Text That Sells

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Your ecommerce website text can be your greatest asset or your biggest failure. Text serves as a sales tool as well as one of your only opportunities to talk directly to your customers. You may think that you are a pretty proficient writer, but writing for sales is very different from any other type of writing. In fact, writing is one of the top outsourced services, as professional writers are fairly inexpensive and many business owners simply don’ want to mess with this very important website feature. If you are determined to do this writing yourself or in-house, here are a few tips.

  • Be organized. Begin every section of text with a great headline—one that is around ten words long (or shorter) and very descriptive. Use these headlines to pull in your customers, but also to allow them to easily determine what information they actually need to read. Your headlines are also a very valuable search engine optimization tool, so you get major bonus points if you can squeeze in a keyword without being too obvious or irrelevant.
  • Be visual. Use different tools to break up and illustrate your point. These can be pictures, bulleted lists, different sizes of text, bold/italic features, and almost any other device that makes it easy for customers to skim and find the most important information first. However, be careful that your text is not distracting or overly cluttered. Make sure the visual devices that you use are highly relevant o your text and carefully chosen to work with, not against, your overall design.
  • Be brief. The general rule of thumb in sales text is that no sentence on an ecommerce landing page should be longer than a single line. That’s not much! However, it underscores the value of brevity. You need to get to your point and do so quickly in order to hold your customers’ attention. If you have a lot of information to share, break it up into small paragraphs or bulleted lists with simple headlines.
  • Be simple. In other words, avoid big words. Don’t write for a first grader, but make sure that people from a variety of backgrounds can quickly and easily read your text. This is not an opportunity to show off your awesome vocabulary, so avoid large words and technical terms unless you are certain that your customers will understand them. Keep in mind that most newspapers are written for a fifth grade reading level—that’s probably a good goal for your own website because it is well within most of your customers’ comfort zones.
  • Be honest. Don’t make grandiose claims in your headlines (or any other text) that are simply not true. Be honest about your company’s benefits and feel free to toot your own horn a little, but don’t lie or mislead your customers. They won’t forgive you.
  • Be universal. Don’t make jokes or references that your customers may not understand or say things that could offend them. Keep in mind that we all come from different backgrounds and thus have different perceptions. Stay on the right side of your customers’ sensibilities at all times.