Practical copywriting tips for retail & eCommerce business owners.
If you’re a modern retail or eCommerce business owner, sharpening up your copywriting skills is one of the best investments you can make.
When it comes to connecting with customers, copywriting remains one of the world’s most persuasive marketing mediums. Today’s consumers value compelling content that meets their personal needs. If you know how to deliver that, you will grow your audience while earning a consistent flow of sales.
We’re going to explore seven essential copywriting principles for the digital age. But first, let’s consider why copywriting is so important.
Why copywriting counts in the digital age
Copywriting is the backbone of digital marketing. By creating engaging, thought-leading content that addresses a specific customer curiosity or pain point, you will forge deeper connections with your audience while inspiring positive action.
We live in an age where consumers have access to a wealth of information with the swipe of a screen or the click of a button. If you want to cut through the noise, your copywriting must be valuable, informational, and razor-sharp.
People don’t fall for generic sales slogans anymore. To compete on today’s eCommerce or retail battlefield, you have to inspire your audience while offering access to the right information at the right time—and this is the key role of copywriting.
Here are three insights that put the power of good copywriting into perspective:
- Personalized calls-to-action (CTAs) boost conversions and click-throughs by up to 202%.
- Seventy-four percent of consumers pay attention to the spelling, grammar, and general quality of digital website content.
- Sixty-four percent of small businesses note that their email copy or content is “effective” or “very effective” when it comes to customer engagement and business growth.
The 7 modern copywriting principles you need to know
Now that you understand the power of solid copywriting in the digital age and how sharpening up your word skills can benefit your business, let’s look at the seven modern principles of success.
1. Lean on your authenticity
Today’s customers value brand authenticity more than ever. With the ability to consume content and connect with their peers 24/7, people are more deliberate in their buying choices.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling novelty socks or high-end electronics; authenticity will build trust and encourage customer loyalty.
But how do you let your authenticity shine through? Let’s take a look at an example.
This caption from the Mission page of plant-based food company Beyond Meat states the brand’s intent in a way that’s clear, concise, and true to the brand’s values.
The caption is digestible and written in plain language. The marrying of the words “believe” (stating the brand’s core beliefs) and “future” (showcasing Beyond Meat’s commitment to the cause) is both authentic and engaging.
When writing digital copy, you should always consider your key brand values and use them as a guide. To remain authentic in the eyes of your customers, you should also avoid using overly complicated terms or jargon. Doing so can make you appear pretentious, elitist, or just downright dull.
2. Lead with a razor-sharp hook
In addition to writing with authenticity in mind, you should aim to lead with a valuable hook. Whether you’re writing a full-length blog post or a small piece of paid advertising copy, working with a strong theme or concept to grab attention will transform your copy from good to great.
Copywriting hooks come in many shapes and forms, but here are a few ideas to guide your efforts:
- For landing pages or ad copy, highlighting a specific unique selling point (USP), deal, or offer will make an effective hook.
- For articles and email copy, a trending topic or news theme can serve as a strong hook that inspires engagement.
- For ad copy and social media content, interesting facts, references to a particular video or image, and employee or customer spotlights all serve as solid hooks.
3. Sweat the small stuff
Another essential digital copywriting principle is sweating the small stuff. Your user experience (UX) content and microcopy are smaller elements of text that help to guide your customers through their journey.
Micro and UX copy are varied but include cursor captions, functional text that tells people what to do next when filling out information fields, and CTA buttons. These small nuggets of text count, as they improve the customer experience (CX) and, if written well, serve as an extra layer of engagement between you and your customers.
To find out how to sweat the small stuff the right way, read our guide to essential UX and microcopy writing tips that drive conversions and success.
4. Keep it conversational; break it up
It’s always important to make your copy as conversational as possible.
When you’re producing content, you should read it aloud a few times. If your copy reads robotically or unnaturally, make the necessary tweaks until it sounds right.
One effective way of keeping your copy conversational (and digestible) is breaking it up into smaller sentences or chunks (this makes it easier to scan for useful information). You can also bold or italicize any key points or info you want to communicate on-page.
Another effective way of keeping your copy sharp and conversational is writing in an active voice rather than a passive voice as much as possible.
“The cup was thrown across the room in anger by Sally.”
“Sally threw the cup across the room in anger.”
As you can see, the active sentence places the subject at the start, making the sentence clearer, punchier, and more conversational.
5. Tell a tale
Ninety-two percent of consumers want brands to create content and make ads that feel like a story. Plus, our brains connect with storytelling more than cold, hard facts alone.
Brand storytelling is a powerful promotional force. By telling a story with your copy, you will increase your chances of earning sales and growing your audience significantly.
When you’re producing a form of digital content, start with your headline and decide on a definitive CTA (the action you want your customer to take) that complements the end of your story. Armed with a definitive beginning, middle, and end, you will give your copy direction while holding your readers’ attention from start to finish.
Your aim here isn’t to write an epic novel, complete with conflicts and plot twists, but to guide your audience through a specific idea, concept, product, or service in a way that takes them on a journey.
6. Marry up different mediums
Building on our brand storytelling point, you can make your copywriting tales even more compelling by working with different mediums such as imagery, multimedia design, and video.
UN Women’s video-based International Day of The Girl Child campaign is an excellent example of marrying up mediums and telling an inspiring tale.
The captions are clear and emotionally driven while taking the viewer on a journey of progress before asking them to take action and support the cause. Assisted by the hashtag #generationequality, this brand storytelling campaign earned droves of social media engagement while raising a healthy amount of funds for a vital cause.
7. Make it personal
While this isn’t exactly a new copywriting concept, it’s amazing how often eCommerce and retail business owners overlook this ket principle: make it personal.
Every one of the tips and principles we’ve talked about here is at least loosely based on offering personal value. To ensure your copy is extra personal, speak directly to your target customers, using “you” wherever possible.
To add a real personal touch to your digital copywriting efforts, aim to segment your customers into specific groups depending on their demographics, behaviors, and interests.
Learn all you need to know to get started with our practical guide to how proper customer segmentation can lead to more sales.
Bonus copywriting tip:
A quick bonus tip to make your copy as sharp and relevant as possible is to “murder your darlings.” This term is another way of saying you should trim the fat and remove anything that isn’t essential from your content. Here’s how to do it:
- A word, not a phrase
- A phrase, not a sentence
- A sentence, not a paragraph
- A paragraph, not a page
“First and foremost, copywriting is a means of communicating information to your audience.”—David Ogilvy, copywriting pioneer
If you get your digital copywriting efforts right, you will reap great commercial rewards. Content is a powerful way to connect with your customers on a deeper level. Follow these seven principles, and you will do just that.
For more business-boosting inspiration, read all about how to drive down cart abandonment rates by optimizing your store’s online checkout.