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The Natural History Museum in Kensington, London, has a new online store.

It's responsive, has chunky buttons and is easy to read. However, rather than provide a full review of the website (check it out for yourself), I wanted to highlight the brilliant copywriting.

Hopefully it'll prove inspiring for your own product copy.

I'm going to look at a smattering of pages, highlighting how copy is fun, informative, true to the museum and SEO beneficial.

Scientifically correct copy

First of all, an important point and one you'd expect the NHM to cover. The product copy is scientifically accurate, by which I mean the 'standing T. rex soft toy' is not the 'standing T-Rex soft toy' or even the 'standing T. Rex soft toy'.

The species name, rex, is lower case and the genus, Tyrannosaur, is always capitalised and can be abbreviated. The name is italicised, too, as is convention.

The NHM will be well versed in scientific correctness and indeed every business should know the ways in which it could hoist itself by its own petard.

standing T. rex soft toy

Fun and erudite copy that ticks SEO boxes

Below is the product copy from the toy shown above. There are three mentions of 'T. rex', two mentions of 'soft', two mentions of 'posable', and a 'cuddly', 'dinosaur', 'adjustable', 'playtimes', 'bend' and 'pose' thrown in.

That ticks the box for product copy that plays well with search engines.

What I find more impressive is the sign-off phrase of 'the softest posable dinosaur in all of prehistory'. In fact, it's probably my favourite sentence in all of ecommerce. It plays to knowledgable parents and perfectly hits the note of joyous didacticism that the NHM is so good at finding.

nhm shop product copy

Additional product details are customer-focused

Staying with the standing T. rex soft toy for a moment, the additional product details are spot on.

What this copywriter has done is to understand what the adult wants to find in this section. Detail on size is fairly prosaic but important. And rather than list the actual materials used and that it conforms to safety regulations, the copy speaks of 'soft materials' and 'extremely child friendly'. This is what the parent wants to hear.

Of course, more detail would be helpful if a buyer was concerned about allergies or age range suitability, but in this case we can assume these concerns are all met by the copy below.

standing t. rex addiitonal product details

Other great copy from across the store

Web exclusives are advertised prominently on product listings.

A great tactic for encouraging the impulse buy online. Small copy changes can make a difference to conversion rates.

web exclusive products

What is a museum shop for other than providing 'thoughtful things'.

Category copy here that really hits the mark and fits the category in question - 'freshly picked for you.'

category copy nhm shop

This carousel image on the shop homepage says 'find your favourite dinosaur.' The NHM is well aware of the fascination with dinosaurs, it comes from their undoubted cool appearance but also from that Victorian addiction to classification. Everyone has a favourite and this copy appeals to those that will be keen on searching out a Baryonyx, or other connoisseur's choice of great lizard.

dinosaur category

The jewellery category header covers all the bases for customer personas. Not only are 'her' and 'him' mentioned, but the range of adjectives ensures that all will be enticed in, whether after the beautiful, unusual, sleek or stylish.

jewellery category

Can't beat some homepage puns to keep the shopper's smiling.

'See the favourites that everyone's roaring about.' 

bestsellers nhm shop

More great product copy

Here's a coffee table book for adults that's pitched perfectly.

Note the sentence, 'a great gift for those who enjoy Wildlife Photographer of the Year.'

house in the woods product page

The Triceratops soft toy rattle is promoted in terms of the stimulation and exploration it affords a child.

It also includes more nicely judged and fun copy. 'Think all dinosaurs are fearsome and ferocious? Not these cute and cuddly creations.'

(click to visit page)

dinky triceratops

The leopard egg cup.

His handsome face will look fantastic on the breakfast table. An ideal quirky gift.

leopard egg cup

More T. rex brilliance here.

Caution, uninvited guests. The unchallenged lord of the dinosaurs is keeping guard, lashing out from bedroom walls in a terrifying holographic display.

T.rex wall poster

For further reading, check out Graham Charlton's guide to ecommerce product pages.

Ben Davis

Published 7 July, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (21)

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dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

The 404 page is fantastic: http://www.nhmshop.co.uk/abcdefg

almost 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

!!!!

WOAH

!!!!

almost 2 years ago

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Milly Shaw

Some really lovely touches, especially the SEO-rich dino copy.

But am I the only person that finds 'him/her' a really lazy form of gift classification? People's tastes and preferences are more complex than such a simple binary.

almost 2 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

@Milly: From a human point of view I agree completely. From a brand point of view I think:

1. People do shop that way - I've seen the stats many times over the years on ecommerce sites.
2. If done right, it's a useful way of filtering down from a very wide selection of products, to those that are specifically male/female (the obvious examples being necklaces & cufflinks)
3. Very happy to see that an apron is one of the top results in the NHM's "For him" gift category - they've obviously put a bit of thought into it from a sensible, human point of view rather than an overly stereotypical gender point of view.

On a vaguely related topic - have you seen this beautiful idea? http://zheng3.com/faire-play/ - 3D printed armour for barbies.

dan

ps. disclosure - I helped NHM in planning the project, but super early on before any of these types of decisions would even have been looked at.

almost 2 years ago

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James Morley

Nice to read something positive about something done in a museum, especially in the commercial arm. And fully justified too. I wonder though about the 'T. rex' SEO - where I used to work we had a very well know millennium project but more people actually searched for it by typing millenium than with the correct spelling. How many people type 'T. rex' vs 't rex' or 't-rex'. Or maybe they're so close, to Google it doesn't actually matter?

almost 2 years ago

Joe Hawkes

Joe Hawkes, Senior Digital Marketing Executive at Charles Russell Speechlys

@James

Two quick searches for 't-rex soft toy' and 't rex soft toy' show that the difference doesn't matter to Google, as NHM's website appears second on the SERP.

Interestingly, 'Tyrannosaurus rex soft toy' doesn't even make the first page.

@Ben

Eagerly awaiting a 'Top 10 404 page' post!

almost 2 years ago

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Milly Shaw

@dan: begrudgingly agree with all your points! And you're right too that it's important to categorise by gender intelligently, rather than just automatically.

And thanks for the link - LOVE that 3D barbie armour!

almost 2 years ago

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Duncan Sanders

I really like the tone and register of the carousel and category header copy - I wonder if this is an NHM branding strategy, or one specifically devised to engage an online retail audience. Either way, I think it works

almost 2 years ago

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Clodagh Phelan

Agree with the positive comments. The T. rex detail (sorry, this site won't allow me to italicise) reminds me of the famous David Ogilvy Rolls Royce clock ad - i.e. the importance of attention to detail. I think the second line in the SEO T. rex copy could be reworked and still get in the second T. rex reference. It's a bit clunky. Overall, what a pleasure to read an article and comments that obviously value good, well written and creative copy. Becoming rarer - except among professionals. Thank you to the copywriters and everyone responsible at NHM.

almost 2 years ago

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Michaela Clement-Hayes, Senior Content Marketer at IAT Ltd

This is one of my favourite articles about content. Ever.

The NHM knows exactly who their audience is and how to appeal to them.

Well-written clever copy is all but extinct (couldn't resist - definitely do a Top 10 404 pages piece), so it's refreshing to see the NHM bringing it to life.

almost 2 years ago

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Michaela Clement-Hayes, Senior Content Marketer at IAT Ltd

Oh @Ben - there is a typo though:

It also includes more nicely judged and fun copy. 'Think all dinosaurs are fearsone and ferocious? Not these cute and cuddly creations.'

almost 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Michaela

STING! I've corrected it now. Thanks

almost 2 years ago

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Colm McCrory, Head of eCommerce & Digital at Waterstones

I've been staring at the leopard egg cup for three days now.

almost 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Colm

I wouldn't want to blow your mind, but........

http://goo.gl/M8pCSs

almost 2 years ago

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Colm McCrory, Head of eCommerce & Digital at Waterstones

There goes the rest of my week!

almost 2 years ago

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TheShrub

I think their copy is good but I don't like the phrase "'extremely child friendly" - it's a toy....you would assume it is child friendly. If I were choosing a gift (particularly online), I would rather it said something about age suitability as it can be difficult to tell from a 2D image. Why not say "baby friendly - suitable from 6 months" or something?

almost 2 years ago

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Julia McCoy

Love the fun language and that they aren't afraid to use it. It's trendy and hip for the cool stuff they sell.

And, awesome blog! Do you mind if I use your blog and mention in it a study of awesome copywriting examples?

almost 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Julia

Go ahead. Thanks!

almost 2 years ago

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Mel Henson, Head of Creative at AWA digital

Just brilliant - do we know who wrote it?

almost 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Mel

I believe @crickadee was involved.

https://twitter.com/crickadee

almost 2 years ago

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Dave Harris, Job Title at SMD

The content staff at NHM should be commended - well done!

However, how about this super-emotive copy from Crank Cases?

http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/crank/product/cassette-tape-iphone-case-orange-personalised
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/crank/product/personalised-iphone-case-vinyl-turntable

You can literally see yourself by your old cassette stereo now.

almost 2 years ago

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