Two's a Queue

Retail, eCommerce, usability, customer experience, service, technology...

Monday, 2 December 2013

Online Copywriting

Honestly who needs ideas on what to blog about when you can just read other people's writing and get so annoyed that only some furious finger banging on the keyboard will help?

I may be being an incredibly lazy blogger of late but in my defence this started as a comment on the eConsultancy website and got too long and ended up here. I'm not starting an anti-eConsultancy blog I promise. For a start I don't have the copy writing skills ;-)

Here's the original blog post:

Yes once again I disagree with many of the points in this article - and while I'm on the subject the first comment made. I feel like I've just gone back 5 years in the evolution of online customer experience when we all read articles from people who pretended to know what they were talking about about where the search box should be and how customers only like CTA's in green and you must offer a guest checkout. Anyone out there who actually works in eCommerce knows all this is a total pile of rubbish and that check listing your website like some kind of identikit copy of Amazon gets you precisely no where.

Copy in your product descriptions is something which can only be judged by proper testing and analysis. We know that some customers find information difficult to find online and miss that experience of touching and investigating in store, but we also know that customers tell us they don't actually like to read text and that large amounts of copy can put them off buying rather than encourage them. It is a very individual and ultimately strategic decision depending on your brand, the type of product you sell, how you attract traffic and how your customers choose to interact with your site.

Customers in different sectors need different information, online fashion  - especially of the high street variety -  is often one where they don't need that much - our customers are visual, impulsive, competitive, trend driven - if they like it and it's at the right price, they'll often just buy it. Whereas a customer purchasing say a washing machine, might need just a little more technical, dimensional and functional information. Emotionally driven purchases like gifts, or organic food can often find the story and provenance of the item can add to it's value and the customer's ultimate decision in purchasing. This is a few examples but it might be that you work in one of those sectors and have found the complete opposite. Similarly customers in different countries can have different needs around copy. My point is everyone is different.

A lack of copy - or functional bullet points -  doesn't necessarily mean copy writing is of a poor quality or that a retailer hasn't put the effort in. It may simply mean that they have worked out that their particular set of customers, shopping on their site don't need that type of information to convert. Also copy writing each and every product in a fashion retailers catalog can in fact be a huge job, and often even if conversion improves - the ROI of having a skilled professional (or two!) writing that much text each week just doesn't stack up. It also costs a damn site more to localise than your average 3 bullet points - again the benefit has to outweigh the costs. Process wise you don't always have the product in front of you to be able to write that information either - this is a challenge many multichannel retailers are finding as the web becomes key to their operations.

OK OK I give you a bit of a break - so some times it might be laziness, or lack of knowledge in the above examples, but let's not assume there is a one-size fits all answer because there isn't. Criticism is always welcome, as product owners we should welcome feedback and change, however this article comes out far too one dimensional as to be practically pointless. Calling retailers out for not putting enough effort in? Pot kettle black Mr Moth, pot kettle black.