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In: Ecommerce

How to Get Into Your Customers’ Shoes… And Their Minds

by Lyndsay Peters - Apr 07, 2016
stairs cropped

Today we’re going to talk about one of the hardest parts of developing a website: copy. Copy is all of the words that you put into your website, and it turns out when you’re building a website, there is a lot to write.
When you finish your website build, your copywriting job still isn’t done. There are always improvements you can make to your site, and copy is an integral part of user experience. Usually when we think of UX, it’s about page layout and menu design – but how your copy is communicating with your visitors is a critical part of the experience.

What Do You Provide?

I’m not asking “What do you sell?” What you sell is something you already know. What you provide customers may take a bit of research and understanding, or you may only need a shift in your mindset. In website content and product copy, you need to communicate what you provide your customers.
persuasive ecommerce writing
I want to take a look at one of my favorite examples of breathless, experiential copywriting: J Peterman. Copywriting done so well, they earned a television character. Now, you aren’t going to get a free television character, but J Peterman has a copywriting outlook that is purely about what they provide, and not about what they sell.

The Metallic V Dress

Alma Caviar. Idôl vodka. Your aunt’s medieval castle turned summer house. These important details alleviate some of the pressure when hosting 150 coastal elite.
You’ve got the dress. A full fashion sweater dress they never saw coming. Gold metallic threads woven in all the right places including your neckline and the eye-catching “V” on your chest. Gives you plenty of room to move, dance and strike up nauseatingly charming conversations.
It’s all going swimmingly until the power goes out.
This is the moment your savoir faire meets your ability to improvise. It’s also when the small lake and 20 dinghies come into play (standard with every castle).
The men have their shoes off and oars in hand. The ladies hike up their dresses mid-thigh (you as well). Each dinghy gets a sky lantern. The scene becomes something out of a raucous 17th century royal courting event. Suddenly, the metallic “V” on your dress, the one everyone keeps asking you about, takes on new meaning…
The Metallic V Dress (No. 4913). Cotton, acrylic, metallic blend. Full fashioned. Loose and wide weave. Gold metallic thread at upper arms, neckline, cuffs, and front chest. Screen printed black dots at front and upper back. Scoop neckline with 1” ribbing. Long sleeve with 1 3/4” ribbing. Straight hem with 1 3/4” ribbing. Above knee length. Fully lined. Imported.
Women’s Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL.
Color: Black & Gold.

Nauseatingly charming is what this dress is providing – not a sparkly V decoration on the neckline. J Peterman has cornered the experience of shopping for new clothes: imagining what you will do in them, and how they can transform your personality, even if only in your imagination.
You can’t turn into J Peterman in one day. You could maybe turn into J Peterman in 10 years. What you can do is get in your customer’s mindset, and communicate what they really want to get out of owning your product.

Why Don’t People Want What You Provide?

Check your ego. There are reasons people won’t spend money with you, and you probably know the main points. You’re up against your competitors, other experiences, and your customers’ savings accounts. When you’re writing copy, you need to smooth over their objections and reduce any worries that they may feel about making the decision to purchase from you.
This is why Amazon’s return policy is so forgiving. There’s almost no reason not to go ahead and buy if you can print a label and drop off your return at a Locker location or a UPS office, so what’s the harm in making the purchase?
Common objections include not knowing enough about the product, being concerned about the longevity and usefulness of the product, and concerns about malfunctioning, not fitting, or otherwise needing to return or repair. Communicate how you handle these situations in your copy, and you’ll have customers confident that you’re looking out for them.
Note: You have to actually be looking out for them, but you’re a good business person, so I assume you’re doing that, right?

What Surprises People About What You Do?

Many of our clients have a surprising aspect to them. There’s something unique about every company’s attitude, office, or method of providing service. Your customers love novelty. Communicate what makes you special and interesting. Tell your customers a bit of a story about the biggest challenge your company has overcome, incorporate your office dog into your email newsletter, or take some great photos of the team potluck.
If possible, tie these surprises in with what you provide. If your motivation is very similar to what your customers are aspiring to have, share and communicate that in your site. It may be suitable for your about page, or a short quote on your home page. It may be photos of the company staff using and building your product! It all comes down to selling the customer the experience of being them, but a better them who is using your product.

Auditing Your Copy

Read through your key sell pages and ask yourself what they say about the experience of owning your product. Be honest with yourself – this is not the time to let your ego hold your business back. Sometimes something just sucks, and you have to rewrite it! Marketing is all about looking at what sucks, and making it really great and engaging instead.

Audit your copy by asking yourself the following:
• What do I want the customer to understand after reading this?
• What do I want the customer to feel after reading this?
• Do I reassure the customer about their concerns and objections?
• Do I communicate what I am providing to the customer?
• Do I communicate the critical facts about my product and services?

What your customers know about your product should always back up what you want them to feel about your product. You want them to feel confidence, maybe a little longing, and excitement about what you’re going to provide them.
Is it time consuming? Yes, it is. Copywriting can be frustrating, sometimes boring, sometimes both. But when you hit your groove, you’ll get really great copy on your website that gets your customers excited about what you do. And once that happens, hit the French Riviera, eating some grapes and brie in a brand new Toile Caftan, “the most becoming fashion ever invented”.
I don’t want to contradict myself here with some marketing inspiration instead of education, and I want to end on this note: J Peterman is a large company with a very individual brand. You can’t duplicate what they have, but what you can take away from everything they do is that they center it all on what they provide their customers, instead of what they sell.

If your website needs a content and design audit, the team at ATAK can help. And we promise we won’t show up at your office wearing caftans.

Lyndsay Peters

Lyndsay Peters is Director of Search Marketing at ATAK Interactive. She's also the one who brings a dog to work to keep everything around the office just a little more human.

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