August 03, 2008

Consumer Reviews And Writing Copy Online

Consumer Electronics is one of the places where reviews are often utilized.

At Crutchfield, you might be concerned about shelling out almost $500 for a Blu-ray DVD player. But fellow consumers walk you through the process by stating their opinions, in this case, opinions of a Panasonic Blu-ray DVD player.

Pundits like to debate the merits of user-generated reviews. That's not what we'll discuss here.

There are folks who are paid to write copy. Sure, in some cases, the vendor dictates what must be written. In other cases, however, the copywriter plays a major role in the selling of merchandise. It's fascinating how the art of writing subject lines and paid search keywords is thoroughly explored in our industry. The art of writing honest online copy, however, is seldom broached.

Why don't we sell online? Why do we write such generic text, boring text that has been written so many times that the customer no longer choose to believe it, preferring to hear the words of a theoretically objective purchaser the customer never met?

And then we go a step further. We allow our customers to rate the reviews written by other customers.

Why don't we allow our customers to rate the copy written by our coypwriters? Wouldn't that be a spectacular way to learn the style of copy that customers really prefer? Why don't we let our customers rate the subject lines written in e-mail marketing? I bet we'd learn more from that than we learn from testing different subject lines --- we'd learn that the subject line that tested as performing 9% better, placing it in the "best practices" class, actually rated 2 out of 5 stars by our customers. Wouldn't that be a humbling experience?

As the age of unfettered online sales growth comes to a close, as we're forced to actually prove our worth by actually using the online channel to actually sell merchandise in a stagnant economy, we'll need to start over from scratch when it comes to writing copy online. We're going to need to learn how to sell all over again. There's no reason a new class of rainmaking online copywriters can't emerge from this movement.