How to Write Compelling Product Descriptions
Product descriptions play a crucial role on ecommerce sites.
They’re a major deciding factor on whether or not someone will choose to buy … or continue browsing.
In some cases, product pages are paired with a sales page, but that’s not always the case.
Either way, your product description needs to be able to stand on its own, when it comes to persuading a reader to buy.
So, what exactly makes up a good product description? How long should your product description be? And, what are the essential parts to a good product description?
You’ll find the answers to those questions as you continue reading, and I’ll share some examples along the way.
What Is a Product Description?
Think of an ecommerce site. You click through to a product page, and there on the page is a brief description of the features and benefits of the product.
A well-written description provides enough information for the potential buyer to make the decision to purchase the product immediately.
To write a product description that converts, you need to keep these two questions in mind:
- What solution does your product provide, or what does your customer gain from using your product?
- What separates your product from other similar products?
Once you answer those two questions, you can write a successful product page by following six commonsense steps.
6 Steps to Writing Effective Product Descriptions That Get Results
Step #1: Define your buyer persona.
If you’re not sure who your target market is, you’ll never know what information you need to include or leave out, not to mention what tone would be most appropriate for your copy.
The best product descriptions are the ones written as if you’re sitting down talking with the buyer face-to-face.
Knowing your buyer also helps you figure out how long your product description should be. How much you need to write will depend on your target market and what kind of content they expect to receive from you.
Consider this example from Grant Cardone’s online store. This is a screenshot of Grant Cardone’s product description page for “The 10X Rule” book.
As you can see, there’s a short quote from the book that then leads you to a short video.
As you scroll down, you’ll find a list of bullet points for some of the topics you can expect to discover inside the book.
And, when you scroll down from there, you can read customer reviews and ratings for the book.
This product description isn’t lengthy, but it’s exactly what Grant’s customers expect.
A clear understanding of who your target market is will help you determine if you need to write a little or a lot, if humor is appropriate or not, if you can take an irreverent tone or should remain serious.
When you develop your customer persona, consider things like location, age (what generation your ideal customer is a part of), gender, interests, education level, income level, and relationship status. Ask your client to describe what they know about the customer. If possible, interview or survey existing customers. You can use all of the information you gather to create a customer persona — a description of an individual that represents your audience. Then, when you write, write as though you’re talking to the person you’ve created.
Step #2: Capture your reader’s imagination with a compelling story.
As I’m sure you’ve heard before, emotions influence a buyer’s behavior. People buy based on emotion first, and then use logic to justify their purchase afterwards.
An effective way to reach people emotionally is to help them imagine what it would be like to have the product in their daily life.
By telling a short story about your product, and by writing in a way that brings your potential buyer into the story, you’ll help create a connection with them on an emotional level.
When you sit down to write the story of your product, start by answering these questions:
- What inspired the product to be brought into existence?
- What particular problem does it solve?
- What was the journey of making the product like?
- How would this product look in the buyer’s daily life?
Writing a short story like this will help a potential buyer draw their own conclusions about the benefits of your product, which is far better than simply telling them the benefits and features. The more a potential buyer can see themselves with the product and visualize how it can benefit them in their daily life, the more they’re likely to purchase.
Now, consider this example of a product description for Star Anise at Burmaspice.com.
The first thing you’ll find is some imagery of the product and some brief copy describing the different packaging they provide for the product and why.
But, as you scroll down, a story begins to unfold.
Notice first, the length. As you can see, this product description is longer than that on Grant Cardone’s page, but it’s the length the customers of this business expect.
Next, notice the different sections. There’s a section for “Star Anise at a Glance,” a section for “Cooking with Star Anise,” as well as a “History and Origin” of the spice, and so on.
These sections answer key questions for the reader, but they do more than that. The description talks about what inspired the product and takes the reader on the journey from cultivation to your dinner table. Those story elements stir the imagination and an emotional response.
It helps the reader imagine what kind of delicacies they could be making with this spice. And, the kind of interaction they could be having with their family and friends at the dinner table while enjoying its sweet flavor.
Step #3: Use images and mixed media.
Remember the short commercial video on Grant Cardone’s product page?
In a scientific study conducted by researchers Joann Peck from the University of Wisconsin and Suzanne B. Shu from the University of California, both observed, “For non-owners, or buyers, perceived ownership can be increased with either mere touch or with imagery encouraging touch.”
Of course, online your potential buyer is not able to physically hold your product and try it out before they buy. But, you can do the next best thing — help them to imagine holding it and using it.
Showing them pictures of the product and, if helpful, short videos of the product in use are effective ways to do that.
Like a short story of the product, quality images of your product can aid in showing off key features and allow your customer to imagine the product being used in their daily life. They can also stir an emotional response.
And, some buyers will skip reading your written copy altogether, making their decision based on the images and videos instead.
Step #4: Think more in terms of benefits than features.
It’s understandable when your client is excited about the quality of their product and the specific features it has.
But, the buyer doesn’t necessarily share that excitement. They’re more interested in how the product can benefit them and improve their overall quality of life. As a copywriter, it’s your job to show them that.
Before writing out your product description, make an outline of the features and benefits of your product. When doing so, think about how the product can make life more pleasant or solve a problem.
And, when you write out your list of features, determine the associated benefit of each one, again focusing on how they make life better or solve a problem.
Step #5: Bullet points make your copy easier to scan.
A study conducted over at Neilsen Norman Group, World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience, found that web users typically only read about 16% of what’s on a page.
With that in mind, the best way to capture your audience’s interest is to make your product descriptions as scannable as possible.
One way to make your copy easier to scan is to include bullets where it makes sense. Bullets aren’t always the best way to convey benefits, but they’re good for listing features, possible uses, and accessories.
Step #6: Don’t forget the power of social proof.
People are social creatures. They like approval from the crowd when they buy something. That’s why things become popular, and why popular things continue to sell well … at least for a time.
You can help your reader feel good about buying a product by sharing what other people think about it. One of the most trusted ways to do this is to allow people who have purchased a product to share their honest reviews.
Grant Cardone, from the first example we looked at, makes good use of social proof by allowing his customers to review his book. The reviews are mostly positive, which helps readers feel good about also purchasing the book.
Companies Need Strong Product Descriptions
The ecommerce market is huge, and every business in that sector needs good, strong product descriptions. If you follow these six steps, you’ll be able to deliver effective product copy that will help your ecommerce clients increase their sales.
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