The Inverted Pyramid of Ecommerce Copywriting

Great Copy Sells Ecommerce Products Faster

Ecommerce Copywriting
Ecommerce Copywriting. Luciano Lozano / Ikon Images / Getty Images

I do not want this to parallel the snitch (in the Harry Potter movie) that displays the message, "I open at the close," but the message being presented in this article will sound equally paradoxical. The inverted pyramid style of ecommerce copywriting basically implies that you state the conclusion right up front.

What Exactly Is the Inverted Pyramid?

When I was in my early years of schooling, my teachers told me that a good essay followed a structure that built up the premise.

So, we first had the introduction. Then we examined various sides of the issue at hand. After some more deliberation and examination of examples, we proceeded to the conclusion. In the present context, we could call this approach the regular pyramid.

What the inverted pyramid does is to state the conclusion right up front. From there we proceed to supporting the conclusion, and then we examine minor points. To that extent it is an inversion of what we were taught in essay writing, and hence we call this structure the inverted pyramid.

What Is the Reason to Choose the Inverted Pyramid Structure of Sales Copy?

There are two situations where an inverted pyramid structure would be the ideal choice:

  1. When the reader is not engaged enough to want to read till the end. The inverted pyramid structure would ensure that the most important message is communicated right up front.
  2. When the reader has largely made up her / his mind about the course of action, and would really like to "cut to the chase."

    How Does the Inverted Pyramid Related to Ecommerce?

    If you re-read the two situations listed above, you would notice that they seem to have "ecommerce" stamped all over them. Some customers might read your headline, glance at your image and then skim through your sales copy. Would it not be a good idea to push through the main idea immediately?

    At the same time, there are other customers who are ready to make an impulse purchase. They do not need to listen to your long story. Just one or two major factors would nudge them along to buy. Wouldn't it be a good idea to get those major points out of the way, and encourage the customer to add the product to the shopping cart?

    What Are the Advantages of the Inverted Pyramid Structure of Communication?

    In a nutshell, an inverted pyramid structure:

    • is more efficient
    • allows the reader to stop reading, yet gain the essence of the write-up.

    Are There Any Disadvantages to the Inverted Pyramid?

    The disadvantage would manifest itself if the customer was not in any hurry, and would like to read the whole sales copy. By stating the conclusion as well as the other most important messages up front, you really have little value in what follows. As the customer keeps reading your copy, she / he increasingly feels that "this is all fluff." In another minute this feeling could get reinforced.

    Final Words

    This article is one of my last in a long series of articles related to the sales copy on your ecommerce website. As part of this series, I introduced readers to WET; a principle that I am credited for conceptualizing.

    I also weighed in on the debate about focusing on customer benefits vs. product features. I also explored the nuances of consistency of tone in your writing, and did not overlook the important issue of the word count of your product page.

    Now the ball is in your court. As a seasoned ecommerce professional, you need to make some important decisions. You need to decide the tone, structure, headline, and positioning of your written communication. Making the right decision here would go a long way in improving your sales numbers. While images, visuals, and video play a huge role in ecommerce today, the written word still occupies the place of prime importance.