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How to Write Powerful Product Descriptions that Sell

By David Hoos
10 minute read | Last Updated: January 18, 2018

Use these 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 site – something that doesn’t require you to double down on pay-per-click ads, rebuild your entire website, or do anything else that’s cash and labor intensive?

If you agree that investing a little to earn a lot is a good idea, here’s a red-hot tip: optimize your product descriptions.

“A lot of ecommerce companies completely miss the boat by focusing on features or technology. The most effective product descriptions inspire by focusing on what the customer will do with the product,” says Isaac Szymanczyk, principal at content agency Conveyor.

“The secret is staying focused on the consumer experience and then finding a way to work the product into it. It’s not hard, but it takes practice and discipline to maintain that approach through thousands of SKUs.”

At The Good, we help companies boost the return on investment. I especially love it when we can point out a tactic that’s relatively quick to launch and can most often be accomplished without calling in outside help. In our opinion, product description optimization is one of the highest-return, lowest-investment tactics available to an ecommerce manager.

Product description optimization is one of the highest-return, lowest-investment tactics available to an #ecommerce manager. Click To Tweet

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 good edit can be enough to prove the value of product description optimization.

In this article, we’ll show you a step-by-step method you can use to revamp your current product descriptions and push your conversion rate in the right direction.

The time you invest here will be well rewarded.

product descriptions

“The best product descriptions talk about the wearer’s ability, whether that’s a professional or someone like you or me. In a case like Nike, the athlete or consumer is the star of the show — and the product is a supporting character that helps them find their greatness.”

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. I know, given the terminology it only makes sense, but the words you use in your product description copy shouldn’t be there only to describe but to qualify and persuade.

The words you use in your product description copy shouldn’t just describe, but should qualify and persuade. Click To Tweet

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, in fact, your 24/7 sales staff.

They’re that important.

If your product descriptions are both informative and persuasive, the customer is encouraged to buy. If your product descriptions are bland and don’t inspire prospects to buy from you, 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 a step-by-step guide to writing those product descriptions that convert.

 

product descriptions

Step 1 – Know your ideal prospects and the language they use. Speak directly to those people. Don’t worry about the rest.

“Everyone” is not your best 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.

Personas aren’t something you file away in a strategic plan. They should be front and center when writing the copy for the product descriptions. Click To Tweet

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.

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.

Your target audience isn’t so interested in your product as they are about what they can achieve with your product. Click To Tweet

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)

Step 4 – Structure your descriptions with an eye towards effectiveness and efficiency

How much product 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 consistency. 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)

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
  • Stunning
  • Just
  • Nice
  • Sorry
  • That
  • Very, kind of, maybe

In addition, you don’t want to go overboard into hyperbole. Avoid words like these unless they are actually true:

  • Market-leading
  • Breakthrough
  • Innovative
  • Stunning
  • Ultimate
  • Revolutionary

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.

product descriptions

How to Write Product Descriptions – Your Turn

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 you’re having trouble developing a framework for your descriptions or need extra help to grow your conversions, let us know and we’ll take a look at your current conversion situation for you.

Here’s how to get in touch: Contact The Good.

Resources

About the author: David Hoos is Marketing Manager at The Good, conversion rate experts who deliver more revenues, customers, and leads. David and the team at The Good have made a practice of advising brands on how to see online revenue double through their conversion rate optimization services.

3 Comments

  1. You should always try to keep your customer in mind. Think of the words they would use to describe your product. Thanks for sharing!

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