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Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson and today I’m very excited for our special guest Karon Thackston who is president of Marketing Words a full-service copywriting and content agency that helps businesses convert better, sell more and build a better business since 1999.

She has created several products including the popular e-courses Amazon Advantage product listing strategies to boost your sales. Ecommerce copywriting and many others her company has contributed to the successes of organizations including Gordon Seafood American voting Association entertainment and thousands of Amazon sellers large and small.

Karen is a preferred speaker on numerous podcasts and webinars. She has appeared multiple times at Live Events including internet retailer. Search marketing Expo and internet Summit and always draws big crowds. Well, welcome to the podcast Karen. Thanks Arlen. I appreciate you having me. Yes, not a problem.

Well, you know one of the things that we're going to be discussing today, of course is you know things that I know are very you're very well-versed on which is going to be creating compelling product descriptions that Captivate and convert. It's a really a topic that we've never really. Here on the the e-commerce marketing podcast because I know a lot of our listeners out there, of course our e-commerce business owners or our affiliated with businesses and do marketing for them.

You know, before we get into all of that. I always like to know how people got to where they are today. So why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to got into what you're doing today? Well, I have always been attracted to marketing since I. Just a little girl and when let's see it was the summer after I graduated from high school that I happen to meet up with two of the DJ's that did one of the morning shows at a local radio station.

Okay. And they invited me. Bye. I think they were joking because of course, you know, you have to get there at five or six o'clock. And this is a teenager who's on summer breaks like yes. Sure. Stop by the show one morning and bring us some biscuits and say hi. Well, I did okay, long story short, they're receptionist got badly injured and had to be have surgery and be out for the entire summer and they asked if I would.

Be willing, you know looking for a summer job. You want to come answer phones and help out whatever. Well, I didn't want to turn that down my first day on the job. One of the sales people came running in and said, we've got to get this on the air today or the client is not going to go through with the by do, you know how to write copy?

I do and she handed me the stuff and ran off to her office and I turned around and looked at the girl next to me and said what's copy. Wow. It's a very much on the job. Training but I I have always just had a knack for writing and after two or three attempts and going back and forth nailed it down.

Okay, and it went on the air client it it actually they actually ran it. I didn't get fired or anything. So that was the start of of all of it and then fast forward to 1999 when I was tired of working at full-service ad agencies. I was tired of working at in-house at agencies. And I wanted to do the part of it that I loved the most which was the writing.

Okay, but do it my way and marketing words was born in 1999 and it does not even seem like it has been as long as it has been you said you were in you started your business in 1999 to correct, you know, uh a little bit of history behind us. That is for sure. Yeah. It's just a tiny bit just a little bit.

It's been quite a journey for sure and I know and you're in as well. So it's it's been a blast. We have been online since practically the birth of the internet. Maybe just a two years after it got mainstream. We we hit the ground running and just haven't stopped since so it's it's been a blast.

Okay, great. Yeah, that's that's awesome. And there's really actually an important lesson that you mentioned that I kind of pulled out from that story when you mentioned that you were at the radio station you got thrust with that opportunity to. Create the copy for that marketing person at the radio station.

And you said absolutely you could do it. That's an important lesson. I reminds me of something a high school teacher told me that regardless of whether you can do these things or not. If you get an opportunity like that always say always say yes, and you know do whatever you can used to say fake it till you make it and you know, you did just that you knew that that was an incredible opportunity and you were gonna you're gonna figure it out.

Even if you didn't know exactly what copy was. The time you you know, you took that opportunity and really ran with it. So that's yeah, that's an awesome lesson for everyone listening that well trust me at 18 years old. There was no thought to it. I I wasn't that thought out at all. It was I don't want to lose this job.

I better at least give it a shot. I got you. Well that all sounds good and it would definitely brought you to where you are today. So, you know one of the things that I. I deal with all the time is we have a lot of e-commerce businesses that that utilize our product are also affiliate software. Let me start fully at software and I see on a daily basis.

I'm looking at Ecommerce websites every day people selling, you know things that you could never imagine, you know, and so I've seen it all and one of the key things is that I guess doesn't get a lot of focus on is the descriptions of actual. Rocks on a particular website and I don't think from what I see a lot of businesses.

I don't think really put a lot of thought into it from what I typically see on an ongoing basis. So what I want to first ask you is generally is there a rule of thumb that a business should follow when thinking about you know, creating the product descriptions. Well, it's so specific to the content management system that each retailer uses.

That there are a couple of general rules, but they're very general. I mean you you need to this is the the sin that most retailers commit is using what's called canned copy. Okay. It's the copy that the manufacturer of the product, you know, if you're selling blenders or whatnot, you know, this is copy that Vitamix provided to you right and you just slap it up on the website.

Well, there are how many thousands of other? Retailers out there that carry blenders including Vitamix and they all have the same coffee. So not only does it not help the Shopper at all going from site to site to site and having the exact same information but it also is not helpful to your search engine rankings because it is even though it stretched across multiple domains.

It is duplicate content. There's nothing original. About your page. So generally you will want some type of differentiating information on the page if you sell so many tens of thousands of products that you can't. Possibly hire a staff member a junior copywriter or what have you to just rephrase these then put them in as is but at least add a line or to add some commentary bring in a review from Google or from another page that's linked to your site not something from some other site.

Photo review on there or something to make that page different think of yourself if you were to shop for blender, you know, what is it going to come down to if everybody has the exact same information that leaves you with price, right? And the lowest price wins. You don't want it to be that way on your site.

So it would be extremely helpful for a shopper and for the search engines if the canned product description, which is a great. Starting point was completely rephrased and you also put some additional information on the page, but everybody's not in a position to do that. The more unique you can make your pages the better off you're going to be yeah, that's that's definitely true.

And you know what? You said. I see it all the time and surprisingly even on on Amazon. I've seen kind of what you said companies and businesses that just kind of slapped the manufacturers description right on there and you know, don't. Make any changes and yeah, I guess you could say that like you said that's really kind of a cardinal sin.

You know, there's other companies that are doing the same thing. You're copying. Your product is not going to stand out of that one bit and you know, you're not going to benefit at all from any type of you know, search engine, you know traffic or whatever because it's no uniqueness there so that the definitely make sense and I for sure have seen that now I know I know the one of the number one questions right now that I'm sure.

Businesses that are listening are wondering is okay, you know, if I go through all of this trouble I take the time to optimize all of my all of my description copy on my website. You know, let's say I've got, you know a couple hundred products on the site. How much does could this actually really?

Improve the overall conversion. I know it's just kind of a general question, but does it make that big of a difference and you know, how will they start seeing that? Well, you start seeing that with more sales, right? I mean you have dates it'll be obvious when it kicks in and it begins to not only to help.

Generate additional traffic to the page but also having customers that are reading it and going ah, look at that. I didn't know this that or the other thing. Oh Vitamix blenders will do so and so look this one says it has two additional features that the other one doesn't have you have to keep in mind that when the manufacturers are creating this copy.

They also are hiring. Junior copywriters who sit there and look at products and create a list of what the features are and what not. They don't always get it. Right right, even though it's coming from the manufacturer. They may have left out a feature or two. They may not have accurately or enticingly described how these features work into the different benefits.

Sometimes you get a paragraph of extremely. Text followed by three extremely vague bullet points, and it's really easy to improve that now as far as what result will come from improving that the copy on your descriptions. There's no way to answer that question because it would depend first of all on what shape the copies in the begin with right if other elements of the page are already optimized for search engines as far as the traffic goes, but.

Whether or not it improves your conversions will also depend on how well it's written when it's redone. But yes, we have seen instances in the past where customers have taken canned copy and replaced it with unique copy and it has both increased their search visibility for that particular page as well as increasing the conversions for that.

But it would be a matter of testing. I never recommend that eCommerce companies jump all in with both feet and say okay. We've got six thousand products on our site. Let's do them all know. How about if we take maybe three from each category and see you know, if you've already gotten to a point to where the product copy is as well done as it's going to be on.

Tickler site, then you need to be looking at other areas improving your images a lot of sites. Also use the canned images that are provided by the manufacturer looking at the SEO strategy that you have working with a company that handles search engine optimization to do that or whatever. The other elements might be because SEO and conversions are not strictly a matter of content and copy.

I mean there are lots of different things that go into that puzzle. For sure. Yeah, I would say test a few at a time and see if what you're doing is making a difference. If you begin to see that you're moving in a positive direction. When you do a test of you know, 5 or 10 or whatever then do 20 the next time.

Okay, most of those working out good. Now we do 50 the next time and progress that way right. That's some good advice because you know, like you said it doesn't make sense if you've got. Several hundred products, you know to do one fail swoop go through make all the changes that you think you should make and then kind of sit back you want to try a few and then see how that goes.

But you know, like you said there's a lot of other factors, of course when it comes to search engine optimization that you know Google and the other search engines are looking for so, you know, there's a lot of things to consider with regards to what's going to help you overall ranking. But one of the things that I know, you know business owners are also wondering and you mentioned a couple of different scenarios, you know, you have some of the businesses that have you know hundreds of products thousands and you have some of the other businesses where you know, they just have a few but let's say for those businesses that have quite a few products.

Let's say, you know, it could be close to the one hundreds, you know, do you does it really make sense to hire? Let's say a writer up front to do product descriptions because what I what I'm constantly kind of hearing is when I talk in a different business owners, though will tell me. Okay, you know, I'm not a writer I grammar is terrible.

I don't really know how to best phrase this it's not my expertise. And so they typically just kind of try to throw anything up there and you know, maybe modify some stuff for the manufacturer would it make sense for business like that to to invest in a writer upfront early on. What is your opinion on that?

There are several different ways that can be handled and it will very much depend on what the business owner has in his or her budget for website copy and other things that deal with the the production of the web pages and. How they hope to proceed in the future and the current staff that they have so we've done lots of different scenarios with all sorts of different types of econ businesses.

One is on the higher end. If you're dealing with companies that already have a staff of someone maybe that's doing their blogging and their social media and whatnot and that writer. Is interested in being trained as a copywriter we've done that before and we can we have an e-book that is only about e-commerce copywriting.

You can find that on our site at marketing words forward slash products all the products that we have or they are the digital products. So you can go that way and train somebody that already exists in your company or a new hire on how to write Ecommerce copy. You can have someone like marketing words or whoever you choose.

8 a digital Workshop a custom digital workshop for your team. If you have that you can also have somebody come into your business and do on-site training if it's a smaller company and you've only. You know a hundred or two products something like that pending on your budget. Yes, you would want to have a professional do those now.

We've also worked with smaller businesses and maybe done 20 or 30 different product descriptions. And then they see what we've done. You know, when we turn the copy in they go okay now I get an idea and then they can sort of emulate that with the rest of their product descriptions, but you'll want to watch where you cross the line of profitability.

Because when you're Outsourcing it's always going to be more expensive than if you're paying a full-time staff member a salary or if you have even a part-time person that's working on an hourly basis. It's more expensive to Outsource. So the more product descriptions you have the quicker you're going to reach.

Or actually bring that level of profitability no run your numbers and see okay. I can you know, if I have 300 that need to be done once I get to 100 it would actually be cheaper for me to hire somebody part-time to be on my staff than to keep Outsourcing this. Yeah, I see what you're saying. Yeah.

Yeah, if it's a small volume. Yeah, maybe it makes sense to just Outsource it in especially if you can hire somebody that. You know a fair amount of expertise in that and you know, you can kind of get a good bang for your buck. Like you said if it's a small amount, but yeah, if you're talkin a large volume, you know, if you're paying a per, you know, let's say a perv feed per actual description product description that can definitely add up so that make that makes total sense.

Right? Especially when you get to the you know, there are a lot of cms's that have tabs in addition to your traditional one or two paragraphs and your three three two, Bullet points down below you see tabs and it has, you know, maybe instructions or warranty information. And by the time you get done with that you're talkin about a 500 word product description, right, you know by the the paragraph up top the bullet points the title and then four tabs that each have 400, you know, a 100 words per tab or something like that.

So obviously the more text you need the higher the price is going to be so just know where that profitability break. Is so that if you get to the point to where you have so many, you know, okay, it's time to start looking for a copywriter that can be on our team as our writer and then we don't have to Outsource and pay the higher rate right right there for for sure.

Now with regards to you know, getting somebody to create this actual, you know copy for you. One of the things that I see is typically with mostly Commerce websites. You know, it could seem a little daunting at first, but the bottom line is I think what you said earlier on picking a few products upfront trying that whether you're doing it yourself or you have somebody redo the copy for those initial products initially trying that first and the bottom line is most of these businesses a lot of these businesses.

They only have a few. Main products that are kind of I guess you could say their best sellers. And so I think those were probably be the ones you want to focus on first and then all of the other, you know, ancillary products that may not sell quite as well then, you know, you can focus on those later.

So yeah the rule of starting small first definitely, you know, totally makes sense now earlier, we briefly mentioned Amazon and the sellers that I've seen on Amazon with the descriptions. Is there a really a big difference. Far as the product descriptions on Amazon versus on on a businesses only Commerce website there.

Yes, there's different rules of thumbs or things that they need to consider huge difference Amazon is one nitpicky particular little rule. Happy machine, okay. And you do not want to just take what's on your website and stick it up on Amazon because it will almost certainly flop. I have never in my life seen a company that had as many rules and regulations as Amazon does and stipulations.

If you're in this category, you have to do it this way. If you're in this other category, you have to do it another way. So if you are a general retailer that has kitchenware and you have some grocery products and you have some apparel products or you know, Like Walmart would or what have you every one of those categories probably has at least a few different rules and regulations Amazon refers to them as terms of service.

So, you know, you can write your your apparel listings and put those up on Amazon and maybe they do. Okay and you use the same strategy to do that for your grocery items and you end up getting your listings band or you know, you end up having inventory. Put on hold because your account has been suspended and things of this nature.

It's just it it can be quite frustrating if you've never done it because Amazon doesn't unfortunately when you sign up for an Amazon account, I really wish they would require you to go to a particular page that gives a general introduction to selling on Amazon, but they don't it's very much up to you to either work with someone that knows their way around well.

Or figure it out trial by fire. Well, that's that's that's really surprising that they don't have something details for the sellers. Uh, you know that are kind of like you said kind of break everything down. Um, you know, just like almost like a handbook for instance, but I guess that a position where they don't have to do that.

Well the information is there okay inside what's referred to as Seller Central which is there seller hub for information and. Acting you know, the representatives if you have questions and what have you but if you don't know what to search for you won't find it and what I wish they would do is once you sign up for an account send you an email that says download this welcome to Amazon PDF and then click to this page and read this and click to this page and click to that one and then read that one.

Then you can start selling because that'll give you a general overview. But that part they don't do. Okay. So if you don't know what to search for or where to look and Seller Central which is massive, right then you'll never find you won't even realize that you need to be looking for these terms of service because Amazon doesn't point you in that direction.

It can be a little frustrating. Yeah, I can see. Well, yeah that is that really is surprising where they they don't have anything quite like that. But I guess for whatever reason they don't they don't necessarily need to do that. Yeah, I mean it makes sense that they're that picky like you said they are you know, one of the most nitpickers pickiest companies out there and you know, they're uh, they're wallet speaks to that and I guess it I guess they haven't been that successful as successful as they are without being that that particular and yeah it really I guess it makes sense and it makes a difference now as far as.

You know businesses right now that are listening. What do you think is a quick change if if you were to let's say consult with the business right now and you had maybe 10 minutes with them. What's one quick change that you would tell them with regards to their product descriptions that they could do right now to start seeing, you know, an immediate difference in their sales.

Change those product pages so that they're not strictly can't copy. Okay, okay find a way create a template for your writers to use or something that allows them to begin with the copy provided by the manufacturer, but then incorporate something else unique to the page, preferably something that will be helpful and or interesting to Your Shopper not just.

Something that nobody else has for the sake of having it always always think of your Shopper first and you know, if you put yourself in your Shoppers shoes, if you sell blenders will just continue with that example have your staff sit down give them. Tell them you know, okay, you want a blender that has this particular criteria or maybe a blender for a certain use, you know, you want a blender that makes smoothies or something to that effect and then have to go online and shop for a blender like that and see what their experience is get them to take notes or they seeing the same exact thing over and over again, you know once they've narrowed it down.

Now I want this Vitamix blender then go shopping for the Vitamix blender chances are pretty good that they're going to see the same exact thing on Bath and Beyond and you know anybody else that has those particular blenders and it always defaults. Okay, if everybody has the exact same blender, I'm going with the cheapest one right right changing those product descriptions so that they are.

Full and unique for your customer can not only improve your conversions but many times it can also raise your bottom line because you don't have to be the cheapest. Right? Right that makes total sense and especially these days because like you said, there's so many options out there when you're trying to buy something like a blender, you know, you mentioned the Amazons a Bed Bath and Beyond, you know, you've got Best Buy, even, you know, there's just the list just goes on and on and so.

If people are looking, you know, so focused on the price and everybody has the same, you know, kind of templated description. There's no difference. But if you if you take that extra time to say okay if I'm a consumer. What am I going to be concerned about? What's going to what's gonna win me over and you know, really just got to put yourself in those their shoes.

I think that for sure go a long way right? Well Karen, we definitely appreciate you being here on the Commerce Market. Podcast I think your information to everything that you provided is going to be invaluable to our listeners. Now if anybody wants to get in touch with you, how do they do it? We have a wonderful blog at marketing words, and there's a lot of information there about product descriptions that folks can pull up and read as I mentioned before you can go to the products page.

Well, you can look up and marketing words and look up in the navigation. I think the the one that has all the different types of e-books and video series is called ebooks. And of course the blog is called blog and if services are required, you know, you can click on that link and see the different types of services we provide we also are building out our YouTube channel.

So if you go to YouTube, you can find a lot of helpful videos there and we spend a good bit of. I'm on Facebook, too. So look for marketing words on Facebook as well. Okay, great. Well, thanks again Karen. It's been a pleasure having you on eCommerce marketing pack podcasts and uh, you know, you have a great day.

Thanks Arlene you to thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast. You need to get more feedback and reviews from your customers and improve your customer retention. We have made it easy to do all of this with our Advanced customer feedback software just visit get. Side forward slash feedback and sign up for a free trial today.

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Podcast Guest Info

Karon Thackston