5 Brilliant E-commerce Copy Testing Ideas to Try Right Now
What is effective conversion optimization?
To fully optimize and test an element you must consider the design, copy, and placement of that element. Once you’ve exhausted the different scenarios and reached an optimal look and feel to a page, you have achieved effective CRO.
Of course, not all design, copy iterations and element placements necessarily work, that is why CRO is part art, part science. Ultimately though, homework has to be done before and after in order to have a robust CRO plan that will yield results.
And it is the common practice for visitors to take a look at their analytics (although honestly we will write a new post on how this is done at such a surface level and needs to be more in-depth), and then modify design and placement of the element.
Too often copy is the last item on the list. This is the case although copy is faster to tweak, especially on unique pages. Actually a recent client of ours has no product descriptions on a clothing site. This copy is key for them to see those significant increases, but the size of the task gives them pause. With over 25,000 SKUs, it is quite overwhelming. But there are some ways to get over this difficulty, so stop skipping over this key area of optimization and try our 5 brilliant copy testing ideas right now.
Copy on e-commerce websites
On any e-commerce site, you’ll have two types of pages:
- Unique Pages: homepage, about page, FAQ, company info, checkout page, etc. These pages are all unique and have little in common with each other.
- Product & Category Pages: These pages usually follow a template. Each product page, for example, will have a similar design and copy format.
You’ll have only a handful of unique pages on your site, but hundreds, thousands, even millions of product pages.
Tweaking copy on all these pages is quite a feat. This is why we recommend that you start by focusing on unique pages, followed by the top 10 or 100 product pages which you select by popularity or contribution to revenue. We also recommend, for our client for instance, to begin adding copy to new skus as they arrive. Because ultimately, if something is going to yield thousands of dollars in added revenue per month, investing in copywriters to go through some of our more popular products will be well worth it.
Let’s take a look at some copy optimization ideas you can use on both these page types.
1. Use action oriented words
Every page on your site exists for one reason: to get your users to perform an action. This can be anything — click ‘Add to Cart’ on a product page, hit ‘Buy’ on the checkout page, and select ‘Sign-up’ on a landing page. Your copy needs to help persuade visitors to take primary and secondary actions on the page.
One way to do this is to use action-focused verbs in your copy. As you might expect, these words compel passive users to take some action.
Some commonly used action verbs are:
You can get a longer list of common action words here.
Most e-commerce stores already use action words all across their sites. For example, Overstock uses ‘Resolve’ and ‘Take’ on its homepage images:
Apple uses ‘Start’ and ‘See’ on its homepage:
eBay peppers its homepage with tons of action words:
In one test, changing copy to action words increased conversion rate by 93%:
This is an easy hack to put into action, so make sure to test it out in 2016.
2. Use numbers frequently
Using numbers in your copy does a few things:
- It quantifies your product quality — if 10,052 customers buy from you every month, surely, your products can’t be bad.
- It appeals to caring persona-type. These are people who are concerned about others and want to know how (and if) your products help others. Showing the number of people who buy from you every month shows them that others have already benefited from your products.
- It organizes the copy making it more “scannable.”
Numbers work very well when used in headlines or product copy. For example, when it comes to page headlines, research shows that a majority of people (36%) prefer headlines with numbers in them.
Take a look at how eBay assures customers that their store is popular with others. Note the word ‘repeat’, which shows that people are willing to come back to their store over and over again.
AlwaysRiding.com shows how many customers purchased an item recently:
Firebox.com uses social proof numbers by showing how many customers liked or recommended a product on social media:
Generally speaking, you should strive to use exact numbers whenever possible. Instead of saying that your products are loved, show them how many likes each product receives on Facebook. Instead of telling them you’re trustworthy, show people how many customers you’ve successfully served.
3. Focus on benefits, not features
People buy products for their benefits, not their features.
Think about how differently Apple and Samsung sell their products. Apple almost never talks about the number of cores, or RAM in its phones. Instead, it focuses on the entire experience of owning an iPhone, and its benefits.
Samsung, on the other hand, focuses on the number of cores in its processor and the resolution of its camera.
Of course, we know which of these two companies is more profitable.
Patagonia does a wonderful job of turning features into benefits. Each of its products uses high quality materials and unique technology for better comfort and warmth. Instead of focusing on these features, however, its copy emphasizes how these features benefit the user.
4. Use copy that appeals to emotion
In the book Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain, the authors claim that our decision making is heavily affected by the amygdala or the ‘reptile brain’. This is a primitive part of the brain that heavily favors emotion over logic.
Using emotion in e-commerce copy has its rewards. In one study of online shoe stores, researchers found that stores that emphasized interactivity and evoked emotion grew faster than those that appealed purely to logic.
In another study of the most heavily shared content on the NYT website, researchers found that articles that evoked strong emotions (awe, anger, etc.) received the highest number of shares.
Adding emotion to your e-commerce copy is a big topic and outside the scope of this article, but a few things that can really help are:
- Leveraging power words: These are words that evoke emotion in readers. See a list of power words here.
- Use your customers’ language: Speak like your customers speak. Don’t use the same copy for baby boomers as you would for 20-something millennials.
- Use second-person copy: Address the reader directly by using ‘You’ in your copy.
For example, take a look at the wine descriptions on LaithWaites.co.uk. All the words used here are highly descriptive:
Or take a look at the copy used on Firebox.com — it is full of highly descriptive, (sometimes made-up) evocative words (“flavoursome”, “wonderously smooth taste”, “hand-labelled”, etc.)
5. Tell a story
Storytelling is one of the most powerful weapons in a copywriter’s arsenal. A good story can hook readers in and create a narrative around your brand and its products.
In one memorable example, the founders of SignificantObjects.com bought cheap products from thrift stores and crafted stories about them to give them a sense of heritage and history. Each of these products was then sold off on eBay.
By leveraging the power of storytelling, SignificantObjects.com was able to sell thrift store goods worth $128.74 for $3,612.57. Which is to say, storytelling helped themincrease the value of their products by a whopping 2700%.
An easy way to use storytelling in your product copy is to tell readers how your product came into being. BestMade does this wonderfully well by telling readers why and how they designed each of their products.
LaithWaites.co.uk takes stories and comments from wine creators to craft a very effective narrative about each wine.
The J Peterman Catalog creates fictional stories for its products, imbuing them with a rich history.
We know why many ecommerce owners and companies resist changing copy. It’s a lot to consider when you have 5,000 and 20,000 SKUs. But working your way up to better copy can yield amazing results. Try doing something similar for your own top 10 or 100 products and see what type of results you can get.