How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
At one point or another, your company will need to craft product listings -- whether it’s for a menu, merchandise items or services. Since these product descriptions will be featured on your website, your app, Yelp, Google and/or Facebook, they should be as persuasive as possible.
You might be wondering, what’s so complicated about product listings. You simply write a product description that describes your product, right? Wrong. It’s actually a lot harder, because product descriptions need to sell your products. While it’s often considered the last resort for conversions, if properly written, the product description can be a powerful persuasion tool for boosting sales. Does your product copy entice readers to click “add to cart”?
1. Focus on your ideal customer
Don’t try to please everyone with your product description. If you write it with a huge audience in mind, your descriptions will end up addressing no one at all. Every single product listing should be tailored to your ideal customer. Consider how you can make this person’s life easier, richer or more pleasurable. Then use the product description to answer questions that this ideal buyer would ask, use words that they would use and address them directly.
This product listing for a Malucchi dog collar is written specifically for the fun, stylish, quirky and British dog mom:
2. Showcase what’s in it for them
Potential customers don’t want to read a giant list of product features. They don’t want to know what your product is, they want to know what’s in it for them. What problems will it solve? And how will it make their lives better?
So don’t babble on about features and specs (unless your audience loves the tech talk), but instead translate them into benefits for the customer. Kissmetrics states that “a feature is a fact about your product, while a benefit is an explanation of what that feature does for your reader. A benefit can be phrased as a positive (e.g., improves productivity) or as a problem that’s avoided or reduced (e.g., decreases stress).” The more specific your statements the better!
Here are some great examples of product descriptions that show the potential buyer exactly what’s in it for them:
3. Define your tone of voice
What makes your description of a product different from your competitor’s? Your tone of voice. This gives readers a strong impression of your company’s culture, personality and values. Let your personality shine through in your content and, if it works, add some humor too. For instance, check out how Think Geek describes their “ordinary” flashlight:
4. Use a highly visual format
According to research, people read only 16 percent of the words on an average web page. To entice people to buy your product, they will most likely need to read your copy. So, how do you get people to absorb your content when they will only be skimming the product listing? It might seem obvious, but you need to use an easy-to-scan and easy-to-read format. The subheadings should be in a bigger font than the body text, and you should use bullet points where clarity is needed, like Innocent Drinks.
Text isn’t always the best way to describe your product, though. So give your customers who don’t like to read an alternative product description with pictures and videos. My biggest pet peeve when online shopping is a product listing that doesn’t have enough (or any) pictures of the product. Whether it’s food, clothes or tech gadgets, I want to see exactly what it looks like, the more detailed the better. If you can, include video content of the product to demonstrate exactly what it does and how to use it in real life.
5. Avoid superlatives and 'yeah, yeah' phrases
As a consumer, you’ve probably come across these a lot: “excellent product quality," “best-in-class customer service," “amazing results," “No. 1 in the industry." When a potential buyer reads these phrases, he or she will automatically think yeah, yeah, of course; that’s what everyone says. Have you ever heard someone describe their product as average, only okay or even bad?
As a result, these bland and superlative words do not add anything to your description and will actually work against you. In order to avoid customers thinking yeah, yeah, be as specific as possible. Why is the product quality excellent? How can you prove it to your readers? Amazon does it the right way with their Kindle product description that proves why the Kindle Paperwhite delivers “the best reading experience”:
6. Seduce with sensory words
Now that you know what words not to use, how should you be describing your products? The answer lies in the magic of sensory words. According to Enchanting Marketing, “Sensory words are descriptive -- they describe how we experience the world: how we smell, see, hear, feel or taste something. Words related to sight indicate colors, shape or appearance.” Think: gloomy, fluffy, tingling, zesty, soaring etc.
Sensory words are not just for poets and creative spirits, it can be used effectively in business too. In fact, it’s been proven that sensory words increase sales, because they engage more brain processing power. They add personality and flavor to otherwise boring content. This example from chocolatier Green and Black shows how you can bring your product description to the next level with sensory adjectives. When reading the description, the customer can almost taste the chocolate simply from the copy.
7. Optimize for search engines
You want to make sure that your products are easily found by the people looking to buy it. Entrepreneur says that “when you write for your buyer persona and use the phrases he/she uses, you’re automatically optimizing your product descriptions for search engines, because these are the phrases he/she searches for on Google."
So you’re probably on the right track, but make sure to take these tips into account:
- Brainstorm about all the ways your ideal customer might want to find your product. For example, if you are selling a fluffy pink sweater, you want to make sure your customer can find it under words like, fluffy, pink, zipper, warm, fall, winter, soft, cozy etc.
- Make sure to incorporate these keywords into the headline, subheading and body text.
- Optimize your product images and videos by using the keywords in the file description and alt tag.
- But do not use keyword stuffing, as this will instantly kill your persuasive copy.
The secret to writing seductive product descriptions is to engage, persuade, and sell. Do your product descriptions entice readers to click buy or try? If not, then it’s time to go back to the drawing (or writing) board. And writing product listings doesn’t have to be a boring task. Get your team together for a day of writing product copy and allow your company’s personality to manifest itself.
Now let’s end this post with a great before and after product listing for vintage leather boots. The first showcases all the don’ts, while the second all the do’s of product copy: