eCommerce copywriting is not like standard writing. I've written for big brands like Harrods and B&Q over the years and it may sound simplistic - but you need to write in a way that appeals to shoppers who literally have their credit cards out and are ready to buy from you.
From small estore businesses to big brands in the digital space, many mistakes are made when it comes to ecommerce copywriting (not least poor spelling and grammar), but these need to be eliminated if you want to grow your business.
So when crafting your copy, try to stay away from these common errors that plague many online retailers...
Mistake #1 – Focusing Too Much on the Product
Whether your store sells wedding decorations or fashion jewelry, you should not focus too much on the features of the product. Focusing on features can be boring for a customer, though it may seem interesting to you. You need to be laser-focused on the needs of the customer.
Customers don’t operate the same way as corporations—they are living, breathing human beings that think and act on emotions and lifestyle requirements.
Check out the example below from Target, describing a Chefman home kettle. The kettle’s features, such as its size, shouldn’t be over-described. Instead, you should highlight how the kettle makes life easier for people who love tea and coffee.
As you can see from this latter example, the happiness of buying the kettle is palpable, as people can visualize what the product will do for them. This avoids the experience of being bored to tears by reading in a feature-laden description about how the kettle was manufactured.
This is an example of a well-written product description. By substituting the word “description” for “details,” it sounds more inviting to read because it encourages the potential buyer to want to know more. It doesn’t sound surgical. It sets the image of the kettle being one that everyone should have if they want a brewed hot beverage which is made to perfection.
Focus on the benefits of the product for a customer, instead of what the brand would want you to write. The less you focus on the features that sell the product, the closer you get to what a customer wants to know.
Mistake #2 – Steer Clear of Buzzwords
Every year, buzzwords find their way into catalogs, eCommerce product descriptions, and brochures. Common buzzwords could be “innovative,” “disruptive,” “world-class,” “game-changing”—the list goes on and on. They weigh down the content of your product description because they have lost their meaning. Let’s look at the example below from Pretty Little Thing:
For retailers like Pretty Little Thing, words such as beautiful or glamorous are buzzwords in the fashion and beauty space because they have been overused.
In this description, the company has avoided the cloud of buzzwords and sits in the sunshine with phrases such as “statement finish” and “silky soft.” These emotive phrases replace the dry imagery of buzzwords with vibrancy and color, to inspire shoppers in a fresh way.
In the content and commerce space, we can see the rejection of buzzwords continuing even for tech media plays like TechRadar. The tech industry is notorious for overuse of words like “innovative” and “disruptive.” When recommending a Samsung phone in a buyer’s guide, TechRadar took a different approach that you can see below:
Instead of saying the best feature was innovative, the copywriter opted for “write-home-to-mother.” This adds humor to the description while underlining why you should purchase the phone.
Mistake #3 – Immersing Your Website in Adjectives and Adverbs
Content across the web is drowning in adjectives and adverbs. Copywriters are always tempted to use them—because how can you stay away from words that seem to add that extra bit of oomph? The problem is too many adjectives and adverbs tear your content apart by making it unreadable.
Besides providing nothing but hot air for your customer, excessive use of adjectives and adverbs decreases readability of your copy, which, therefore, takes customers away from your page. If you are writing copy for category pages, product descriptions, or blogs, remove unnecessary adjectives from your copy with surgical precision.
You want your content to shine through to reach customers, not to be over-seasoned with adjectives that don’t sell them on the benefits of the product.
Mistake #4 – Being Boring with Your Copy
The last thing customers want to read is sleep-inducing copy on your eCommerce website. Inject personality and warmth into your copy and stay true to your brand at the same time.
One example of a brand that isn’t boring or personality-deficient is Booking.com. The Amsterdam-based travel booking website is known for adding sprinkles of personality in its content that give you that extra reminder to go traveling as soon as possible.
Booking.com seasons this hotel booking page with a friendly copy which makes you feel like you are invited to stay at the hotel, even though you are booking a room.
Excellent examples of this include “What guests loved the most,” “We speak your language,” and adding a tip—“Stay flexible.” By adding the tip about being flexible on free cancellations, Booking.com shows how it is like a friend advising you on the ideal hotel for you in an authentic, non-pushy voice that is visible across the pages of the website.
Mistake #5 – Relying on Statistics Instead of Storytelling
Numbers don’t lie. However, they may not be giving your copy the boost that it needs to bring in the sales for your eCommerce website. Don’t rely too much on numbers or statistics. They are static.
For the latest toy craze, if a customer knows 10 million units have been sold, this seems positive to include; however, it doesn’t do anything for the customer. If you put your attention on storytelling over statistics, you can engage customers on a deeper level.
Instead of stating how many people are purchasing the toys on your eCommerce website, create a story of how the toy could make the child feel. You could use real-life examples from customers who have already bought from you, or you can create a narrative that ties into the benefits of the toy.
Mastering storytelling for eCommerce does take time, but it can reap benefits. If you hear a story of how a child’s confidence grew after playing with a toy, this tugs at your heart more than knowing that the company shipped 10 million units of the toy around the world.
Mistake #6 – Forgetting to Use Bullet Points
Fashion juggernaut ASOS.com knows how to inspire customers with copy that isn’t staid or packed with text. The eCommerce super-brand achieves this by using bullet points.
ASOS.com has substituted “details” for “description,” to make the clothing sound more real and relatable. Under the details section you can see the sparks of this copywriting. By using bullet points, ASOS.com is targeting busy browsers who need to know quickly what the product does, yet without losing the spirit that this is fashionable clothing.
Bullet points make the content easy to scan, and it also makes it simple for customers to remember the details of why they would want to purchase the product.
Long, chunky paragraphs are replaced with bullet points that are breezy and crisp. A short paragraph is also visible, explaining the background of the brand that is selling the clothing.
Infuse your eCommerce website with bullet points when it makes sense. Try them instead of paragraphs on the product descriptions for the items you are selling and see if this helps to increase conversion rates.
Mistake #7 – Overlooking the Power of Persuasion
Copywriters are passionate about writing, but, sometimes, persuasion can be lost in the mix. For an eCommerce brand, persuasion has to be used to generate the results that you need for your business. Persuasion can be worked into your content by solving a pain point or by touching on the emotional needs that people respond to.
Don’t make your copy so dense that it just becomes streams of words on a page. Use persuasion to your advantage to make a shower head the most useful product for an interior-design-obsessed customer. Use persuasion to inspire a fashionista to purchase a new dress even though she might have many others in her closet.
Don’t drown yourself in grammar and words so that you forget persuasion lies at the heart of successful copywriting.
Energize Your ecommerce Website Today with Crisp Copywriting
These 7 mistakes don’t need to cost you. Understand their potential to harm your business, and avoid them by improving the quality of your copywriting.
Inspire digital shoppers with product descriptions that pop, and write landing pages that make customers want to stay forever. Achieve all of this with copywriting that cuts through the noise.