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3 weeks ago. Reading time: 6 minutes
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” – Leo Burnett. In this article we dive into the world of e-commerce copywriting and how a focus on making your content as valuable as possible to your readers can make all the difference.
Having a fantastic website is only the first step to e-commerce success. The most salient feature among the best websites out there is their content. Well-formulated written content can boost traffic, increase leads and improve SEO while also being valuable for users and customers alike. In this article we cover some of the most important elements in e-commerce copywriting to create effective, meaningful content, no matter the size of your business.
E-commerce copywriting, as a professional field, is the act of creating digital content for e-commerce purposes. This could take the form of text on a website, ad text, blog content, video text, e-books, the list goes on.
Copywriting plays a fundamental role in any e-commerce digital marketing strategy because it ultimately dictates what information you’ll put in front of your audience. In this sense, it’s also a very important factor in SEO success, as we covered in our Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
The purpose of any copy you create is the deciding factor in how it will be written. This is why, while it may seem obvious to you, you must define the purpose of every single piece of e-commerce copywriting that you undertake for your business.
Is the copy you’re creating going to advertise your new product or service? Is it going to inform your audience? Entertain them? Persuade them? Make them laugh? All of these purposes have different outcomes and ultimately decide how you should structure and write your content accordingly.
What boxes are you ticking when creating content for your e-commerce website? Have you identified and honed in on your target audience? Have you written what they want to read as opposed to what you want to read? Well-crafted, high-quality and informed content is a driving force in success in the e-commerce arena. Not least because if users like your content, they’ll share it, and if they share it, more people see it, which means more traffic.
There is no straightforward answer to this question. While there are masses of freelance copywriters out there, they come at a price and they may not necessarily be able to get a true understanding of your company quite like you have. It’s why many companies choose to undertake their e-commerce copywriting in-house. This could either be through existing team members or by hiring dedicated writers and editors.
Equally, smaller companies can create fantastic content with the resources they have combined with attention to detail, a real passion for what they do and a thorough understanding of their target audience.
Whether you opt to write copy yourself or appoint a dedicated team member, you mustn’t neglect the act of content creation by wrongly assuming it’s not worth an investment of your resources.
“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” – Thomas Jefferson
Now the basics are covered, let’s dive into those top e-commerce copywriting tips.
We’ve touched on the importance of understanding every aspect of your audience, but it really is crucial to do so.
To define your audience is to define their needs: what do they need to know? What do they want to know? Which type of written content will trigger the elicited response?
By defining your audience you give your content a target, an aim, a set of eyes that is going to read it, love it and share it. You therefore absolutely need to know who you’re writing for in order to tailor your copy accordingly or, alternatively, to direct a freelancer or in-house writer if you’ve chosen that route.
Remember, though, that your copy could be found by anyone on the web. So, unless it’s super niche (i.e. academic or technical), it should also be readable for a general audience. For that reason, try to avoid overly cliché structures or idioms. These might not be appreciated by all your readership, who may not be native speakers, for example. This in turn could prevent you communicating your brand’s message as clearly as possible, which, after all, is your goal here.
If you’re a business owner then you already have this golden knowledge ready to wield to create some seriously quality copy.
However, if you’re hiring a freelancer or have in-house writers then they need to properly get to grips with your product and/or services before they put pen to paper…or finger to keyboard in this case.
Consider the benefits of your products or services and think about how you could describe them in the most enticing way to your target audience. This will very much depend on what you sell but you should always try to remain fairly low-key and avoid an aggressive hard-sell. This is not what will win your customers over as it can alienate them and discourage them from building a relationship with your brand.
Creating content for content’s sake will more than likely prove to be a big waste of your resources. Even if you know your audience back to front, your text will not truly fulfil its purpose unless it is clear and concise. These textual qualities have a huge impact on readability.
Have you ever read something online, reached the end of it and wondered what exactly you had just read? That is a red flag for written content with no clear value. It’s unusual for users to even reach the end of such content. They’ll normally give up if what they’re reading provides no immediate benefit to them.
To prevent this, avoid complex structures and anything overly idiomatic that your audience might just not get. Remember too that the English language typically favours short, concise sentences in the active voice rather than the passive. For example:
It might take some re-phrasing but you can see how the second sentence (in the active voice) is instantly clearer and easier to understand.
With that in mind, keep your text readable, intelligent, but readable. Stay on track and avoid “fluff” at all costs, and by that we mean words for words sake. Read back over sentences you’ve written and ask yourself: do they have a clear purpose in the text? If not, get rid of them to preserve the conciseness and clarity. Readers don’t have time for content that brings them no benefit. They’ll skip over all that stuff and get straight to the facts so you need to make your content “scannable”, allowing readers to easily take in the most important parts of the text, i.e. facts and figures.
Just as readers don’t appreciate content with no clear value, they don’t care for generic statements either.
For example, you should avoid structures such as “studies show XYZ” at all costs, unless of course you can legitimately back them up. Otherwise it doesn’t really mean anything to your audience and it could come across as sloppy. Back up your statements with reliable sources. If there aren’t any, then don’t include the point in your copy at all.
Include facts, statements and references that are relevant to your audience and that add value to your work rather than to boost word count. This applies to all of your e-commerce copywriting endeavours, from sales copy to marketing campaigns. For example, rather than writing “Many people love our loyalty programme for the rewards they can earn”, you could write “500 customers are reaping the rewards from our loyalty programme”. You can see how the statement transitions from generic to concrete and factual and it’s this that will stick out in reader’s minds.
When it comes to e-commerce copywriting, it’s best practice to always have a clear plan in mind. It can be tempting to just launch into it, but that doesn’t give you a chance to thoroughly formulate your thoughts. This applies to a blog post, copy for a new page on your website and even sales material.
Even if the plan is just a few sentences long, it gives the text a clear aim and structure. If you struggle with “writer’s block” try writing a first draft of your plan, leaving it for a while, and then coming back to it. You’ll see that new ideas and areas for improvement will jump out at you. Once you have a solid plan in place, you’ll find the act of content creation much easier and clearer, thanks to the ideas you wrote down to guide you.
….and proofread some more!
There is nothing worse than copy with spelling and grammatical mistakes. It can undermine your business and shows a lack of attention to detail if nothing else.
It’s highly likely that you’ll have made at least one mistake that you’ve not picked up on. Even the best writers out there experience this. It’s probably best not to proofread text as soon as you’ve written it either as you can become “error-blind”. This means it’s difficult to spot errors in something that you’ve just written as you’ve basically become too familiar with it.
As with your plan, leave it for a while, come back to it and you’ll notice errors and inconsistencies that you didn’t before. Even better than proofreading it yourself is to employ a fresh set of eyes to look over it. They’ll be even more likely to spot mistakes you might have missed.
By following these tips and being dedicated to creating high-quality copy for your e-commerce business, you’ll drive traffic and sales. This is largely because high-quality copy reflects well on your business and ultimately boosts the time that users spend on your website.
Remember to hone in on your audience and create copy that is suitable for them. In other words copy that is pertinent and which provides a clear solution to a “problem”.
Try testing different versions of text and keeping an eye on your analytics to see what really piques your customer’s interests. This is an excellent way to define your tone of voice. You might also try establishing an in-house style guide once you have an idea of of how to communicate your brand’s message in the most effective way.
When performing keyword research try not to solely target “end-of-sale” keywords. Look also for keywords that searchers are using in the research phase of the buying cycle. By doing this you’ll get your website in front of more searchers in the long run.
Having full visibility of all your content is important in tracking its success and making sure that it’s aligned and up to date. Our bluCommerce platform is integrated with several content management systems (CMS) to give you this complete overview and smooth management of all your site’s content.
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