In order to grow your ecommerce business, you have to be able to do more than just drive new customers to your product pages—you also have to convince them to take action. The most successful and profitable ecommerce shops all use the same not-so-secret technique for persuading new visitors to buy: they test and use highly persuasive, conversion-driven copy throughout their website.
Here are 12 psychology-backed copywriting tips worth implementing on your own ecommerce website in order to boost first-time and repeat sales:
1. Create a sense of urgency
The first psychology principle on this list is probably the most well-known in the eyes of the average consumer, though most might not know it by it’s name:
In ecommerce, urgency works like this: in order for visitors to buy now and not later, they have to be presented with information or facts that convince them that it’s in their best interest to do so. For urgency to work as an effective persuasion technique and sales driver, the consumer has to actually believe that buying now is the best option for them.
So how do you make them believe?
Here are a few ways ecommerce shops typically use copy to create enough urgency needed in order to drive visitors to buy:
1. Stock Scarcity: including regularly updated messaging on product pages about how many items are actually left in stock. Example: only 3 left in stock!
2. Size Scarcity: including notifications or information about size availability and scarcity on product pages. Example: only 3 XL’s available!
3. Limited-Time Offers: including language that helps visitors understand the time sensitivity of certain offers or products. Example: Sale ends in 6 hours—don’t miss out!
4. Time-Sensitive Reminders: including copy in the checkout process that encourages customers to finish the process in order to access special time-sensitive deals. Example: order in the next 5 minutes to get free shipping!
5. Real-Time Sales Updates: including social proof and actual real-time sales updates about products being purchases by other customers in order to drive other people to buy before all items are gone. Example: Sarah J. just bought this item—only 3 remaining!
If you haven’t realized it, Amazon is a pro at implementing this technique across their website and throughout the entire sales process, as you can see in this example shared by Experiment Engine in a blog post about urgency:
Amazon is the most well-known example of an ecommerce website that uses urgency to drive sales, but you can find urgency in most ecommerce sites. To see more examples, explore this blog post from Shopify.
2. Use fear and loss aversion to drive sales
Fear and loss aversion is closely tied to urgency/scarcity, but worth noting separately in this post. In ecommerce, fear and loss aversion are used to convince consumers that shopping online is better and smarter than going to an actual physical store to buy products.
Instead of trying to convince consumers what they will gain if they buy, loss aversion and fear is used to help them understand what they’d be losing if they don’t order from you. Example: it’s better not to lose $5 than to gain $5.
That’s why time-sensitive free shipping has essentially become the standard perk that most ecommerce stores offer to consumers in order to prevent shopping cart abandonment: it convinces buyers that they are essentially spending the same (or less) on an item by buying it online that they would be in store.
It’s also why expiring coupons and promo codes work so well—it helps persuade consumers to act before they lose access to the special offer.
So how are ecommerce shops using loss aversion and fear in copy? Here is one example that might give you ideas for your own store:
Example from Shopify
In the example above, you can see that the store is crediting actual money to past consumers in order to drive them to buy. They’re also incorporating urgency into the offer in order to drive customers to act not, not later. Because the offer expires after a set amount of time, it creates a fear of loss and promotes action.
Want to dig in deeper? Go here to read more information about the psychology behind this technique.
3. Add personalization to your existing copy
In the last few years, technology and innovation has allowed ecommerce business owners to use a new technique to drive sales: personalization.
Personalization in ecommerce works this way: you gather information about your customers and use that information to personalize the experience they have with your brand, your products, and your store.
For example, you can use the names and locations of your customers to better-personalize your homepage:
Example from Foundr Magazine
You can also use personalization to send better email campaigns to your customers by including the following components into emails:
- Customer name
- Past purchases
- Related purchases they might be interested in
- Abandoned shopping cart reminders
When you add personalization copy to your ecommerce website and marketing campaigns, you build loyalty, trust, and familiarity with your customers.
Want to dig in deeper? Read this fantastic overview on personalization and ecommerce from Foundr Magazine.
4. Infuse sensory words into your descriptions
One of the easiest conversion-driven techniques you can try in order to drive more sales is to include more sensory words in your product descriptions. Sensory words are just what they sound like: words that help us identify how we see, feel, smell, taste, and know the world around us.
When you use sensory words to describe products, it literally activates sensory areas of the brain for your customers.
Examples of sensory words:
- etc, etc, etc
In order to add more sensory words to your product descriptions, start with these steps — these ideas come from a blog post by Selfstartr:
Step 1: try to describe your products yourself using sensory words. If you need help getting started, look through this list of words you could use.
Step 2: read customer reviews to find sensory words. Customers are fantastic at describing your products. The reviews they leave on your product pages are amazingly valuable and can be leveraged when you’re updating your product copy or trying to convince other people to buy.
Step 3: Add the words to your product descriptions. If you’d like, you could launch A/B versions with different product descriptions to see how sensory words impact conversions. If you want to start smaller with a test that doesn’t require you to make updates to your website, try incorporating sensory words in email campaign or Facebook ad A/B tests for your products.
5. Leverage social proof to build trust
To build more trust with new visitors, add more social proof to your website and product descriptions. Any feedback from customers can be used as social proof—testimonials, reviews, Facebook posts, Instagram comments, etc.
Social proof can help your almost-customers overcome their own objections and decide that if other people love your products, they probably will too. Despite how far ecommerce has come over the past few decades, people are still wary about buying products online from brands they don’t know and stores they can’t visit. Social proof can give consumers what they need to overcome their own anxieties about online shopping.
To add social proof to your ecommerce store, start with these simple steps:
Step 1: Find a short testimonial about one of your products from a customer that you love.
Step 2: Feature the testimonial prominently on the product page of the product they wrote the testimonial about.
Step 3: Create a Facebook ad promoting the product, and include the testimonial in the post update copy for the ad campaign.
Step 4: Evaluate conversions before and after the testimonial was added to determine whether it had any sort of impact.
To learn more about the psychology behind social proof, read this blog post from Neil Patel.
6. Rearrange your most important information
There’s a lot of science behind the primacy vs recency effect, but I’ll keep it pretty simple for this blog post:
In most cases, you should list your most important or valuable information at the beginning and end of your product pages. The short story is, people ignore the middle.
Here’s a great image from CopyHackers that illustrates the importance of where you put words and information when you’re making lists for customers:
The actionable tip for this one is pretty simple: Reformat the information on your product pages and web pages so that the most important or compelling information is first and last, not in the middle.
7. Overcome objections with risk aversion
As mentioned above, people are still wary about shopping online. Another way you can help them overcome any objections they may have is by using risk aversion in your copy.
Risk aversion is exactly what it sounds like: it helps convince people that what they are doing isn’t risky before.
You can use risk aversion in your ecommerce copy by including language like:
- Money-back guarantee
- Free shipping and returns
- Certified Privacy
- Your information is safely secured
- Secure checkout process
You can also add literally trust badges on your ecommerce site that help show customers the systems you use to keep their information safe.
If your visitors can trust that their information is safe with you and that they aren’t participating in risky behavior, they will buy from you.
8. Become familiar with persuasive words
In addition to using sensory words in your product descriptions, you can also use persuasive words.
There is an unending amount of lists that you can reference when looking to use words that help drive conversions. Here are a few you can start with:
- 189 Powerful Words That Convert: Write Copy That Gets Your Customer’s Attention Every Time from Buffer
- The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language from Copyblogger
- Copywriting 101: How to Create Words That Persuade and Sell from GetResponse
Again, once you’ve thought about the words you want to incorporate into your product pages, you can create A/B tests to determine their effectiveness in getting visitors to convert.
9. Give consumers a feeling of exclusivity or community
Because your visitors don’t have the luxury of being able to actually walk into your store, you need to do what you can to create an amazing, unforgettable experience for them—one that ultimately persuades them to buy and buy often. One way you can do this through your copy is by giving consumers the feeling that they are part of a special community or exclusive VIP group when they become one of your customers. To do this, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: think about what your product does for your customers and why people choose to buy your products. Ask yourself: what’s special about your products and how are the lives of your customers improved by using your products?
Step 2: Once you’ve answered the questions in step 1, think about the language you can use to describe your “tribe” or the movement you are trying to promote through your products.
Step 3: Incorporate your new language into your website and product pages.
Here’s a great example from Chaco. In it, you can see the brand is promoting a specific lifestyle and inviting people to join the movement:
10. Avoid jargon, cliché, fluff, and long sentences
This tip is fairly simple, but still worth noting: In order to create copy that converts, you have to avoid using complicated industry jargon, long sentences, and fluffy copy. Your consumers see a lot of product pages from a lot of companies. They can easily tell the good ones from the bad. If you’re using fluff to fill out your product pages, visitors will notice and might not be compelled enough to buy from you. If your product descriptions are too detailed, they might be put off from buying your products for fear that they are too complicated.
At the end of the day, the copy you use in your product pages and on your website should be:
- Concise and easy-to-understand
- Human and authentic—not robotic or spammy
- Non-technical if possible
The best thing to do here again is to A/B test product pages in order to land on the highest-converting product descriptions.
11. Use your product copy to tell a story.
To differentiate from competitors (there are likely a lot of them out there), you need to tell more stories on your ecommerce site. As mentioned in tip #9, you need to help customers understand why they should be buying products from you and not someone else. That’s where storytelling comes into play. Here are some ways to share more stories with your customers and visitors:
- Create a compelling brand story / origin story on your about page
- Share behind-the-scenes videos on your product pages
- Share stories from your happiest customers on your product pages
12. Create a common enemy.
To boost conversions, you can also create a common enemy or villain that they can customers can identify with. Your enemy shouldn’t be one of your competitors—it should be a problem, challenge, or way of life that your products will help your customers with. For example, if you sell fitness clothing, laziness and sloth is the enemy. In this example, create copy that puts the enemy front and center on your homepage and product pages, and help customers understand how you’re going to help them defeat their enemy.
Here’s an example from Fitbit:
As you can see, the company is trying to help consumers understand that time and health are important—and inactivity and laziness is the enemy.
Over to You
What other techniques are you using to drive more sales? Tell me in the comments section below, I’d love to hear about your ideas!