The success of every online store is defined by its ability to sell a product. Your store’s copy defines its ability to sell your product.
In simple terms, if your copy is bad, your sales will also be bad.
What is great copy?
First of all, let’s define what is great copy:
Great copy is defined as any multimedia content that persuades people to buy from your store.
It used to be that great copy where just words on a screen or paper. Nowadays, copy comes in many formats. Including, but not limited to: images, audio, video, text, etc.
Notice that great copy is defined as content that persuades people to buy. Let’s take a shortcut around that definition and put it this way: great copy is a great sales pitch.
What you need to know to write great copy.
Since great copy is a great sales pitch, you need to know how to develop a great sales pitch. This is a complex subject and we can’t tackle it in this article, but I’ll cover the basics for you.
All of my great copy has followed the AIDA sales model. AIDA is short for A ttention, I nterest, D esire and A ction.
In copy, attention is commonly the copy headline. If you go back and read the title of this article, you will realize that the only reason you are reading it is because it caught your attention.
Great copy is attention grabbing. Great copy requires an attention grabbing headline.
How to write attention grabbing headlines.
The trick to write great attention grabbing headlines is to understand two things:
- Who you are writing it for.
- What they want most.
Taking the headline of this article as an example, you can see that the target market is clearly defined. I’m writing this article for people who have online stores and are looking to increase their sales.
What do people who have online stores and are looking to increase their sales want most? Money. You want money. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s more than OK. Ambition is great.
By combining the target market with their wants and needs, we can write some really attention grabbing headlines.
Say your store sells musical instruments. Better yet, let’s say you sell guitars. What would be a good headline to sell more guitars?
Believe it or not, a lot of times the best headlines are those that communicate a sense of urgency. Say:
Buy 2 guitars for the price of one. Limited quantities only.
This headline is targeted at people who want to buy a guitar (and can afford it). It also includes a call to action by letting them know that there is a limited amount of guitars available (the action in AIDA, more later).
However, you can’t always offer that to your customers (or can you?). You want a headline that will sell guitars at full profit.
Who wants to buy a guitar the most? People who want to learn how to play. What do they want most? Let’s assume they want to be able to play music and get all the benefits of doing so. A headline using these two pieces of information could be:
Stop telling yourself that you will learn how to play the guitar someday. Start today!
This is a no brainer. You are making a point that they need to stop procrastinating and have to buy a guitar in order to learn how to play. Turns out, that calling people out is a great way to get them to pay attention. Doesn’t work for every product, but it sure gets them to view your copy.
OK, let’s summarize a little here. We still have some more material to cover. Write attention grabbing headlines by taking into account who you are writing it for and what it is that they want the most. Spend some time figuring those two things out and you will be set. Don’t be afraid to call them out, either. Push their buttons.
Now, we are ready to talk about keeping them interested after grabbing their attention.
How to keep people interested in your copy.
I must confess something at this point. I’ve kept you interested in this article by writing really great headings. Scroll back up and read the headline and the headings in order. Don’t read anything else. Go, do it.
Did you see a pattern? Yes? Great!
What you saw is simple. I’ve combined the headlines and the headings into an impossible to resist combination of attention grabbing statements that will provoke your interest and push you into reading the whole article.
People who visit your store do so with the intent of browsing for something that grabs their attention and keeps them interested. Great copy uses every possible trick in the book to not only get their attention, but to keep them interested until you can ask for the sale.
This point may seem like a big nothing. You might be giving up on this article by now and go and browse Facebook. However, let me say that if you do that, you will be losing money from lost sales. Do you want that?
And that’s how you keep people interested. You figure out what their buttons are and you push them. In your case, the biggest button I can push is the fact that not taking this post seriously will cost you money. Real money in your bank account.
In order to see real live examples of a store pushing people’s button with content, go to Amazon, visit any product featured on their front page, and identify how many buttons they are pushing to keep you interested.
How many can you count in this random screenshot I took?
I can count no less than 30 instances of Amazon trying to push your buttons on this random screenshot.
Remember when I said that copy now comes in many formats? Each image in the screenshot above presents a sales pitch to persuade you to buy.
You should go and study Amazon’s product pages after reading this article. Every little thing in there is there to sell you something. Anything. Try and figure out why and how with what you’ve learned here (apply AIDA to it). Well, don’t stop at amazon. Go to Wal-Mart’s page, and then eBay. Compare their pages to yours.
Hold on. I just realized something. You need to learn and understand a very important lesson.
Your copy is alive.
Copy is not dead. It should not stay the same. You should really update it. Not constantly, but as much as needed in order to keep demand up.
People who do not update their copy content are losing money.
Know that most people do not change their copy content because they think they are done once they produced it. Big mistake! Remember that we live in an information economy. Information sells. You cannot afford to have stale copy.
Back in the day, copy content could not be updated because copy was printed on paper or recorded on expensive media. Running an ad on the paper cost thousands of dollars. Now? You can run an ad that has more reach for fifty dollars than the ad on the paper did for fifty thousands. The cost of evolving your copy content is now very affordable (and sometimes it’s FREE). Every online store app has the ability to update the copy content. Doesn’t matter what app you run (Shopify, Wordpress, etc.), they can all be updated an infinite number of times. So, don’t stop testing to find what works.
Join me now into the next part: Desire.
How To Get People To Desire Your Product With Great Copy.
Desire. Such a dirty little word. It can mean so many things, but ultimately, desire is about one thing: an illogical drive to want. When people desire they just want. They don’t need. Desire is hardly about anyone’s needs. Desire is about want. That feeling of selfish ownership.
Getting people to desire what you sell is a complex subject. I’m not going to try and tell you it’s simple. However, I can teach you my best desire provoking copy hack.
The hack is straightforward: Induce desire by painting a picture in your customer’s mind. Not any picture, though. It needs to be a mental picture of them getting what they want by using your product. There needs to be a connection made between your product and the customer’s emotions right there in the copy. Doing this is easier than it sounds.
My hack involves telling stories. People love stories. People love good stories. Good stories that entertain. Let me tell you a story about storytelling:
I once doubled my sales by telling a story. The product was not very unique, but the story was amazing. I used to sell beautifully designed websites for software developers who wanted to stand out and get noticed. At first, people really did not buy my product because they could not relate to it. Yes, they saw how beautiful it was. They never made the connection between my product and what they desired. They could buy a beautiful designed website from thousands of other stores. For less than I asked.
After careful testing, I decided to include a piece of copy content that showed the before and after of someone who purchased my products. They went from having a dull and boring online presence to a really engaging and interesting one. Their traffic spiked, and suddenly, they were getting emails from companies that wanted to hire them. I outlined that in the copy and the next day, I had sold double the amount of product. Note that I did not run a new ad campaign. Nor did I post something on social media. This was all organic traffic. Double sales for no cost to me.
How does this apply to you? Figure out what is the outcome that your customers desire and then include it in your copy. In your own case, you want more money (as a result of more sales). That’s why you are reading this article. As we progress along, you will notice that I’ve been telling a story from the beginning of the article. Not a fake story. Or even a persuasive story. I am not selling you anything (although you can hire me to do your copy if you want). What I’m trying to do is to make you money. If you do, Starter Story will be your go to place to learn more about how to make more money from your online store. I currently have no affiliation with Starter Story or its staff. But, I do believe that Pat (the founder of Starter Story) is on the right track to something special.
Ready for the next and last AIDA item? Let’s move into action.
How To Persuade People To Act And Buy.
A quick look into the psychology of buying.
The only reason people do not buy your product is: they object to buying it.
In sales, objections are the reasons people use to not buy your product. It’s how they discern from buying something or not.
An objection can be anything really. The price is to high. The price is too low. The color is too bright. The color is not bright enough. It doesn’t fit them. It does fit them. Honestly, people have a million different objections. However, they usually have a core set of deal breaking objections. Your job is to identify and handle them directly. If you don’t, your sales are toast.
How do you find what these objections are? Luckily for you, I have a ton of experience with online stores, and will share the most common ones. From there, I’ll show you how to poke around and find any other deal breaking objections your customers may have.
The most common objections people have when buying from online stores are:
The product is too expensive or seems too cheap to be true. They are afraid of being scammed or paying too much for something they could buy somewhere else for less. Always test your pricing and adjust it to see where the sales get impacted. Watch those sales numbers like a hawk. Go and learn about A/B testing and apply it to your pricing.
Amazon has made shipping part of their competitive advantage. People expect every online store to have the shipping capabilities of Amazon. There are ways to get around it, but the simplest one is to simple include the shipping in the product price and offer “FREE Shipping”. Those two words are magical. A product with a higher selling price that is sold with free shipping is perceived to cost less than one that costs less but has them pay anything for shipping. Don’t believe me? Answer this then: Are you an Amazon Prime member?
Not enough information.
This one really grinds my gears. There a lot of online stores out there that simply do not have enough information about the product they are selling. Would you buy jewelry without someone telling you what kind of materials it uses? Look at the following description for an actual product listed on Etsy:
Octopus Tentacle Nose ring piercing, septum ring Jewelry. Bohemian Jewelry Hipster
Modern style. Sold by piece.*
Whoever wrote that did not consider their customer. If you have short descriptions as well, then consider this your come to jesus moment and get on with it.
Not enough multimedia content.
Or bad quality media content. Take some good pictures. People want to see what they are buying in. If they can’t see it, then they ain’t buying. Include a video of the item in use if possible.
Let’s now focus on handling other deal breaking objections your customers may have.
This is where communicating with your customers becomes very valuable. People will actually tell you why they didn’t buy something. They might not say it outright, but their actions will let you know better than their words. First off, make sure people have a way of contacting you. An email address, a chat widget, a phone number, whatever. Anything they can use to ask a question will be your best weapon to battle objections.
Imagine that you sell t-shirts. Someone emails you and asks if you the t-shirt sizes run big. What they are actually saying is: I want to buy your t-shirt, but you did not provide me with enough information to do so. I need more information before I spend my hard earned money on this t-shirt because I do not want to look bad wearing it.
That’s a very common objection on stores that sell clothing. So common, that adding a sizing chart and models of different sizes usually increases sales by a very noticeable margin.
Once you know their objections, what do you do?
Your goal now is to incorporate their objections into your copy content.
Let me repeat that for the people in the back:
Your goal now is to incorporate their objections into your copy content. You will now make sure to answer every common objection they might have right there on your copy. A great way to do so is to copy Amazon’s way of dealing with objections:
You don’t even need to write a paragraph. Amazon has simply added a Q&A section for their products. If you pay close attention, you will notice that people can even vote on the questions (social proof).
It’s late, and I’m running out of batteries here. So, let’s get on with the last part of this article.
How To Push People To Buy.
Yes, push. You need to push people to buy. Otherwise, they will never take action by themselves. People don’t know how to buy something. You need to push and guide them through the whole process.
How do you push them? You close the sale. Closing, for those of you who don’t know what it is, is the action of asking for the sale. For example, if after reading this, and you want improve your store’s sales, simply email me at [email protected]. I just asked you for the sale.
However, asking for the sale on an online store can be done in many different ways. The most persuasive ways to close a sale are:
- Offer them free shipping if they buy now.
- Add a countdown timer next to the buy now button and warn them that the price will increase when the time runs out.
- Email them if they abandon the cart and ask why they didn’t buy (this works great to re-ignite abandoned impulse purchases). Offer them a coupon to sweeten the deal.
- Show how many items are left in stock and how many people have ordered in the past week. This shows urgency to purchase.
The point is that they need to act now. Not later. Now. You need to make very clear that not purchasing now will end up costing more later.
Closing is about just getting done with the sale as quickly as possible. Close. Close. Close.
What to do next.
There are two things you could do next. One is a very firm suggestion, and the other is optional.
First, go and get a copy of the book The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy. It will teach you more about copywriting than I could have done in one article. That book is a classic and has made me hundreds of thousands of dollars. The wisdom it contains is centered around print media. Don’t let that trick you into thinking it doesn’t apply to digital. All of it does. Buy it. Read it. Live by it.
Second, feel free to reach out to [email protected] if you have any copywriting related inquiries. I really want to know what you thought about this article.
About the author
Pablo Rivera is a seasoned copywriter with over 20 years of experience with print and digital media. For the past 10 years, he has focused on e-commerce copywriting. You may contact him at [email protected].
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