If your goal is to sell a product or service on the web, there is nothing more crucial than being able to communicate the benefits of that product or service effectively. Yet the number of poorly written, dull, drab and lifeless web pages found on lots of ecommerce websites is nothing short of mind boggling. This article provides 10 tips to help you write more effective copy for your web pages.
Tip #1: Master the Basics
First and foremost, your copy must be grammatically correct and free of all spelling errors and typos. All major word processors include tools to help you check spelling and grammar; use them! Other things to look for include overall readability, punctuation errors, capitalization errors, word choice, and consistency of style. If you know your writing skills aren’t up to snuff, you may want to consider taking a class or hiring a professional copy writer to assist with the writing and or editing task.
Tip #2: Satisfy the Scanner
Writing for the web is different than writing for other mediums (See “Web Writing 101: Write Content that Sells“). Long flowery paragraphs and lengthy prose simply won’t cut it online. The golden rule of the writing for the web can be summed up in three words: keep it simple! Web writers should keep in mind that there is very little reading that actually gets done online. The majority of web surfers quickly scan web pages for the information they seek. Knowing this, keep paragraphs short, and use type styling such as bold to emphasize key points.
Tip #3: Use Subheads Liberally
Another great way to help web surfers parse information quickly is through the use of subheads. Use them liberally. One paragraph per subhead will help visitors parse the information more readily and help you convert those browsers into buyers. Remember, however, that is imperative to keep the headlines as well as the text short and to the point. See also the tip about creating effective headlines below.
Tip #4: Get Personal
In any sales writing-but especially online-you’ve got to make sure to personalize your message in order to make it more attractive to your customers. The best way to do this is to speak directly to them in the first person. Use the word “you” often. And include personal examples rather than general. For example, “This month we have created a special deal just for you, our valued customer.” Your customers will feel an affinity with copy that reaches out specifically to them.
Tip #5: Know Your Audience
The key to being able to communicate with your customers on a personal level is to know who they are! Of course, it is impossible to know every customer personally. However, it is likely that your customers fit into a certain demographic. For example, if you sell baby products, chances are you sell to mom and dads. The tone of the content on a baby product site would be far different from one that sells automotive parts, for example. Once you’ve identified who is shopping on your site, write using the language of your target audience. It’s okay to use industry buzz words and technical jargon where appropriate. Just be careful not to overdo it.
Tip #6: Be Consistent
A common mistake that many websites make is the failure to be consistent. This includes consistency of language used and grammatical style, as well as the amount of copy on each page. If you offer three products, the web page for Product A should have about the same amount of copy as the pages for Product B and Product C. This will not only help set expectations but it will go a long way to helping you establish a more professional appearance.
Tip #7: Create Urgency
If you operate an ecommerce site, your goal is very likely to get your customers to click the “Buy” button and then follow through with a purchase. Consequently, the language on your site needs to support this. Try experimenting with call-to-action language that encourages your customers to buy now. Consider incorporating special offer language as well. Something like: “Buy within the next 24 hours and receive a free a gift”. Place this copy on key pages during the checkout process to reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Tip #8: Demand Attention with Effective Headlines
Any journalist or newspaper editor will tell you that effective headlines sell newspapers. The same is true online. The headline or the heading at the top of your web pages provides you with an excellent opportunity to sell your product or service more effectively. Consider the following two headlines for the same product:
- Brand New Apple iPod Nano – New in Box with Free Shipping!
- Apple iPod Nano
Which of these headlines are you more likely to click?
Tip #9: Use Visual Aids
Remember the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Heed this advice! If you are serious about selling online, you’ve got to supplement your web content with pictures, diagrams, drawings, etc. if you’re going to land the sale. After all, if you were buying something-say a baseball card, antique, or some other collectible-wouldn’t you rather see a photo of it, rather than relying on a description saying that it is in “mint” condition.
Tip #10: Be Search Engine Friendly
Writing top notch web pages for your website is pointless if no one can find them. Therefore, make sure that the content on your pages is friendly to the major search engines. At minimum, make sure you select keywords that describe the overall content of the page. Place them in page titles, headlines, and paragraph content. Including phrases in the body copy that you have used in your other tags (i.e. meta tags, alt tags, headings, title, etc.) will also help boost your rankings. Keep in mind, however, that search engine marketing is a delicate science. As such, you may want to enlist the help of a professional search engine marketing firm to employ these and other strategies to ensure your pages receive top billing. (Note that GoECart’s peer division MachInteractive provides search engine optimization services.)