Building a solid online presence is critical to any e-commerce brand’s success. However, doing this is more challenging than ever because of the tough competition today. You’re not only competing against other direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands but also large retailers trying to grow online, making it more difficult to get noticed and attract customers.

With this, the key to differentiating your brand and making it stand out is good copywriting. While you can’t physically interact with users in the e-commerce world, you can grab their attention with compelling copy. Whether you’re a beginner copywriter or an online business owner looking to boost sales, this guide will help you learn the basics of web copywriting.  

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What is web copywriting?

Website copywriting, or web copywriting for short, is the process of writing digital copy for marketing and promotional purposes. This includes a wide range of copy, such as landing pages, product descriptions, sales copy, social media ads, and search ads. These all aim to keep site visitors engaged and nudge them to take some form of action. 

Web copywriting is a more specific type of copywriting that focuses only on online platforms. While copywriting has the same intent regardless of the medium used, it’s important to distinguish between web and offline copywriting for one major reason—how people read. People don’t read words on a computer or phone screen the same way as in a newspaper or magazine. Some key differences include the following:

  • Absorb and Recall
    Studies have found that people tend to absorb and recall information less on digital media than on printed materials, which can be attributed to many reasons. Some suggest that the additional strain from devices may be contributing to lower comprehension. Others say that it may be because constant exposure to fast-paced technology makes the brain process information faster and less thoroughly.
  • Scanning
    When reading online, users tend to just scan the content instead of going through each word and sentence. They only read an average of 20-28% of the webpage and rely on keywords to help them understand the main points. In contrast, print readers usually go more in-depth and read through everything. 

Given these differences, copywriting has evolved from one broad practice to two different styles—online and offline. Each comes with a different set of rules to cater to your audience. In general, web copy is shorter, less formal, more conversational, and not restricted by a particular format.

Importance of good web copywriting

Strong and effective web copy can make all the difference in your marketing strategy. At times, all it takes is the right words to convince users to make a purchase or change their minds about your brand. To further expound on this, here are the main reasons why good web copywriting is important for e-commerce businesses.

Potentially triggers a direct response

By combining emotional direct-response copywriting with targeted ads on platforms like Facebook or Google, you can persuade readers to take action now rather than later. Doing this successfully allows you to shorten the buying cycle and get people to purchase the first time they interact with your brand online.

Highlights brand values and strengths

While the ultimate goal of copywriting is sales, this doesn’t mean your copy should always be loaded with sales talk. Good copy isn’t just focused on selling products but also on building your brand to connect with readers and show them your key strengths. 

Keeps readers interested and engaged

Skilled copywriters understand their target audience deeply and know how to engage with them to maintain their interest. This is crucial to push readers down the funnel and increase the chances of conversion. 

Responds to different devices

One of the most important factors that sets good copy apart from regular copy is its responsiveness to different devices. Whether your audience is using a phone, tablet, or desktop screen, they should be able to read your content easily and properly. To achieve this, you’ll need to optimize your copy to suit all devices and configurations. 

Types of Website Copy

Web copywriting isn’t limited to writing for websites. It also includes producing copy for other digital channels like emails and social media networks. To give you a better idea of what you may need in your marketing strategy, here are the most common types of website copy.

Product Pages

Product pages are web pages that highlight all the important details customers should know about your product. This is one of the most critical parts of any e-commerce store since this can boost your online visibility and determine whether a site visitor decides to purchase or not. Generally, the best product copy doesn’t just enumerate specs or features. Instead, it highlights how the product can benefit customers or solve their problems. 

Here’s an example of a product page for Bowflex’s C7 bike for workouts.

Source: https://global.bowflex.com/en/bikes/c7/i100926.html

Sales emails

While email newsletters are designed for brand and relationship building, sales emails are focused on selling. Another way to look at it is that the former is informative while the latter is commercial.

Check out this sales email from FitVine wines, highlighting the product’s unique selling proposition—wine with less sugar and no additives. It also includes a small referral incentive at the bottom. 

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/no-tricks-just-treats

Check out this article to learn more about ecommerce email copywriting.

Google ads

Google ads allows you to create paid online ads to promote your products at the top of the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) before the top-ranking organic results. When using this channel, you’ll need to optimize your copy so that your ads show up in search results.

Here’s an example of a Google Shopping ad carousel that shows up after searching “best whey protein.”

It’s important to have high quality images, and concise copy in your product titles and descriptions for this type of ad. 

Source: Google search for “best whey protein”

Social media ads

Social media ads are paid ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With these ads, you can hyper-target your audience based on different criteria and personalize your copy accordingly to boost interactions and conversions. For example, Facebook allows you to target users based on age, geography, income group, interests, profession, and other factors.

To better visualize how these ads differ from Google ads, here’s a Facebook ad for Seed’s prebiotic + probiotic supplements.

Source: Facebook Ads Library

Calls To Action

A call to action (CTA) is one of the most crucial parts of any marketing campaign, as it’s usually the final touchpoint for users before conversion. CTAs are statements designed to prompt readers to take a specified action immediately. They’re important in that they help readers understand what to do next if they’re interested.

One of the most widely used CTAs is “Shop Now,” as seen in this ad by HydroFlask.

Source: Facebook Ad Library

Advertorials

The term advertorial is a blend of the words advertisement and editorial, which accurately describes what it is. Advertorials are paid ads that read like an editorial, journalistic piece, or newspaper article. Business owners and marketers often use them to raise brand awareness, educate consumers on the value of their products, or increase engagement. 

One example of an advertorial is Aavrani’s post on PopSugar, which provides a thorough review on one of their skincare products. Generally, it should be easy to spot advertorials since they often have the word “Sponsored” in the post or contain affiliate links in the CTAs.

Source: https://www.popsugar.com/beauty/aavrani-moisturizing-hydra-cream-review-48991099

8 Copywriting Best Practices 

Copywriting is more complex than it sounds since you’re trying to convince readers to do something. Thinking of what to write about is already hard on its own, but you also need to tailor your copy to your audience and understand how people read online content. If these sound overwhelming, here are eight best practices to help you create compelling copy.

Write Interesting Headlines

Headlines are critical in any copy. They need to be interesting and attention-grabbing since they serve as the hook to lure your audience in and get them to continue reading. If your headline is bland, you won’t be able to get readers to click on your ad and move them further along the buying journey. For reference, here are examples of strong headlines from other e-commerce businesses:

Soda Sense Headline Example

The Only On Demand CO2 Refill Club on the Planet

Source: Facebook Ad Library

PRO Compression Headline Example 

NOT all SOCKS are built the same

Source: Facebook Ad Library

RTIC Outdoors Headline Example 

Meet Your New Favorite Cooler 

Source: Facebook Ad Library

Keep Paragraphs Short

As mentioned, people often just scan through online content, so it’s best to make your copy as easy to read as possible. To do this, avoid writing long paragraphs since they’re hard to scan and look overwhelming, which can throw readers off. Instead, keep your paragraphs short and straightforward. 

While there’s no hard rule on length, short paragraphs usually only have two to three sentences. In fact, you can even have a one-sentence paragraph in your copy if you want to emphasize a specific point. 

Use Simple Language 

It’s always recommended to use simple language in your copy to ensure your message comes across clearly to your audience. Adding SAT words or buzzwords might seem impressive, but doing this just makes your copy harder to understand. Aside from this, keeping your tone conversational is better than being formal since this makes you sound more inviting and engaging. 

Check out this example of an email newsletter from Everlywell, which provides a simple punchline: “New season, healthier you.” Imagine if this line was written this way: “Accomplish your health goals today with lab-validated tests that empower you to be more proactive.” Not only does the line become much longer, but it’s also harder to understand due to the unnecessary big words.

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/our-most-popular-tests-now-30-off

Be Relatable 

One of the most important things to do in copywriting is to make your content relatable to your audience. The key is to write something that resonates with readers, so you can build a strong connection and make them feel more invested in your brand. One way to do this is to appeal to your reader’s emotions. You can do this by telling a story about a relatable problem and how you managed to solve it, allowing the reader to imagine themselves in the same situation.

Include Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are a great way to build trust with new customers who have yet to purchase from you. They offer proof that your product works and your brand is reputable, reassuring readers that their purchase will be worth it. Aside from customer reviews, other types of social proof you can include in your copy are expert opinions, user testimonials, and certifications from authoritative figures or accredited organizations.

Add CTAs  

No matter how well-written your copy is, it’s incomplete if you don’t have a CTA. Without this, readers might not know what exactly to do after reading your ad. Thus, you should always add a clear CTA containing a verb and relevant phrase at the end of your copy to tell readers what the next step is. Examples of commonly used CTAs include:

  • Learn More
  • Sign Up
  • Shop Now

Insert Hyperlinks

When applicable, insert hyperlinks into your copy to provide readers with a seamless user experience. Hyperlinks can be classified into two types: internal and external. Internal links are hyperlinks that point to different pages on your website, while external links take you to other sites or domains.

Generally, hyperlinks are used in CTAs to direct readers to specific places, such as your product catalog or a sign-up form. However, you can also use these links to provide readers with more information by directing them to a reputable external site. 

That said, you should also be strategic about when and where to use hyperlinks. For example, it wouldn’t be ideal to add a hyperlink to a webpage containing your offer since you want readers to convert—not leave the page.

Don’t Skip The Features

Lastly, make sure you don’t skip product characteristics in your copy. This refers to language that consists of product features or specific ingredients and information on how customers should use your product. More specifically, here are key components you can include:

  • Features: Provides unique characteristics that make your product different or how the product can help customers solve their problems or achieve their goals
  • Ingredients (if applicable): Specific compounds or formulas that give the product its features
  • Processes: Explains how to use the product for best results, unique ways to apply the product, or how long it takes to get results 
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Zack Miller