Nothing guarantees a lost sale better than unclear copy, except for unclear copy paired with an unclear product image.
Your customers shouldn’t have to stop and contemplate what benefit your product offers because the copy and corresponding product image confuses them. If this occurs, well, let’s say things can go south quickly.
Let me show you an example of this scenario that I came across recently while browsing an equestrian online catalog:
Here’s part of the copy:
“The Acavallo Ortho Coccyx Seat Saver Gel Out for Jumping Saddles is designed to help those suffering from riding discomfort on their coccyx, pubis or seat bones. Based on the amazing success of the original Acavallo Gel Seat Saver, this latest generation takes comfort a step further.
The Ortho-Coccyx model features a recess in the rear part of the seat, which helps ease pressure in the areas around the rider’s tailbone and seat bones.”
The copy tells us that the Seat Saver Gel Out is for jumping saddles. The saddle image below was prominently displayed with the copy. Problem is, and I know this because I’m a horseperson and am familiar with different types of saddles, this saddle isn’t a jumping saddle, it’s a dressage saddle.
The other problem with this copy was the second paragraph where it says this particular seat saver model “features a recess in the rear part of the seat…”
Hmmm, this image didn't show me the recess, even when I hovered over it with my mouse to enlarge it.
So now, as a potential customer, I’m confronted with two conundrums. The first being that I’ve been told the product is designed for one type of saddle, a jumping saddle, but the image displayed is not a jumping saddle. Does that mean if I order the seat saver, I’ll get one that won’t fit my jumping saddle?
The second half of this conundrum is that a feature of the seat saver, the one that will benefit me by providing comfort, i.e. the recess, is not apparent in this image.
So, I have to use my imagination to figure out where the recess is located on the seat saver? No picture to support the slightly vague copy?
Luckily, just below the saddle image that was displayed was this image:
I clicked on it, and a completely different saddle image appeared – a jumping saddle! And it had the seat saver on it, clearly displaying the recess.
But what if I had never arbitrarily clicked on that Colors/Options image? What if I had just given up and left the page?
Another sale would’ve bitten the dust...
The takeaway here is this: Be sure that your copy and product images work together, so your customer never experiences any doubt.
A confused customer is going to look elsewhere, and you'll lose a sale.
SEO (search engine optimization).
What does SEO have to do with catalog copywriting?
Actually, a lot. For your online catalog.
Search engine optimization is what drives all the search engines to your ecommerce site, crawl its pages, analyze your content, and then determine the most fruitful results based upon what the human being with the electronic device had typed into the search field. And that human being, by the way, is your customer.
And the purpose of this post is not for me to educate you about SEO, but to provide you with some useful resources that can educate you.
There’s a ton of information on the Web about search engine optimizing for your ecommerce site. And that in itself can be overwhelming, because the practice of SEO is continually evolving, so some of the stuff out there can be dated.
That said, I’d like to suggest a couple of places to check out to learn the basics.
An excellent place to start is Google’s own Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide.
As the title states, this guide is designed to start you down the path of search engine optimization knowledge. It’s in-depth, and it’s authored by Google, the king of search engines.
Another useful resource is SEO 101: Everything You Need to Know About SEO (But Were Afraid to Ask) by Pole Position Marketing. This guide is an easy read and provides much helpful information, so you can get a good foothold on what makes SEO tick.
Ah, this four-letter word carries a lot of clout in your catalog’s copy.
Like a magnet, it pulls readers to it, excited to learn how to acquire the “free” stuff.
But prospects soon realize that, alas, free really isn’t free, it’s conditional. And to some, this might be considered a copout once they realize that the free offer has terms.
But to others, specifically, prospects who find the “free” conditions agreeable, they’ll still feel the offer is a great deal.
So, a suggestion: Next time you’re championing your free deal, try spelling out the conditional free terms right up front - “Free when you…” – rather than putting an asterisk next to Free and requiring your customer to go looking for the fine print.
This way, you can retain your customers’ confidence and gain their appreciation for clarifying your “Free" offer.
Welcome to my brand new blog, The Copy Block!
Everything and anything related to catalog copywriting is fair game here. And I plan to share all kinds of tidbits and helpful information that will make your catalog copy the best it can be! So be sure to stop by regularly so you won't miss out. I'll be posting again very shortly!
Suzanne Quigley - Copywriter