When my father was a professor at CSU, he primarily taught international graduate students. Often, they would turn in papers that were full of typos or poor English, so he got in the habit of asking them, “Did you run a spell checker on this?” If the answer was no, he’d hand them back their paper before he would even look at it.
Then, the student would come back and he would ask them, “Is this the best you can do?” Often, the student would sheepishly take the paper back and re-work it. Finally, when he would ask the student, “Is this the best you can do?” and they answered positively, he would say, “Okay, now I will read it!”
Was this mean? If you think about it, a graduate student is expected to perform, so I would argue, no, not at all. The same holds true for a business website – customers expect your site to be well written, professional, and easy to read.
When I asked my readers what they would like to see in future articles, copywriting tips was at the top of the list. Which is makes sense. After all, written descriptions, whether they be on product pages, blog articles, or informational pages on your website are critical both for SEO purposes and for humans looking for your products and services. And it is an area that most online business owners need help.
This in fact is one of the areas we spend some time on in my course on “How to double your revenue in half the time.” Your written copy can make or break a sale. I don’t care if you are selling jewelry, food, clothing, gift items, or even brokering a business. Your copy makes a difference in being able to make a sale.
How often have you seen a shopping cart website and the written product description is either non-existent or very rudimentary? If you have any product listings that even closely resemble this, read on.
Granted, your listings might be better than this – perhaps you’ve include one or two complete sentences about your products. But unless your listings are showing up on page one of the search results and you are selling multiple orders per month, you can do better. Here’s how…
1. Start with your ideal customer in mind
Although this is applicable to any product or service, let’s stick with a candle example. If your ideal customer is looking for a “Prayer Candle,” what are the qualities they are looking for? It is unlikely that it will be price. Someone is probably looking for spiritual comfort, and saving a few pennies is not likely to be on their mind. What makes a candle a “prayer candle?’ Has it been blessed? Is it scented or infused with materials that will put you in a meditative state? Once you know what your ideal customer is looking for, then you will want to do some keyword research.
2. Next, research keywords
Your copywriting really needs to begin with keyword research. I like to use WordStream. What you are looking for is something that has at least 500 monthly searches, but low competition. For example, “custom prayer candles” has 720 monthly searches but has low competition. This is a good starting point.
3. Create a Powerful Headline
Your headline is the single most read item on your page and where everyone begins reading. It is critical that your headline grabs someones attention so they will want to read the rest of your copy. Notice the difference:
Custom Prayer Candle
Light up your life with your own custom 8″ prayer candle!
Great headlines convey emotion. It doesn’t matter what you are selling, people buy based on emotions. so, use emotions in your headline.I suggest you don’t finalize your headline until after you have written all of your copy. In other words, it should be the last thing you write because of it’s importance. It make take several attempts to get the headline right. I recommend coming up with at least 5 headlines before deciding on the final one. Here is a useful headline analyzer tool to help you. The important thing is to NOT simply use the product name and/or number as the headline.
Look at Amazon for examples. Notice how the headlines of the best selling products always state how the product is used, not just what it is. Note: Amazon typically merges a product headline (title) with the short description. Keep your title to less than 60 characters. Then add a short description.
4. Short Description
After the headline, the next most read piece of content will be the short description. This is usually 1 to 3 sentence max (about 20 words) and supports the headline. It should not repeat the headline, but instead should state the single biggest benefit (not features) of the product. Depending upon the product, use sensory words or action words. Remember, people buy based on emotions, and they may never get past your short description. For example:
Prayer and meditation is remarkably easier and more peaceful when using lighted candles.
5. Full (Long) Descriptions
If you are a reseller, the manufacturer of the product may supply you with a description. Do not use this! It is great as a starting point, but you want your product descriptions to be different than everyone else’s who is selling the same product. Here is a great AI (artificial intelligence) tool to help you: Quillbot. In fact, Quillbot is the best “text spinning” tool for re-writing anything.
My colleague Ray Edwards suggests that one way to get really good at copywriting is to find some good sales copy and retype it yourself. Don’t copy and paste it – retype it word for word before editing it to fit your product or service. That way you will ingrain that style of writing into your head and you’ll produce better copy in the future. Do this every day until it feels natural to you.
Use a Story
Storytelling is one of the best ways to get visitors engaged with your writing. Just like with videos, start with an action scene, then go on to describe the benefits. If you don’t have a story to tell yourself, ask your customers if they can share one.
This is a great story that could be used in the long description of a prayer candle product:
In Southern California, sometimes the power companies turn the power off for thousands of customers if so much as a leaf moves on a tree. Some areas are windier than others. But it seems that every area must have its turn without power if the lines are above ground. Thankfully there is a hill behind our housing track, so we don’t have much wind. They do this because, in recent years, California has had several devastating wildfires. The power companies are trying to ensure they are not the ones to blame. So to cut liability, they shut the power off when it’s windy.
One day, my Christian/Catholic friend brought me a beautiful candle. She wanted me to have it if the world went dark. Little did she know MY world would go dark 3 days later. She purchased the candle, had it blessed, and brought it over to me in a beautiful gift bag. My heart was touched by her kindness and thoughtfulness.
Several days later, when our power did go out, I was in the shower…. (read the complete story at https://myheartscry.org/2022/03/12/the-candle-story/)
Highlight points in the story that show the BENEFITS of the product. For example:
The reduction in distractions is the main practical benefit of burning candles. While some people may easily pray while watching TV in the background, many of us find the flashing lights and loud noises distracting and readily divert our attention away from prayer. Even dimming the lights in your house or bedroom can help you pray more effectively by allowing your eyes to focus more on one item.
More Calming Atmosphere
There’s something about a candle’s flickering flame that soothes our soul. Many individuals use candles for therapeutic purposes, and they can have comparable impacts in our own daily prayer lives.
Symbolizes our search for God
“I am the light of the world,” Jesus declared. Anyone who follows me will not walk in the dark, but in the light of life.” (Luke 8:12) The candlelight, then, serves as a reminder of this fact, as well as how we might respond to it by walking out of the darkness of sin and into the “light of life.”
6. Use bullets to recap benefits
Bullet points are easy to scan, so use them to recap benefits and specifications. If someone isn’t reading your entire copy, these points may be all they are looking for.
- Fewer Distractions
- More Calming Atmosphere
- Symbolizes our search for God
- Weight: 500 g
- Height: 180 mm, Diameter: 60 mm
- Burn time: 120 hr
- 85% paraffin & 15% stearin
- Designed to ‘tunnel’. (The candle will burn down the center, while the exterior decoration remains intact and illuminated by the flickering flame inside.)
7. Use headings and short paragraphs
Have you noticed that this copy is relatively easy to read because it is broken up into headings and short paragraphs? I’ve discussed in the past how important it is to use long-form copy, both from an SEO standpoint and from the standpoint of the reader that wants enough information to make an informed buying decision. Typically, this means that your product descriptions should be a minimum 200 to 400 words long (which is much shorter than the 1400 to 2000 words recommended for a page or blog article you want to rank on Google).The simple fact is, if you do not provide adequate copy, your user will not have enough information to make an informed buying decision, and Google will not have enough information to rank your page in the search results. Click To Tweet
I can hear the arguments now:, “But I sell wholesale, so I don’t need all that information.” Or, “My customers already know what they want, so this isn’t relevant to me.” Or, “My customers only care about the photos” (says the shop owner with a single product image and no videos).
You know your customers and you might be right – maybe they don’t care. That’s the reason we write in short paragraphs, used heading tags, and include bullet points, so your customers can scan for the information they need. But Google DOES care about your written descriptions, even if your customers don’t, and therefore you should care.
Bonus Tip: Proofreading
Before you hit the “Publish” or “Update” button, read your copy out loud. This will help you catch any mistakes. Have someone else read it as well. Ask them if it makes sense to them. Not if they found any typos, you can use Grammarly for that (which you should do). But does it make sense? Remember, this is sales copy and you are appealing to their emotions, not trying to get them to be the grammar police.
Next, read your copy on a phone, to make sure it looks good and is legible. Use a minimum font size of 16 pixels; 18 to 20 is optimum. You want your copy to be easily read on a phone, since that is how 70% of your customers will view your website. If your listing isn’t easy to read, they will click off of it and go somewhere else. Don’t let that happen to you.
Google keeps track of how quickly someone clicks off your product listing before returning to Google. The longer a person is on your page, the higher you move up in the search rankings. Thus, long-form copy that is easy to read is critical to your copywriting success.
Putting it all together
This is an example that I used years ago as to how you should put together sales copy for a product, I purposefully chose a product that was not technical, as business owners would often tell me, “that’s fine for a technical product like a camera or computer, but how do you write 200 to 400 words for something simple like a cowboy hat?” (I’ve got another great example of a guy in Wyoming that would tell stories of all the adventures he had when wearing a cowboy hat, but I’ll save that for another day.) This example involves a ladies handbag, but you could do this for a pair of earrings, clothing, or food seasoning as well. I already showed you how with a candle, so don’t let a product’s simplicity stop you from writing great sales copy. Using a story can help engage with your customer. Click on the image to see the sample product listing (which is not for sale on my site)..
Here’s a little humor to go with this article! (These are for sale)
Did you read this all the way to the end? Have I inspired you to write better long-form copy for your products? Or would you love to do this but don’t have the time? Call us and let us help.
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