What kind of message are you sending to your buyers?

"This is too long to read" summary:
When you write anything public-facing for your site, you should be thinking about what its purpose is and how it’s going to drive your visitors towards a purchase.

When I’m looking at a store’s site, that’s one of the first questions I ask.

Sometimes, those messages are:

  • Unclear
  • Not action oriented
  • Poorly placed
  • Focused on the owner or the brand instead of the buyer

The words on the screen are your big chance to communicate with buyers. You have to use these words (with help from images) to get them to understand that they should buy from you.

When you write anything public-facing for your site, you should be thinking about what its purpose is and how it’s going to drive your visitors towards a purchase.


What does problematic copy look like?

Here’s an example of bad copy. I made the name up. I don’t know if “Precious Boutique” is a thing or not, but I have seen this exact thing done by a women’s clothing store. This was on a home page.

“Precious Boutique offers clothing for ALL women. We believe that every woman deserves to wear the very best, every time they leave the house. We started our company in 2012 with our own designs , and are proud to offer YOU the ultimate in choice of styles, sizes, and colors. We want you to have the very best, so we use only the best fabrics and modern design and you deserve a medal if you are still reading and not asleep or pressing the back button by now.”

Where does this go wrong?


1. Poorly placed

This was the copy immediately below the main image header on the site. It’s great to tell your brand or personal story to build a relationship with buyers. But that really belongs on an About page, or in content marketing, or broken up into bite sized pieces throughout the site.

The home page is prime real estate. You should be showing off your products, showing any social proof, and asking visitors to take action. This doesn’t do any of those things.


2. Unclear

There is a lot to be said for immediately establishing who your ideal buyer is through words and visuals on your homepage. Short and clear copy that states exactly what you do and who you do it for is great.

Selling activewear for senior women? “Flair and style for grannies on the go” might not be perfect, but it isn’t an entire paragraph of high-dollar space, and it makes your positioning crystal clear.

If you’re going to say that you offer clothing for ALL women, you better have a mighty large selection. People have different styles, tastes, and needs.

You’d be much better off to niche down and say that you sell clothing for one specific group. It’s true that you’ll narrow the range of possible customers, but you’ll greatly increase the chance that those particular customers will identify with your brand and buy from you.


3. Not action oriented

There is no movement whatsoever towards action here. You want readers to DO something.

  • Buy
  • Create an account
  • Sign up for an email list
  • Choose to learn more about your product
  • Decide that what you sell isn’t right for them (Better to have one less buyer than a dissatisfied buyer and/or a return to deal with)

They aren’t likely to do any of those things unless you are clear about what they should do, and make it really easy to do that thing.


 Not focused on the buyer or benefits to them

Again, telling your story in a relatable way is great for an About page. But mostly, your buyers are just regular, self-obsessed people. They want to know what is in it for them before they give you money, and rightfully so.

Talking just about yourself doesn’t work on a date, and it won’t work in eCommerce either. Speak to your buyer about how you relate to them. What do you do that helps them?

Also, product features aren’t about the buyer.

Coffee is caffeinated. That’s a feature of coffee

Coffee tastes great and makes you feel like a god. That’s a benefit of coffee.

Only the people who are already big fans and nerd out over your product care about specific features.

The iPhone 5 had a feature: the A6 chip. Nobody cares. But it carried the benefit of a greatly increased battery life, and that benefit is something people did actually care about.


Now, take a look at your own site

What are you saying, and who are you talking to?

If you aren’t getting as many conversions as you’d like, the messages you send might be part of the problem.

Any time you write for your site, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Who am I speaking to?
  • What am I talking about?
  • What does this say to my audience?
  • Is this the right place for this message?
  • Will this drive the action I want my audience to take?
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