So now I’ve gone through a bit about creating the tone of your content, we need to look a little bit more into how you can use it to sell your product. I’ve worked for a range of retail websites; some high-end luxury and some discount and aside from the types of vocabulary that you may choose for different brands and products, one clear objective remains: you need to tell a story.
Whether you’re a small candle making business in the hilltops of Wales or an up-and-coming delivery service in East London, your strongest USP is the story that goes with your product or service. This is what will set you apart from a sea of competitors and, in essence, is what has made online platforms such as Etsy and Not On The Highstreet so popular with shoppers. They don’t just ram huge bargains down their users’ throats, but they offer you products that are unique and interesting and the only way the buyer will know how special they are is through engaging content.
So, let’s start with the About Us page. Don’t whizz through this and disregard it as a secondary task, put some real love into it. Think about what it is that makes you special, how did you begin your business? Is there a funny anecdote you could use, or was it a dramatic career change that led you on your way? Even if there isn’t that much of a story, make sure you include anything special such as ‘we source all of our materials from a steel manufacturer in Sheffield that we’ve used for 20 years’ or ‘I collect fabrics for my clothing line from vintage stores and bric-a-brac markets’. This is the kind of information that a shopkeeper would give to a customer if they walked into a store so you need to do the same thing with your content. Here’s a great example from Swedish raincoat brand, Stutterheim.
Another good example of this involves a friend of mine who has run a pretty successful CAD software company for many years. He asked me to help him with some content marketing for his blog and we got talking about how the business was launched. It turns out his dad invented the software by teaching himself how to code using a small user handbook. In the world of content, this is gold dust. From initially knowing very little about his company or product, I became excited and interested and wanted to know more. Of course, if someone wants CAD Software that badly then they will just buy it, but what about the person who was thinking of using it but sees you as just another company within a sea of Google search terms? However, if they come across an interesting blog post that gives them a back story and an inspiring message, they may well read on and find themselves on your website.
Absolutely no nos
Whatever you do, don’t use pointless, over complicated jargon that reads like a press release on your ‘About Us’ page. Trying to sound overly professional always just reads like a robot and will confuse and bore a reader. Be personal, be approachable and make your information user friendly.
Top tip: Never, ever write in the third person. I’ve seen this done before and it is one of the worst ways to communicate with a reader. You wouldn’t speak to a customer and describe your company in the third person so why write like it?
Product pages & user information
When writing product information for the web, you need to bear the following things in mind:
What is it?
What is it used for?
What is its USP?
Why should your customer buy it?
Try and write this information as clearly and concisely as possible. Think about what you would want to know if you were buying this in store. The shopper needs to leave the page without needing any additional information. If this info isn’t provided your user can lose trust in you pretty quickly and become frustrated and go elsewhere. (Think of how annoying it is when you’re in an actual bricks and mortar store and you can’t get help from a sales assistant. What happens? You leave and don’t make a purchase). Make it as easy as possible for them. This is also a great opportunity to say more about the product and experiment with your tone and style.
Let’s look at some good examples of product information…
FAB are a fairly new online retailer who specialise in design-led homeware and fashion.
Fab has mastered their content and I would say its one of their strongest attributes. They have a strong commercial tone that is fun and offbeat and look how much detail they give you! They tell the story of the brand whilst also giving you all of the nitty gritty about the product on the right hand side.
Shutl is a new start-up in London that offers a fast and convenient delivery service.
This is an example of when the content needs to be sharp and to the point. The user just wants the facts given to them. I think they deliver it well, offering all of the basic information in a very short amount of space.
Take Home Tips:
– Let your user know what’s special about you through an About Us page. Make it as personal and interesting as possible, and try to tell a story and create an experience.
– Make sure you are offering all of the basic information required. Always refer back to that shopkeeper mentality. What would you tell someone about your product if you were chatting to them in the pub. You wouldn’t go on and on for ages, you’d just give them the most interesting top-level information. This is what your content should do.
– Create a layout and format that is appropriate for your product. More content is needed for retail goods while services such as Shutl simply require short, digestible information.
What stage are you at in creating the content for your start-up and which parts are you struggling with the most? Comment below and let’s start a discussion.