If you have an e-commerce site selling goods over the internet, your product descriptions are critical to your success. They’re often the deciding factor in whether a customer buys or flies, leaving your site without making a purchase. In a nutshell, here’s what goes into creating persuasive product copy.
Product descriptions are worth investing the time to write well. Alternatively, you can hire a professional e-commerce copywriter who can do the job for you.
Now let’s take a more detailed look at what goes into a well-written product description.
“Product description optimization is one of the highest-return, lowest-investment tactics available to an e-commerce manager,” says David Hoos of The Good. The secret is to “focus on what the customer will do with the product.”
To write a functional product description for your e-commerce site, start by answering these 4 questions:
According to Big Commerce, “Whether your products have a specific function, like a camera, or a personal purpose, like fashion, all products exist to enhance or improve the purchaser’s quality of life in one way or another. As the shopper browses, they instinctively imagine having each product in hand, using it and enjoying it. The more powerful the customer’s fantasy of owning the product, the more likely they are to buy it.”
If you’re a seller or distributor for brand-name products, the manufacturers you work with probably provide you with pre-written product descriptions. That certainly makes things easy – copy, paste, done. But is it effective? Unfortunately, no.
The problem is that unless you’re the exclusive seller of those products, plenty of other businesses are using the supplier-provided product descriptions—same words, same format, same style.
If you’re trying to differentiate yourself from the competition – and you should be – manufacturers’ descriptions aren’t going to cut it.
They’re also not going to help you rank well on search engines like Google and e-commerce sites like Amazon, both of which reward original, value-added copy, not cloned content.
So, once again, it’s up to you to come up with your own well-written, original product descriptions or work with a copywriter who can.
Not only must your product descriptions be original. They must also be effective, correct? You’re not in this for bragging rights; you want to make sales!
Conversions are the name of the game for e-commerce sites. If goal #1 is: drive traffic to your site, then goal #2 must be: convert those visitors into customers.
Unfortunately, if you’re posting sub-par product descriptions, you’re not going to achieve either goal.
Think of your product descriptions as your in-store salespeople. If they’re not enthusiastic and persuasive, they won’t draw customers to your goods. If they don’t successfully convey why the buyer needs this product TODAY, they are useless.
According to Express Writers, “Copy that doesn’t excite won’t inspire conversions. Being too dull or boring will sink your ship quickly. The best product descriptions include some degree of enthusiasm and urgency that make people want to buy your products right now.”
Anyone who performs in public will tell you that it’s critical to know your audience before creating your material. Think of a comedian. A joke successfully delivered at a high school assembly probably isn’t going to fly at a gathering of senior citizens.
The same premise applies to writing product descriptions: know who you’re targeting. “The best copywriters in the world are able to write product copy that converts because they understand their target audience,” according to Shopify Nation. “By doing so, their copy is able to empathize with the target prospects and address all the purchase objections.”
“You need to understand the psychology and intent of your users and deliver the experience they’re looking for,” according to Moosend, an e-commerce marketing company that has evaluated the best Shopify stores for 2019.
Answer these questions to develop an accurate profile of your e-commerce buyer:
Once you’ve developed your buyer persona, make sure your product description hits on the selling points that will resonate with them.
Ideally, you’d love for Google to deliver your e-commerce site in search results whenever someone searches for a product you sell. Who doesn’t love free advertising?
But everyone wants their site on page 1, preferably near the top. So you’ll need to be smart to win that race. When you write your product descriptions, keep search engine optimization (SEO) principles in mind.
Steer clear of generic terms and instead use long-tail keywords that are specific to your product. For example, if you sell Black Forest antiques, be sure to incorporate and expand on the phrase “Black Forest antiques” versus talking only about “antiques.” The word “antiques” by itself is too competitive for you to gain ranking.
According to Oberlo, an e-commerce wholesaler, “Having optimized product descriptions can help improve your search engine optimization (SEO). By optimizing your product descriptions to include specific keywords, you can help improve your chances of ranking high on Google.
Without product descriptions, you may be able to optimize your images for keywords, but your product page may not appear high in search engines due to a lack of content.”
How many times have you planned to buy something online but the product description was inadequate? You couldn’t tell if the product was what you wanted because the seller hadn’t provided enough information or the right information. Frustrating, right?
Details matter when it comes to product descriptions. They’re the key to converting visitors into customers. General terms like “good” and “quality” don’t mean much when they aren’t supported by specifics. Size, color, weight, material, specs and uses are important to customers, so tell them what they want to know or risk losing sales. Look at all the details Zappos includes in its product description of this simple purse:
That description is then followed by customer feedback and complemented by various photos of the purse, inside and out. Your customer wants — and expects — those details.
Here’s another example. My son ran an e-commerce business out of our house during his summers home from college. He sold gently used Lego model kits through auctions on eBay. You can read more about Ryan’s Lego business here.
What he quickly learned was that he had plenty of competitors, people selling the exact same sets he was. But he found he could beat them by writing long, comprehensive product descriptions.
As a kid who’d grown up playing with Legos, he knew what features would appeal to his young buyers and he could speak about them in great detail and with genuine enthusiasm. Trap doors, hidden rooms, cool weaponry, anything with wheels – Ryan’s buyers couldn’t get enough. Often his Lego kits sold for two and three times as much as competitors’ even though they were the exact same kit. The sole difference? The product description.
Your product descriptions should be as long as is necessary to describe the features and selling points. Don’t ramble, repeat facts or include irrelevant information. But do include all the important details.
Research shows that buyers tend to prefer long product descriptions. They want to know as much as possible about a product before making a purchase. Think of those lengthy infomercials on TV. The more you tell, the more you raise the perceived value of a product while lowering the prospect’s resistance to buy.
Someone who is genuinely interested in the product will likely read every word and appreciate being able to buy with confidence because they know exactly what they’re getting and how it will benefit them.
The tone of your copy should match your company’s image. Try imagining the tone a high-performing salesperson would use in speaking with prospects. Would they be light and humorous or refined and serious?
So, for example, if you’re selling expensive jewelry and targeting only the extremely wealthy, write your copy so that it sounds elegant and suitably formal.
If you’re selling cooking products to foodies, don’t hesitate to use terminology that will help you connect with gourmets and food enthusiasts.
Selling technology products? Geek out in your word choices.
Writing for teens? Use words like epic, rad, on fleek and so dope. (Yeah, that last one makes me cringe a little too.)
Just be careful about using jargon. If there’s a chance your reader won’t know the terminology, choose simpler terms. Avoid clichés, which are unlikely to be effective in painting a picture of your product in your prospect’s mind.
Finally, consider using humor. Who doesn’t like a clever comment or amusing thought? Check out the cheeky description of this dress on TitleNine.com.
“An athletic heart with serious street style. The Runagade stands up fabulously to being thrown in a duffel, hand-washed in the sink and worn for four days in a row…don’t ask.”
Look upon your product descriptions are an opportunity to inject some personality. According to SkuVault.com, an e-commerce company, “Your tone should be unique to your brand. It will ultimately define who you are and solidify your spot in the market. Your tone is also what differentiates you from your competitors.”
Features are the specifics about your products; size, shape, composition, etc. They’re what your product has or is.
Benefits are how those products will make the user’s life better. They’re how those products solve problems and produce outcomes. Essentially, they’re why the buyer makes a purchase.
It’s up to the copywriter to connect the dots between features and benefits. Consider these examples:
Let’s say you’re selling a grocery delivery service.
Feature: We deliver anywhere in the Chicago area.
Benefit: You don’t have to spend time stopping by the store or waiting in line to pay. The groceries are delivered right to your door.
Imagine that you’re selling a toy model for kids.
Feature: 187 individual parts to assemble.
Benefit: Will keep your child occupied for hours and hours.
Customers look for the features but ultimately, it’s the benefits that make them buy.
According to Printwand, a marketing agency, “Since features work on a factual level rather than an emotional one, they’re often confusing or hard for a customer to understand. For example, the technical specs on a laptop might not make sense to a customer unless they’re familiar with computers. However, the benefit of having a fast laptop that can store a lot of photos, videos and music is something that any computer owner can relate to.”
To help you uncover the benefits related to your product, think about what users can achieve or obtain with them. Answer these questions:
Does your product:
If you answered yes, to any of these questions, you now know the benefits to tout in your product description. They’re the reasons your customer will buy.
Here’s another great tip for determining what to write in your product description. Check out the customer feedback on similar products or competitor products.
What are customers talking about? What do customers like? What’s important to them? What do they point out about this product that’s better than other comparable products?
Their comments are helpful hints to what’s important to customers and the reasons they make a purchase. Use those clues to craft your product descriptions.
Everyone loves a good story. It touches your emotions, brings products to life and makes them memorable. The back story of how your product came to be and how it’s used can supply you with some compelling copy that endears you to your customer.
I remember traveling in Istanbul, Turkey. Vendors approach you at the tourist sights and try to sell you their handmade rugs. To me, at first, the rugs looked like, well, rugs. Why would I buy one in Turkey when I could go to Target at home and pick one up on the cheap?
But then one of the vendors began to tell me about the rugs his shop made. He showed me the different designs and explained what the different woven symbols meant. He told me about Turkey’s colorful history as rug makers going all the way back to the twelfth century.
He then walked me over to his shop, about 10-minutes away. He explained that the shop had previously been his father’s and his grandfather’s before that, an impressive legacy that had me admiring his family’s heritage and culture.
Then he brought me into the back room where Turkish women were sitting cross-legged on the floor, weaving the rugs by hand. By the time he was done, I was ready to buy. The story behind his rugs brought them to life for me, and in doing so, they suddenly had great value. (It’s been 30+ years, and I still have–and love–that rug!)
The power of stories lies in their ability to increase the value of a product and sell it. They transform the mundane into something meaningful and desirable.
Nobody needs to tell you how busy folks are these days. Surely, you know firsthand. So while you want to make your product descriptions comprehensive, they shouldn’t be one or two giant blocks of text that look daunting to readers.
Break up your text with bullet points that the reader can quickly scan. Consider also using headlines and subheads to highlight benefits and divide the copy into easy-to-digest bites.
Encourage your buyers to give you feedback. Consider incorporating product reviews and testimonials on your sales page alongside your product descriptions.
Here’s what product reviews can do for you:
Additionally, product reviews increase your product description’s footprint, and that’s something that Google likes and rewards.
“As consumers, we rely heavily on the opinion of others,” according to SEO for Growth, in its article about how to increase conversions on e-commerce sites. “When it comes to products, we tend to gravitate towards an item with positive feedback because naturally, everyone wants the good stuff. Social proof is a very manageable and powerful tool that helps draw audiences in the best way.”
I’m a copywriter, so I’m sure you expect me to be all about the words. And I am. But there’s no denying that including photos, videos and any other visuals and graphics should be a part of your product descriptions.
Because customers can’t actually touch and try on your products, you need to show them what they’re buying in colorful, realistic images. A well-crafted product description shows and tells.
Furthermore, your images should complement your written product descriptions. For example, if your description mentions that the handbag you’re selling has a longer-than-usual shoulder strap, don’t just give the dimensions. Show the purse on someone’s shoulder, so the customer can see where the purse lands on your model.
Having a successful e-commerce site is often not so much about the big picture as it is the fine details. Often simple changes can greatly increase sales. Think about implementing some of these tips as you build your site.
We’ve spent a lot of time reviewing what you should do when writing product descriptions for your e-commerce site. But how about what you shouldn’t do? What are the pitfalls to avoid? Here are my top 10:
Writing original, persuasive product descriptions takes time, thought, and a dash of consumer psychology, but they are worth the effort. If you lack the time or expertise, consider working with an e-commerce copywriter who can get the job done quickly and effectively. What you spend on copywriting fees is likely to be made up many times over in increased sales.