Retail copywriting: Tips for creating e-commerce content
Copywriting for the e-commerce industry carries its own unique set of challenges. In one respect, the goal is the same as any other type of content. After all, you want the site to rank highly and to ensure that the products are placed in front of as many consumers as possible. But at the same time, those products need to sell, the brand needs to remain strong, and you’re limited with regards to keywords, links, and other essentials of SEO.
It’s tricky, but if you have a good writer on your team and understand some of the basics of e-commerce copywriting, you can meet those challenges head-on.
In this guide, we’ll highlight some top tips for retail copywriting, showing you how to rank highly, improve sales, and even master the art of product description writing.
E-Commerce copywriting 101: Inform don’t sell
The most basic rule you need to consider when writing for e-commerce brands is to educate and not sell. It’s true whether you’re writing for a blog or a social media account.
It might seem a little counter-intuitive, and that’s why so many small businesses break this golden rule.
Let’s use Instagram as an example.
Many small businesses see Instagram as a free online billboard. They create an account, litter it with promotions, discounts, and sales copy, and then expect customers to flood in.
It makes sense on a basic level, but not when you actually take some time to think about it.
No one uses Instagram so that they can browse sales promotions all day. No one thinks to themselves, “I can’t wait to browse 200 promotions from companies I’ve never heard of” for the same reason that no one gets excited about junk mail or email spam.
People join Instagram to be informed and entertained. It’s escapism, and in an age where the average internet user is bombarded with thousands of ads every day, no one goes in search of more advertisements when they need a break.
The same is true for a blog. If you’re selling tea, you shouldn’t be writing blogs like, “Why we’re the best tea company in the world” because no one cares about that. The goal of retail copywriting is to inform, educate, entertain, and draw users in from search engines and social media sites.
Instead, create content that speaks about the benefits and the history of tea. Talk about events, flavors, and innovations that are interesting to people who drink tea.
Most e-commerce experts will tell you that there is a magic formula concerning when you should inform/educate and when you should sell. They’ll often place an exact number on it, stating that it’s 95/5 or 97/3. They’re just doing that to try and quantify something that’s relatively abstract.
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what the exact ratio is, but if you’re using social media, make sure that every sales post is followed by 15 to 25 useful posts. If you’re blogging, you don’t need sales posts at all, because that’s what your website product descriptions are for.
Speaking of which…
Product description writing
E-commerce copywriting can be loosely broken down into two main categories. The first governs everything that’s designed to promote traffic, whether through social media promotions or SEO. We covered all of that above.
The second concerns your actual product descriptions, which speak to the people who have already followed your links, bought into your brand story, and are now sitting on your product pages or have picked your product from the shelf.
The key to writing product descriptions is to focus on the reader/customer above all else. Keep your content short and snappy at the top of the page and make sure it is backed by high-quality images of your products.
Use bullet points, headers, and creative copy to entice them into making a purchase and follow this by providing extensive information further down the page.
That way, you’re not hitting them with a wall of text as soon as they visit the page, but if they want all of that additional information, it’s just a scroll or a click away.
An FAQ is very helpful as well.
Answer the most basic questions relating to the product and to your business in general, including those concerning delivery times and pricing. Once you have that basic information, you need to pay attention to your customer support emails and Live Chat requests.
Every time someone asks a question, make a note of it, and if that question is repeated, add it to your FAQ. If two customers are asking the same question directly, there’s a good chance that hundreds more are thinking it.
By answering their questions on your product pages, not only will you put their mind at ease and convince them to make a purchase, but you will also reduce the torrent of emails and chat requests that you receive.
Product descriptions should follow the basic rules of retail copywriting in that they need to be catchy and informative. The difference is that you need to be careful with regards to where this information appears on the page and the product itself.
E-Commerce copywriting on a budget
Retail copywriting is best performed by an expert, but that doesn’t mean you need to drop a 5-figure sum on an SEO agency or a marketing agency. In most cases, a good writer will do all of that work for you.
After all, SEO and retail copywriting can be boiled down to “good writing and great research”. Forget about keyword stuffing, backlinks, ratios, and all that nonsense—if you write well, keep the readers in mind, and stay on topic, Google will start ranking you.
As for e-commerce product descriptions, why pay a massive marketing agency when a creative copywriter will do the same work?
Freelance copywriters are skilled in all disciplines and the best ones have spent years working for companies of all sizes. At Language Bear, for instance, we focus on hiring the best writers and editors to ensure the most effective copy every time, and it means that our services are available to businesses of all sizes and with all budgets.