Optimizing your product descriptions is one of the highest-return, lowest-investment improvements an entrepreneur or online seller can make. Finding ways to write product descriptions that persuade will transform both your online sales and your confidence as a marketer.
Well-written product descriptions significantly help you sell more stock. That’s why they’re crucial to every online shopper’s decision-making process. Indeed, 87% of consumers view product content in online stores as an integral part of their purchasing decision.
A masterful description moves your customers swiftly through your sales funnel and directs them to the all-important shopping cart. Bullseye!
What’s more, you can be creative and persuasive with your descriptions—the more creative you are, the better the impact on your customers' browsing experience.
The biggest mistake
Most online sellers make a common mistake when crafting their product descriptions—they simply describe the product to the customer. This blah strategy results in fewer sales, mainly because customers won't understand the unique value of the product or how it can solve any of their pain points.
With a little effort, you can swiftly create or edit product descriptions that hook your ideal and returning customers so that they stop and think, “my gosh, yes, I actually need this.”
You’re in the right place
In this guide, you will learn how to craft product descriptions that will increase conversions and give your store a cohesive tone of voice that helps customers feel at home. We will also give you some inspiring product-description examples so that you can see what works. We've compiled this step-by-step process so that you can get the most out of your product description and become the best seller you can be.
So let’s begin.
What is a product description?
A product description is writing that describes a product’s features and benefits. Notably, a product description doesn't just describe the product. That's just called ink on a page—or in this case, words on a screen.
A product description motivates the customer to buy.
When you think about it, product descriptions are like shop assistants for your online store. They can inspire purchases or repel your customers. Good product descriptions attract visitors and effortlessly increase sales and conversions. If they're not working for you, they will frustrate visitors and cause them to lose interest. That means fewer conversions and fewer sales. Sad face!
Why you need good product descriptions
Here are some reasons you need good product descriptions:
The ultimate goal of product copy is to persuade your customer to buy. We use persuasive language to elicit the desired action—buying your product. You must convince your customers they need the product to solve one of their needs or pain points.
Note the word convince.
Your customer might not need the product, but they must feel they need it—especially if it’s a new product you’ve just launched. This is why product descriptions are written using language that speaks to their more subjective, less logical side.
To become a product-description writing pro, you need to write persuasively. Swift. Inspiring. Colorful. Refreshing. Arresting. Let’s go! The sort of writing that delights and inspires. Words that have you thinking about things in a new way and with new incentives.
When writing product descriptions, you absolutely must put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. Figure out who your target audience is and then address them directly as though you’re having a conversation with them and answering their questions.
If you pen a product description with an indistinct crowd of buyers in mind, your descriptions will become vague and colorless, attracting nobody and resulting in no sales. So ask yourself: what kind of humor does your customer base use? What words do they commonly use or avoid? How would they talk humorously about one of their pain points? Are there certain terms or words off-limits to them?
This ad by Everlane effortlessly demonstrates the full potential of a well-written product description. The ad below is for their smart, casual black Italian leather shoes—a little bit premium, a lot utilitarian—at least for this cohort. The product description header reads:
“A shoe that fits like a glove—and hustles all damn day.”
Notice how Everlane adopts the sharp, casual, and confident style of their millennial demographic—New York-based women working long days and needing good shoes to take them from office to appointment to party.
The description mentions in a swift yet conversational style the “buttery soft leather that molds to your foot for a perfect, custom fit.” The copy then veers back to the effortless efficiency this demographic aspires to: “With features like a back pull tab, side vents, a rubber sole, and a cushioned insole, it's truly up for anything.” The words alone have the effect of pulling browsers into the smart, aspirational world of Everlane, thus subliminally influencing us to want to become a part of it. The best way to join them? Buy the product!
Product descriptions can educate your customer on the product, providing supplemental product information that the picture can’t do on its own. For example, you likely wouldn’t buy a laptop by solely looking at the picture. As a shopper, you’d want to read about the laptop’s specifications and features.
This also applies to fashion — some people may be allergic to certain fabrics and need to know the exact material of the clothing you stock in your store. By providing customers with such intrinsic product information, you will avoid a huge pile-up of time-consuming customer service inquiries. After all, when customers know a certain product is right for them, customer dissatisfaction and return rates are decreased.
You also want to answer every question a customer may ask, like:
The product description should ultimately answer these questions swiftly and effortlessly. It’s a brilliant way to further the reach of your marketing and customer relations.
This ad for The Light Phone educates customers on the benefits of less screen time and shows them that there is indeed a product for people who resent the smartphone’s intrusiveness in our lives.
“It's a phone, it calls and texts. There is a customizable menu of simple tools and a dashboard website to manage everything. There is a headphone jack, bluetooth, and it can be used as a personal hotspot.”
As you can see, the copy in the description is as straightforward as the aim of the product—to make our lives simpler.
Instead of writing about the many details, features, and specifications of your product, focus on how your product will benefit the customer and address their pain points. After all, your customer isn't as passionate about every aspect of your product as you are. They just want to know what’s in it for them.
Addressing your customer as ‘you’ is a great idea, too, as the lack of formality will create a more intimate and trusting feeling. You should always keep it casual and personal. You’re not writing an essay, but rather a persuasive description to unite your product and customer.
This ad for Dr Squatch shows us how their pine tar soap has a few benefits we may not even have thought of.
Newsflash! This soap won’t just clean you, but it will get rid of any body odor too. We also see other benefits we didn’t know we need, including natural ingredients and exfoliating oatmeal.
When using product copy in your posts, your language must be honest. Saying something is free when it isn’t is bad business and could come back to haunt you. Claiming your product is of the highest quality when plenty of customers have complained is not going to work, either. Millennials especially crush on brands—such as Everlane, Away and Glossier—that are casual yet honest and straightforward in their marketing. They sense they can trust these businesses, and that consumer trust translates into massive profits.
This strategy isn’t new. Many years ago, Avis was second in the market share of their industry. Marketing 101 would have advised them to ignore their market share and act like the leader. But instead, Avis did this:
It was the most successful ad of its day. Why? People were relieved that they weren’t being lied to. And while it isn’t product copy, it shows us how honesty can create a stellar bond between the customer and the brand that lasts.
The golden rule of any copywriting is to avoid phrases that are colorless, cliche, or exaggerated. Sometimes, to fill in space in the description area, a store owner may write something generic such as “incredible quality.” As soon as a potential buyer reads “incredible”, she intuitively senses that the seller is lacking the confidence to provide a unique product—or that the product is lacking in quality, or worse, hasn't sold well and therefore needs an over-the-top description.
Be as specific as possible and think strategically about what pain points your product solves. Insightful details offer your product credibility and help sell it. Superlatives can translate as far-fetched and insincere—unless you can back them up.
After all, words need to be accurate in order to be suitable. Calling your product revolutionary—when it isn’t—won’t help your brand. It will simply imply cheap shots taken by your marketing team.
As an example, Amazon does a good job of explaining why the Kindle Paperwhite is the thinnest and lightest e-reader in the entire world—and we are inclined to believe them.
Why? The use of the word signature implies that this is something especially unique. The product description then breaks down the actual pixel density (300 ppi)—-a hard fact—and describes the reader’s glare-free display and better and bigger storage capabilities. This information assures us that the product is high-quality and vetted by millions of people.
So if your product is realistically the best, fastest, or most efficient, explain to your customers why. If you can’t explain why then fix the copy to reflect its real capabilities.
Imagination is the most powerful thing a human has. To sell things online, you need to engage your customers’ imaginations so that they develop an intrinsic desire and need for your product. This doesn’t mean you make things up (see point above), but rather you shake your potential buyers out of their logical minds and into a more dreamy state of aspiration and inspiration.
Lego advertises its Holiday Mainstreet set using product writing that appeals directly to the imagination—magical words and what-if thinking engage the child in all of us.
A product description can also be used to make a customer laugh, say, or wonder—which enhances the bond between your brand and customer. It can also assure customers that your product will solve their biggest pain point or enhance their life somehow.
A lot of this gets down to what’s called tone of voice. When you maintain a consistent tone of voice across your entire brand and store, your customer feels at home, knowing they're in a safe place where they can trust their money is in good hands.
Starbucks has concise brand guidelines, so its customers know what to expect. The Starbucks voice is functional and expressive and is reflected directly in its joyful and concise product descriptions. Using both functional and expressive tones means the coffee brand can a) help customers appreciate its relevance and b) feel the connection and joy that the company rests on.
Look at this ad for coffee-flavored cake pops.
The copy is joyful and cheery and makes you smile, reflecting the expressiveness at the core of the brand.
With consumers more discerning than ever, it’s crucial to find a real and unique way to resonate with your audience. If your copy is starting to read like the babble of a pushy salesperson, instead tell your viewers stories that infiltrate their barriers against persuasion techniques. When telling a story about your products or brand, you must think about and convey the following information:
When people can connect with your brand and product story, you gain the keys to the kingdom. Storytelling is especially important for a newer brand with more to prove. People want to know that the product has been made for a good reason—to solve a pain point, to change how we do things, to meet one of our needs—and storytelling is a great way to express the brand’s purpose and integrity.
Five-star reviews and authentic testimonials help potential customers choose what to buy, since they are attracted to that which is trustworthy and proven. The best way to do this is with social proof—positive reviews, testimonials, or social media quotes displayed in or near the product copy.
Gymshark uses customer reviews on each product page and shows its rating system, which helps buyers make quick and easy decisions with all the information needed at hand. Glossier uses its most colorful reviews as features just below the product copy.
You can even choose to display your social media feed on your website with content generated by your users and buyers that proves what a big difference your product makes to your customers. After all, when something is seen as popular, people will be attracted to it.
Make all of your descriptions scannable. A good, solid product description is easy to read, full stop. Whether you use bullet points or separate lines for each new feature, customers need to be able to read descriptions swiftly so that they can purchase immediately. If you sell something technological, use bullet points to break down the complicated information. Don’t use too many numbers and symbols—or the manufacturer’s copy—as it may alienate your customer.
Once finished, read over your product descriptions to make sure you haven’t misspelled anything or used the wrong punctuation. You can use tools such as (free) Grammarly to bypass embarrassing spelling mistakes.
Whether you’re selling on Amazon, Etsy or another marketplace, writing product details with specific keywords can also help improve your search engine optimization (SEO). This is called optimizing: you fill your item description with specific keywords to increase your chances of ranking higher on Google.
If you don’t use product descriptions, you can still try and optimize your images for keywords, yet the product page most probably won’t land high in Google search because of the inherent lack of content.
It's a good idea to determine whether your product descriptions and keywords are working. A great way to do this is to develop a set of metrics you can track on your product pages. How you define these metrics will help you to understand which product descriptions are more successful than the others. In this way, you can edit the underperforming product descriptions, so they use elements of the successful ones.
Commonplace KPIs to monitor include:
And that's it. You're good to go. Write persuasively and do a spell check!
The Threecolts team
Threecolts acquires, launches, and grows e-commerce software with a robust suite of offerings such as SellerRunning, SmartRepricer, SellerBench, Tactical Arbitrage, Bindwise, RefundSniper, ChannelReply, and FeedbackWhiz.
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