• Hayley Cherrett

Persuasive ecommerce. How to stop bored browsers abandoning their basket.


Brands face many challenges. But none predicted a pandemic would be one of them. As the shops shut, it sent some retailers into a panic, while others sat back and relaxed knowing their ecommerce was in the best shape possible.


Take Primark. They’ve never sold online and relied on bargain hunters heading to the High Street. Not an ideal position to be in with shoppers staying at home. Others like Peloton faced a massive surge – their revenue grew 66% and membership for their app rose 30%.


So, if the pandemic has made you realise your ecommerce isn’t working hard enough, where should you start? Should you scrap your whole website and start from scratch?


While good design helps, it’s the words you pick that have the power to persuade and create a connection. So, before you start worrying your website isn’t whizzy enough, take some time to consider what you actually want to say to your audience.


Writing copy for ecommerce comes with its own set of challenges. The secret to success is knowing how to use your limited space effectively and understanding what you can do to win over potential buyers before they get distracted.


Remember, online shoppers are fickle – it’s simply not the same experience as going to a shop. Just when you think you’ve persuaded them to buy, they can abandon their basket.


Supercharge your copy


Lockdown has inevitably caused boredom for many of us. With everything shut, there’s nothing to do. We’ve spent endless hours glaring at our phone hoping it’ll provide entertainment or distract us from everything going on.


And many have turned to online shopping. People do it mindlessly while doing other tasks like cooking dinner - or even working. But what can brands do to take people from browsing to buying?

  • Apply persuasive techniques. Ask a question about a problem your target audience faces or perhaps add a compelling statistic on customer satisfaction.

  • Frontload with benefits. Get to the point fast and explain why they need your product in the most engaging way possible.

  • Use sensory language. Consumers can’t feel the quality of the fabric, taste a sample of the beer or smell the fragrance. It’s up to you to ignite their imagination.

L’Affinage du fromage do a great job of supercharging their copy. Foodie writing can be particularly tough. Too generic and the reader will switch off. But their clever naming and words like “oozy” really stand out.

Pick your product description approach


We’d generally say an average product description is around the 75-word mark. Not much space to squeeze a lot in. However, this approach won’t suit every product, so think how much persuading online browsers need before committing to checking out.


Our recommendations for online product descriptions are:

  • Avoid boring bits. Use subheads to separate your persuasive description from the functional information like measurements.

  • Complement the visuals. Make sure your words work with the images. Simply describing what they can see is a waste of space.

  • Set a word count. Think about the space you need to effectively sell and persuade. If your product is more of an investment for consumers, you might want a whole page promoting its benefits.

Hotel Chocolat concisely explain why their chocolate is better than a card with snappy copy and specific detail.





You could write it in a card, but their big day looms even larger etched in chocolate. The draft of this 70% dark monolith was hand-hewn by our fine artist, then 3D-scanned letter by letter to recreate her every mark. This vegan-friendly birthday tribute says it in style.




Misen, an affordable kitchen tool brand, are at the top of their ecommerce game. Each product page features the short description you’d expect. But there’s more. They’ve pulled out features, snazzy comparison graphs, information on their customer service, and more.

Screenshot from misen.co


Also, there are some very promising reviews…

Screenshot from misen.co


Reinforce your brand and values


Every inch of your website should reflect your brand. Ecommerce is all about finding opportunities to use your voice to reassure and build a connection with your reader.


  • Aim for consistency. Your tone of voice should shine through in every section – even your FAQs and delivery information.

  • Highlight your values. Remind potential customers your values align with what matters to them (sustainability, quality, honesty, etc).

  • Use brand language. Every bit of tone across your website helps to reassure your potential buyer.

Estrid, a shaving subscription service, don’t use clean-shaven silky-legged models (quite the opposite). Their feminist stance and very laid-back view on female body hair are reflected in their tone of voice too.

Screenshot from estrid.com


Shaving is one of those beauty routines that you sometimes feel like doing, and sometimes just can’t be bothered with. The problem with shaving days is either we don’t have the time to go through the whole process or we don’t have the supplies to actually shave (cartridges are expensive). Shaving companies were created for men first and not only do they make us overpay to get smooth but they also illustrate us as generic creatures in prehistoric ads. Well, those days are over. Meet Estrid – for us it’s about making shaving a bit more convenient, and a lot more affordable.


Don’t be tempted to use the same copy for multiple products. You’re better than that. Wool and the Gang sell nearly 20 types of yarn, but they all have great names and descriptions that set them apart.


Screenshot from woolandthegang.com


As well as stating the benefits, they’ve also communicated their values around sustainability.

Address the finer details


It’s not just your product descriptions and about page you need to get right. You need to think where else you can add value and persuade. Brands that do this successfully stand out. But there are some quick fixes for this:

  • Support your descriptions. Consider whether additional information would support your sell and help persuade.

  • Nod to your customer service. Every small hint towards how helpful you are you reassure your reader to buy from you instead of your competitors.

  • Polish your microcopy. Every bit of copy, however small, has the power to persuade or reinforce your brand.

Dollar Shave Club know their audience. They predict visitors to their website are thinking, “a £5 starter set – that’s too good to be true”. This small bit of copy invites them to resolve their doubts by reading the FAQs.


Screenshot from uk.dollarshaveclub.com


Cambridge Satchel Company have included a “what fits in our bags” page on their website. Handy for most of us who are too lazy to get out a tape measure. Showing all those things gives you a good indication of size – thank goodness my daily banana will fit.

Screenshot from cambridgesatchel.com


Trying to figure out which bag is right for you? We've done all the hard work for you.

Use our handy guide below to find out exactly what you can fit in each of our bags – from headphones and laptops to tiny dogs and books, we've covered off pretty much everything (apart from the kitchen sink!).


Looking at the even smaller details, you should think about microcopy too - your error messages, password instructions, newsletter sign up form, and more. Making these consistent with your tone across your website is key for engaging ecommerce.


Koh know that people are unlikely to sign up for a cleaning email if it’s just going to be about products. The combination of what they can expect and the question makes it more intriguing.

Screenshot from uk.koh.com

Summary


In a rush? Here’s a quick summary. For persuasive ecommerce, remember to:


1. Supercharge your copy. Reel your audience in with copy that uses persuasive techniques, includes sensory language and frontloads benefits.

2. Use your space effectively. Use your word counts wisely or consider whether your product deserves more.

3. Reinforce your brand and values. Be consistent and find opportunities to build a connection with your audience.

4. Address the finer details. Add value and persuade everywhere you can, from talking about customer service to perfecting microcopy.


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