Do People Even Read? Effective E-commerce Copy for Skimmers & Researchers

Well, do they?

Do we read beyond blog headers, stop signs, or audiobook summaries? Do we actually read the copy in marketing, newspapers, and blogs?

Well, do they?

Do we read beyond blog headers, stop signs, or audiobook summaries? Do we actually read marketing copy, newspapers, and blogs?

Of course you do. You’re reading this right now. No matter how quickly or slowly you scroll through, you’re bound to catch some star marketing words, standout phrases, and (ideally) helpful, summarizing bullets.

But do most of your potential customers read your listings? If they do, do they read it deeply enough for every single detail to matter?

child is bored that marketing copywriting is so hard

The boring, predictable, and absolutely true answer: yes, they do. Skills for copywriters are more than handing the most obnoxiously catchy words and font sizes to the graphic designer, even in the AI age.

A misspelling, false claim, or annoyingly salesy pitch can batter your brand’s image for even the lightest skimmer or the most avid photo-mongerer in web copywriting.

So, what saucy writing skills can you keep up your sleeves to ensure every reader, browser, and buyer on your listing or landing page feels seen and assured? You can:

  • Know your audience.

  • Know their reading habits.

  • Know their expectations.

Simple, right? Let’s dive into each area.

dog with glasses on as if they are reading a compelling amazon listing

Know Your Audience: Three Types of Readers

Every reader is unique, as is every attention span and set of circumstances.

For example, are you selling a shock-resistant, water-resistant pair of never-short-circuiting earbuds to a full-time swimmer who trains every day and has had enough of bad earbuds? Are you selling learning games to a too-stressed, too-rushed mother who need something to entertain their kids while she works her at-home job?

I could keep going, but you know what I’m getting at. Everybody has different amounts of time, energy, and interest to dedicate to product research. You can reach out to the largest group of individuals by creating marketing copy for three types of browsers.

man researching compelling marketing copy to learn how to write copy

The Researcher:

They care and worry quite a bit about their particular purchase, and they love to optimize every decision they make.

They’ll compare the best-looking products and research each section of web copywriting thoroughly. They want to get the most value for their money, and are most likely to read everything from bullets to product descriptions to tiny labels in your photos, not to mention your reviews!

old couple reading successful marketing copy in newspapers

The Skimmer:

These people seek enough information to feel confident in their purchasing decision but aren’t interested in every flowery sentence you can procure. Interesting words will likely catch their eyes, and long blocks of text will keep them scrolling.

man surprised at an amazing piece of compelling marketing copy in some social media posts he read

The Impulse Buyer:

This person is seeking to fill some sort of urgent, but not necessarily adamant, need. They’re likely bored, lonely, hungry, stressed, or extremely eager. They’ll be likely to buy something without researching for longer than a minute or two.

If you think your marketing copy checks every box for the researcher, catches the skimmer’s eye, or the impulse buyer is your dream customer, think again. Just like a dollar store top hat, one size does NOT fit all. Even though you can’t predict every move of your target audience, you can cover multiple bases to catch their attention, and maybe even their hearts!

a baby reading a picture book

Know Their Reading Habits: Writing Marketing Copy for Easy Understanding

There are different approaches to take with each type of shopper.

For the Researcher, Make Every Word Count.

In his tip-laden article, award-winning author Stephen Wilbers writes, “Use words sparingly, as if you were planting a garden one seed at a time—not throwing out handfuls of seed willy-nilly, hoping a few kernels might land in the right spot and take hold. Get the full value out of every word you write.”

Even avid readers may get bored, confused, or annoyed at finding prolonged prose in marketing copy when they’re looking for features and benefits. Writing marketing copy for all three of these buyers can be tedious.

To help, Wilbers gives seven tips you can use to make the most of a few words, helping your customers to make faster, more informed decisions. Here's our condensed list:

  1. Edit out redundancy.

  2. Eliminate empty modifiers.

  3. Avoid long-winded intros.

  4. Trim sentence endings to add emphasis to your main point.

  5. Limit your commentary.

    For the Skimmer, Add Power Words

    “WIN FREE SEX” is what my journalism teacher at my Christian university wrote on the whiteboard at the beginning of class. He told us those were the three most attention-catching promoting words in the English language. (And then he told us he didn’t mean to write them in that order.)

    Although “free” is one of the restricted marketing copy words on Amazon, and sex doesn’t apply to every kitchen utensil you’ll sell, there are plenty of marketing copy words you can carefully work in to catch a skimmer’s attention, such as:

    • “Effortless…”

    • “Take control of…”

    • “Discover…”

    • “Revolutionize…”

    • “Improve…”

    • “Authentic…”

    • “Quick…”

    • “Personalize…”

    graffiti from the berlin wall with no marketing copy words necessary

      For the Impulse Buyer, Keep Your Photo Font Big and Your Paragraphs Short:

      While this appeals to any shopper, it works especially well for customers who just vibe check your listing. This is where your photos and professionalism can make or break a purchase.

      The tips here are more basic, but absolutely critical. Many sellers don’t follow these rules, but most customers consider this the bare minimum.

      • Always proofread your listing before publishing it. Bad grammar makes it seem like you don’t care about your product, which will turn buyers off to your brand. There are plenty of tools available to help even the best editors catch their mistakes.
      • Use excellent photos. If you must fabricate photos instead of taking your own, make your edits as clean as possible. Ugly or awkward photos may prevent people from even clicking on your listing.
      • Edit marketing copywriting directly onto your photos. You can make a deeper impression on people by spelling out your product’s benefits with an image.
      • Put effort into each aspect of your listing. If you have a compelling set of photos with overstated and vague hype text, people may get confused on what exactly they’re buying.

      a person overwhelmed by how much reading they have to do

      Know Their Expectations: Manage Customer Experience

      To turn an impulse buyer’s potential regret, win over skimmers and researchers, and earn better reviews and more trust, tell nothing but the truth in your listing.

      If an impulse buyer orders “Water-Proof Headphones” that repel rain but can’t take a dive in the pool, they may leave a bad review for misleading advertising. If a skimmer reads complex instructions for a cat tree they bought after reading about its “Effortless” and “Easy” setup, or a researcher receives the equivalent of what they paid for, you’ll break chances for trust and get poor reviews and return requests.

      People typically assume a product listing tells the truth. To take advantage of that, give your readers the exact truth, and paint it in a brighter light.

      a detective searches for compelling copy looking through marketing copy

      Learning to write compelling copy is about the not-so-glamorous parts of your product is more simple than you might think. Just turn your product’s poor parts into positives.

      Rather than avoiding the fact that your kitchen knife set can rust quickly when not taken care of, tell people “For the longest-lasting shine, treat your blades daily with…” If your plant pot collects grime and calcium after watering, advertise the fact that it’s “Easy to clean with a tough-sponge scrub down after watering.”

      pages of a book curled and tucked into a heart shape

      Yes, People Read

      The words you choose to write are crucial to your Amazon listing’s success, whether a customer reads every inch of your webpage or just makes a few glances. This is the way customers get all the important information they need, however they choose to consume it. 

      Write clear call informative and concise copy so that buyers know exactly what they are getting. Don’t make them work to sift through unnecessary information and dull language.

      In this fast-paced world, time is precious and attention spans are short.

      Accelerate sales all while diminishing returns and poor reviews with words that connect with whoever is reading them. 

      Great! How do I do it, again?

      Is your writing accessible and appealing to all 3 types of shoppers? Find out with our free analysis! Fill out this form or reply to this email, and we’ll gladly provide you with some actionable feedback on how to improve your marketing copy.

      Clay Breeden

      Clay loves his wife and his faith. But that’s too personal, he won’t tell you about that. Clay is a rock-climbing wannabe, a one-time (great-time) paid actor, a many-time unpaid actor, a barefoot runner like his Neanderthal ancestors, and an aspiring psychologist.

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