You may have a silver tongue, but do you have a silver keyboard?
When it comes to writing sales copy for an eCommerce site, much is lost without the customer standing in front of you. You can’t build a relationship one-on-one, gauge their facial reactions, or change your strategy halfway through. But that doesn’t mean eCommerce copywriting is completely arbitrary. There’s a skill to writing persuasively, with direct roots to speaking persuasively.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled these 7 master techniques to translate your best pitches into sales copy.
1. Use a Problem => Solution Structure
Think back to your school days and writing essays. First you outline the problem, and then you explain your argument. Sales copy benefits from the same structure: first you reveal or suggest a problem the shopper has, and then explain why the product is the solution.
How subtle you are depends on your site’s tone and style, but if you don’t mind being direct, you can open by creating a scene to stimulate your reader’s imagination. “You’ve finally got reservations at that hot new restaurant, but don’t have anything to match its luxury.” This not only sets up the problem, it also goes further in establishing a personal connection with the shopper.
2. Bring Up Criticisms Yourself
While in a store customers will bring up their objections in conversation, in eCommerce you’ll have to assume them. Bringing up criticisms yourself lets you preempt their resistance, and makes your voice more trustworthy by being aware of your own faults.
Brainstorm a list of customer objections before writing, or even better, get actual customer feedback to learn what concerns they have about purchasing.
Repetition is powerful. Repetition is versatile. Repetition is persuasive.
As the Labovitz School of Business & Economics proved, the more you hear the same message, the more likely you are to believe it.
If you have a key point, for example, “this product will save you time in the morning,” you want to repeat it to really hit it home. You don’t always have to repeat it word for word, as long as the message is the same, so feel free to change up the phrasing and keep the sales copy fresh.
4. Verbs & Nouns, Not Adverbs & Adjectives
Compare these two descriptions:
…for adventurous people to make their lives easier.
…for adventurers to improve their lives.
Verbs and nouns are the core building blocks of language, with adjectives and adverbs advised for secondary descriptions (what type of adventurer?). Don’t ignore adjectives and adverbs completely — but think of them as the spices, with verbs & nouns as the meat & potatoes. A little goes a long way with descriptive adjectives and adverbs, and the less of them you use, the more impact the ones that remain will have.
The biggest culprit that gets in the way of this technique is the adverb “very.” Is your product “very easy” to use? Call it “effortless.” Is it “very different” from other products? Then it’s “rare” or “unique.” As a handy cheat sheet, here’s a list of 128 commonly overused “very” phrases, and the stronger single-word alternatives.
5. Bullets and Subheadings
Big blocks of text intimidate readers and sometimes cause bouncing. When you can’t always break up the text with images, bullets and subheadings work just as well.
In fact, bullets and subheadings several great uses besides breaking up text:
- They make information easier to digest.
- They make a page easier to browse.
- They make a page more aesthetic.
- For visitors who don’t want to read, they present need-to-know information.
Bullets are especially useful for listing out product features. Most shoppers won’t read every line of product page copy, so bulleting the features presents them in a way that’s faster to scan for and understand, without wasting their time.
When writing bullets, keep in mind the Serial Position Effect, another gift that science gave marketing. The Serial Position Effect shows that people, when given a list, are more likely to remember the first and last items. For sales copy, that means put the best features in the first and last positions.
6. Open with Agreeable Statements/Questions
A study from the Rotman School of Management shows that people become more impressionable when they’re already in an agreeable mindset. The study examined responses to ads after both Democrats and Republicans heard political speeches from their own party… after being exposed to like-minded ideas, people responded more favorably to the ads, and vice-versa.
You can replicate this in sales copy by establishing an agreeable context to your shopper right away. Bring up similar opinions, concerns, and statements that you’re sure your target shopper will agree with. You can even use this in conjunction with technique number one to create a layered sales copy strategy.
Source: The J. Peterman Company
Last is anchoring, a technique that revolves around placing a product in the most favorable context for a sale. For example, $200 may seem like a lot to pay for a pair of shoes… until you look at pairs from high-end designers averaging around $500. Next to them, $200 seems like a bargain — and that’s the nature of anchoring.
Anchoring products to make them seem more valuable by comparison can be done equally well when designing the visuals of an eCommerce site. The order in which products appear in a search, as well as the ones you feature on the home page, will all “anchor” your shopper’s opinion of what to expect as “normal.”
Your sales copy can further this effect. Don’t be afraid to state outright why your product is worthwhile, explaining the costs of materials or how much the customer is saving on a current sale. With sales writing, your words control the context.
Though the methods may change, the goals of persuasive writing and speaking are the same. You want to establish personal connections with your shoppers, help them shop, ease their concerns, and communicate why they should buy your products without pressuring them. Good sales copy accomplishes this all.
Do you have any good sales copy advice? Can you recommend any sites whose writing always makes you smile? Share your thoughts in the comments section now.