Microcopy, sometimes called transactional content, refers to the small snippets of copy that help guide a visitor through your website, provide context or give little bits of useful information. It’s the copy on buttons, next to buttons and beside form fields that tells people what to do.
We all know that users don’t read every word of a page: they skip and scan the content. Microcopy is one of the areas that people don’t spend a lot of time looking at. But even when visitors don’t consciously read every word, they pick up on the cues of that copy.
Those seemingly minor fragments of text are working harder than you think, and they can contribute to your conversion rate if you get them right.
Don’t try to be clever with purchase buttons
The copy you write in certain areas of your site shouldn’t require your customer to figure out what you mean. Microcopy has only a few words to make a point, and areas like purchase buttons are not the place to play around.
Microcopy has only a few words to make a point, and areas like purchase buttons are not the place to play around.
When it comes to buttons, they should do what they say they do. "Add to Cart" should add the item to the customer’s cart. "Go to Checkout" should take them to the checkout process. Using clever copy in these areas leads to confusion – it’s not the place to let your tone of voice overtake the user experience.
Users need to know what will happen when they click, or they simply won’t risk clicking. Does "Yes, I want it" add that item to my cart, or trigger a one-click ordering process? If your user isn’t sure, there’s a strong chance they might not click at all. Boost your conversions by being clear and direct in your button copy.
Make the purchase process as straightforward – even mundane – as possible. You can experiment with creative turns of phrase or clever wordplay elsewhere on the page.
Use microcopy to reassure
We all know that trust and security factors have an effect on ecommerce conversions. If a customer doesn’t trust that their data is safe, that their payment is protected or that they’ll receive their items, they won’t purchase. Your content should have numerous signals that highlight the important elements of security on your website – https address, security icons, and so on.
Microcopy can add even more emphasis to this aspect of your site, with very little effort. Change "Go to Checkout" to "Secure Checkout" and you’ve added a layer of reassurance. Add a little lock icon and you boost this even further.
Everything you can add that lets a user know they’re in good hands contributes to conversions.
You can include social proof and money back guarantees as microcopy next to the "add to cart" button. "2 million sold" or "100,000 happy customers" are further instances of reassurance that encourage visitors to trust in your ecommerce store. If you have a satisfaction guarantee, or extended warranty, include that too. Everything you can add that lets a user know they’re in good hands contributes to conversions. Microcopy is the perfect way to do this without adding reams of text that people won’t read.
Counteract cart abandonment
A detailed study by Barilliance shows that the average ecommerce store loses over 75% of its sales to cart abandonment. Follow up research by others found that the number one reason for abandoning a cart wasn’t that the user "found it cheaper" or "changed my mind". The primary reason for shopping cart abandonment was being presented with unexpected costs.
Your visitors should know the costs they’re facing before they get to payment.
Counteracting this is simple – don’t hide costs. This is where you use your microcopy to highlight shipping costs alongside the price of a product. Look at Amazon, for example. Shipping costs – or free shipping offers – are displayed below or beside the product cost, in a lighter color, telling the user that they won’t suddenly discover hidden costs at checkout.
Your visitors should know the costs they’re facing before they get to payment. Ideally, they’d know before they even add a product to the cart.
Preempt your users’ concerns
You’ve seen microcopy all over every website, even if you haven’t really noticed it. Often its job is to answer a question you haven’t necessarily articulated yet, or a concern that hasn’t yet fully formed.
When you see "we won’t use your details for anything other than your order " next to the phone number field on a checkout page, that copy is there to smooth over people’s hesitation about giving away their personal details. You can take this further and include details about why you need the information – "we need this in case there’s a problem with your order " – so that the user knows exactly why you’re asking for that specific piece of information.
Handing over personal details isn’t the only objection you can preempt with your microcopy. Let’s say you want to test out some ecommerce software. Many options offer free trials. But how do you know that you won’t end up being charged anyway, or forget to cancel after the trial, or have to jump through hoops to get out of the trial before you’re charged? A line of copy below the sign-up button that says "no credit card required" immediately eliminates that objection and lets you as the user move forward towards converting.
Look at your website and try to find all the areas that cause hesitation. If you can watch a user interact with the site and ask them questions, even better. Identify the barriers to conversion – not having security details, not knowing what hidden costs there might be, not wanting to give too much personal information – then work on crafting microcopy to assuage these concerns.
Have any questions about microcopy? Leave us a comment!