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7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell The secret to writing seriously seductive product descriptions is to follow a proven process to engage, persuade and sell. Here's how.

By Henneke Duistermaat

This story originally appeared on KISSmetrics

How seductive are your product descriptions?

Does your product copy entice readers to click buy or try? Or do you simply describe your product and tell web visitors what it does?

The secret to writing seriously seductive product descriptions is to follow a proven process to engage, persuade, and sell.

To get started, you need to know exactly who it is that you want to buy your product.

1. Define Your Buyer Persona

Basing your work on buyer personas prevents you from sitting on your butt in your comfortable office just making stuff up, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing. ~ David Meerman Scott

A buyer persona is an imaginary customer. It is the person for whom you've developed your product and to whom you'd love to sell it (of course!). He or she represents your target audience, but is much more real than a vague description of some demographics.

You need to know your buyer persona so well that you know exactly what makes her laugh, what makes her shake her head in disbelief, what makes her click buy,and what makes her hesitate to order.

To describe your buyer persona, think about what she's reading and which websites she visits, because that will help you understand the right tone of voice that will engage her. Consider what keeps her awake at night, what she dreams of achieving, and how she makes decisions, because that will enable you to create copy that speaks to her and taps into her feelings.

Clearly defining your buyer persona will give you the information you need to transform product-centric descriptions into customer-centric descriptions. Visualizing your buyer persona will empower you to make your descriptions more vivid, personal, and persuasive.

Let's have a look at how this works.

2. Create a Comprehensive List of Features and Benefits

You love talking about your products.

Maybe you've spent years developing your app. Or you're excited about the upgraded specs of your best-selling item. You enjoy providing people with all of the details, the features, and the specs, and that's what people want to read about, isn't it?

No. Not really.

Potential clients don't want to know what your product is or does. They want to know what's in it for them. How does it make their lives better? Which problems does it take away?

Before you start writing, list all of your features and specs, and then translate them into benefits. 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 bullet points below for Amazon's Paperwhite, for instance, mix positive benefits (read with one hand and battery lasts weeks) with problems that are avoided (no screen glare and read without eyestrain).

 7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

Most people are risk-averse, so it's wise to include some references to how your product avoids glitches, hassles, and problems.

3. Define Your Tone of Voice

Do you want to sound like a boring big corporation? Or do you want to engage readers with personality and a dash of humor?

Your tone of voice can differentiate you from your competitors; it gives readers a strong impression of your organization's culture and personality.

Rather than say you're fun to deal with, let your personality shine through your content and add a dash of humor. Rather than remark that your customer service is excellent, let your tone of voice demonstrate that you're friendly, approachable, and interested in understanding your client's business.

The descriptions below are for similar products, but they strike a completely different tone of voice:

Fuzzy Fleece Slippers on Zappos:

 7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

Furry Adventure Slippers on ThinkGeek:

 7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

Your tone of voice shows who you are and how you deal with your clients.

To define your tone of voice, consider what you are and what you're not. For instance: We're cheeky and fun, but we never use bad language. Or: We're business-like, but not boring, and we don't use gobbledygook phrases such as market-leading and world-class.

If you were going to speak to your buyer persona in real life, which tone would you strike? That's the voice you want to emulate in your writing.

Check out MailChimp's Voice and Tone website for an excellent example of how to describe your tone of voice.

4. Create a Scannable Format

Research suggests that people read only 16% of the words on the average web page.

To entice people to buy your product or trial your app, they probably need to read your copy. So how do you tempt people to stop skimming your page and start reading your content?

Let's look at two examples:

The InVision product page uses an easy-to-scan and easy-to read format. The subheadings have a font size of 30px, while the body text has a comfortable font size of 20px.

Most subheadings focus on a benefit (e.g., a real time to-do list keeps projects moving forward), while the body text provides a more detailed explanation. Pictures and simple animations almost make you feel as if you're using the product, increasing your desire to try it.

The product descriptions of UK-based smoothie maker Innocent follow the format of a straightforward headline, an engaging story, and bullet points that highlight three benefits. Their smallest font size is 16px, and they use a variety of colors to attract attention to their headline and bullet points.

 7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

To make your product descriptions easy to skim and easy to read, consider:

  • Subheadings to entice scanners to start reading
  • Bullet points to attract attention to key points
  • A large font to improve readability
  • Video or photography to increase the desire to use or buy your product
  • Plenty of white space to guide readers through your content and make your page a joy to read

Web design and content writing should work together like yin and yang. They interact and strengthen each other.

5. Write a First Draft

Once you know who your buyer persona is and have planned your content, writing a first draft becomes much easier.

Go through your list of features, benefits, and objections, and rank them in a logical way that your buyer will find easy to follow.

If your list is relatively short, include the most important benefits first and the least important last. If your list is longer, you may want to go for a topical arrangement. Apple, for instance, has specific pages about design features and built-in apps.

 7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

Make your copy comprehensive and persuasive by mentioning all of the benefits of your product, and make sure you take away common objections. If your product is relatively expensive, then you need to point out how much value buyers get out of it. If buyers are concerned about how complicated it is to sign up for your app, then suggest how quickly they can do it.

Turning a drab first draft into passionate copy is like flogging a dead horse. So write your first draft when you feel positive and enthusiastic. Write rapidly, and don't worry about spelling and grammar mistakes (that's what's your editing phase is for).

6. Edit Your Text to Boost Your Persuasiveness

Editing your text doesn't mean you just correct typos and grammar mistakes.

You edit your copy to make it more readable, engaging, and persuasive:

  • Review your list of features and benefits to ensure you haven't missed anything.
  • Check your engagement level. Is the copy focused on the reader or your company? Highly engaging copy uses the word you more often than your brand or product name and the words I, we, and us.
  • Improve readability by replacing difficult words with simple words and by reducing average sentence length. Don't worry about starting a sentence withand, because, or but. Even Apple copywriters start their sentences with conjunctions.
  • Replace generic phrases with specific details, because specificity increases your credibility. Excellent customer service is a generic phrase that doesn't sound credible. We'll answer your inquiry within 24 hours is more specific and credible. Include numbers where possible, because they represent facts and stop wandering eyes.

Before you move on to your last step, picture yourself talking to your buyer, and read your copy aloud. Do you stumble over any sentences? Does your copy engage your buyer? Does it persuade him to buy?

Polish your copy until you can seduce your buyer to purchase.

7. Optimize Your Copy for Search Engines

When you write for your buyer persona and use the phrases he uses, you're automatically optimizing your product descriptions for search engines, because these are the phrases he searches for on Google.

A few more tips:

  • Avoid jargon unless your buyer uses jargon, too.
  • Consider using your key phrase in your headline, subheadings, and body text.
  • Optimize your product images by using your key phrase in the file name, image description, and alt tag.

Thinking too much about search engines kills your seductive powers because no one enjoys reading content that's sagging under keyword sludge.

Always write for your reader first, and optimize for search engines later.

How to Make Product Descriptions Seductive

When you sit down to write, don't just create another product description.

Instead, think about your buyer. Consider how you can make his life easier, richer, or more pleasurable.

Quit talking in vague statements. Stop babbling on about features and specifications. Turn them into enticing benefits. That's how you seduce your buyer to buy.

Henneke Duistermaat is a contributor for KISSmetrics.

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