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Selling gold coins online

I’ve just finished a big web copywriting project for The Royal Mint. It was an interesting writing job for me so I thought I’d use it as a case study for you.

First a little background. As well as striking coins of the realm for general circulation, The Royal Mint also markets collectable coins, collections and very upmarket coin-derived jewellery.

The primary market is coin collectors, or, to give them their correct title, numismatists. (I learned to type that little humdinger of a word REALLY quickly.) But The Royal Mint also wanted to promote and position their coins as gifts.

That opened up a new challenge, since the gift-giver might be a numismatist, but, equally, they could be a non-technical person who’s just looking for an upmarket or different type of present.

The project came about because the Mint were relaunching their e-commerce website and wanted to refresh the copy for their 40-odd flagship products. Everything from Proof quality gold sovereigns to silver baby rattles enclosing a Diamond Wedding Anniversary Crown.

What it was like before

I am not telling tales out of school to say that the house style, particularly for print DM, is a little on the flowery side.

Don’t get me wrong, these coins ARE special. They are tangible. And they are made of (struck from, we should say) gold and silver. And it appears the collectors (typified as men in their mid-sixties) love the fruity, adjective-heavy language that is as ornate as some of the coin designs.

My brief

My job was to give the copy a fresher feel. To make it more web-friendly. And to make it work harder to sell coins. For each of the flagship products, the copy had to follow the new page template developed by The Royal Mint in collaboration with their web designers.

There are three main sections: an overview, product information, and background and history. To these I added “As a gift…” – a short paragraph positioning the coin or collectable as a gift and using less technical language.

What I did and why

Here’s the product overview section for the 2007 Diamond Wedding £5 Gold Proof.

For only the fifth time in British numismatic history, the Royal Mint has struck a United Kingdom coin bearing a conjoint portrait.

The occasion could hardly be more significant, either for the monarchy or the knowledgeable coin collector. The Diamond Wedding of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

This splendid five-pound coin will grace any collection. Struck from 22 carat gold, it bears new, specially commissioned designs for both its reverse and obverse.
Here, I introduced three key elements for the collector. The theme, “the monarchy”. The alloy, “22 carat gold”. And the denomination, “five-pound”. Notice those technical words to establish rapport with the collector? “conjoint portrait” – meaning two heads. “reverse and obverse” – meaning back and front.

I deliberately used the adjective “knowledgeable” to flatter the reader. And also, subtly, to suggest that not buying would be an act of ignorance.

I also used a set of four bullet points, to break up the text and introduce the benefits.

Secure your part of history with one of only five coins in British numismatic history to bear a conjoint royal portrait
Acquire one of just 2,500 crowns issued worldwide, an extremely low limit
Be assured of your coin’s exclusivity, as verified by your individual Certificate of Authenticity
Celebrate with a proud nation as we mark the Queen’s 60 years of marriage
They use verbs, which engage the reader and encourage action. And they stress the exclusivity and rarity of the coin – a big draw for collectors.

The other two sections go into more detail about the design and minting of the coin and also the historical background. The latter gave me licence to indulge in a little more descriptive writing than I normally get asked to write. The results are pretty good, I think, as you’ll see if you visit the product page.

The results

It’s too early to tell how the copy is performing in terms of sales, but purely in terms of the copy itself, we have pages that are easier-to-read, more focused on benefits and talking directly to the reader. All the copy was delivered on time and loaded ready for their launch date (which, incidentally, was brought forward by a week at short notice).

Categories: Maslen on Marketing and Web copywriting.

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