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Product copywriting for online retail – What can we learn from the Ecommerce giants?

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 26 May, 2015
Essential Essential topic

4 copywriting tips for optimising your product pages

In ecommerce, as in life, there are those who are unsuccessful, those who are successful, and there are those that are exceptionally successful. Given the choice, which one of these three groups would you choose to emulate with your own ecommerce business?

There are of course many factors that come into play when determining whether your business becomes the next big thing, or last year’s forgotten disaster – product quality, customer service and price points to name just a few. But how well you handle the product copywriting on your website is one thing that can have a massive impact on how successful your business is.

To help ensure that your product descriptions are successful in turning web users into customers, you could do far worse than attempt to emulate the techniques and methods of those online businesses that are already hugely successful. So who are the biggest names in ecommerce right now?

The top five ecommerce websites

Each quarter, IMRG and comScore produce a list of the top 50 online retailers, known as the IMRG Top 50 Retailer Ranking. This is determined based on the number of visitors to each site via desktops and laptops. According to the most recent February 2015 edition of the rankings, the top five are as follows:

  1. Amazon UK
  2. Argos
  3. Apple
  4. Tesco
  5. AVG

The top four at least will come as little surprise to many people, and it would be easy to chalk their popularity up to how well-known their brands are, and the impressive size of their marketing budgets. But if you look closely at their websites you’ll find that their product descriptions share a number of things in common which ensure that people keep coming back again and again.

Success factors for ecommerce sites

1. Clear product title and price

What the product is and how much it costs are the first two things that most customers will want to know about a product.

Amazon, Argos and Tescos have their price information and a highly descriptive product title not just on the product page itself but also on their product selection pages. They know that price is an important factor in any decision to purchase a product. Where appropriate, they will also include brief details of any savings, in order to entice shoppers on the lookout for a bargain. By doing these things, they can maximise the number of click-throughs their products receive, as well as boosting the overall usability of their websites.

AVG meanwhile has the cost of its anti-virus and internet security software emblazoned across its ‘buy now’ buttons, thus removing any steps between the customer finding out the price and making the decision to buy.

Apple on the other hand places its prices a little deeper within its website, but this is in order to entice its visitors with the many features of its products before showing them a list of different prices based on the level of functionality desired (Wi-Fi or cellular data, storage capacity etc).

Tip - Always make the product and the exact nature of the product immediately clear.

2. Succinct product descriptions that discuss benefits

Your customers, for the most part, don’t care about the specific features of your products. They care about what your product will do for them. So Amazon’s product  description of Jimmy Choo perfume talks about the, 'aura of power and beauty,' and, 'stunning aura of sparkling femininity' that awaits those who buy it.

Argos’ product description of a recliner sofa meanwhile talks about, 'comfortable seating with foam-filled seat cushions and fibre-filled back cushions for superb relaxation,' and Apple talks about the “unprecedented level of security” that its iPad Mini 3’s fingerprint password will give you.

Tip - Don’t make your customers connect the dots. Tell them exactly how they will benefit from the key features of your product.

3. Bullet point digests

Often, people don’t want to read about a product until they’ve at least heard a few key things about it. Professional product copywriters know that using bullet points is one of the fastest ways to get necessary information across. These bullet points should illuminate key information such as available sizes, colours and specifications as applicable. Tesco’s description of a pair of men’s shorts for example has bullet points which tell the would-be purchaser that they are 'machine washable' and 'sit above the knee', while Argos’ product description for a sports watch features bullet points such as, 'water resistant to 50m,' 'stopwatch,' and, 'backlight'.

Tip - Whatever you think the shopper needs to know, put it in a short bullet point.

4. Creative product descriptions that don’t overegg

If you look at product descriptions from any of the top five ecommerce websites, you’ll probably notice that sometimes their product copywriters use quite creative and imaginative language to describe what’s on offer.  Other times though, they tend to stick to the facts in a more straightforward tone. This is usually in recognition of the type of product being discussed, and the likely audience for the description.

If you were talking about a fragrance for example, you might mention, 'delicately ethereal motes of lavender blossoms', while if you’re writing a product description for a camera it will work much better if you say something more down to earth and functional  like, 'It has an extremely long zoom, so you can capture far away subjects in great detail.'

Tip - Adapt the style of your product descriptions according to the type of product and its potential buyers.

By studying the product descriptions of those websites that are at the top of their game, you can hopefully begin to emulate their success by applying what works for them to your own website.

Image/Copywrite credit: http://riaxe.com/
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