That’s the sound of browsers backing away from your website, wallets clutched tightly in their hands, credit cards still unused.
A sale [or a couple of hundred of them!] walking away from an e-commerce website is the worst thing to happen especially when you’re slaving endlessly to increase conversions.
You’re adding new products so you have plenty to offer, and yet not so much that it’s confusing. You’re tweaking your website design so it’s slick and easy-to-navigate. You’re refining the checkout process so sales slide through, nice and easy.
But the sales… they trickle in, painfully low and slow.
You wonder… why? What could be the culprit?
I have news for you… The culprit may be found lurking in your copy.
Here are five oft-overlooked copywriting mistakes that crush sales like a 500-pound gorilla.That’s right!
1.Copywriting Mistake #1: Sawdust-Dry, Feature-Heavy Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are a minefield for copywriting mistakes, and even experienced copywriters are often unable to prevent this one from happening.
Loading up product descriptions with features seems like the logical thing to do.
After all, everyone wants to know how big a bed is and what wood it’s made of, right?
Well, not really.
Buyers may want to know the features or specs but what they truly desire to know is how those features will change their life.
Yes, you aren’t just selling a high-powered blender… you’re selling a faster way to healthier meals.
You aren’t just selling a night-light for kids… you’re selling uninterrupted sleep for weary parents.
How can you translate dry and boring features into vibrant and benefit-laden descriptions?
Use the popular acronym WIIFM or What’s in it for me?
In this case, ‘me’ being the buyer.
If you’re selling luxury beds, for example, instead of saying “maple wood frame” consider saying “Maple wood frame so you wouldn’t have to change your bed every five years.”
Instead of simply saying “cushioned, waxed leather headboard with protective coat”, rephrase it as “generously cushioned, waxed leather headboard to rest your head in comfort without worrying about staining it”
A popular copywriting trick is to list your features and then, write a benefit against each.
Do this exercise before you start writing your product descriptions and you’ll have lively descriptions bouncing off the page with benefits that compel browsers to turn into buyers.
2.Copywriting Mistake #2: Leaving Personality at the Home Page
Does your e-commerce website boldly scream ‘personality’? Or does it look like every other site in your niche?
Do the home page, about page and product descriptions showcase your brand’s voice, uniqueness, values and do they do it using a voice that is distinct and completely YOU?
One look at the Dayspring website and you know that it’s a faith-based site that believes in encouraging and uplifting its customers while strengthening their faith.
The Uncommon Goods website declares their uniqueness in not only the products they offer but also in the way they position them. A simple sewn, clothbound journal becomes a “lasting family keepsake”, “a treasure trove of experiences”, “a colorful personal memoir that captures the memories of first dates, lifelong friendships, meaningful stories and pearls of wisdom.”
From their home page to their product descriptions to their blog posts, their voice is clear, unique and totally them.
How can you add personality to your copy?
By honing in on your brand values and vision.
What do you want your brand to be known for? Being laidback and approachable or premium and luxe?
What voice do you want your copy to use? A mix of fun and friendly or a blend of formal and professional?
3.Copywriting Mistake #3: Ignoring Storytelling and Social Proof
More e-commerce websites fall prey to this copywriting mistake than anything else.
Storytelling isn’t just for preschoolers. Customers love a good story and if your website isn’t telling yours, you’re losing a solid opportunity to make a connection with your community.
Apple tells a story with every product it launches and people buy because they want to be part of that story.
Share your WHY with your customers through your copy.
Take them behind-the-scenes to share the raw, ugly, uncensored beginnings as well as the development process.
You’ll be amazed at how many customers will email you or tweet you, sharing that they bought because they related to your story.
A word of advice, though: Don’t make up a story. Spend time thinking about why you started your business, the rough early days, and write your story. Don’t make it up.
Another fantastic way of using storytelling is by sharing customer stories or social proof.
Why do your customers love your organic baby food brand?
Does it make their lives easier when feeding a fussy baby?
Does it give them peace of mind knowing that they’re giving their baby chemical-free, natural food?
Share their stories – on your home page, your about page, in your blog posts and most definitely, in your product descriptions.
Social proof is a wonderful way to tell stories that sell without seeming salesy at all.
4.Copywriting Mistake #4: Drowning Details in Adjectives and Fillers
“This doll is an adorably, sweet, pink plush toy that’ll make a great birthday present for your daughter or granddaughter.”
Nothing wrong with this sentence except that it’s filled with adjectives and filler words that add nothing to the description except empty weight.
Adjectives and filler words can quickly derail even the most delightful description turning it into a fluff-filled piece that confuses and puts buyers off instantly.
Let’s rewrite this as, “A pretty-in-pink plush doll that’ll make your five-year old squeal with delight.”
It paints a picture and conveys the description perfectly.
A quick copywriting tip: Use only ONE adjective before a noun, opt for sensory adjectives and edit your copy ruthlessly to remove meaningless filler words, like “good”, “leading”, “best-in-class”, “nice”.
5.Copywriting Mistake #5: Failing at Formatting and Editing
Saving the best for the last, this is one copywriting mistake that even the biggest sites make.
Chunks of text clumped together, bulleted lists with only features listed, poor quality images that don’t shine a spotlight on the product and social proof either buried deep down or ignored altogether.
Yes, formatting a product description and editing it is even more important than writing it.
You need to polish it, perfect it and primp it up, so it’s ticking all the boxes:
- Make sure that benefits follow features.
- Story and personality lead from the front.
- Adjectives that add value and not weight to the copy.
- Replace vague words with facts.
- Break up chunks of text with white space and make sure you use stunning product photos, because a photo is worth a thousand words.
E-commerce Copywriting in a Nutshell
As much as I’d love to tell you that writing e-commerce copy is as easy-as-pie, I can’t.
As an e-commerce copywriter, I can vouch for the fact that writing product descriptions that weave a story or a home page that opens up hearts and wallets is tough.
What you need to know is that the secret lies in two key factors:
Your Customer and You.
When writing your descriptions talk to your customers as if they were ONE person and use the voice you would use if you were selling to them in person.
Show them the benefits, engage their senses; take them on a journey.
Address their fears, objections, questions and concerns.
Share your story, your why, your passion and your purpose.
Start with a conversation and the conversions will follow.