Use these seven steps to improve your product descriptions and push your conversion rate in the right direction.
Wouldn’t it be a windfall to uncover a simple tactic you can use to get more sales on your ecommerce website – something that doesn’t require you to double down on pay-per-click ads, rebuild your entire website, or do anything else that’s time and resource intensive?
If you agree that investing a little to earn a lot is a great idea, here’s a suggestion: optimize your product descriptions.
It’s not uncommon for ecommerce managers to get caught up with the design and aesthetic of their product detail pages (PDPs), while the product descriptions fall down on their priority list.
From our own experience running A/B tests on hundreds of PDPs, product description optimization is one of the highest-return, lowest-investment tactics available to an ecommerce manager. If you’re not already trying to optimize your product descriptions, you’re leaving money on the table.
We understand your concern. You’ve already put a ton of time into developing your current product descriptions. You don’t have to start over from scratch, though. A solid editing pass can be sufficient to prove the value of product description optimization.
In this article, we’ll show you a step-by-step approach you can use to overhaul your current product descriptions and push your conversion rate in the right direction.
Why Focus on Product Descriptions?
First off, let’s poke a hole in the idea that the job of a product description is to describe the product. Given the terminology it only makes sense, but the words you use in your product description copy shouldn’t be there to just describe, they also need to qualify and persuade.
Product descriptions are like an in-store salesperson. The sales presentation your product descriptions make on your behalf will either draw customers to your goods, or push them away. Product descriptions are essentially your 24/7 sales staff.
If your product descriptions are both informative and persuasive, your visitors will be encouraged to buy. If your product descriptions are bland and nondescript, sales will be lackluster at best.
How to Write Effective Product Descriptions That Convert
Incredibly, we sometimes find ecommerce stores that don’t include product descriptions at all. They merely list items for sale. Many others take the easy route and include a screenshot or verbatim copy of the manufacturer’s description. Almost as bad is when product descriptions are a copy-paste from a print catalog. Those are all a sure path to being ignored by prospects and search engines alike.
Be careful not to fall into such traps. Instead, invest time into high-quality descriptions that work.
Here’s our seven step guide to writing those product descriptions that convert.
Step 1: Know your ideal prospects and the language they use. Speak directly to that audience. Don’t worry about the rest.
“Everyone” is not your ideal customer. Try to sell everyone, and you’ll sell to nobody. Not only that, but each of your products will very likely appeal to a certain type of prospect.
Your first job is to know who that prospect is, what difficulties that prospect faces, and how your product will help the prospect overcome those difficulties.
Begin by asking questions like these:
- Who could most benefit from this product?
- What problems will this product solve for those prospects?
- What desires will owning the product fill?
- What objections will the primary prospects have?
- Why should they buy from me instead of a competitor?
- What words or phrases do they use to talk about the product?
Use these questions to develop buyer personas, but be sure those personas aren’t something you file away in a strategic plan. Your personas should be front and center when writing the copy for the product descriptions. They should inform the writer first, then the writer can inform the prospect.
Remember to choose a target persona for each product description. Know who can benefit from that particular product, then speak to that particular person.
Step 2: Define and refine the voice you use to speak with your prospects
Even though each product may have its own targeted prospects, it’s important to remain true to your brand voice and brand image in every product description.
Even if your writers are seasoned and already in tune with your brand, the temptation to drift is always present. Getting out of tune might not be a big deal in a one-off email, but your product descriptions are viewed constantly.
Here are some questions to help bring out the voice of the brand:
- What tone would a high-performing salesperson adopt with your best prospects?
- You have customer personas, but what is your company persona?
- Is your brand relaxed and humorous, or is it premium and serious?
- What separates you from the competition?
- What values does your company uphold?
Questions like these help writers stay true to the mindset and voice of the company. Keeping your language aligned with your brand helps build and maintain trust.
Here are two quick tips: 1) Nostalgia can be a powerful force. Explore how you can include positive memories in your descriptions. 2) Likewise, humor can ease the stress of buying – as long as it fits your brand. Give your prospects a good laugh to help create a positive, lasting impression.
Goodr Sunglasses is a great example of a brand that: 1) Knows their target audience extremely well, and 2) Uses humor to ease (and poke fun at) the stress of buying products.
Step 3: Focus on providing solutions in addition to features
Remember, your target audience isn’t so interested in your product as they are about what they can achieve with your product. To leverage that momentum, turn product features into must-buy benefits.
Raw features and specifications are fine and even necessary, but great product descriptions should speak of tangible consumer benefits that illuminate and solve consumer problems.
Try these suggestions:
- Encourage prospects by applauding their aspirations
- Help prospects visualize what they can achieve with your product
- Help prospects imagine the product is already in their possession
- Explain how the customer will feel using the product by opting for sensory language and words that incorporate the five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell)
- Help them imagine that their current needs are being met by using the product
- Highlight the problem before you sell the solution
- If you want to sell big mousetraps, turn the mice into rats (magnify the problem)
Welly does a great job of addressing the latent needs of their audience (see screenshot below). Rather than just saying “Bandages are stored in a compact, metal tin”, they focus on why the tin solves the problem of a messy medicine cabinet, “Durable, stackable tin packaging helps keep your cabinet organized.”
Step 4: Structure your descriptions with an eye towards effectiveness and efficiency
How do you create a compelling product description that customers will respond to? How much description copy do you need? Use as much as it takes to cover all the essentials, but be concise. Break out your copy of Zinsser’s “On Writing Well.”
Structure your product descriptions so they can be scanned quickly and seamlessly. Use bullet points, short paragraphs, relevant headings, etc.
- Here’s an example of an effective format:
- Introduce the product
- Set up the problem
- Describe the solution
- Use body copy to persuade
- End with a call to action (move the prospect closer to becoming a customer)
Another great way to simplify your product description without losing value is through the use of product page videos. A study conducted by LiveClicker found that 88% of surveyed ecommerce business owners saw an increase in conversions with the implementation of product page videos.
Think of it this way: If a picture can say a thousand words, imagine what a video can do.
Atoms has a great product detail page that highlights the benefits of their shoes, while also offering plenty of imagery and a product video to give customers a full picture of the product.
Step 5: Write as if the prospect is right there in front of you
Write a quick first draft presented like you were selling the product to an in-person customer. Focus on being persuasive and energetic. Use the second person “you” to address your target customer directly. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar, keywords, SEO, or style. Write the first draft from your heart, then come back and edit to fill in the gaps.
Use simple language, not jargon, and avoid clichés.
Here’s a list of tips for writing product descriptions that persuade and convert:
- Keep sentences short and to the point
- Make an emotional connection with your audience
- Highlight what the prospect will feel after using your product
- Empathize with the challenges your prospects face
- Agree with their pain and emphasize how your product relieves it
- Sell a lifestyle that will keep them coming back
When you’re done, read it aloud and ask yourself if it sounds like a real conversation you’d have with your target audience. Does it flow without dragging out into long sentences, big words, or anything awkward? Does it sound persuasive and energetic? Have you included all the features in the form of benefits?
As you review your writing, here’s a helpful checklist. Every product description won’t include all of these, but should include many or most of them:
- Are you using positive words that evoke trust and security?
- Do your sentences start with action verbs? Or just passive statements?
- Have you included phrases like “imagine” and “picture yourself”?
- Did you use future and present tenses to help your customers feel like owners?
- Did you include social proof – are there relevant influencers, technologies, or brands you can reference to help increase credibility?
- Did you proactively include relevant directions to anticipate and prevent returns?
And have you…
- Made your product come alive to the prospect?
- Highlighted surprising or unconventional benefits of your product?
- Helped counteract buyer’s remorse by complimenting prospects on the find?
- Made the product appear exclusive or available only for a limited time?
- Described the product as essential or game-changing?
- Explained how the product will save money in the long run?
Step 6: Complete the final edit of your product descriptions
Complete a final edit with an eye towards spelling, grammar, and SEO. Use your keywords and related words naturally in your item heading, subheads, and in body copy.
Don’t overdo it. Write for real people first and SEO second.
Here are examples of words to avoid the appearance of lazy writing:
- Actually, literally, honestly
- Very, kind of, maybe
In addition, you don’t want to go overboard into hyperbole. Avoid words like these unless they are actually true:
Finally, check for duplicate copy. Use a tool like copyscape.com to make sure you’re not repeating yourself or using copy from another website. Never copy a manufacturer’s product description. Google rewards value-added copy, not cloned copy.
Step 7: Use this product description template
Start with the steps listed above to develop product detail copy that converts. Follow with the template structure below to put it all together.
This is a starting point for your product descriptions, not the only way to do them. As soon as possible, implement A/B testing for alternative versions of your descriptions.
- Use the description headline to hook your audience. Connect with them emotionally.
- Use a description paragraph to expand on the consumer benefits of the product.
- Follow the description with a bulleted list of key product details and features.
- Conclude with credibility, social proof, or urgency, and a call to action.
How to Write Product Descriptions – Next Steps
Evaluate your current product descriptions using the tips and examples we listed above. This is work that will pay off handsomely, but you have to take time to slow down and look closely at where you’re at and where you want to be.
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s that optimizing your product descriptions doesn’t have to be difficult. From our own experience optimizing hundreds of ecommerce websites, you can find success in the smallest adjustments to the product page copy.
If you’re looking for help optimizing your product pages for an improved conversion rate, consider scheduling a free landing page teardown where you’ll receive recommendations for how to improve the customer experience of your website.