Three Secrets to Better Online Catalog Copy

Online catalogs make up a growing part of the catalog industry. Any copywriter who knows how writing online catalog copy differs form writing for print mailers is in the perfect position to make a very good living in this niche.

Focus on product descriptions: Product descriptions play an important role in online catalogs. This is the perfect place to use specific keywords that prospective customers may use when searching for a particular product. In most cases, it’s easy to work in the keywords without sounding forced. For example, a prospect searching for a six-megapixel digital camera will likely use that phrase as a search term. So including “This six-megapixel digital camera …” in your copy not only sounds natural, it will also get good search engine rankings for your client.

You have more room, but don’t overdo it: You have more flexibility with online catalog copy when it comes to how much you can write. This means more space to present benefits and really show the beauty, uniqueness, or functionality of a product. Still catalog copy should be short – a page at most. This limits the amount of scrolling a prospect will have to do, an important consideration.

The problem/solution formula: One of the quickest ways to illustrate a product’s benefits, whether you are writing for print or the Web, is to make it clear that you understand a problem the prospect has, and then show how the product solves that problem. For a vacuum food storage system, the opening line might be “Never throw away food – or money – again.” This immediately identifies the problem, promises a solution, and offers a benefit. It gets a lot done in just seven words. Every word of your catalog copy has to work hard. Finding ways to powerfully and succinctly convey a product’s benefits is crucial to successful writing in this industry.

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Published: February 6, 2008

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