Writing copy that sells

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

It is difficult to explain just how much of a crucial role really great copy plays in selling anything that can be sold, but we’ll try: without it, your business will fail in no time.

Sure, that’s a rather dramatic statement but you can’t deny that it hooked you in to read on, right? Plus it is (mostly) true.

And that’s the point: great copy serves to draw customers in and grab their attention to persuade a purchase or add personality to the brand to connect with people on a personal level. Once this connection has been established, the path to checkout is far easier, and quicker.

But what makes great e-commerce copywriting, and how can carefully selected words help your business sell better than your competitors? 

Sell the desire, not the product

Great e-commerce copywriting works together with design to cut through competitor noise and get the attention of customers. The best way to do this is with copy that speaks to the desires of the customer rather than merely listing the product’s specifications. Sure, spec lists have their place, but they shouldn’t lead the messaging as it is boring and won’t persuade your audience to read on.

It is important to remember that we all have dreams, desires and aspirations for greater things. It is what keeps us moving forward. So, tapping into these emotional drivers of your audience immediately resonates with them on a personal level. It creates a memorable and often meaningful connection that entices customers to read on or scroll to view your product further. So, selling the desire rather than the product is important.

An old Mercedes-Benz ad (Source)

For instance, Mercedes-Benz doesn’t sell cars, they sell the aspirational idea of luxury personal transport and the social status that comes with it. People choose their cars not because their vehicles offer entirely different mechanics than other car manufacturers but because the brand’s marketing makes people believe that if they drive a Mercedez-Benz they occupy the social status of class and luxury.

Connect with your target audience

As any worthy copywriter knows, thoughtfully crafted vowels and consonants can create powerful emotional responses from the reader. And as any marketer worth their salt will tell you, penetrating through to people’s emotions will secure you a far greater chance of a sale, continued loyalty, and genuine brand advocacy. 

But no amount of linguistic gymnastics will gain purchase if it is not targeted to your specific audience. It shouldn’t be a case of throwing a bunch of sales-line darts hoping some will hit. In order to resonate with your audience, you need to speak to them directly and the only way to do this is to know who they are and understand their needs in order to provide a solution to them.

Apple is a great example of understanding its audience. From their visual branding to their copywriting, they know what their customers want and they address it in every line. Apple customers align themselves to the brand’s sleek, modern, minimal and sophisticated attributes. They see themselves as sharing the brand’s qualities so Apple cleverly keeps this messaging consistent.

Source: Apple

Apple’s copywriters craft their messaging with the same sophistication and allure as their products through the use of clever linguistic devices. For example, they often use alliteration to emphasise a point (‘Pro cameras. Pro display. Pro performance.’ for the iPhone 11 Pro) and even double meanings (‘Elevate your work. And rotate it, too.’ for the Pro display XDR and Pro stand that can rotate). Their copyrighters push the limits of the grammatical kitbag to create smart and engaging marketing messaging targeted to their audience.

Show off your brand personality

The best way to differentiate yourself in the market is to create e-commerce copy that proudly shows off your brand personality. If your competitors are selling a product similar to yours then the way in which you present your product to your audience will help you stand out. 

From Apple’s minimalist and sophisticated characteristics to Nike’s motivational and aspirational approach, every brand has a personality that sets them apart. Audiences either buy into these characteristics or choose other brands because of them, which makes your brand personality so important.

Source: dbrand PS5 darkplates

Smart device accessory brand dbrand is a true master at showing off its unique brand personality in its messaging. Their brand messaging embodies in their copywriting is quirky, off-beat and hilarious which immediately attracts customers. For instance, they completely embrace the dividing nature of the leather industry by stating that “cows died for this” when displaying its real leather accessory collection, and when they devote an entire paragraph hilariously talking about their transparency over copyright issues for their Sony Playstation cover.

Another example, just as funny. Source: dbrand

By owning contentious topics through cleverly-written copy invariably wins over audiences by disarming them with humour and transparency.

Tell your story

Another powerful way to set your business apart is to show off your brand values by telling your brand story in an interesting way. Your story will already be unique and it serves as a great way to stand out if you are able to craft it well into your messaging.

Today’s socially-conscious consumers align themselves with brands that share the same virtues and values as they do. They can also smell disingenuous brand messaging a mile away so be sure to be authentic and stand behind your brand values. Your brand values play an important role in telling your brand story.

Stories become relatable when audiences insert their own experiences and emotional bias into the narrative – emotions transcend logic and culture no matter who the audience is. So the job of e-commerce copywriters is to touch on a broad range of powerful emotions which everyone can relate to on some level (we’ve all experienced joy, sorrow, love, hate, etc). Leverage these human-centric elements into your copy to penetrate the reader’s emotions and draw them in.

Swedish oat milk brand Oatly tells its brand story through clever, humorous and irreverent marketing. They are staunch advocates for alternative dairy products but they craft their messaging in fun and engaging (often nonsensical) ways that deliver their brand message without audiences feeling like they are being beaten with their perspective. 

Optimise for SEO (with restraint)

You want your e-commerce store to be featured ahead of your competitors in the search rankings, so taking time to cleverly optimise your content for SEO to attract the algorithms and lead traffic to your site is crucial. However, a fair amount of restraint is needed.

Plastering SEO keywords in every line is going to detract from your messaging and will end up backfiring: it just won’t read well and will likely frustrate your customers. There are clever ways to incorporate the necessary amount of keywords into your e-commerce copywriting that will secure a high Google search ranking without cluttering your sale technique. 

Final word

The power of exceptionally crafted e-commerce copywriting can help tremendously with selling products, services, and brands, making it a crucial component of every business (at least this copywriter likes to think so).

Knowing your audience well will help you establish meaningful connections that will help drive sales and brand loyalty. So, create audience personas to investigate the characteristics, habits, likes and dislikes of your target audience to inform your marketing messaging. By understanding the variations of your audience’s values and pain points, you are able to craft meaningful messaging that speaks to them directly. 

Get writing (and selling) now!

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Last modified: April 28, 2022
Author info
Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.
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