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4 tricks to use to improve your ecommerce sales copy

Written by Spencer Durrant on March 11, 2016 in Strategies & Tips

sales copy post featured imageIn the ecommerce world, your sales copy plays a big part in convincing customers to buy your product. Whether that copy is on your product pages, social media, or in an email, the words you choose to describe your products matter in a big way. 

In the words of Adam Binder, a writer for Creative Click Media, copy on your website establishes the tone of your brand. That tone can be the tipping point between a customer choosing to buy from you or a competitor. 

Binder's great advice is as follows: 

"Ask yourself a few questions. Is your company more personable or professional? Do you value efficiency over engagement? Are you funny, compassionate, or sternly austere?

"Now ask yourself another question; does the copy of your website speak to these characteristics? The wording of your website goes a long way toward establishing the ‘tone’ or ‘voice’ of your brand or company. A law firm whose web copy is full of jokes and word-play is woefully off message. Likewise, a party rental company whose web copy is stiff and overly professional is presenting an image that is contradictory to the service they offer.

"There is no universal right or wrong way to write web copy. Every company, organization, and brand is a unique entity with a unique personality. When writing copy for your website, be sure to pay special attention to the ‘tone’ your words are setting."

So with the importance of copy in general terms firmly imprinted in your mind, let's move on to talking about some tips you can use to increase the efficacy of your ecommerce sales copy.

Simplify your solution

In this great post from Kissmetrics, the idea of simplifying your solution is presented as a "psychological trick" to include in your copy that will greatly improve the conversion power of your copy. Specifically, you need to:

"Show [your audience] how your product makes it fool-proof to achieve the result they want in the fastest time possible. Even though we all know deep down that achieving the result we want takes work, we still don’t want to do the work. So give your audience what they want, the easiest and simplest solution, on the front end and teach them what they need on the back end."

That quote is obviously more contextual towards SaaS and other service companies, but the same logic can by applied as you simplify the copy and descriptions on your ecommerce store.

Take this product page from Innocent Drinks, a UK-based online retailer: Screenshot_2016-03-08_at_10.55.55_AM.png

The product description is perfect. It's succinct, scannable, and tells the consumer everything they need to know about the product without overwhelming them with unnecessary superlatives or blatantly obvious sales babble. 

Emotionally connect with your audience

What inspires people to buy your products instead of a competitor’s? Are you playing the price game and underselling your competition? That's not a long-lasting strategy, and unless you're Amazon or Wal-Mart, you really can't afford to entice customers that way for the long term.

A huge part of getting people to buy your product is getting them to buy into your brand. 

It's like Dean Rieck wrote for CopyBlogger: 

"[Customers make decisions] based on a feeling, need, or emotion, not through a logical thought process. That’s why intangible benefits are the keys to persuasion."

Emotionally connecting with your audience is definitely a psychological trick your sales copy needs, simply because there's so much bland, unimaginative copy in existence. 

But how do you emotionally connect with an audience? 

Mark Macdonald, from Shopify, offers one great idea - appeal to your customers' imaginations. Macdonald uses an example of a product description written by ThinkGeek about their grilling multi tool: 

"There is a person who is the hero of every BBQ or family cookout and that is the Grill Master. We always looked up to our Mom or Dad as they tended the grill and looked forward to the day when we could be in charge of charring the meatstuff and searing delicious slices of fresh pineapple. Now that we're adults, it's finally our turn and technology has smiled upon us, giving us a tool that is destined to impress."

This obviously appeals to the imagination of men who want to become grill masters - but it can also work on women who are shopping for a gift for their husbands. Regardless of how you go about it, emotionally connecting with your audience is an important trick to have up your sleeve to improve your copy.

Reduce choice overload

Have you ever been to a restaurant that has a menu that reads more like a novel? These restaurants are usually the eateries in which it takes you twice as long to order because there are so many choices. 

That sudden inability to decide what you want to eat is known as choice overload - and it happens far too often in the ecommerce world. 

How many products do you sell in your online store? According to Quora, the average amount of products for B2C online retailers ranges from 500 - 2,000 products. If a customer comes to your site and is welcomed with 1,000 products at one glance, they will feel just like they're in a restaurant with a ton of food options - they won't know where to start to find what they need. 

You can fix this problem by categorizing your products into as many sub-categories as possible. For instance, say your online store sells outdoor gear. Your category for "Camping Supplies" might look like the following: 

  • Camping Supplies
    • Tents
    • Tarps
    • Tent stakes
    • Rain flys
    • Camp stoves
    • Camp stove fuel
    • Sleeping pads
    • Sleeping bags

I think you get the point. You can expand or reduce the amount of subcategories depending on how many products you sell, and how specific your products are. For example, you could branch off into more categories on the products like tents and sleeping bags. 2, 4, 6, or 8 man tents, and size of the sleeping bag are all different product features that you can use to more effectively categorize your store's offerings. 

So how does this relate back into improving your sales copy? Well, once you have all your products categorized correctly, customers are more likely to browse your site since it's easy to find what they want, and once they do find products they're interested in, they'll read your improved product descriptions and compelling copy. Couple that with reviews, and you'll be ready to rack in the sales! 

Create a sense of urgency

This may seem like a difficult trick to implement into your ecommerce sales copy, but don’t overthink the task. If you can take the time to come up with some creative ideas to insert urgency into your copy, you'll be rewarded with more engaged customers. 

Consider what Zack Fagan wrote for the Storeya Blog

"Was there ever a concert that you really really wanted to go to? If so, then I’m sure you also recall that you were willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money in order to be sure that you would get what you wanted. Why were you willing to do that?
"Obviously part of it is because of the perceived benefit you would get from the concert. But why did you need to buy tickets the day they became available, and pay more than you should have?
"I’ll tell you why – the phenomenon of urgency."

There are a couple of tricks you can use to create a sense of urgency in your sales copy. Here is one of those tricks:

Have you ever gone to shop for a product and seen a product page similar to this one? (h/t to The Edesign for this Screenshot_2016-03-09_at_10.01.43_AM.png

What stands out to you about this product description?

You should notice the italicized red text - the product is limited to three per customer. 

Now, Minecraft is an incredibly popular game, and it makes sense that ThinkGeek would limit the amount you can have per-order, so they can keep enough of these Minecraft-themed backpacks in stock. But adding that bit of subtle text creates a sense of urgency to buy them now. What if that product gets sold out soon? What if it goes out of production? Those are all questions a consumer will think when they see something like that in a product description, and it's all thanks to the phenomenon of urgency. 

There's no shortage of psychological tricks available for online retailers to use to improve their sales copy. We have covered a few of the best tactics out there, but they may not work for every online store. As with everything in the ecommerce world, you need to continually be testing new ideas and strategies to help your website's conversion rates.

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