6 Thoughts on How to Grow Your Online Store Through Better Messaging

When it comes to dropshipping and running an online store, a lot is said about SEO, paid ads and visuals, but more needs to be discussed about the messages conveyed with these ads, as well as with posts, newsletters, and even website texts. Quality copy isn’t just fluff. It can supercharge everything – from click-through rates to sales conversions. We’ve seen firsthand that merchants are creating appealing stores with exciting products from our catalog. However, the messaging accompanying these stores and products often falls short, which can affect sales. If you’re selling great products, your messaging should reflect their quality. Here are some thoughts on this topic, hopefully, helpful in growing your online business:

  1. Don’t be generic! Don’t use dull, vague copy like “very good pillows” or “quality shovels.” These say nothing and are just background noise. You won’t stand out or be memorable to a potential client. If you choose stronger messages, you will not speak to everyone, but there’s a much greater chance that at least someone will like your store and the products you provide. There are so many online stores around. If you say that you just sell shoes, you look like another shoe store, and the world doesn’t need another generic shoe store. Ultimately, most small online stores are niche stores and must match the right products with the right target group. For example, when creating our own shoe store for the Estonian market,  Saapavabrik (on track to make more than 300k of sales this year), we tried generic messages like “quality boots.” Still, statements such as “boots compliant with NATO standards” or even “No-nonsense boots that are not for everyone” worked much better. We soon understood that our ideal customers are people who value quality, but instead of big brand names, they prefer local products that are locally made. We even link from our shoe store to Dr. Martens and Vagabond’s websites and tell our visitors that our shoes are only for some, and if you prefer big brands, we are not for you. When we initially ran ads for red Aviator boots, the headline for the ad was, “These boots are probably not for you.” We still run a Facebook ad that starts with “Damn, these boots are…”. And people comment, “Swearing isn’t nice…”. Well, we really enjoyed coming up with the fun copies.
  2. The message and the store have to match. Keep in mind that the message should align with your store – for instance, don’t claim your products are eco-friendly if they aren’t. Similarly, if you claim to care about your customers, how do you go the extra mile to show it? Are you following up on every order to check if customers are satisfied? Are you quick and empathetic in responding to customer emails and resolving issues? For example, at Saapavabrik, we send new insoles for free when the original ones wear down. It costs us about 5 euros, but this extra effort and expense show our commitment to customer care. “Everybody says stuff – separate yourself from the competition by really being what you say. In the end: what you do is who you are. Also, in the early stages of an online store, a ‘better message’ might not immediately lead to a purchase. It could be something that earns more likes or attracts more visitors, as immediate purchases are unlikely. Sales will follow later; the first goal is to get attention.
  3. Don’t go solo; team up with your AI sidekick! If you are one of the few who haven’t yet to used ChatGPT, please do. It makes your life much easier, especially when you are like me and don’t enjoy writing. I’ll give you an idea of how to use ChatGPT – jot down some ideas for ads (e.g., made in Europe; 2-year warranty; handmade; made of upcycled felt; 5-star products.) and ask the AI to generate texts for Facebook ads. Or paste the product or brand description to ChatGPT and ask to generate Google ads texts. If you haven’t played with ChatGPT before, you can ask the AI, “How can you help me write better ad copy for Google ads?”.
  4. User-generated content rules. According to Shopify, user-generated content is 8.7 times more impactful than influencer content. And user-generated reviews, photos, videos, blog posts, comments, shares, and likes are seen as three times more authentic than brand-created content. It’s more convincing if your customers say how good your products are instead of you telling them that. If you already have user-generated content and have approval, use it everywhere. If you don’t and are just starting your online business, follow up on every order and ask the customer if they are happy with the order. If you get positive feedback, ask if you can use it. If the feedback is not favorable, you at least learned something. In the early days of Saapavabrik, we wrote to every customer asking if they were satisfied and in case they were, we asked if we could use their comment in the store, ads and social media. Some of this feedback we have used as content for more than 2 years, and it still works. There are lots of solutions that enable to automate post-purchase experience, including asking for reviews. Still, asking them with a regular person-to-person email worked much better for us.
  5. Test different messages and visuals. Both Google and Facebook, as well as your website, allow you to quickly test various messaging. Most of you have new stores, and initially, it can be quite tricky to figure out whether a client relates to “handmade,” “sustainable,” “Trusted by NATO,” or something else. For example, one bag store selling products Hertwill provides discovered to their surprise, that ads with warranty information cost much less per click than other variations.
  6. Be consistent! Once you find messages that work better, use them so much and for so long that you get sick of them. And then use them even more. When you’re sick of these messages, the first real customers will start to understand; some will even begin to remember. For instance, if the distinguishing value prop is “All our bags are handmade in Europe,” it should be present in every ad, post, newsletter, and transactional email, even if it is a side note. Of course, this should also be reflected in the online store where you start taking customers from the ads. We have an investor-backed growth-hacker mentor who starts every other LinkedIn post with, “I’ve scaled my own startup to €13M in 2 years”. It’s nauseating, but the message sticks, as you can see me mentioning here. Once you find effective text or visual content, you can coast on it for a long time. For instance, we’ve run Saapavabrik mainly with the same texts and messages for 2,5 years, and they still convert.

At Hertwill, we’re not just about selling products. We offer products and brands with a story. It’s easier to write a great ad or website copy when the stuff you write about is excellent and has a great story. Take the Estonian design brand Lentsius for example. Their items aren’t churned out in factories; they’re handcrafted from the remnants of the metal and wood industries and sold in design stores in Japan. And Samelin? Their boots don’t just ‘meet standards.’ They match NATO’s rigor, and their former partners include Rossignol and Dr. Martens. Then, there are Nordhale’s upcycled PET felt bags, lovingly handmade, and Craftory’s leather bags, boasting a limited lifetime warranty. This is why we emphasize that if you sell the products Hertwill provides, use the strengths of these products in your marketing messaging.


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