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7 min read

Ecommerce copy: 5 questions to answer before you start writing

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

A successful ecommerce store relies on a technically sound website that has been optimised to drive traffic with intent from search engines. It may also be promoted by a paid advertising campaign to capture and retarget users. It could be defined by a digital PR campaign that raises awareness of its offering and builds trust in the brand.

But above all, it relies on the on-site content that guides these users from these different channels to a conversion.

The words on an ecommerce site, and the copywriter responsible for them, are tasked with taking the user from desire to satisfaction, from browsing to purchase.

To achieve conversions, ecommerce copy needs to be SEO friendly, trust-building, persuasive and above all, functional.

SEO friendly copy will increase the chances of the user landing on your site, but what happens once they get there?

The journey is far from complete and this blog will focus on how to write copy that both confirms to the user that they need your product, and then helps them to purchase it.

By answering the following five questions, you’ll be best placed to write ecommerce copy that is persuasive and useful to your target user:

What is the role of my copy on this ecommerce site?

First off, it’s important to establish the job of copy on your ecommerce site. Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers suggests asking yourself three questions about the product or service you’re selling to work out the role of your copy in the purchase process.

Give this a try now, you can only say yes to one question.

1.    Am I something they want to get? Do they browse for stuff like this often?

2.    Am I something they have to get but wouldn’t put at the top of a Wish List?

3.    Am I something they have to get right now?

Joanna Wiebe, author of Copy Hackers, original article here.

If you said YES to:

  1. You’re selling something that someone wants not needs. Your copy needs to heighten that desire, there’s room for chatty and stylised copy, and additional content.
  2. You’re selling something somebody needs to buy, but which they don’t necessarily desire. Your copy needs to help them make that purchase, as quickly and easily as possible. No frills necessary.
  3. You’re selling something that the user needs, NOW. Your copy needs to be minimal and helpful, don’t get in their way.

What’s the user’s journey?

Once you’ve established the role of your copy in the sales process, you need to have a clear idea of your customer: who are you accompanying through this sales process and what route will they be taking?

Charlie Williams of Screaming Frog provided a good framework for outlining the ‘story of the purchase’ during his talk at Brighton SEO 2017.

He suggested putting yourself in your target user’s shoes and asking yourself the following four questions:

Charlie Williams, BrightonSEO April 2017

Having a strong understanding of the journey that your user will take means that your copy guides them along this specific route and includes the phrases that would push you to make a purchase if you were really in their shoes.

Where is my copy being read?

On desktop? On tablet? On mobile?

 “In December 2016, e-commerce sales via smartphones rose 47% year-over-year (YoY).”

Business Insider UK reported this stat as part of their coverage of the latest e-Retail Sales Index from Capgemini and IMRG in January 2017.

It’s now 2017 and most ecommerce sites are optimized for mobile, if they’re not, they should be. When copywriting for your ecommerce site you need to consider whether your words will be accessible and useful on a tiny screen.

Joanna Wiebe at Copy Hackers has the following tips:

  • Place the calls to action early in your copy, users don’t want to be looking at their phones for a long time.
  • Make sure the primary call to action falls on the fold of each and every screen.
  • Text links need to be easy to click with even the most giant of thumbs.
  • Opt for crisp word choice.

Read more here.

Joanna also provides an adage to bear in mind when writing ecommerce copy for mobile, it’s a riff on Leo Burnett’s classic line on copywriting:

“Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s how to get it. Here’s what it will do for you.”


Why should anyone buy this product?

It may seem an obvious one, but plenty of ecommerce copy forgets to tell the user what the product can actually do for them, how it can add value to their life; essentially, the reason that they should buy the product or service.

Make sure that you’re telling the user why they need the product, and not just what it is.

Charlie Williams recommends including supplied manufacturers descriptions sparingly and towards the bottom of the page, leaving you space to focus on the product’s benefits to your target user.

Your job is to reassure this user that your product is everything they need and put to rest any doubts. Find out what they’re looking for in a product, and any queries they may have, by using question tools, such as Answer The Public and industry-specific consumer forums; as well as FAQs on Amazon Customer Questions and competitors’ sites.

Can I play any mind games?

YES! The internet is full of ways to sell products and services with the help of psychological triggers and cognitive biases.

These are the ways that our brain can be persuaded by unconscious triggers while making a decision.

Once your ecommerce copy is SEO friendly, functional and persuasive, optimise it to make the human brain tick, and purchase!

Talia Wolf provides this cheat sheet of psychological triggers and cognitive biases. I’ve rounded up three of my favourites:

Forer/ Barnum effect

This refers to our tendency as individuals to attribute broad general statements to ourselves: to think that an ecommerce site is speaking to just us specifically when it’s really speaking to millions. We feel like the valued customer in a personalised shopping experience and are therefore more likely to make a purchase.

Use the Forer/ Barnum effect in your copy by using second person pronouns to address the user as ‘you’ and use first person pronouns to describe the brand as ‘I’ or ‘us’ to increase personalisation.

Talia also suggests emphasising this effect by addressing a common consumer ‘pain point’ within your copy to convince the user that you know them and their problems, individually.


The framing bias dictates that the way that people react to choices is influenced on how these choices are presented to them; a choice can be framed in a positive or negative way to encourage a particular reaction. This framing could include imagery around copy, or the ideas included in the copy.

For example, if an aspirational figure is described using the product – perhaps a celebrity case study is provided – this would be positively framing the product proposition.

Achieve framing by including thought-out positive or negative imagery in your copy and content that is in-line with what you know makes your target consumer tick.

Illusory Truth Effect

This bias refers to a human’s tendency to believe information to be correct after we have been repeatedly exposed to it. The more we read or hear something, the more ‘true’ it becomes.

Benefit from this bias by finding many different ways to convey your value proposition throughout the content of your ecommerce site, and your wider marketing campaign. Streamline your copy, imagery and additional content, such as case studies, to ensure that it all reflects and speaks to your target audience.

What’s your process when writing ecommerce copy? Do share below.