Not what you want to hear. Sure it’s implied, but as soon as even the most straightforward of online purchases becomes that much more brazen, that’s when us consumers start to rethink our behavior.
So what makes for great ecommerce copywriting? What’s the difference between a quality product listing and a boring list of specs? Does it even matter?
Surely product copy is all about manipulation or at best, gentle coercion?
As content marketing becomes more and more vital to every industry, the ability to create quality copy, even for ecommerce has become a crucial skill. It’s a key way to market your brand and a fantastic way to separate yourself from similar competitors selling the same product.
Your excellent copy and the different ways you can use it can also make your brand more trustworthy and foster a deeper sense if loyalty.
Here are five fantastic examples of copy from around the ecommerce world that will hopefully inspire you. For more advice, check out Graham Charlton’s post on what makes great ecommerce product page copy.
Onefinestay has a great ‘about’ page that delivers the details of its service succinctly and without fuss.
It’s written with short sentences, broken into three paragraphs so as to let that white space shine through, and contains little waffle.
Then if you want to find out more about its history, just scroll down to equally well-laid out prose that delves deeper into how it all came about.
As opposed to the opening ‘about’ segment this is a lot more narrative driven and isn’t afraid to use more interesting, evocative language. ‘Crotchety’, ‘neon allure’, ‘a patron whose hands were white with durum’.
The sales messages, skilfully entwined with the prose, are down-to-Earth, with nicely delivered bits of observational humour: “you get all the advantages of a hotel, like the nice smelly stuff in small bottles. And with none of the downsides, like somebody bothering you at 8.53am to fold your toilet paper into a triangle.”
The attention to wordplay extends to the location listings. One of my favourite things to do is to scroll endlessly through the listings to see how many different adjectives it uses to describe various London boroughs and how many inventive iterations of ‘come and stay’ it can use.
I imagine there’s a spreadsheet loaded with adjectives in the Onefinestay office, where their (over)use can be tracked.
Clicking through on a listing brings you to a page containing even more well-phrased verbosity.
I think you’re either on-board with this or you’re not. It’s hard not to be drawn to wood panels that ‘cast their honeyed glow across thick cotton’.
I’m particularly impressed by how each location’s description has a theme, that’s consistently adhered too. The above example talks about the ‘organic’ nature of the apartment and it’s carried through to its subheadings in the ‘full story’ page.
Onefinestay certainly has a template, but it’s one that works well, and easy for any copywriter to adapt to and with plenty of room to use their own imagination.
Leeds based Norman’s Records is a pleasure to follow on Twitter, mainly due to its cavalier attitude to marketing new releases…
The problem with listening to 6 Music at work is having to go and turn the volume down every time a bloody Elbow song comes on.
— Norman Records (@normanrecords) May 6, 2014
‘The Long Goodbye..’ by LCD Soundsystem is out again to defeat the entire point of Record Store Day http://t.co/iZOKtbHtQ1
— Norman Records (@normanrecords) June 3, 2014
It’s this attitude that makes me trust it more.
This healthy disregard for bullshit carries over directly to the matter-of-fact, fully responsive ecommerce site.
Albums have reviews or blurbs written by the staff themselves, there’s none of the copying and pasting of press-releases that most other music sites tend to practice.
What’s more, the reviews are incredibly well written. Full of wit and verve. Here’s the review for Swans’ ‘To Be Kind’.
Even the caveat that ‘all reviews are simply the personal opinions of our staff and customers’ links to this wonderful piece of copy.
Norman’s Records is a good example of the power of original content. I’m far more likely to trust the person behind the counter’s opinion or recommendation than the blurb written by multiple hands in a marketing department.
In terms of actual product copy, Firebox does a fantastic job in creating sales-orientated write-ups for its idiosyncratically weird and wonderful products.
The first box underneath the price details contains bullet-pointed features of the product. It’s a good mixture of practical info and gags.
The actual description goes into more detail and is equally well-written, informative and entertaining.
The bullet-points are great for those customers in a rush, the longer description is great for those customers who need a little extra push to purchase.
A search around for these products on other sites reveals that Firebox really does have its own editorial style. This is all unique copy, and makes the site that much more attractive for consumers who seek a little bit more integrity and honesty in their shopping experience.
The upmarket men’s attire shop Mr Porter has been bridging the gap between blogging and regularly scheduled publishing with its weekly ‘The Journal’.
Every Tuesday, approximately eight brand new exclusively commissioned articles are collected and published on the site. This week’s edition has a topically sport based theme.
The highlight of this is an interview with Andy Murray. This is a nice lengthy piece, full of wit and insight that would happily exist in a non-ecommerce publication.
It’s a perfect synthesis of editorial, relevance and ecommerce. There are direct links to the product pages of all the clothes that Murray has been dressed in by Mr Porter’s style director (disappointingly not called Mr Porter) underneath each header image.
There’s also a direct link to shop all the products at once on the ‘front cover’.
The craft beer company from Scotland writes superb copy for its range of beers. Exhilarating, merciless and sexy.
‘Being shot from a Hoppy Howitzer beats the hell out of trotting round a submissive paddock. That’s why the internal combustion engine got mounted onto two wheels.’
Sure this type of attention grabbing, metaphor filled street-poetry wouldn’t suit every brand, but it completely works for its product.
‘Drink fast, live fast, sleep late and rip it up down empty streets.’
Unfortunately this phrase would be so attention grabbing that it grabbed the attention of The Portman Group, who issued a statement saying the packaging and copy breached its code in its association with ‘bravado and immoderate consumption’.
This led to a stunning and beautifully written response from BrewDog on its blog…
Whether you agree or not, it’s a fantastic example of a brand completely sure of its own identity, and using the same tone of voice throughout all of its communication, product copy and marketing.