Category Archives: Words Which Sell

Your Jaw will Drop When You Read these Headlines

Oh my goodness. It worked.jaw drop

You actually clicked to this article based on my cliché headline and a blurry pic of a hospital mannequin.

Let’s figure out why.

I just saw a version of the headline earlier today on a sponsored article and wondered, what is it about the secret, the awful, and the surprising that makes us click to read?

According to Psychology Today,

Humans seek out news of dramatic, negative events. These experts say that our brains evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment where anything novel or dramatic had to be attended to immediately for survival. So while we no longer defend ourselves against saber-toothed tigers, our brains have not caught up.

Fast Company suggest several psychological theories that are responsible for getting us to act. Persuaders often tap into ultimate terms.

Certain words carry more power than others. This theory breaks persuasive words into three categories:

God terms: those words that carry blessings or demand obedience/sacrifice. e.g, progress, value
Devil terms: those terms that are despised and evoke disgust. e.g., fascist, pedophile
Charismatic terms: those terms that are intangible, less observable than either God or Devil terms. e.g., freedom, contribution

Headlines that Produce Clicks

The following “you should know better” lines might be helpful the next time you create content for ads or articles. Tell us your favorites.

“TV Host Reveals Real Hair”

Just change up this click-getter for anything.  We want the truth. Here’s another example- SEO Guru Reveals Real Algorithms.

“Epic Prank Pulled on So and So”

You could create an entire video series based on spoofs and pranks. People like anything funny- or not. Are you selling facial cream for a company? Try something like “Her Wrinkle Cream is Not a Prank.”

“12 Things Only People with Lots of Kids Understand”

This headline makes your customer feel smart because he or she is in on the advice. It also appeals to those who want to know more about something they lack. Switch out parents and kids for dog lovers and dogs. Dress up the phrase for writers and work or accountants and clients, etc.

“10 Pumpkin Spice Latte Hacks Every Coffee Lover Must Try”

Again, we want to know your secrets. What lies over there in the greener pastures of hidden hacks? Anything “hacks” shows off your trendy.

“The Weirdest Thing I Saw At My Conference”

The weirdest anything appeals to one’s inner weird. Could there be people weirder than you? Worst yet, maybe the stuff you do is consider weird?  Use the word to harness your targeted demographic with something the audience does or a trait it has.

“This Trick Could Save You Hundreds”

Because most people want to save money and aren’t doing so, show how your product or service will help Christmas to come early this year.

“New Craze Wipes Out Slow Computers”

What is this new craze that everyone else knows about, but I don’t? New crazes are manufactured everyday because phrases like this one bring the clicks.

“Everyone is Voting for” or “The Numbers Prove”

You’ve heard these lines from candidates and they work for products and services, too because basically few people check their facts. If you say it’s true, it must be. Tell the population this enough and it’ll become fact.  Of course, there are a few advertising rules you need to be mindful of and organizations like Truth in Advertising that will expose pathetic claims. The FTC says,

Under the law, claims in advertisements must be truthful, cannot be deceptive or unfair, and must be evidence-based. For some specialized products or services, additional rules may apply.

Eh, such a spoiler, but the industry needs rules. Get familiar with them.

What makes you click and why?

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Filed under Advertorial Writing, Audience, Capturing Audience, Email Campaigns, Introductions, Marketing, PPC, Queries & Articles, Search Engine Marketing, Speech Openers, Words Which Sell

#Marketing Tips from an Unsuspecting Italian Leather Shop Owner

The leather aroma emanating from Dante’s Leather Shop Sas in Florence– or Firenze, as the Italians call it, was hard to resist. There were many pop up tents on the cobblestone street with vendors displaying leather jackets, but this store seemed real—something requiring rent and a permit.  I wasn’t looking for a fake coat, but a reputable product as a birthday present for my husband.

Greet the Customer.Italian store

After two minutes eyeballing a multitude of coats, I spotted one I liked and a stocky, older gentleman approached me.  He asked in Italian if he could help me. When I asked in Spanish if he spoke English, he quickly obliged and began his pitch.

But, I wasn’t ready to buy. I just wanted to know if

  1. the leather was real,
  2. would the coat fit my husband,
  3. and how much the coat cost.

Demonstrate the Product.

He showed off this particular long jacket like it was a prop in a Penn and Teller act.

To answer my first question, he pulled out a lighter and held the flame against the outside of the coat. It did not ignite. “If it was a fake it would burn,” he said.

I don’t know if the lighter thing is true or not, but having grown up around saddles, I could smell the leather and trusted my nose. I was intrigued by his magic trick and felt comfortable moving from question one to question three.

Overcome Objections.

How much? (That would give me another indicator as to the validity of his answer to question one.)  He gave me a price and I put the coat back on a hanger. Holy cow. These are expensive.

He paused, stopped me, and walked to his counter, returning with an envelope.

“Let me show you how I’m going to save you 14%,” he said, as he detailed the duty free procedures he’d and I‘d follow, so that I’d receive a refund of Italy’s retail tax.  He pulled out past receipts and explained how it worked for other customers. (So, jump on the bandwagon.)

Since this was my first store and leather shopping experience in 2015, I wasn’t sure if his base price was legit.  I wasn’t ready to buy, but kept listening.

“This is a gentleman’s coat,” he said, brushing the length of the jacket with the back of his hand and straightening the collar. “A beautiful coat!  Notice the two tones. This is a popular style for men today.  What size is your husband?”

I had no idea. “He’s taller than you, but not as stocky in the shoulders,” I said.

Without missing a beat, the man put the coat on and said, “And he probably doesn’t have as big of a belly. I apologize. I enjoy our Italian pasta too much.” The ice was broken and I smiled.

The coat looked tight. Then, I remembered pictures I had on my phone and found them. Before holding my phone to look at the pictures, the salesman politely asked, “May I?” Just a small detail, but he knew enough to ask permission before he continued moving me through the sales funnel.

In the photo, I was standing next to my husband on the beach. The craftsman immediately put the coat back on the hanger and pulled out another size.  “This is the one,” he announced.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

He wasn’t insulted, but assured me after fitting so many men, that he knew his sizes.  He also gave me his card and said that if he was wrong, I could return the coat and he’d send the correct size.  This didn’t 100% comfort me, as I imagined shipping charges between countries and the uncertainty of dealing with issues from afar, but he was trying and answered with patience.

My final concern was the train travel ahead and the coat getting stolen during the journey. I once again put it back on the hanger and the man’s face fell. I’m sure he thought he’d never see me again because time and distance kills many sales. “I am coming back through the area in a couple days,” I said.  “I’ll swing by then.”

He nodded and I left.  Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if I’d be back.  I breathed easier after leaving. I was free of the pressure to buy, but over the next couple days, I looked online at leather coats and found most to be more expensive. I also browsed other leather shops in the area and found that Dante’s price was indeed reasonable.  The coat would be a good buy and a classy gift for my husband.  So, I went back and bought it.

Apply Interpersonal Salesmanship to Digital Marketing

We can learn from this Italian businessman.  He did not intend to teach anything, but we can connect these parallel digital applications.

Invest in a legitimate website.

Don’t skimp on a pop up tent that’s a few pages with thin offerings of products and content. Invest in a mobile-friendly site and plan your navigational flow to include each category offering you sell.  By now, you’ve heard that Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm goes live April 21, 2015. Pay the money to sell from a proper site and hire writers to produce relevant and convincing content. Shoppers want to shop where carts are secure, pages quickly render, and flawless images and words are helpful.

Offer your assistance before the customer leaves.

Give customers a few moments to look through your store, but do greet them.  Many online businesses provide chat services to help shoppers find products or ask questions.  These can annoy, so configure your settings appropriately to avoid chasing away potential customers with pushiness.

Anticipate shopper questions.

Shoppers ask the same questions and have the same concerns that other shoppers express. Overtime, you learn what customers will ask. Answering these repetitive questions can get tiring.  However, customers want to feel important. Thoroughly and patiently answer each question. Whether in person or through the Internet, you’ll improve sales with a one-on-one approach.

The Italian shop keeper answered questions in the order I asked them.  He didn’t jump ahead to other predictable topics. He answered what I wanted to know when I wanted to know it. Another customer might have asked the same questions, but in a different order.  He didn’t assume I was someone else.  He personalized his answers to my agenda.

Your website should thoroughly answer the questions that are asked every day in your store. Create videos or FAQ pages to explain common or complex information. Give customer traffic the flexibility to choose what they want to know when they want to know it. Offer product reviews on your site for the insight and comfort other customers provide.

Speak your customer’s language.

Later in my trip, I walked into a café where the cashier was not going to try to speak English or even meet me in the middle with Spanish. Ridiculous, right?

Not really.

It’s easy to forget that your website might be giving the same cold shoulder to potential leads from abroad. If you want more tourists to buy, communicate in the language and with the expressions they understand. The leather shop owner quickly adapted his initial greeting from Italian to English, overcoming my first sales hurdle—language inadequacy. You might consider offering an online chat service in multiple languages for customers who visit your site.  Thank goodness for Google Translate, but even so, can you make your site friendlier to foreign shoppers? Is your site’s reading level accurate for various ages and fluencies of your customers?

Know and love your product like a craftsman.

The Italian store owner knew his product and business. Your website should also demonstrate your breadth of expertise. Provide details and demonstrate passion for what you’re selling. Think of concrete word pictures, phrases, and examples to help customers visualize using your products. Offer images with close ups and 360 degree views. What might the product look like on a small, medium, or large person?

Know your competition and how well your products are priced, as compared to competitor’s products.  Some companies have in-house experts write their content and then hire content companies to edit for SEO-friendliness, grammar, and usage.

Be polite.

Your brand’s tone does make a difference.  Respect your customer’s intelligence and interest with the words you choose.

Offer a no hassle return policy.

If you offer a great product, then your return policy ought to be friendly to offset customer indecisiveness or concerns about your legitimacy. A no hassle return policy communicates that your business is for real.

Let your customer leave.

If you’ve accurately priced your product and you know that your product is of quality, then don’t sweat when a customer leaves.  Sometimes people need space to see that you offered a good deal.

But honestly, the Italian shop owner knew my leaving wasn’t ideal. You will lose a percentage of sales when potential customers leave, so address their concerns while in your store without being pushy. Some retailers provide competitor comparison charts on sub-category or product pages to demonstrate competitive price or product details. The Italian shop owner offered to directly ship the coat overseas so I wouldn’t have to carry it with me—an alternative that I determined was too expensive, but at least he was accomodating.

After the sale, invite customers to return.

It was a simple phrase the man said after the coat was in the bag and I was leaving the store…

“Thank you for shopping with us.  I hope next time you visit Florence, you will treat yourself to something, as well.”

Oh gosh. That was good.

He’s right. What about me?

Unknowingly, I wrestled with my pragmatic inner-voice. It scolded, “You got the trip. Your husband gets the birthday coat.” But, another inner-voice snapped back, “The salesman is right. You deserve this. You could be getting a good deal, too!”

What a smart phrase to zing customers with at the end.

Be an expert salesman online.

Whether you’re a shop keeper with one store and no online presence or a major retailer with thousands of SKUs and hundreds of global stores, finely tuned inter-personal skills applied to each and every transaction add up over time.  Bring those traditional business practices to today’s platforms and you’ll increase sales like a pro.

 

~Jean

 

 

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Filed under Algorithms, Audience, Branding, Capturing Audience, Customer Profile, E-Tail Category Content, Marketing, Merchandising, Personas, Product Descriptions, Reviews, Sales, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Words Which Sell

How to Hook Readers without Swearing in Headlines

hookEverywhere you look, people are playing fast and loose with language—even on “family”-oriented sitcoms! Inappropriate language and cussing are becoming more and more commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they are in any way acceptable in articles or blogs. As writers, we should be able to use a wide array of language to catch the attention of the audience without cussing or using inappropriate language.  The headline is the part of the article that will make readers want to read—don’t waste that with poorly-chosen or inappropriate words. Here are some tips to catch readers’ attention without swearing.

Use clever wording to hook readers. Alliteration is always an amazing answer to your search for alternative wording! Alliteration, as demonstrated in the previous sentence, is the repetition of a letter (or sound) of words in a phrase, such as “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” This requires you to flex your creative muscles in order to find the best words to use, but it also works as a great attention-getter in articles or blogs. Hooking readers with alliteration can also play throughout the article to keep hold of the attention of the readers and refer back to the title, making the article well-rounded and well-written.

Use an informative quote as your headline. Not only will this give readers a small insight into what your article is about, but it will show your readers that you’ve put in effort and done research as well as involving the community to produce a complete article. So many articles and blog posts these days are incomplete or poorly researched, so by showing readers that you put effort into writing because you enjoy it, it is likely that the work will shine through in the article and your readers will feel more engaged. Involving other members of the community also helps keep the attention of the readers, because they will be able to identify more with the article and it will be more important to the readers.

Reveal just a tidbit about your article. Paint a picture and reach out to the emotions of the readers. The goal of an article’s title is to pique the reader’s interest and reveal what will come in the article that will interest them. For example, if you’re writing a human interest piece about how the “downtown” portion of your city is taking shape, but it’s affecting pedestrians and bicyclists, try to portray the way in which the changes are affecting them. Try something such as, “Downtown Changes Mean Pedestrians and Cyclists Must Cross Paths.” The readers do not yet know whether crossing paths is a good thing or a bad thing, so they’ll keep reading to find out. The next challenge is keeping them interested paragraph after paragraph.

Use a question as a headline. “Will Changes to Downtown Spell Disaster for Small Businesses?” This asks a question that pertains to the community, the article, the readers, tugs at emotions, and may open up a new window of discussion. The audience will continue to read the article to find the answer, reasoning, and various expanded explanations as to why the question was brought to light. To ensure the undivided attention of the audience, use each paragraph for a different explanation or different reasoning before you answer the question at hand. Don’t overdo it, though, the reader will still want a quick, somewhat concise answer that won’t take them 45 minutes to sort out.

Overall, there are many ways to hook the attention of an audience without resorting to inappropriate language.  Alliteration, quotes, or questions and painting pictures for your readers to “pique and reveal” will create interest in your article.  Keep their attention throughout the article, which is the ultimate goal of any writer. PR Daily reminds us not to waste the space or take for granted the power that comes with a good headline because poorly-worded headlines are often simply skipped over by readers. Ask an editor to review your article to double-check that your headline works.

Get those creative juices flowing with the next article and write a strong headline to hook your readers! ~Hollyheadline

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Filed under Capturing Audience, Expository Writing, Introductions, Narrative Writing, Newsletters, Persuasive Essay, Revising & Proofreading, Words Which Sell

Nothing Fits “All of Your Needs”

The phrase appears everywhere.  Our service or products will fit “all of your needs.”  Wow!  This is it.  I’ve hit the Holy Grail.  ALL of my needs.  Where do I sign up??  I need a new wardrobe.  I need someone to wash my dog.  I need more time to watch Shark Tank Tuesdays.  I need a vacation.  And on and on…

The reality is, nothing fits “all of your needs.”  Not any one person, company, or product.  A search of Google yields about 121,000,000 results for “all of your needs.”  That large a number says that there are a lot of people and businesses that believe they can do it all.  (Humorous sidetrack:  the number one search result on Google for “all of your needs” returns a link to a Bible passage from Philippians 4:19 that says, “And my God will meet all your needs.” Score one for the big guy.)

Delete trite phrases

Delete trite phrases

One of the lessons that should be taught to content writers during their Marketing 101 course is to avoid using the phrase “all of your needs” in copy.  Forever.  In fact, there should be a law against using such a trite phrase that’s guaranteed to underdeliver.  Besides “all of your needs,” the Harvard Business Review released their own Bizspeak Blacklist of overused word phrases that display an absence of actual thought.  Some offenders:

  • Think outside the box

  • Mission-critical

  • Hit the ground running

  • Push the envelope

  • Value-added

  • Level the playing field

SHIFT Communications took overuse of a trite phrase one step further and sampled 62,768 press releases from 2013.  Their goal was to find the top 50 most overused words marketers penned in press releases.  Do you use (or overuse) any of these:  new, first, most, leading, best, great, largest, better, special, or better?  If so, you are not alone.  They made the 50 most overused words in press releases list for 2013 along with mobile, professional, current, real, and top.

4 Steps To Avoid Trite Marketing Phrases

  1. Describe what makes your item or service unique from others like it.  This is your chance to take a 30-second elevator pitch and translate into a few short sentences.  Some items to cover in your written description may include a guarantee, something that will be fixed, benefits when used, and specialties that will stand out from the crowd.

  1. Wrap your product around words that trip the senses.  Effective copy crafts words that make the reader believe they cannot possibly live without the product or service.  Paint a word picture that appeals to one or more of the five senses.  Create a sensory experience with words that let’s the reader see a vision, remember a smell, or desire to touch.  For inspiration, click on a few of the products from one of the best eCommerce brands today that knows how to appeal to the senses.  The Duluth Trading Company uses humor through the words on their t-shirt product descriptions.  One solves the problem of confronting the unsightly shock of happening upon someone with a much-feared “Plumbers Butt.”

  1. Share a true story or testimonial.  For marketers, nothing is better than word-of-mouth referrals where one customer sells another on a product or service.  BazaarVoice, a leader in gathering product or service reviews, reports that items with positive feedback convert 12.5% better than those without.  Let the praises of your customers sing for others and add their words in a quote format to your marketing copy.

  1. Appeal to the imagination.  The art of poetry is lost.  Bring wordsmithing back with words that evoke images for your products or services.  Words to Use is a website that can help remove writer’s block and find the right words about anything.  Can you describe a rose?

While you won’t be able to entirely eliminate trite phrases from your writing, editing with a mind toward using words with sizzle will bring your marketing prose to the next level.

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Content, Descriptive Writing, Narrative Writing, Revising & Proofreading, The Writing Process, Words Which Sell, Writer's Block

The Versatile Voice: How to change your writing to match your client or audience

My Web WritersVersatile Writer

Just as an artist can portray the image of another person in their work, so too can a writer. One of the important roles of a freelance writer is to be able to write in their client’s voice. This is important for creating a consistent brand and to ensure that content flows smoothly between the web site, blog, social media and marketing materials. But for writers who excel at creating a very distinct voice for their own writing, learning to take on the voice of a client can be challenging. Here are several ways to help create a versatile voice that can be shaped to fit the personality and style of many different people.

Learn the Lingo

Every industry has its own set of commonly used words and terminologies. As a writer, you’re not expected to be familiar with such terms from the start, but you should make the effort to learn them as you go. This will help you to use the terms accurately and create a natural voice for your clients. Aside from common terms, each business will also have its own preference for how it refers to certain aspects of the business. For example, should you use the word clients or customers? Does the business prefer a certain acronym or shortened version of its name? It’s important to learn these preferences and to use them throughout each writing project to create a genuine voice.

Feel the Rhythm

This is subtle, but important. The rhythm of writing from one person to another can vary greatly. Some people prefer lengthy and complex sentences while others keep each thought short and simple. In order to portray the same rhythm of your client’s own writing, you should review any work they have written. Take note to their particularities. Maybe they like to start a paragraph by asking a question or maybe they’re very liberal with their use of exclamation points. All of these small nuances have a big impact on the overall feel and style of the writing.

Be Consistent

Switching back and forth between multiple writing projects for a variety of clients can make creating a consistent voice a challenge. You need to remember the style that best represents each client and be able to quickly get into this mindset every time you write for them. For readers to believe that you are that person or business, you must remain consistent in your voice. Even the most subtle changes in terminology or sentence structure can make the transition in content awkward and disingenuous. Once you write several pieces for a client, be sure to reference them when starting your next project. This will refresh their voice and reset your writing style.

The job of a freelance writer is no easy task. You must develop a unique writing style to first get noticed, but then be able to let go of this style to take on the voice of a client at a moment’s notice. The ability to be versatile in your writing is invaluable. Remember to familiarize yourself with your client’s commonly used terminology, use their writing rhythm and be consistent with this style across all projects. ~Stephanie


Other Posts:

Reflections from a Curator- Ideas for Capturing Audience

Attention-Getting Phrases and Buzz Words

Tell a Better Story: Tips and Tricks from Mark Twain

Content for Less, Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

How to Write Marketing Content that Americans Like

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Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Words Which Sell

Learn from Websites with Above-the-Fold Content

By My Web Writers

It’s amazing how many e-commerce companies don’t offer content in the top half of their web pages.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but an Internet page without words is an opportunity missed and it leaves room for confusion.

When we write content for e-commerce sites, the ultimate goal is to entice consumers to buy the website’s products or services.  Written content is an additional tool in your conversion toolbox.

Let’s see how above-the-fold content successfully reaches out to customers on the following websites:

Starbucks

Starbucks warms its readers up to a cupful of coffee with its content.

Starbucks

The adjectives and story go down smoothly and the font sizes and styles are easy on the eyes.  There’s an obvious call to action that drives the reader deeper into the purchasing funnel.  Starbucks doesn’t confuse the reader with too many choices.

Baby Einstein

Each page at Baby Einstein ties together what you see with how you use it. Baby Einstein

Sharing ideas about how to play with and teach baby using Baby Einstein products is exactly what new parents and Google appreciate.

Fanimation

You can use words to better direct traffic through your site. Fanimation

Fanimation invites customers to take personal tours through the major categories in their fan store.

American Spice

AS Baking Content

 

The content on this American Spice category page marries baking with memories from a certain time of year.  You can create emotional and psychological connections to categories or products with word pictures.  We like the play on the words, “Hot Deals” with spices warming up customers.  However, the link takes buyers to a horizontal category page verses a vertical product page. This link might serve better at the bottom of the baking supplies page, after customers have searched through all of the products, but still are looking for more suggestions. We’d also change the graphic’s wording into two sentences.

Amazon

Amazon isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done and it ranks at the top of search engine results. Amazon tv

Notice that Amazon also moves buyers deeper into television verticals through the content linking.  Some people notice words before they notice pictures.  Don’t forget the words!

White CastleWhite Castle

White Castle has a social media presence to go with their yummy pictures.  They haven’t forgotten to make your mouth-water with words that sell burgers!  Notice they suggest how to freeze and reheat sliders.  Did you know how to do that?  Now, you might buy a few extra just to try a reheated, late-night snack at home.

White Castle offers recipes and videos to sell even more burgers. Show people how to eat and they will eat!

 Your Favorite?

What are some of your favorite above-the-fold content pieces?  Share them with us!


Other Posts:

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

10 Content Tips for ZMOT Experts

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases for E-commerce Content

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Filed under Capturing Audience, E-Tail Category Content, Website Linking, Words Which Sell

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases for E-commerce Content

by My Web Writerscall to action

“Click here!” “Buy today!” “Limited time only!” We’ve seen them all, and ignored most of them. Not all e-commerce call-to-action phrases are creative. Most of them are incredibly cliché and really don’t motivate the reader to do much of anything.

You want to be different. You want to stand out. In order to do this put on your thinking cap and let your creative juices flow. Don’t use the same words that everyone else uses. Turn to a thesaurus if you need to and make sure you’re thinking outside the box.

Try these 25 effective, call-to-action phrases in your ecommerce content:

  1. Just hit Reply and we’ll email you the details.
  2. Entice him with x, y, and z.
  3. Impress when you dress in x, y, and z.
  4. Think (insert topic here).
  5. Get the 411.
  6. Come hang with us.
  7. Write!
  8. Tell us you want it.
  9. Put it in my closet.
  10. Use it ASAP.
  11. Make my friends jealous.
  12. Explore the product.
  13. Book a table.
  14. Take a chance today.
  15. Achieve more now.
  16. Build my collection.
  17. Learn how to profit.
  18. Improve my life.
  19. Make me (look, smell, dress, etc.) better.
  20. Check it out.
  21. Some of our customer favorites are x, y, and z.
  22. Try popular styles like x, y, and z.
  23. Our top sellers, such as X and Y, receive outstanding reviews.
  24. Shop for other items like x including y and z.
  25. Our most linked to products are x, y, and z.

Remember that calls to action aren’t only about the words. Experiment with fonts, size, and placement on the page.  Feel free to be creative while enticing shoppers to buy more!

~Natalie

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Filed under Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Merchandising, Product Descriptions, Words Which Sell