It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or expert. You’re going to have to battle blank space on your Shopify product description.
How should you write that category page? What product description is most likely to make your customer add to cart? Besides, how do you even get started?
Glad you asked. Check out these seven copywriting tips that will lead to fewer shoppers leaving your page, and more people clicking that big juicy buy button.
Tip #1: The Magic Three
Before you write anything, and this works for product descriptions, blog posts, or even customer “Thank You” emails. Ask yourself three questions:
Question #1: Whom are you writing to?
You’re writing to a person and a search engine. Err on the side of talking to a human. Yes, it’s a balancing act. But remember search engines don’t buy products, people do.
Don’t just write to anybody. Figure out who your target audience is. Develop an avatar or a picture of your ideal customer.
You can do this with some basic questions (and I’ll answer these with a sample later):
- What is their age, gender, education, income level, marital status, and family status?
- What are their values, interests, attitudes, and hobbies?
- What are their pains? And what do they seek to gain?
Example: premier Shopify client Magnolia by Chip and Joanna Gaines
- We’re guessing here to a degree. They sell to women 25 to 44, college educated, $75,000+ a year, married with children.
- They’re christian or conservative with similar values to Chip and Joanna Gaines. It’s women seeking to copy their success. They may want to dabble in interior design, staging, or real estate as a hobby, career, or side project.
- They are crazy-busy moms and wives who may work in or outside the home. They want to build a beautiful home and still have time for a family.
Let’s call our avatar Magnolia Mandy. Now when you write the copy for your page (if you were Magnolia) you write to Mandy or a family member, friend, or an acquaintance you know that’s just like her. This will make your writing relevant, real, and right-on-target.
Question #2: What’s in It for Me (WIIFM)?
Your customer’s favorite radio station is WIIFM. Who’s the first person you look at in any group photo? You. Your customer is no different.
What will you customer gain when they trade the precious attention for your copy? This is the heart of empathy. It helps you walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins. Tell them how your product helps, and you’ll be on your way to another closed sell.
Question #3: What Do You Want Them to Do?
Action. You can skip the lights and camera.
You’re the director, and the focus is on your customer. Now tell them what to do. What is the goal or the next step in the process? It could be as simple as I want them to add this shirt to the cart. Make sure you’re direct and obvious.
Tip #2: The USP and Your Tribe
If you watched the show, Mad Men, then you may know the writers loosely based it on revolutionary advertiser Rosser Reeves. In 1954, he created the slogan, for M&M’s “It melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” That little slogan turned an okay candy company into a billion-dollar brand.
He did it through the power of a term he coined called the Unique Selling Proposition or USP. What’s a USP? It’s something your product or brand can offer that no one else can.
But you’re thinking I sell T-shirts, sunglasses, or watches. People can get those just about anywhere. You’re only half right.
Why should they buy those “commodities” from YOU? Before we can answer that, we have to go back to the first question of The Magic Three.
Tribe the People Following You
You have your “who” from the avatar, you built earlier. Now you need a tribe. Marketing guru Seth Godin, says “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”
Okay, let’s break that down. Remember, Magnolia Mandy, now we add her best friends Mary, Melissa, Megan, and thousands of other moms just like them. Who’s the leader? That’s Joanna Gaines and Magnolia. And they’re connected on this idea of beautiful homes fit for families (the USP).
You build your brand on the USP that will grab your tribe, niche, or segment of the market and never let them go. This fuels every word you type.
For example, your clothing USP could be T-shirts for Introverts. Our shirts help our otherwise shy customers start conversations everywhere they go.
Your tribe chooses you for a simple but powerful reason. They ask themselves, “what do people like me buy, wear, or flaunt?” Then they do likewise. It’s social proof that proves profitable for you.
Tip #3: Sold on Emotion Justified by Logic
Win the heart before the head.
Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor, says that 95% of buying decisions happen on a subconscious level. But it doesn’t feel this way in reality because we find conscious reasons to justify our choices.
So visiting the mall doesn’t make us go crazy like a giant kid in a chocolate shop. We choose emotionally and dress it up with “grown-up” rational reasons.
Imagine Joe, the corporate accountant, who just put 45 candles on his birthday cake. Before he can blow out the fire and make a wish, he rushes down to the Harley Davidson dealership. Joe test-drives and buys thunder rolling on two wheels.
When he gets back to the office on Monday, his buddies gather around the water cooler. He’ll tell them he bought a bike that goes 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, has an 883 cubic centimeter air-cooled evolution engine, and emulsion rear shocks.
Joe won’t tell them he was buying coolness. The guy purchased the confidence he’s missing for not being as successful as he thinks he should be. The man paid $25,000 to feel 25 again.
What emotion makes people buy your product? Is it fear like our mid-life crisis guy? Maybe it’s shame, envy, pride, altruism, or greed. Figure out the core emotion and beat that drum with the force of a marching band.
Tip #4: Features Vs. Benefits
If you learn the difference between the two, then you’ll be crushing your e-commerce competition. Because average online sellers drone on about features.
Legendary copywriter Bob Bly defines in his classic tome, The Copywriter’s Handbook, “a ‘feature’ is a descriptive fact about a product; it’s what the product is or has. A ‘benefit’ is what the product does; it’s what the user of the product gains as a result of the feature.”
A benefit results from applying the WIIFM question to the feature. Or you could ask “so what?”
Example: Features and Benefits for a # 2 pencil
|hexagonal cylinder shape||prevents it from rolling off your desk|
|yellow exterior||It stands out on in your drawer, and it’s bright, visible, and hard to misplace|
|eraser on the top||You can quickly and neatly correct mistakes|
We took facts about the product and turned it into something that helps the customer. Do this with your merchandise.
Tip #5: Kill Addie by Being Specific
Addie Adjective likes to put “best-in-class,” “world-leader,” and “innovative” in front of every product. Addie doesn’t realize these words are so overused they’ve become trite, cliché, and meaningless fluff.
- NO-best-in-class sunglasses from a market-leading manufacturer
- YES-Sunglasses that 9 out of 10 optometrists recommend because they block 99.9% of UV Rays.
Being specific assassinates Addie.
Tip #6: Shopify Product Description Overhaul
Here’s a Shopify product description template of questions to make the process easier.
Think of yourself as a reporter. Answer the five W’s and an H:
- Who uses the product? Remember your avatar.
- What are the simple facts about the product? Include details such as dimensions, features, functions, and materials.
- Where would the customer use the product? Is it used inside or outside the house? Is it used at home, in the car, or in the office?
- When would the customer use the product? Is it only a specific time of day (the morning coffee mug), during a particular time of the year or seasonal (a winter coat) or for a certain occasion (an ugly Christmas sweater). Also, stress if the customer can use it more often because that builds value. I mean you can always wear the ugly Christmas sweater on a first date, right?
- Why would the customer choose this product over your competitors? Pick a feature and/or benefit that competition doesn’t offer or hasn’t highlighted.
- How does the customer use the product? Some things are self-explanatory. Explain when it’s high technology or something new to the audience like a gadget.
Tell a Micro-Story
Now you can take those five W’s and an H and build a micro-story for your product. Give it a beginning, middle, and end. Or enough story that the customer can imagine using the product.
Example: Shopify User Argent Work (Notice the Product Description)
Five Reasons to Buy
Engage the five senses. Make them see, hear, smell, taste, and touch your product.
Example: Shopify User Death Wish Coffee (Can you almost sip the product description?)
For a collection description, Shopify likes-you should keep it simple, descriptive, and orderly. You can always update this as your inventory changes, or you have promotions.
Tip #7: Editing Made Easy
Mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, “if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Many beginners think editing is the five minutes spent on spell check. Ding. Wrong Answer!
Editing is cutting your writing for clarity. Before you give a rose, you trim all the leaves, thorns, and thistles in the way.
Pardon the pun, but that’s how you plant ideas in the minds of your readers.
Here are three checklists that cover style, apps, and actions. The style one I adapted from Bob Bly’s excellent work The Copywriter’s Handbook:
- Put the reader first: write “you” throughout remember you’re talking to a person.
NO-Energetic Executive watches are the world’s first user-friendly watch that has smart energy management and tracking software with the style and prestige of a business watch.
YES-The Energetic Executive watch is the world’s first business watch to monitor your energy levels so you can be at peak performance in and out of the boardroom all while matching your sleek, professional style.
- Short Sentences and Short Paragraphs
Short sentences are easy to understand. The apps below will help with this, especially the Hemingway one.
Keep your paragraphs short. Two to three sentences or 100 words or fewer is a good rule of thumb. People are reading on smartphones and computers, so big blocks of text are intimidating.
- Use simple words.
This is not an English report where you change every ordinary word to its more “highfalutin” counterpart. “Car” becomes “automobile,” “end” becomes “terminate,” and “best” becomes “optimum.”
Use the small, simple word don’t choose the $10 word when $2 one does the job.
- Be concise
NO-a wide variety of different models
YES-a variety of models
NO-simple and easy to use
YES-easy to use
NO-from a low of 7 to a high of 17
YES-from 7 to 17
- Write in a conversational, friendly tone
You’re writing to your ideal client. They should be a friend. Speak to them as if you’re sitting across from them at Starbucks. I said this earlier, but it bears repeating. Never forget you’re talking to a human.
Apps and Actions for Polish
- Microsoft Word’s Spell Check and Grammar Too.
Paste your Shopify product description or paragraph into Word. In Options turn on check for grammar and style.
- Grammarly Free or Paid.
Catches stuff Word misses.
- Pro Writing Aid Free or Paid.
Tag team with Grammarly.
Focuses on readability, so you’re not writing for rocket scientists who do part-time brain surgery.
- Read It Aloud.
Basic but valuable. If it doesn’t sound right to you, then it won’t sound right to your reader.
- Give It 24 Hours.
Time makes it go from subjective to objective. Your mind is filling in all the mistakes because you know what you mean. A day of rest grants detachment.
- Have Someone Else Read It.
A spouse, family member, friend. Bonus points if it’s a prospect. Can they catch any mistakes? What did you do well? What can you improve? Would they buy?
- Read It Aloud Again.
Before you publish.
- Good Enough Is Good Enough.
You’re not writing the next great American novel. Progress > Perfection. It’s the internet right. You can always fix your Shopify product description later.
What Questions, Ideas, and Insights Do You Have?
You’re starting the famed journey of a thousand miles. It’s a marathon with some sprints throughout. Don’t be like the Shopify snobs who treat customers like numbers.
It’s trite but true. You can sum up all seven tips in the golden rule. You’re putting the customer first. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Good copywriting is good customer care. If you found this article useful, and you’d like to see if I could do your copywriting for you GO here.
What are your biggest copywriting challenges? Which tip helped you the most? What ideas would you share with others just starting? Tell us in the comments.