4 Ways Copywriting Can Boost Your E-commerce Conversion Rates
Posted by ksaleh
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.
[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]
Your website’s copy is far more important than you realize.
Besides design, copy forms the foundation of your brand. How you describe yourself and your products leaves a palpable impression on your customers. Whether customers think of your brand as bold, futuristic, quirky, or cute depends largely on your copy.
Web copy is also crucial for conveying product information. Your customers want to know how your product works and how it will change their lives.
Unfortunately, far too many e-commerce stores spend hours optimizing their website’s design and layout but completely skip over the copy.
The result? Poor conversion rates.
The relationship between copy and conversion rates
If you’re running an e-commerce store, a SaaS startup, or a marketing agency, the three of your biggest challenges are:
You’ll realize that you can meet all of these challenges through smart copywriting. In fact, it isn’t unusual for improving a website’s copy to increase its conversion rates by 2x, 3x, or even 4x.
- FreckleTime increased the conversion rate for its homepage by 2.4x simply by changing its copy.
- Invesp increased conversion rates for BlogTalk Radio and Oreilly by over 90% by focusing on copy and value proposition in the copy throughout the site.
- Encyclopedia Britannica increased conversion rates by 103% by changing its sales page copy.
There is a distinct, direct relationship between copy and conversion rates. Better copy, whether it’s on landing pages or product descriptions, leads to better conversion rates.
The obvious question is: how can you improve your e-commerce copy?
Here are four actionable tactics you can use right away to get better conversions.
1. Write for your target personas
Sketching out a target customer profile based on your brand’s personas will help you craft laser-targeted, high-converting copy.
Nearly all your customers will belong to one or more of these four persona types:
- Logical persona: This persona type is logical, methodical, and detail-oriented. A customer with a logical persona will carefully scrutinize your offer before hitting the “Buy” button. He will also shop around for better deals. Roughly 40–45% of the audience falls into this category.
- Impulsive persona: An impulsive persona type is spontaneous, risk-oriented, and optimistic. This persona is more prone to making quick decisions and will focus on the benefits when buying. Roughly 30–35% of the audience would be characterized as an impulsive persona.
- Caring persona: A caring persona is concerned deeply about the well-being of others. This persona will consider your offer only when it helps others as well. Instead of looking at the product and its features, those having caring personas will also browse through your About Us page to see what kind of company you run. Roughly 15–20% of the population falls into this category.
- Aggressive persona: An aggressive persona is rational and focused on self-improvement. This persona holds herself to a high standard of integrity and will expect the same from you. Roughly 5–7% of the population has this persona.
How to write for each customer persona
What kind of copy you’ll use for each persona will depend largely on what category the persona falls into. A logical persona type will respond very differently to your copy than an impulsive persona type.
Try following some of these guidelines for your persona-types:
- Emphasize features
- Include extensive details, especially of the technology behind your products
- Avoid fluff and vague language
Example: Take a look at the product descriptions on Canada-Goose.com. This is a brand that sells expensive but high-quality outerwear for extreme cold weather conditions.
Canada Goose customers care about the quality and construction of the clothes. The copy reflects this, focusing on features and underlying technology.
- Focus on benefits
- Use rich imagery and power words
- Weave a story around your product
Example: Read the product descriptions on the J Peterman catalog. This brand sells the story behind each product.
The details are sparse and the copy uses rich imagery and metaphors to appeal to its target audience.
- Show how your products benefit others, both within product descriptions and on unique pages (About Us, mission statement, etc.).
- Emphasize the environmental or social benefits of your products.
Example: On Patagonia.com, each product page has a separate section detailing the product’s supply chain. This is in line with Patagonia’s mission statement that promotes sustainable living and environmentally-friendly policies.
- Focus on how the product will help the customer improve himself/herself
- Emphasize the underlying technology, especially how it relates to performance improvements
- Focus on your store or your brand’s heritage and history to establish credibility
Example: Most fitness brands fall under this category (see the copy for Keen, a brand of hiking footwear):
The copy lists out the technology used in the shoe and tells the reader how it improves performance.
Ideally, you want to use copy that targets all of these personas on every page. If that’s not possible, you should at least try to figure out the dominant customer persona for each product or category, and use the appropriate copy.
2. Use power words and action words
Staggering. Smashing. Stunning.
These are all examples of power words — words that evoke strong emotions in your readers.
Power words are rarely used in everyday speech (recall the last time you used “staggering” or “sensational” in a casual conversation). This makes them stand out all the more when used in e-commerce copy.
Using power words is the easiest way to elevate your copy beyond the ordinary. A sprinkle of these words can turn boring product descriptions into emotion-generating copy that turns browsers into customers, customers into fans.
See how Firebox uses power words in its product descriptions:
These simple words turn ordinary copy into something far more compelling.
So what are power words like?
Here’s a short list of power words that are particularly useful for e-commerce copywriting tasks.
No questions asked
Use action words
Power words evoke emotion, but they don’t drive readers to take action.
For that, you need to use action words in your copy.
These are simply words that describe an action: add, act, take, get, etc.
Let’s take another look at the Firebox product description page:
Action words make your copy sound more energetic and active. They also subtly tell the reader to take some action.
You don’t have to use them excessively. Just pepper them in whenever you want to hammer in a feature/benefit or get your readers to take some action.
Here’s a list of some action words you can use in many different types of copywriting tasks:
3. Use the right formatting
Your website visitors don’t read your pages.
According to eye-tracking studies conducted by Nielsen, people scan e-commerce pages in an F-shaped pattern:
That is, they first look to the left column, then to the right, then drag their eyes down the page.
This means that users won’t read your copy — however remarkable it may be — unless it’s formatted correctly.
Follow these guidelines for improved e-commerce copy formatting:
- Follow an information hierarchy. The most important content should go in the first couple of paragraphs. Less important information should be further down the page.
Take a look at this product page on NewEgg.com. It lists the most important things about the product, including availability, seller name and key features, at the top of the page:
- Follow a two-column layout, with the product image on the left and critical product details on the right. People are already used to this convention and will naturally look at the image on the left first, followed by the text on the right.
Overstock.com uses this layout on its product pages:
- Use bullet points for the text to the right of the image (i.e., the most important content). You can use paragraphs for longer product descriptions.
For example, Amazon mentions each product’s top features in the form of a bullet list at the top of the page:
- Use information-rich headers to organize the content (such as key features and sizing information). Users will scan these to find what they’re looking for as they scroll down the page.
NewEgg organizes this information in separate tabs:
BestBuy’s product pages follow a similar structure, but with even better content organization:
- Use keywords in your copy. Users will quickly scan your copy to figure out details about your product. Adding keywords such as size and price will help them scan your page faster.
Great examples of this can be found on Target’s product pages, including this one:
Keep these tips in mind when you write your copy. Otherwise, you just might end up creating impeccable content that no one reads.
4. Don’t forget unique pages
Your homepage, About Us page, mission statement, and the like comprise your site’s unique pages.
Unlike product or category pages (which usually follow a template), each of these pages has distinct content, copy, and design.
Optimizing the copy on your unique pages can have a noticeable impact on conversion rates. For one, these pages help customers understand you and your brand. If you can describe your brand in a way that resonates with your target customers, you’ll be able to sell more products at better prices.
Tell a story through your unique pages
When writing copy for unique pages, the standard rules apply: Use power words and evocative imagery.
At the same time, you also want to make sure that your copy weaves a story about your brand.
ThinkGeek does the same by boldly stating its manifesto on its About page:
Emphasize your brand’s history and values
Another way to use copywriting to improve brand perception is to share your brand’s history and values on your unique pages.
For example, Patagonia.com has a separate page for its mission statement:
Tell your brand’s story
Your brand is more than just a collection of products. There are real people with real stories behind the business who come together to create all your amazing products.
Highlighting these on a separate “Our Story” page is a great idea.
For example, take a look at how Saddleback Leather does it:
Whatever tactic you use to emphasize your brand’s history and its values, the copy on these pages should reflect your brand.
Copywriting and conversion rate are inherently related. Good web copy is closely correlated with good conversion rates. Using power words, appropriate formatting, and persona-targeted copywriting can help you drastically improve the copy of your e-commerce website and, by proxy, its conversion rates.
Has your brand made a commitment to enhancing conversion rates with effective copywriting?
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