The average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 marketing messages a day. That’s insane! So if you want to stand out in all that noise, you really need to focus on your product copywriting.
Why product copywriting matters
Product copywriting means more than visually appealing images and carefully selected keywords. Good copywriting needs to achieve four goals: informing, engaging, persuading, and building trust. Of course, how you write your copy varies from one industry to another and from one product to another, but ultimately you will need to follow these four steps.
Informing your customers
Users need to know what you’re selling so you should provide as many details as possible: what the product is, how you should use it, etc. You can start off by describing the product in a few words (for example “personal accounting software”) and then get into more details and add a list of benefits.
Using the example above, a good product copywriting would be:
- (brand) is recommended if you own your own home, have significant expenses, or have a lot of deductions;
- Get your taxes done right;
- Stay up to date with the latest tax laws;
- Easily deduct mortgage interest and property taxes;
- Get coached and checked every step of the way;
- Get free product support via phone.
As you can see, the copy tells the customer what the product does and who it is for, making it more likely for users to convert.
Engaging your customers
Now, just because your product copywriting needs to be informative doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. On the contrary! A good copy should grab readers’ attention by speaking their language. Terminology is important, so you should use highly technical terms for “expert” products, semi-technical for hobbyists or enthusiast, and casual language for casual shoppers.
When the iPod was first introduced, Apple absolutely nailed their product copywriting. The gadget wasn’t marketed as “a 5GB MP3 player” (which it basically was), but as “1,000 songs in your pocket”. The copy is informative, but at the same time is interesting to read.
Persuading your customers
This one might seem obvious but you’d be surprised to see how many businesses don’t actually tell readers to buy their products. Call-to-actions should be inserted all throughout the pages, tweaking sentences so that nothing will seem forced. However, two places where you should be as direct as possible are “add to cart” and “contact us”. Using simple language will ensure there’s no mistaking their messages so readers know exactly what they have to do.
When done correctly, the three steps I’ve mentioned above will help you build trust. Users need to know they are not being scammed, so make sure that everything you write is 100% true. Stretching the truth might seem like a good idea short-term, but in the long run that will just harm you as customers will not return to buy from you and they will also spread negative reviews. Competition is so steep that you can’t allow yourself to make any mistakes in your product copywriting!
How to nail product copywriting
Now that you know why good product copywriting matters, it’s time to move on to the next step: how to write great product copywriting. If you are hoping for some super secret tips & tricks that will help you attract customers like a magnet, I’m afraid that’s not how copywriting works. There are no shortcuts, it all comes down to lots of practice and experimentation to see what works best for you.
That being said, there are a few aspects you need to consider if you want to write great product copywriting.
1. Use your designer’s input
Before you even write a word you should consider how your copy will look like. Choosing what you should start with, the website’s design or the website’s copy sounds like the chicken and the egg problem. There’s no denying that both are important so it’s hard to choose one over the other, especially when they should compliment each other.
To make sure your copy will actually fit your website’s design you should work with your designer to figure out the ideal number of words that would look best from a visual standpoint. This way you will avoid having blocks of text on your website (which is a common mistake businesses make). Once you know what you are working with, it’s time to actually start writing.
Setting character limits will not only ensure your copy will look great, but it will also help you focus on what matters most and not get lost in unimportant details. As a result, your copy will be easier to read.
2. Don’t be a Me-centric brand
The most frequent mistake I see startup founders make is leading with product features, not user-benefits. To quote UX designer Samuel Hulick, “People don’t buy products; they buy a better version of themselves”. So your users don’t care about your product’s features, they care about how your product can help them.
Great product copywriting is user-driven, so make sure you talk to your audience like a real human being, like you were their friend or family member. Customers will always flock around brands that speak their language. So instead of saying “We’ve built a platform that will help you easily set up a company website” (this one’s about you, the writer, not the reader), you should say something like “Become an industry leader by using our platform” (because who wouldn’t want to become #1?).
3. Simplicity is key
When writing your copy, you should avoid leading with complicated words or concepts. Describe your product like you were talking to a 4 yo. Or even better, use your customers’ words to describe your products.
Find the places where your customers hang out (forums, the comments section on articles, Twitter, and Facebook, Amazon reviews, or you can even listen to live conversations on the street) and write down the words and expressions they use and integrate them in your copy.
After you finish writing each section stand back and analyze what you just wrote. Is there anything you can trim or rewrite? Removing unnecessary words and finding ways to shorten concepts will help you clarify ideas or drive more actions. And, of course, at this point you should also make sure your product copywriting is free of typos or grammar mistakes.
4. A/B test your copy
You could read thousands of tutorials on how to write great product copywriting, but the truth is what works for others will not necessarily work for you. So if you are in doubt about the tone of voice you should use or which headlines grab users’ attention the most write different versions of copy and see which one works best.
Who should write product copywriting
Last but not least, it’s time to decide who should be responsible for writing the product copy. Here are a few suggestions, each with pros and cons:
1. The project owner
Since the project owner is the one who comes up with the ideas, he could also be responsible for writing the product copy. The problem with this pick is that a project owner’s view is different from a user’s and the copy could end up being product-centric. This is not always the case but most of the time the project owner is not the best pick.
2. The designer
I’ve mentioned earlier that it’s important that the website’s design and the website’s copy compliment each other. So who better to write the copy than the designer? Although it’s easier to create an interface if you know that you can freely adjust the text, designers are not the best pick when it comes to writing copy. That’s because for them the copy is just an accessory; you will end up with something that looks great but says nothing.
Because everyone has an input in product development, it would make sense to have everyone gather and discuss ideas. But since everyone has different points of view it would be hard to reach a common denominator. So what you’ll end up doing is that everyone will write a piece and when you will put all the pieces together you will have an inconsistent product copy. This option is also a bad idea. So who should write the product copy then?
4. No one
Ideally, you should have a professional copywriter write your product copy. There’s no denying in the value a copywriter can bring; having someone from outside the team write the copy will bring a fresh perspective. However, due to budget limitations or project size, hiring a professional is not always a choice, so you are back to square one.
If hiring a professional is not an option, then the project owner, the designer, or the developer can all write the copy. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who writes the copy, what matters is the mindset and the approach. Because the truth is anyone can do product copywriting.
Like this article? Find more articles like this here.