I buy most of the stuff I wear from a Canadian clothier called Frank and Oak, a company that lets me choose three new items each month and send back the ones I don’t need, free of shipping costs. It is subscription fashion, offering style for the lazy. The clothes are inexpensive but well-made, and usually the hard part is picking only three things. But what really sells me about the web retailer is the copy. The F&O marketing team writes a paragraph describing each of their new items, every month. It is some of the most skillfully articulated copy I’ve ever read.
But how much can you really say about a pair of jeans? I’ll give you an example.
Those accustomed to raw selvedge denim appreciate the technique, rarity, and nostalgia associated with the timeless textile. Made from an age-old technique that uses one continuous thread to weave fabric all the way to the edge, it is now symbolic of both craftsmanship and quality. Selvedge denim may start out feeling stiff, but with time will be your most durable and storied pair. 100% cotton. Consult wash tag for detailed care instructions.
Wow. Combined with high-quality product images, this text really sells me on a pair. It creates desire, promises longevity, and differentiates the product from other clothing lines. But enough about fashion. If you’re reading this, you’re likely in the business of selling cars - a purchase that carries much more weight.
Take a look at this vehicle description for a Scion FR-S that I found through a quick Google search:
A FRONT-MOUNTED FLAT BOXER ENGINE AND A 6-SPEED TRANSMISSION THE REAR-WHEEL DRIVE FR-S IS MADE FOR GOING PLACES DRIVE AWAY with $1800.00 DOWN - BUY HERE PAY HERE Auto Financing 52 Bi-Weekly payments of $150.00 NO CREDIT CHECKS!!!
How can we write copy on inventory pages that looks like this? I don’t even know where to begin.
Buying a car is one of the largest purchases we make in our lives. The vehicles we sell are marvels of engineering - gleaming machines that accompany us everywhere we go. I’ve known buyers that give their new ride a name and personality. Our choice in automobiles lie core of who we really are, so let’s give them the descriptions they deserve. Pictures and video walkarounds are worth a thousand words, but we also need them to be the right words - words that ignite a desire in our shoppers which won’t be satisfied until they walk on your lot to buy the thing.
Some quick tips:
Take advantage of the English language.
You can start by prying the caps lock key from the keyboard and throwing it as far away as you can. If you don’t already know that typing in all capitalized letters is the Internet equivalent of screaming, this picture should put that in perspective. You may also want to invest in a few commas to separate your ideas. Push the limits of what your words can do - consult a thesaurus. As Robin Williams’ character said in Dead Poet’s Society:
"A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use 'very sad,' use 'morose.' Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”
Write specifically for your buyers.
Back in 2010, Cars.com released a study that reports including ad copy with a vehicle listing can result in a 50% lift in contracts. Writing great copy means knowing what your customers are looking for. Highlight your cars’ high-value features - make readers feel the luxury of leather seats or lose themselves in the stereo sound.
You don’t need to go overboard by writing out every single feature and option. Short is sweet, and keeping your descriptions simple (with just the right amount of substance) will help shoppers identify with the car. I found this story from Jalopnik’s 2011 archives, exploring the possibility of a personalized biography for each car on the lot. While these descriptions are really funny, they might not build a whole lot of faith and credit in your store - and won’t do much to move metal.
Consumer reviews build confidence.
Whenever you can, include some consumer confidence in your inventory pages. Showcase third party validation and vehicle history reports to build trust among buyers. Scoring reports, reviews, crash test ratings, and accolades are great ways to get online visitors in for a test drive.
A 2012 study by Local Consumer Reviews Survey found that 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Splashing a vehicle narrative with just the right level of consumer confidence and perspective will ensure the necessary combination needed to inform, educate and validate a specific vehicle.
Let’s step up our game, guys. The buyers walking into your doors are reading the words you’ve written on your site long before they talk to any of your salespeople. Does your web copy truly represent your vehicle brand? Does it inspire desire? Does it separate you from competition?
I have to give some credit to ActivEngage’s Ralph Ebersole - his wisdom and twisted sense of humor helped me write this article. I’d highly recommend following him on Twitter if you like rants about MSU.