Better conversion rates, happier customers, more sales — you can pack a lot into just a line or two of microcopy.
As we explained in our previous post about ecommerce microcopy, a quick line of text can do wonders for your UX. Assuaging fears, clarifying confusing areas, offering incentives to buy — well-written microcopy can add a lot to your site that other design elements cannot, with a proven record of increasing conversions from 14.79% and 161.66%.
We already discussed what microcopy can do in the last article, but how can you personally write your own? Here we get into the nuts and bolts of what makes good microcopy good. Apply these 8 ecommerce microcopy writing tips to your site now to make your copy punchier and more effective.
1. Short and Sweet
Although the prefix “micro-” should have given it away, microcopy is meant to be succinct. As succinct as possible, to be clear. This goes above and beyond “trimming the fat” in normal writing; because there’s not a lot of space, you have to make every word count. Adopt a bare-bones mentality — if a word can be cut, it should be cut.
When you get into microcopy limited by space, such as button labels, you also have to factor in the length of the word itself. Shorter words with less letters fit better into tight spots. Break out the thesaurus if you’re struggling.
Sometimes you may even have to sacrifice proper grammar. Take for example a confirmation message, “Your work has been saved.” While technically correct, that format has some unnecessary words: you can convey the same message with “Work saved,” or even just “Saved!”
2. Be Explicit
Part of persuasive writing is stating outright what you want your shoppers to do: “buy now,” “click here,” “sign up for exclusive deals,” etc. This kind of suggestive text explains the impressive success rate of calls-to-action cited in the last article.
Of course, you don’t want to sound pushy or demanding. Some amateur copywriters shy away from directness because they don’t want to come off as rude by telling users what to do. And there’s truth to that, you don’t want to be bossy — but there’s a fine line between being direct and domineering.
Writing good microcopy is about finding that balance of promoting your own goals without offending your shoppers. When it’s done right, it comes off as a suggestion rather than a command. Try reading your microcopy out loud to a colleague and see how it sounds in real life.
3. Add “Now” for Urgency
Here’s a copywriting tip straight from an insider: adding the word “now” at the end of your call-to-action is an easy way to be suggestive and add a sense of urgency. “Buy now” just seems more imperative than “buy at any time” or even “buy” alone.
This coincides with our last tip about being explicit, and since it’s only a three-letter word it’s fairly easy to tag onto the end of most calls-to-action.
4. Use “You” and “Your” to Make It Personal
Another tip about word choice involves making things personal with “you” and “your.” In general, addressing your readers directly in the second-person is copywriting best practice, but with microcopy it’s especially important. See for yourself which one sounds more appealing:
“We won’t share customers’ emails.”
“We won’t share your email.”
Words like “you” and “your” have strong, pre-built connotations in the minds of your shoppers, so using them is like a shortcut to a more personal relationship with your customers.
5. Lean Towards a Casual Tone and Avoid Jargon
In addition to being short, you want microcopy to be simple. Keeping in mind what we said about clarity in a previous article, use casual, everyday words to say what you mean instead of technical or business jargon.
For one thing, jargon alienates those outsiders who don’t understand it, and interrupts their task flow with them having to look up a word. It’s better to just speak plainly and naturally. “Submit data” might make more sense to programmer, but normal people find it awkward. A simple “send” sounds more natural.
6. Be Consistent
Especially the case for buttons and labels that get repeated on different pages, be consistent with your word choice in all cases. If you use “accept” for one choice, use it for all choices; otherwise, your user will have to pause and wonder if the two instances are different.
This also holds true not just with your own site, but other sites as well. The goal is to make customers as comfortable as possible, so use the terminology they’re most familiar with. For microcopy like button commands or product category names, use labels consistent with other sites so your shoppers don’t need to store and figure out what you mean.
7. Use Active Voice
This is a bit of advice for writing in general, just as applicable to writing a novel as it is writing ecommerce microcopy. Whenever possible, use the active voice, where the subject of the sentence performs the actions. This is opposed to the passive voice, where the subject receives the actions.
Online shoppers love great copywriting.
Great copywriting is loved by online shoppers.
As a general rule, avoid the passive voice unless absolutely necessary, in microcopy and beyond.
8. Anticipate Shopper’s Thoughts
How do you know when and where to put microcopy? There’s no exact science for this; it depends on how well you know your shoppers. To know how to use microcopy most effectively, you have to anticipate shopper’s thoughts as they explore your site.
Try going through your site from the perspective of a user who’s never been there before. What are they worried about? What do they need explained? Is navigation and functionality clear to first-time users? If you feel customers are going to have objections with or get confused in certain areas, address those concerns with microcopy before they become problems.
Sometimes you find that the smallest texts are the hardest to write. Making sure every word is perfect and searching for shorter alternative phrases can be time-consuming and exhausting. But rest assured, in the end it pays off. Choosing the right words won’t just make your English teachers proud — it’ll actually improve your bottom line!
Interested in more content tips? Here are a few tips on writing unique meta descriptions to help increase your product’s visibility.