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How to create effective e-commerce product page copy

6 minute read

Copywriting on e-commerce product pages can be overlooked at times, but good copy can help your site and products stand out from the competition. It can inform shoppers so they’re happy to buy a product, it can make products seem glamorous or romantic, and it can even entertain the potential customers.

Paying more attention to product page copy can help improve conversion rates, and can also help your site to stand out in the search results over competitors who have paid less attention to their copy, by using standard product descriptions for example.

There’s no magic formula for effective product page copy. The best copy fits well with the product and brand, and appeals to and informs the target audience. It’s an area which can make a big difference, and it pays to spend time honing your copy.

While there’s no magic formula, there are some traits which are common to good copy. In this post, I’ll look at some guidelines and tips to follow when creating product descriptions.

Copy should match brand values and tone of voice

This is important. The copy should match the brand, otherwise, it can seem jarring to shoppers.

There needs to be a strategy in place where the brand tone of voice is used in product copy, email and other marketing channels so that the language used reflects the brand. This focus will also contribute to the originality of each product’s copy. For example, in the case of a luxury brand selling expensive watches, the copy needs to reflect this, emphasising the quality and craft which goes into making a £10,000 watch.

It also needs to be persuasive. Here’s an example from Jo Malone which reads like tasting notes for fine wine. It’s succinct and sells the idea that a lot of care and attention has been spent in creating the product.

Other brands can be more playful with product copy. Firebox, which sells products which are sometimes amusing and often just odd, is one such example.

It’s a playful brand, and the copy matches this. It’s sort of informative, though the products don’t require too much description so the copywriter can have a little fun.

Copy should be appropriate to the product

As well as fitting with overall brand tone of voice, copy should be appropriate to the product on offer.

If you’re selling luxury items, for example, you’re often selling the lifestyle around them. For more practical items, it’s often about the little details and the uses.

So, this product copy from Simplyhike talks about the tent’s uses, its suitability for different types of camping, and key aspects such as the time it takes to put the tent up.

The tone is more informative and practical, and it fits perfectly with the product.

Highlight key features and benefits

Copy should work to sell products and one way to do this is to highlight the key features and benefits, which can persuade people that the product will suit them perfectly. In the example below, Patagonia’s copy works hard to sell the benefits of the product. There’s persuasive copy about the product ‘helping to manage the daily grind’, explaining its uses (able to accommodate most 15” laptops) and emphasising the materials and their benefits.

Patagonia also makes sure it lists all the features. The end result is that users should be well-informed having read the copy, and aware of the features and how the backpack can help them.

Does it answer customer questions about the product?

Copy should be reviewed regularly to make sure it’s working as well as it can, and to ensure that customers buying the products are well informed. This can help to reduce returns and the number of dissatisfied customers. To this end, it helps to listen to customer feedback and to issues flagged by customer services, and review pages on this basis to make sure that copy answers all the questions customers may have about the product.

Make copy well-formatted and easy to read

Walls of text are best avoided online. Web users can be short of time and attention, and often tend to scan for the information they’re looking for, rather than reading every single word.

To help, it’s a good idea to use formatting to make text more readable, using bold text and bullet points to make key points stand out and to make text more readable.

Laptops and PCs are a good example of this, as there’s plenty of technical detail and features, and some are more important than others, depending on the customer and their needs.

For example, some may value battery life as the key features, while others need the fastest possible processor. Sites need to present this information so people can quickly find the information that’s relevant to them. Here, AO.com presents the most important key features on the left, and goes into more detail in the overview and the list of specifications.

This means that customers can quickly scan and find what’s important to them, or delve into the detail if they want to know all about it.

Copy should help with SEO goals

SEO considerations shouldn’t be the key driver behind product copy, as this can make for some very bad product descriptions, but it also would be foolish to ignore SEO altogether. If done well, copy written with SEO in mind can be more useful for the shopper. For example, product names and copy which reflect the ways customers search for products can help customers find what they want more easily, and improve rankings.

Keyword research should be used to inform product copy. It’s an opportunity to use target keywords, but it’s also important not to shoehorn them in, to the detriment of the copy. One key point here is to avoid standard manufacturer’s product descriptions at all costs. If you’re selling the same product as other sites, your copy will not stand out at all, and you’ll struggle to rank against more established competitors.

Test your copy

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to product page copy, and it can pay to test different versions to find the version that performs best. Using A/B testing, you can change only the copy on a page to find the best version, testing things like placement, formatting, copy length and more.

Is your product copy detailed or long enough?

You need to convey all the information customers need to make an informed decision on a product. Some information may seem less important to the copywriter, but may be a key part of the shopper’s decision to buy. Take into account the range or category of item, price, how common the product is and to think about how much information the customer is likely to need to make a purchase.

A pack of socks for £10 might state that they’re cotton, sizes 8-10, machine washable which you could cover off in bullet point form to allow the customer to scan-read the functional aspects of the product. More expensive and/or complex products are likely to require more detail. Copy length has to be considered too. Product page copy should be as long as it needs to be, but no longer. Too much copy can deter people from reading it, so it’s important to be as concise as you can be, as long as you can convey key features and selling points.

Mix copy with visuals

Product copy doesn’t have to mean lots of text and nothing else. It can be combined with visual elements to convey information to customers more effectively. In this example from Loaf, the image and copy work together to convey product dimensions clearly, as well as offering some reassurances about delivery and removal of packaging.

To go back to an earlier point, there’s also a fun and informal tone of voice which works very well.

Placement of copy

The customer needs to be able to find information quickly and easily, and so placement of product copy needs to be considered.

It may not need to be the most prominent features on a product page. Indeed, sites often prioritise elements like review scores, price and product images. 

However, there needs to be a clear understanding on what level of the priority product copy is given on the page. This may depend on how often customers shop on the site, the amount of information needed, and if other elements take precedence over copy.

Tell customers a story around the product

Some products or brands have an interesting story to tell about their history, or the provenance of the product. This can be used in copy to add an extra layer of interest for customers, and sometimes to explain the work and materials which go into the products.

For example, Ugmonk sells unique products and designs. It tells the story on the site and emphasises the sourcing and quality of materials in its product copy, in part to justify the prices it charges.

Stories can also be told in copy for their own sake, and J Peterman is certainly unique in this respect.

There’s some detail on size and materials used in the shirt, but the product copy tells a story around the shirt.

Check your copy for errors

Typos, spelling mistakes and factual errors detract from the credibility of the product copy, and by extension the site selling them. Everyone makes errors when writing, so it’s important to check your work carefully, and ideally have others check it over too to minimise any errors.

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at behavioural marketing company SaleCycle. He has previously worked for Econsultancy and Search Engine Watch, and has written several best practice guides on e-commerce and digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter

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