The creative development of an ecommerce site, including copy, graphics and layout, gives each ecommerce store its own unique personality. Every detail of your site’s creative work should fit with the image you want to project.
This is part two of the “Ecommerce Series” started with the article Starting Your Niche Ecommerce Site.
The Most Important Spots of Your Ecommerce Site
Whether your ecom carries 8 products or 10,000, some of you store’s pages or its parts are simply more visible than others. Whatever you present in these areas will be seen more often than other parts of you store, even by customers who browse your site only briefly.
Basic logic follows: use these highly visible areas to show your strongest items, i.e. those most likely to sell well. Not only will they extract a greater volume of sales than they would if placed elsewhere on your website, but they will also be most likely to promise the customer that by viewing the rest of your ecommerce site, he or she will find other items of interest.
Your best items become another hook to get the customer to look at your ecommerce offer.
Rule no. 1: Always put your best items in the most noticeable locations on your ecommerce site. This may be one of the few rules that identical in retail store setups and ecommerce world: give your best items the highest visibility.
In most ecommerce stores, the four areas in both mobile and desktop that are most prominent are:
- Home page
- Website’s header
- Website’s footer
- Recommendations or “Other Customers Browsed Also” area
Now that you know the ecommerce site areas you should use to show your best items, how do you decide which items are best? Obvious and simple? Not when you take a second look.
Whether you have 10 items or 1,000 items in your product line, each can be graded on three scales according to total quantity sold, total dollars grossed, and total net profit.
The first two scales are often thought of as representative of great items, but the third scale is the only one which really tells you anything about your best items – because it is the bottom line in profit!
Each of these scales is seperate and distinct. The items will not fall in the same order in each scale, nor will the order remain the same at different times of they year. Consider the following table for a niche ecommerce site dedicated to senior citizens. The numbers describe the last quarter of the year:
|Total Quantity Sold||Total Dollars Grossed||Total Dollars Netted|
|Item||Units||Item||Retail||$ Sold||Item||$ Profit||$ Net|
|1. Slipper socks||5,000||1. Slip resistant shoes||$15||$30,000||1. Full Page Reading Magnifier||$30.00||$15,000|
|2. Slip resistant shoes||2,000||2. 180 Degrees flashlight||$25||$25,000||2. Slip resistant shoes||$7.00||$14,000|
|3. 180 Degrees flashlight||1,000||3. Full Page Reading Magnifier||$50||$25,000||3. 180 Degrees flashlight||$12.50||$12,500|
|4. Full Page Reading Magnifier||500||4. Weighted Relaxing Blanket||$70||$21,000||4. Shiatsu Foot Massager||$100.00||$10,000|
|5. Weighted Relaxing Blanket||300||5. Shiatsu Foot Massager||$200||$20,000||5. Weighted Relaxing Blanket||$30.00||$9,000|
|6. Shiatsu Foot Massager||100||6. Slipper socks||$2||$10,000||6. Slipper socks||$1.50||$7,500|
If you consider your items “best sellers” only by total quantity sold, you have made an error. While the spread between 5,000 slipper socks and 500 full page reading magnifiers is enormous, the dollar gross is reversed.
The dollar net in this entire group of ecommerce products is even more interesting. The full page reading magnifier and180 degrees flashlight each gross $25,000, but the magnifier nets $15,000 and the flashlight only $12,500. In addition, while the slip resistant shoes gross more than the magnifier or flashlight, it falls between them in dollars netted.
This situation becomes somewhat more complicated if each of these items has not occupied the identical amount of art and copy space on the home page, header, footer or recommendation module.
Rule no. 2: When deciding which items to present in your highly visible ecommerce site areas, let economics guide you.
What the Header & Home Page Say About Your Ecommerce Site (and Why It Is Important)
Home page and header treatment for you ecom… it is not an easy decision. And too often one of the last resolved. Before you decide whether to use their space to sell your product line, you must decide what you want the graphics to represent about your company, your products, and customers.
The home page and the header are the frosting on the cake. Based on their appeal, the customer decides whether or not to browse your site – a decision so basic that without it you will not sell a thing.
With more ecoms competing for the customer’s dollar every day, getting the consumer to open and order from your site instead of your competitor’s becomes ever more vital.
The style of the home page and the header gives a myriad of hints to the user about what is inside your site:
- Cost of goods (expensive, middle price range, cheap)
- Category of goods (clothes, gifts, general merchandise, food, etc.)
- Attitude and image of the company (suburban friendliness, urbane sociability, sweepstake or deep discount seduction, etc.)
- Season to which goods relate (Christmas, autumn, etc.)
- Type of people (customer profile) to which goods are geared (rich / middle class, country / city, intellectucal / physical, refined / simple tastes, of business / home interest, etc.)
Whatever graphics and copy style you choose for your home page and header, it immediately implies the taste, lifestyle and budget of the target customer. The customer knows what to expect before he or she even starts to browse your site.
Additionally, your header and home page style should be similar in mood to each promotional piece you use – whether it is a Facebook ad, an email or a package insert. This way the customer immediately recognizes the source and each new promotional activity reinforces your company’s image.
Your distinct style builds customer loyalty by exploiting the comfort of the expected and helps you build a strong database of customers who are likely to respond to your promotional efforts in the same way your present customers do. This helps create a consistent customer profile while it establishes your reputation for certain type of products.
Rule no. 3: Establish your ecommerce image and stick with it!
Should Your Home Page and Header Sell Your Image, or Should It Sell Items, too?
Do you gain enough having a “hook” to get the customer inside your site – having an image with which they are comfortable – or could you gain more by selling from the get-go?
On one hand, many feel that your site’s image is lost or cheapened by using the home page and header to pitch items. Others feel that it is insane not to make this space available for sales. (Incidentally, a sales pitch in the header area also projects image.) In the middle are those who try to project image and sell items concurrently.
Of course, there are many variations, on each of these themes, all applicable to any product category from gifts to business items. But just remember, every click and user’s eye glimpse cost you money… and consequently must produce dollars for you.
Logic tells that using cover space to pitch an item is going to bring in more dollars in the long run. How subtle this pitch should be is up to you, and to the image you want to project. If you are just starting your first site, try an image/sales presentation.
Your Ecom’s Footer Treatment: How Hard Will It Work For You?
The footer is one of the most visible (but often simply forgotten) parts of your ecommerce store, and you would better pay attention to it!
Everyone has watched a person walking out of a room and thought, “He cannot know what he looks like from that direction, or he wouldn’t wear that!” Your rear view makes the second biggest impression about you, and so it goes with the footer of your ecommerce store.
So big an impression that items to which you refer in the footer will bring you 5-10% greater sales than if those same items ran in your store without a footer reference. And items which are placed in the footer will reap appreciably greater sales because of positioning.
Rule no. 4: Do not waste space as clicks and users’ eye glimpses are expensive! Remember that your site’s footer is one of the most visible areas of your ecommerce store. Use it to represent your image and to make a sales effort as well.
Most ecoms completely forget the footer space and if it is used at all then most often it is a secondary site navigation and copyright info…
The three best treatments for ecommerce site footers are:
- to show an item (or items) with full description and all information necessary for placing an order (as though the footer was another product page)
- to show items with links referring the customer elsewhere in the store for more complete information
- to show a company’s image (a theme-oriented footer, which usually wraps around from the header artwork)
Certainly the blank footer does nothing in the area of image projection, nor in the area of sales. Make sure you use this valuable space.
In addition to products, other important features to consider for footer presentation include:
- Credit card and payment systems logos
- Phone numbers for phone ordering (especially if toll tree)
- “Satisfaction Guaranteed” blurbs
- Credibility blurbs, such as “Serving you well for over 18 years”
- Teasers like “Special savings on gardening items” or “check this hidden page for our secret discount offers”
- Newsletter / discount email sign-up
Because footer space works hard to increase the sales of items shown on it, be sure you exercise sensible marketing/merchandising judgment in the use of it. Do not present random item choices in this space. Select the most outstanding items in your line.
Choose items with two criteria:
- They should be strong sellers. Consider not only the staple items in your line, but also items with seasonal strength, like toys for Christmas, sprinklers for summer, etc.
- They should have excellent profit margins.
After all, if footer space usage is going to bring you extra profits, you might as well make maximum extra profits! Do not forget to follow the cardinal rule of performance marketing: always make it easy for your customer to order.
The psychology of this rule encompasses the design of your header and footer, interior layout, and order form. You can never repeat it too often to your designers and copywriters. Remember it in every element of your ecommerce site, and it will help pay your way to stronger profits.
How to Focus Your Customer’s Attention on the Product
When your customer is visually moving through your ecommerce store, his eyes are moving fast, and his mind is absorbing information rapidly. Anything that is not immediately apparent is either misunderstood or ignored.
So although it seems obvious that art and copy are the tools for presenting the product clearly, there are two questions you should ask yourself after your product layout is created and before it is executed:
- Does this layout leave no doubt as to the product and its function?
- Does this layout make sure that the customer’s eye is drawn to the product – and not focused on a less important element?
If you cannot answer both questions with the knowledge that the product has been presented with the strongest focus possible, it is time to go back to the drawing board and start over. If there can be any confusion on the customer’s part about these two issues, then your product sales will suffer.
Products with many elements and functions are the most difficult to present simply because the multiple elements can obscure the product’s main function. Also, products that resemble something which they are not can fall into the difficult-to-present category, such as an item that looks like a pistol but is really a cigarette lighter.
These kinds of products require extra thought in their presentation. Sometimes props can help make the product’s function clear – a cigarette and an ashtray might be shown with the pistol lighter, for example.
But these decisions are not as clear-cut as they initially seem. Are both the cigarette and the ashtray necessary, or would a pack of cigarettes work even better? Which props provide the clearest enhancement and the least distraction to the main focus, the product itself?
When checking your layout against these two questions, it is sometimes handy to have the layout perused by an individual who was not instrumental in its development. Not having been exposed to the concepts upon which the layout was based, this individual will respond to the natural focus of the layout, whereas the artist who created it may be too close to it by now.
Spying – Methodically – Your Competition For Inspiration
One of the great excitements about ecommerce marketing is the ready availability of your competitors’ promotional and design tactics for analysis and study. The successes and failures of the ecom marketplace make themselves apparent at every turn. All you have to do is watch and analyze!
Giving competition the eagle eye is as easy as going through a multitude of ecommerce spy tools and examining carefully the sites you see actively promoted. This is of the greatest value when you record the information you accumulate, and continue to record it precisely and analytically.
Rule no. 5: Watch, record, study, learn, improve. Do not forget these five steps to knowing your competition, and you will have a vehicle for your own growth and strength.
One area you can examine easily is the art and copy page layouts of other ecommerce stores. Every such site has photos and copy on each page, but there are a million approaches to putting them together. Decisions must be made continually:
- How many items should you show on a page?
- How much space should be devoted to art, and how much to copy?
- Should the photos vary in size or be the same?
- Should there be videos? If so, how long?
- Should you include reviews?
- Should you use rewritten testimonials or product comments and rating as they come?
- Should several items be shown in a single large photo, or should each item have an individual presentation?
- What font face should be chosen for the copy?
- How large should the font size be?
Make sure you “spy” on similar ecommerce stores to yours. Your site is probably not on par with Amazon – getting your inspirations from Amazon alone may not be the best way to go.
The ABCs of Ecommerce Copy Preparation
Artwork attracts, enhances and creates desire. But copy sells. Far too many product managers are mostly concerned with how their products look, if video will be used and how beautiful the presentation will be.
They often treat copy and the copywriter’s role as secondary. This is a big mistake! Ecommerce management people must learn, understand and accept the fact that the copywriter should be involved in every aspect of ecommerce creation, development and production, from initial product selection meetings to final design and web development blueprints.
The copywriter’s job is to thoroughly study the company, its audience and product line before promoting the individual items in the ecommerce store. That study should include the following steps:
- Audience evaluation and analysis. Simply put, you cannot write selling copy unless you know to whom you are writing.
- Overall product selection. The copywriter must understand why each product (or service) has been selected for a specific promotion in each media channel. What is more, the copywriter should have a voice in suggesting changes in product selection, especially if he or she feels that including certain products can destroy an overall “feel” or uniqueness for the promotion or whole niche ecommerce site. At the very least, the copywriter should know why each product fits in the line being promoted.
- Audience history. A copywriter approaches the database of customers differently than of prospects. And he or she tackles different prospect audience segments differently. It is important for management to make all “audience facts” known to the copywriter at the outset.
- Investigation. Give all products and all accessories to the copywriter. Do not forget to include support literature and documentation on how the product was developed or manufactured. Allow time for your copywriter to get the feel of each item and to feel good about each one. He or she will write better than if you simply provide photos.
- Field time. Your copywriter should be able to test your products and see how they are used by the very people to whom they are to be sold. The same applies to selling services. Bring your copywriter into focus group interviews to listen and ask questions. Let him or her examine your contracts and policies and go with your service people to a few actual jobs. Let your copywriter listen to sales phone calls to gauge customer and prospect reactions and learn new product benefits.
- Question time. Before and during writing, your copywriter must be able to question you, your product managers, merchandisers, customers and salespeople. Deny these opportunities at your peril!
- Thinking time. The good copywriter does not just start writing. A copywriter thinks, sometimes for a long time, first. Copy will flow beautifully and be more successful if he or she has had a chance to structure it mentally first.
Rule no. 6: You stand the best chance of motivating your prospects to buy with believable copy, frank statements of value and a strong sales pitch. And that can only come from an ecommerce copywriter who has spent ample time with you and your products.
How to Get Your “Thinking Cap” Working on Ecommerce Copy
There are no basic rules but there are some easy procedures that may assist you in starting the thinking process.
Clean your desk. Unclutter it. Take out a pad or scratch paper and a pen or pencil – not your laptop. Longhand allows you to think longer: your mind rests a bit instead of speeding along with keyboard keys in an attempt to make a deadline or churn out the copy.
So answer these questions in longhand on your pad:
- Who is my target audience?
- Why will this product or idea appeal to them?
- What benefits does the product, idea or service provide to the audience? (Write down every single detail you can think of.)
- How does my product beat the competition?
- What is special about my offer and how can I rework it into a dramatic mind-catcher?
Perhaps all this appears a bit simplistic on the surface. But these procedures will not only get you started writing about the product, they will also help you go about writing it from a fresh point of view.
The trick to making this procedure work is really concealed in the third point. When you are writing down every detail, you should actually overwrite. Besides being easier to cut than to add, this method helps you overcome writer’s block.
- Do not think about how many characters you have to write.
- Do not think about the order in which you should make your points.
- Do not think about whether you are expressing yourself effectively or not.
Just write. Writer’s block is usually caused because you are trying to edit at the same rime you are trying to write. The scientific editing part of your brain inhibits the creative part from expressing itself.
Like every performance marketer with an open mind, you are always looking for new ways to think. So try answering these simple questions next time you are stumped by a copy problem. They will trigger you to use the talents you often cannot put to work because the deadline or the “sameness” of the product or marketing objective prevents your mind from getting to work.
How to Write Powerful Photo Captions
Various studies have indicated that captions are the best-read type in any online or offline publication, including ecommerce stores. Thus, whenever possible, include at least one caption with a photo, because the caption draws the eye from the photo to the descriptive product copy.
Here are the most prominent guidelines for ecommerce caption writing:
- Benefits. Include one or more major user benefits in your captions to entice readership of the main copy block.
- Features. Product features, such as the number of buttons on a massaging device, can be very short if you have space limitations.
- Combination. You get benefits from features, so marry those two points. Example: “The super-large lens provides 3x variable optical magnification, to easily magnify an entire page for easy reading without the glare or hotspots that strain your eyes.”
- Involvement. Instead of merely stating a benefit, tell why it is important from a “use” point of view. Example: “You’ll slice every tomato easier with the extra-sharp blade.”
- Future tense. Promising the user how he will benefit in the future creates a strong desire for ownership.
- Terseness. Make image captions lean. Each word counts. Your reader has looked at the photo and may be only minimally interested. Involve him or her with a tightly-written enticement.
- Length. Tight writing does not mean you must write “short.” Long, benefit-laden image captions can work well.
- Multiple captions. The more captions you use, the more action perceived for the photo and the more uses perceived for your merchandise. Use multiple captions when possible, but cite different copy points in each.
- Facts. Readers expect in captions facts which will involve them, not flowery phrases. Facts are strong convincers. Flowers detract.
The Magic of Subheads in Ecommerce Copy
Many products merit lengthy descriptions to involve the user. But lengthy copy can appear boring if it is simply a mass of lines of copy of constant width and size.
One way to “open up” long copy blocks is to use ragged right type instead of justified (making all lines exactly the same length). Other ways include using bold face or italic type, and lead-in lines, indented first lines in paragraphs, a bit of extra spacing between lines and/or paragraphs, and bulleted benefits or lists of features.
One of the best methods to make copy displays appear airy is to use subheads inserted between paragraphs. Ideally, two paragraphs should follow each subhead.
- be numbered in reading sequence
- tell a complete story
- command continued readership
- command a response
- point out benefits in the copy that follows
Subheads should not be:
- mysterious or unclear
- unfathomable when read separately
- bland statements of what follows
- used so often that you seem to have a mass of small, screaming headlines
- labels, like “Product Features”
- break up long columns of type
- guide a skim-and-scan reader to sections of greatest interest
- communicate user benefits
- introduce important concepts
- be the same color as body copy
Rule no. 7: The general guideline is use subheads to serve scanning readers, letting them pick copy blocks they want to read, and then getting them right into the copy.
Scanning readers leave your ecommerce store if subheads fail to convince them to read your copy. Be sure to write your subheads so your users are “gripped” to read the copy that follows.
Long vs Short Copy for Ecommerce
The old saying “copy should be just as long as necessary” often is misinterpreted. Some people believe copy should be stripped to the bare bones, containing just a few exciting words to make your mouth water and that is it. But your copy needs a lot more.
Here are the absolute essentials. There must be a headline or a lead-in sentence. Its purpose is to attract attention and encourage the user to read on for more information. The next sentence or sentences need to outline the facts. The copywriter must outguess the user and counter all objections with a positive answer.
Every statement should encourage the user to say, “Yes, I want this one. ” And when he or she reads the last word, he or she should have been told everything needed to make a buying decision.
This would include size, weight, colors, what it is made of, etc. Naturally, your designer and photographer can often help by incorporating a lot of facts into the photo. Between copy and photo, every conceivable question must be answered.
Sometimes all of this can be accomplished in just a few words. Some excellent copy does a marvelous selling job and rakes up less than three sentences of copy. But often this is not the case.
Some products – especially complex products – may require a great deal more explaining, and their copy should he long. Designers may not like long copy and often will create an ecommerce layout with too little space.
Copywriters and artists can resort to some unbelievable quarrels. If it comes to that, then the copywriter must take over and rule the roost. Photographs and design cannot always answer all the questions and get the story across.
Whether it is short or long, copy must also sing. The user must enjoy reading and automatically read on. This should be the case even if the copy is a mere three sentences long. Write in short sentences and your copy often sings automatically.
Rule no. 8: Do not write long copy just to write long copy. If three sentences is all you need, then write three sentences. Do not lose your buyer by including a lot of unnecessary garbage.
Below are two pieces of copy on the same product:
BRIGHT CLOSE-UP VIEWS WITH THE ILLUMINATING 30X MAGNIFIER. This convenient pocket magnifier is designed to be a valued companion for work, hobby or recreation. Its diminutive size (5 1/2″ x 1 1/4″) allows it to slip easily into pocket or purse; its 30X makes it ideal for detailed examination of plants, gems, stamps, photos. It. features a center focus wheel for precise one-hand operation; retractable condenser lens pinpoints light so you can zero in on your subject. Light source is built-in; batteries not included. A really handy tool.
ILLUMINATING 30X MAGNIFIER IS POCKET-SIZED. Ideal for a detailed inspection of planes, gems, stamps or photos. It features a center focus wheel for precise one-hand operation, a retractable condenser lens to pinpoint light and a built-in light source. Batteries not included. 5 1/2″ x 1 1/4″
The short copy B says everything necessary. Copy A is packed with unnecessary words. Notice how the headline for B immediately gets the message across and saves at least twelve words.
What to Look for in a Ecommerce Copywriter
Just as ownership of a camera does not make one a photographer, writing ability alone does not make a copywriter – especially an ecommerce copywriter. Yet, every week new resumes hit the desk, extolling the applicant’s academic credentials, listing courses in marketing and SEO, perhaps even including some previous job experience as a “copywriter”.
Sadly, when put to the test of writing real-life ecommerce copy, most of these applicants will not measure up. Yes, they write smoothly; yes, they string words together easily; yes, they really do “love to write”; yes, they understand SEO keyword density. But their copy fails to translate into orders.
Why? Simply because they mistakenly believe that writing skill is the name of the game. The fact is, selling is the required experience. A good salesperson with even modest writing ability will always outperform a good writer, period. What should you look for in a copywriter’s background?
- Your applicant should have had face-to-face contact selling to customers over a period of time. This could be in part-time work while attending school. It could be over-the-counter retail in a department store, the local pharmacy, even a fish market. My favorite is “direct selling,” once called door-to-door.
- He or she should have acquired personal experience in overcoming sales resistance through give and take. The telemarketing representative and the Avon lady know what we mean. “My partner’s not home and I have to get his or her okay first.” “I can’t afford it now.” “I don’t like the color… the style… the warranty…” A salesperson who can be turned away by the first objection soon will be in some other line of work. With only quickness of wit and persuasiveness of the written word, the effective ecommerce copywriter anticipates what a potential customer might want to know, what the objections to buying might be, and addresses them.
- The ecommerce copywriter should be, above all, a performance marketing copywriter. The task of selling in an ecommerce site is accomplished through words and pictures. There the skillful copywriter must punch home the complete message.
Rule no. 9: A personal selling background is far more important to your ecommerce than mere cleverness, dazzling “wordsmithing” or even commendable scholastic achievement. Performance marketing copy is not supposed to be pretty. It is supposed to work.
However, remember that it is not necessary to give up on writing that also reads well and respects the language. Good selling copy can be produced which also maintains a distinctive communicative style for your ecommerce store.
How You Select and Pose Models Can Attract or Repel Users
When you plan your ecommerce promotion, or an individual product segment of your store, you must visualize the display simultaneously with creating the selling words. If you do not, you cannot sell with maximum effectiveness.
So the successful promotion starts with examining all customer data before turning on the word-processing program on your laptop. Then you are sure that benefit and description copy is targeted to the audience being used… and this becomes a guide on how to cue the artist and photographer.
Here are general guidelines on selecting models and posing them, so that the first time your user spots a photo, he immediately identifies himself and thus can relate to the product being sold:
- Age. This is critical. Do not use a teenager if audience research shows you will be targeting senior citizens. Because readers identify with those who are closest to themselves, you want someone within the age bracket of the customer audience. And because younger readers subconsciously respect those who are a touch older than themselves, you want a model in the upper third of your audience. So select a model whose age is in the upper one-third of the age range of the bulk of your prospects. If the audience you target constitutes 25-40 year olds, your model should be 35-40.
- Sex. Studies show males are not visually attracted primarily to females, but females are attracted primarily to other women. So, do not write copy or select models based on the opposite sex. Instead, select the sex matching that of the greatest number of individuals in your audience: and if your audience selections have a 50/50 sex split, try using one male and one female model.
- Product identity. Write copy and select models for the prime users of specific products. Your reader knows that a safety relief valve on an industrial boiler is generally not operated by a woman and that, unless you target actors, makeup is, generally, not used by men.
- Product ease. Often it pays to use more than one photo to demonstrate equal product appropriateness for males and females and to visually communicate that both sexes can easily use your item.
- Seemliness. The hunk who runs your farm tractor should not look like a corporate chairman. But if it is a suburban lawn tractor, that is different. Users should instantly see that models are fit for the product’s use.
- Expression. People shudder at traumas, crises, unpleasant situations. The model in your two-piece bikini should look like she is enjoying herself. Many apparel promoters mistakenly pose models to look as if they are extremely bored or in pain. Would you want to buy a bathing suit that gives you such discomfort? Remember, you are not selling a garment or equipment. You are selling its enjoyment, utility, status, and convenience.
- Use applications. Show the model exulting over possession of your product (perhaps smiling as she serves the meal she prepared with your cookware). But just show her hands as she fills the pots and places the pans on the stove. That way the user sees the glow and recognizes the utility. (Often you will want to select a different model for hand shots.)
- Involvement. Products displayed by themselves create less desire for ownership than products displayed with someone using them, enjoying them, benefiting from them. But that does not preclude also showing your product separately, perhaps from several views, so the reader sees the full scope of your merchandise.
- Site. Let the customer visualize wearing his tux at La Scala theater. And remember, an electrical woodworking saw does not belong in a showroom. Show the customer how easy it is to hook up in his workshop. The key is to show that the product is appropriate to the site combined with appropriateness to the model, who, of course, looks like someone with whom the customer can identify.
Details: If You Cannot See Them, You May Not Order the Product
Because the ecommerce shopper cannot touch, feel, or examine the merchandise, the photo must supply as much clarification in these areas as possible. It the customer cannot see your merchandise, you are expecting a great deal to hope that a purchase will be made.
One of the major responsibilities of the art director and photographer is to question whether or not the artwork (including photos) has depicted the texture of the merchandise. Velvet must look like velvet, wood must appear like wood, metal must be metal. One aim of the photos and infographics is to create in the mind of the customer the feel of the merchandise.
And often this “feel” is developed by how well the image pictures the details of the item. A major fringe benefit, of course, is that the customer also can see what the item looks like.
Keeping Your Identity When Promoting Deep Discounts and Aggressive “Low-Market” Promos
Naturally the decision to have a sale has been discussed at length and the reasons for having it have been determined. Often these reasons can guide the creative staff in developing that sale look.
It is not unusual to see a company mix sale items and regularly priced merchandise in its standard promotional efforts. The sale items will have attention called to them with boldface type saying “SALE,” or with the regular price crossed out and a handwritten, lower price scripted in next to it in a contrasting color.
Depending on you ecommerce site’s image, these techniques can be handled subtly and with some elegance or in a bolder, louder manner.
But what happens when an entire promotion (e.g. Black Friday type of promo) is devoted to a sale? When the whole store is a bargain basement? The ecommerce marketer should carefully consider three questions:
- Should we change our look to say “sale”? (After all, the entire store could be presented with
crossed-out prices.) How can we say it?
- How can we differentiate the sale promotion from our usual style and image? And how far should we go?
- Should we change that style and image? And in the case of an commerce site which generally uses a creative style that is subtle: can we? Should we merge our usual style with the louder overtones?
Naturally, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is “Will a sale eat into our usual profits? Will our customers wait for the sale, come to expect it, only purchase from us during it?”
One viewpoint is positive. Other ecommerce stores use sales effectively and profitably, so why should not you? The other viewpoint expresses the danger of wooing a different kind of customer with a sale promotion than with the regular promotional efforts.
What happens if the store’s customer profile begins to bend and twist with customers that only want bargains, or that respond to a different look and feel? This is the main reason to maintain the same style in your sale promos and your regular promos.
Any new prospects will respond to the same style and probably convert quite well into “regular” customers. The exception to this attitude would be if you consciously wished to develop a new customer segment. (But there would be other, better ways of going about that.)