Inject Life Into Your Product Copy

People regularly ask me to provide feedback on their e-commerce stores. The most common complaint I hear is – “I’m getting traffic, but no sales. What’s wrong with my site?”

To be honest, it’s tough to give precise and absolute answers to such questions. There could be any number of things wrong, and the only way to know for sure is to track and test. However, the one thing I find in common with many such sites is the lack of inspirational product copy.

In other words, I’m just not motivated to buy your product after reading your description. Think about that. You’re doing all the hard work getting people to your store, most of them actually looking to buy something, and then they turn away simply because your product description is nothing special.

The end result is the same as if you didn’t have any traffic – no sales. All that hard work and advertising money goes down the drain.

But fear not, product copy is probably the easiest thing to change on a site. By easy, I mean it takes no coding or technical knowledge. Just log into backend and change the words around.

What you change the words into, that’s what really matters. It’s time to put your creative hats on and get busy. Here are some techniques you can use to inject life into your product copy –

Talk about the ‘Why’, not the ‘What’

Look, I probably already have an idea of what it is you sell. I wouldn’t be shopping on your site if I didn’t know that. So don’t tell me what I’m looking at. Don’t describe what the product looks like. Tell me why I need this particular product. How is it going to help me, and why should I buy it over anything else?

Take a look at the product copy of ModCloth, an indie fashion store. Pick any item and you’ll see how they craft the benefits into the product copy. For example, if you look at their dresses, you won’t find a stale description of what it’s made of what colors it comes in. Instead you’ll be told that the dress will make you the center of attention at dinner parties and you’ll receive plenty of compliments. Now that’s what you want to hear when shopping around.

ModCloth Product Copy

Tell a story

Since time immemorial, stories have always fascinated and entertained humans. Ever since the first cavemen painted stories onto their walls, we’ve been enthralling each other with our prose. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t incorporate that into our products.

Take a look at the product copy for Apple’s iPad Air for inspiration. See how they weave the benefits and features of the iPad into a story about a choreographer in India. The story takes you through the different ways he uses the iPad, the things he can do with it, and how it’s replaced all the clunky technology he used before the iPad.

Apple Product Copy

Make this about the customer

Don’t make the copy about your product. Make it about your customer. I come to your site with a need or a problem, hoping that you have a solution to it. So tell me how you can help me, and not how I can help you by buying your product.

The J. Peterman Company knows how to do just that. Their ‘being comfortable’ jacket isn’t about the jacket, but about how it makes you comfortable. They know precisely who they’re targeting with this jacket and what that person wants.

J Peterman Product Copy

Add some humor

Everyone loves a bit of lolz every now and then. When you add humor to your product copy, it makes it more memorable. Even if your customer doesn’t buy it immediately, he/she will still remember it at a later point and come back to buy it. The best part is, everyone likes sharing something funny they read, so chances are if yourproduct copy is hilarious, people will likely share it on their social networks.

Remember that Old Spice ad? Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. That was hilarious and even though you saw it ages ago, you can still remember it. In fact, you can still remember the sound of the actor’s voice. The Old Spice e-commerce store is no different. Have a look at how they weave humor into their copy.

Old Spice Product Copy

Preempt and overcome objections

People don’t easily open up their wallets. There’s always a little voice inside their heads bringing up objections and coming up with reasons not to buy. Try to look at your products from a buyers’ point of view. Ask yourself the questions they might ask and make sure your product copy answers those questions. You can even do a survey, asking your actual customers if they have any questions about the product that’s stopping them from buying.

Have a look at the product copy for Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. When it comes to e-book readers, the most pertinent questions are, how long will the battery last, is it small and light enough to hold in one hand, and will I be able to read books without hurting my eyes. Amazon knows exactly what questions customers will ask and answers them precisely.

Amazon Product Copy

Tap into the imagination

Imagine. It’s such a powerful word. Imagine you’re on a beach. You just imagined yourself on a beach didn’t you? When you use the word imagine in your product copy, you can practically control your customers’ thoughts. Lead them anywhere you want them to go, take them on a journey with your product.

What does beard oil have to do with Switzerland? Well, there’s no connection, but with the power of imagination Beardbrand takes you on a journey to a Swiss mountaintop with their Tea Tree Beard Oil. You can almost smell the cool, crisp Swiss scent of the beard oil after reading the product description.

Beard Brand Product Copy

Make your product copy readable

KISS – Keep it simple, silly (or stupid, depending on how forcefuly you want to convey your point). In the case of e-commerce stores, that means don’t go overboard with big words and a wall of text. Many people ask me what the optimum word count for product copy is. The best answer, the minimum necessary to get your point across and make an impact on the reader.

No one is going to sit and read through paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Sure, you want it to be interesting and funny, but it needs to be readable too. Saddleback leather makes their copy readable with a bullet point layout. They have concise, to-the-point… points about the product and its benefits making it easy for readers to skim through before thinking, “yes, it’s got everything I need.”

Saddleback Leather Product Copy

Use social proof

When shopping for products, social proof is a very influential indicator of whether to buy or not. Showing reviews and proof that other people have used your product can give your sales a definite boost. A bad review can kill a product, and no reviews can almost be as bad because then the shopper wonders why no one else bought it.

Don’t limit social proof to just customer reviews. Try to get creative with it. Show how many likes, tweets and pins a product has. Print testimonials or stories from influential people. Dogfish Head has a pretty cool way of displaying social proof. They have a live feed of anyone drinking their ales, so you can see who is drinking it, when they’re drinking it, where they are drinking it, and what they think about it.

Dogfish Head Product Copy

Avoid generic phrases

Our product is the best in the world! Ugh… really? How many times have you seen that and scoffed. Using generic phrases like ‘best’, ‘greatest’, ‘number one’ and ‘top-class’ can actually turn customers off and make them skeptical about buying your product. Unless you’ve actually been voted the best and have proof, don’t waste yourself on words like that. They just sound like empty boasts.

Instead, use words that aren’t used often but are more inspiring. Have a look at Bugatti’s description for the Veyron. Some car buffs might indeed call it the best, fastest or coolest car, but Bugatti, instead, uses words like ‘masterful’, ‘unmatched’ and ‘exceptional’. The words lend a certain class to the car that the aforementioned boasts, which may very well be true, would not.

Bugatti Produc Copy

Use media

You don’t have to stick to plain text for your product copy. Sure, text is fast and easy, but sometimes a video or a sound clip goes a long way. It’s easier to show your product in action with a quick explanatory video, or an audio interview with a customer.

Cheese & Burger Society has a pretty cool way of conveying what the product is. They could easily have typed out their mouth-watering burger descriptions, but instead they have a powerful male voice giving it that extra boost. Hear it to believe it.

Cheese & Burger

Do you feel inspired yet? Your product copy probably looks a bit stale compared to the examples from above. Set aside some time to go through each of your products and improve them using some of the techniques from above. You can’t fit all the techniques into one description, so pick the ones that work best for your audience.

What techniques have you tried out on your product copy? Are they working for you?

 

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