In our last ebook, we took a deep dive into what’s arguably the most crucial element of your ecommerce site: your product photography. There’s a direct correlation between the polish and professionalism of your product images and the amount of consumer trust you’ll have off the bat. Bad product photography will lead to fast bounces. Stellar photography, on the other hand, will keep them on your page a few seconds longer.
But now you’ve got to bring in another on-site marketing component to help seal the deal.
And that’s copy: the text you’ll use on your ecommerce site to speak to prospects’ pain points, establish your product as an ideal solution, and prompt them to convert.
Indeed, copy affects your business both before and after that initial visual impression made by your product photographs. After all, prospects can’t click into your site unless they know you exist; and that discovery process typically occurs through search engine queries. So product copy is precisely what’ll allow Google to recognize what you’re selling, and offer it up to the very prospects who are seeking the solution you offer.
On the other hand, once they’ve arrived on your site, there’s plenty of product information consumers will want that product photography simply can’t provide: Think product warranties, customer benefits, the product’s production process or backstory, social proof, and so on. Your product copy is there to fill in the gaps of that missing information. And, let’s be honest: It’s also there to entice them.
Ultimately, we’re talking about capturing two attentions: Google’s attention before the search query is even entered, and your prospects’ attention once they’ve arrived on your site. And you’ll need copy that’s both keyword-rich and customer-centric if you want to capture both. In the following pages, we’ll show you how to make that happen.
Why is Good Product Copy So Important?
Since numbers tend to talk, let’s start there. Consumer surveys conducted in recent years have shown how crucial product descriptions are to ecommerce sales conversions. Respondents to a Salsify survey said that product descriptions were the #1 element that contributed to their decision to make a purchase. Product descriptions outranked both customer reviews (#2) and product price (#3). According to another study by Shotfarm, 30% of online shoppers have abandoned a shopping cart because of poor product descriptions—that’s the third-highest reason for cart abandonment, behind price and delivery time.
Poor product content was also the reason 40% of online shoppers returned an item… and 87% of those consumers said they’d be unlikely to return to a retailer that provided inaccurate product content to give them a second shot.
“In the eyes of the digital consumer,” Shotfarm’s Product Information Report concludes, “a product is only as good as the information associated with it. If that information is incomplete in any way, purchases are delayed, products are returned, and brand equity is lost. All are very costly propositions.” Between cart abandonment (sales numbers), returns, and brand trust, we’re talking nearly every facet of your online business that can be affected—negatively or positively—by product copy.
But it’s not just thoroughness and accuracy that online consumers are looking for. 88% of consumers also expect product information to be “rich” if they’re going to hit that “Purchase” CTA. We’re talking copy that empathizes with the consumer, that demonstrates a passion for the product and how it will enhance the customer’s life. We’re talking copy that breathes life into your product through compelling language and a keen awareness of consumer psychology… including the psychology of your specific target market.
From an SEO perspective, Search Engine Journal recently cited content as the most important ranking factor according to industry studies. (Google itself ranks content among the top three factors.) So we’re back to that important line you’ll have to learn to hold in your product copy—content that’s keyword-friendly for the search engines and relevant, compelling, and even entertaining for your prospects.
The (Other) Benefits of Great Product Copy
We’ve just discussed how copy can affect ecommerce sales, returns, and consumer trust. But here are a few other benefits of terrific product copy worth considering:
- It helps solidify your (unique) brand voice. Your company brand is something that will form over time, based on the messages you send across touchpoints and the ways your target market receives them. One of the most important elements of brand positioning is differentiation—and while differentiation occurs at the level of your offering, it also occurs at the level of what we’ll call company “personality.” Good product copy is an extension of the company voice you decided upon when you set out to discover what will make your business unique. It’ll help deliver that unforgettable quality to your site visitors—regardless of how understated or exaggerated your unique voice is.
- It turns your products into objects of desire. We’ll discuss some of the strategies through which this transformation occurs in the following pages. Sometimes it means asking site visitors the exact question that will alert them to the fact that something is missing in their lives. Sometimes it means painting a picture of what their lives would look like with your product in it. Whatever the specific strategies, great product descriptions do more than… well, describe your product. After all, consumers aren’t actually interested in your product; they’re interested in what it does for them. (Note: This will require a strong combination of market research and empathy.) When you can offer this—making your product thoroughly desirable—you’ll see measurable results.
- It earns you customer loyalty. Customer trust is one thing; customer loyalty is another thing altogether. Great ecommerce copy—anywhere on your site, but particularly on your product pages—is built around popular (and pressing) queries, anticipates and addresses prospect needs, and creates value by offering both quality information and insights. It also cultivates consumer feedback and responds to it. The copywriting great Robert Collier once advised: “Study your reader first—your product second.” We’d also add: listen to your reader first. Doing these things—and bringing what you learn into your product copy—will ensure a long-lasting, loyal relationship with your target audience.
Should I Hire a Copywriter for my Product Copy?
It’s a question we hear often; and the answer is: It depends. Content creation for product descriptions can be a delightful process; and if you’re the one who knows your product best—and who is most passionate about it—it wouldn’t hurt to sit down with the following pages, read our best practices, and try your hand at your own product descriptions first.
That said, product descriptions can certainly feel like a burden for an ecommerce entrepreneur. You’ve got a thousand other details to attend to in keeping your business afloat… and product copy isn’t an element of your ecommerce business you can afford to take lightly. We don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to earn consumer engagement these days: The bare minimum—basic specs—simply won’t cut it anymore. So if you don’t feel that you can meet consumers where they need to be met in order to make a purchase and solidify a relationship with you, it might be a wise move to outsource.
If you do decide to outsource, we’ve got a guide on how to hire a freelance blogger that should be just as useful for hiring professional copywriters for product copy. Wherever you search for copywriters—whether through referrals, social media, content mills, agencies, or elsewhere—the most important thing will be writing up a job description that filters out the weaker writers and gets you the strongest possible candidates. So take a look at that content before you get started on your search.
Product Copy: An Overview
If you do decide to try your hand at your own product copy, come along with us over the next few pages for the ride. Here’s what we’ll cover:
As an ecommerce business, “discoverability” will be the driving force behind most of the decisions you make around website copy. As we’ll discuss at greater length shortly, optimizing your site for search engine optimization (SEO) will entail not only knowing what prospects search for, but also knowing how competitive those queries are. The point, after all, is to rank. So we’ll discuss how to uncover the best keywords for your online store; we’ll also walk you, step-by-step, through each place in your ecommerce site you should sprinkle in those keywords.
And yet, strong ecommerce copy isn’t just about doing your research on search queries and competition—indeed, the hard data on searches is only half the battle. Now there’s the more nuanced stuff to consider, which requires knowing your prospects a little more deeply. The more acutely you understand your target market, the more clear you’ll be about how much product information your prospects need, what details to offer them in your product descriptions, and what tone to take with them in your copy overall. You’ll know what picture to paint and what “power words” to use to stoke their emotional fires. You’ll also know how to leverage psychology on your product pages to increase conversions.
We know: You might regularly come across great copy while shopping online; but you probably don’t spend time picking apart those business’s strategic decisions. That’s precisely what the following pages will help you learn to do.
Finally, what we offer in the following pages are strong strategies and best practices. The truth is that there’s no one way to craft remarkable product copy. You’ll find the style, tone, and strategies that work best for you over time… though the content here will get you started on your best foot. Over time, we’d suggest A/B testing your product descriptions so you can discover what works best based on prospect engagement and conversion numbers. (A good professional copywriter will know how to do this… so make sure that’s one of the questions you ask candidates if you’re outsourcing!)
Before you start crafting your product copy, you’ve got to know what your target market is searching for. After all, if you’re offering to solve a pain point no one has, or calling your product by a name your prospects don’t use for it, your site’s simply not going to see organic traffic. So in the next section, we turn to keyword research, and guide you through finding the right language for your ecommerce product copy.