personalized experience, you must be able to distinguish between different groups of customers (or even individual customers) and offer pinpointed content.

Ecommerce store copy - Bombfell
Bombfell uses the data from each of their customers to provide a personalized customer experience

In a basic sense, this could mean distinguishing between male and female prospects or between different age groups. Or, if your site personalization is more advanced, then you can make your content relevant to narrower groups.

The other very important concept related to copy is clarity. Copy must be easy to read, understandable, written in plain and simple language. Complicated copy, or copy written with rare or unfamiliar words, generates friction.

If your prospect needs to spend time to understand your copy, they’ll seek clearer information on other sites. In effect, poor copy can actually drive prospects to your competition.

Finally, for product copy to be effective, it needs to be scannable. Research shows that 79% of people scan text, reading only the most important parts. Help readers by turning your most important points into bullets or headings, so they stand out from surrounding copy.

People tend to buy from the store that offers the best and most relevant information about the product. By taking care to write clear, original, relevant copy, your store can win this competition.

Message-match your advertisement copy

While product page copy is important for SEO and engaging prospects, your advertisement copy needs to attract attention to your product or landing pages in the first place.

Every advertisement should be part of a cohesive campaign that includes the ad (or ads) itself, and a landing or product page that shares specific benefits of buying the product in question.

Both the advertisement and landing page need to share key copy elements: namely, the headline and the actual substance of the offer. Those two elements must be in sync to avoid confusing or frustrating your prospect. This concept is known as message matching.

For example, if you offer a 10% discount in your advertisement, don’t change that to a “$5 off” message on the landing page, as that will confuse your prospect and likely result in a higher bounce rate.

Ecommerce store copy - An ad for a white cocktail dress
An ad for a white cocktail dress
Ecommerce store copy - resulting landing page
The resulting landing page

Advertisement copy needs to be relevant, too — but in a slightly different way. In this sense, relevance means that your advertisement and landing page must respond to the way your prospect navigates to the site. Prospects using mobile devices will benefit from simpler, faster-loading, and screen-fit content, while prospects on laptops or desktops can be shown a full-screen version of your store design.

Don’t overlook email copy — it’s your secret weapon

Ecommerce websites use email for a variety of purposes: sharing deals, notifying people of the availability of items they expressed interest in, inviting them to review products they purchased, thanking them for a purchase, and inviting them to shop again, to name a few of the most common ecommerce email functions.

As with every piece of copy and content on your website, you should leave nothing to chance, and deliberately frame these emails so they’re consistent with the overall tone and style of your entire website.

When you send an email to a lead who gave you their email address, strive for relevance. Use your analytical tools to find out what the user viewed on your website, and match their interests with specific offers.

Your thank-you emails are great opportunities to re-engage customers and trigger repeat purchases. Offer cross-sell or upsell items, or invite them to post a review of the product they bought. You can also survey customers to see what they did not like about your store or purchase process.

Finally, you can contact prospects with registered accounts who abandoned their shopping cart and invite them to continue their purchase, or ask what stopped them from completing it. These emails offer a perfect opportunity to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate (read more on that in the next section) and engage potential customers who might just have forgotten about the items they put into the cart.

Often, prospects on mobile get interrupted during the purchase process by a notification. Alternatively, they sometimes just need a sufficient nudge to complete the purchase after encountering an issue (ex. the shipping cost was too high, the price of product was too high, or some other issue prevented them from buying).

Cart abandonment emails can help you identify the problem and try to address it either generally, if it’s something likely to affect a large number of prospects, or specifically, by offering a solution to a problem perceived by only a few prospects. Either way, you’ll be showing that your store cares — making customers feel appreciated, and evoking their loyalty and enthusiasm for your brand.

Of course, you need to be careful not to be intrusive or annoying. Avoid generic offers, hyperbolic language, and cliches in all of your emails. In fact, avoid these mistakes in all copy you write for your store!

For great cart abandonment email examples, we like the ones the ones Shopify picked here.

These are all methods you can use to improve your website and its content and grow your ecommerce store using common sense, best practices and customer research.

In our next article, we’ll look at how to use real measurements to impact the way your prospects behave. By using quantitative indicators, you can understand patterns and trends in your visitor behavior, and leverage this data to increase your revenues.

Published by

Edin is a Senior CRO Consultant. Edin is into Google Analytics and testing (any A/B testing tool really) and likes to write about it. You can follow Edin on Twitter.