Content is important. If you are like most people who write for the web (myself included), you spend a considerable amount of time crafting copy for your ecommerce site that you hope will catch your reader’s eye and entice them to pull out their wallets and buy. Here is a harsh B2B ecommerce truth for the New Year:
Your ecommerce website visitors DON’T read your ecommerce site copy. They SCAN it.
Let me repeat: Your ecommerce visitors don’t read every word on each page of your site. They scan for the most important bits and skip the rest.
Yes, skip the rest.
(I can sense your growing horror.)
So, if your visitors don’t READ your site copy, why all the focus on creating exceptional content?
Content is still king, but how you deliver the content plays a big role in its success.
For example, let’s say I grill you an amazing meal of filet mignon and mushrooms, plus asparagus and a baked potato dripping with butter and sour cream–but I serve it to you on a flimsy paper plate with plastic cutlery and without a table in sight. Or worse yet, I simply hand it to you in your bare hands. Chances are, the meal won’t be appealing and probably won’t get eaten. It’s too much at one time and not given to you in a way that you would expect and appreciate.
Now imagine that I serve you the same meal at a nicely set table, on china and provide all the necessary tools like a fork, steak knife, napkin and glass of water. The meal is much more appealing and there is a much higher chance that you will not only eat the meal, but enjoy it.
Website copy is like that steak dinner–you expect it to be served in a certain way. When it’s served up on the page with paragraphs and paragraphs of rambling copy, you probably miss the good stuff based on how the information is presented.
To make sure your ecommerce site visitors don’t miss the important information on each page:
- Use the “inverted pyramid” structure. Give your reader the most important point first. Then the next most important and so on. You have to assume they won’t make it to the bottom of the page, so the stuff at the bottom can’t be the most important stuff. (This idea is one borrowed from the world of PR. If the first sentence doesn’t include the most important and eye-catching copy, your release could end up in the recycle bin. The same goes for ecommerce site copy, only the reader clicks away instead of recycles.)
- Bulleted lists. Since people are going to scan your copy, give them bite-size nuggets in the form of bulleted lists. Start each bullet with a powerful action verb. Don’t use complete sentences in your bullets unless absolutely necessary. (Bulleting a whole list of complete sentences feels like you just bulleted your entire paragraph. Don’t do it.)
- Use headlines that guide and inform the reader. The clock is ticking from the moment a visitor lands on your page. Don’t waste precious time by presenting the reader with “punny” or cute headlines unless you can risk the visitor’s clicking away from your site. Use each headline and sub-head to help the reader find what they want quickly.
- Highlight key words/phrases. Call attention to the important words, phrases, and calls to action using bold face type and links to other pages on the site or to supporting sites. Just make sure the external link opens in a new window or tab–we don’t want them to completely leave your site.
Utilizing the techniques listed above will ensure that your ecommerce site visitors engage with your exceptional content, rather than simply skip it.