E-commerce is booming. While it once made up only 5.1% of retail purchases, now it accounts for 16%.
But in a world where more and more people are buying online, what’s taking the place of the in-store salesperson?
Product descriptions are doing the hard work of salespeople—in written form. And we all know how an uninspiring salesperson can put us off buying something. This means that having engaging product descriptions is essential.
Not only do product descriptions contain the important information customers need to know before buying but they also catch their attention and persuade them to make a decision. They compel and convince. They help you stand out and compete. No wonder 87% of consumers rate product content as extremely or very important when shopping.
Writing a product description that does all these things—and does them successfully—isn’t easy. Especially when there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to product description writing. Different brands require different styles of product descriptions. It all depends on your company, what you’re selling, and, most importantly, who your customer is.
But get it right and your product descriptions can do a lot of the heavy lifting. Not only do they boost sales, but they can also reduce customer service enquiries by answering questions on the product page itself. And they can help build a relationship with your customer by getting them to care about both you and your products.
So here are our top tips and tricks for writing product descriptions that are just as good as the most talented salesperson—if not better.
12 Tips for Writing Product Descriptions That Work
1. Get to know your buyer
As with all successful marketing, you need to know who you’re talking to in your product descriptions. Who is your ideal buyer? Why are they on your page? What are they looking for? What are they interested in?
If you understand your audience, you’re much better equipped to craft copy that’s targeted specifically at them and feels instantly relevant and personal.
Learn more about your buyer by talking to your customer service team, checking reviews, or sending out surveys to repeat customers. By doing your research, you can find out what people like about your products and what problems they are experiencing.
2. Explain how you can solve their problem
How will your product solve your customer’s unique pain point?
Your product description should clearly explain what your product does and why this is meaningful to your audience.
Pick out the key features of your product and turn them into benefits.
- Why is this particular specification exciting or relevant?
- Why are the dimensions of your suitcase, for example, particularly well-suited to air travel?
- Why does the particular material of your office chairs increase comfort?
Ask yourself how a particular product feature has the potential to help your customer, as well as what makes it different from other similar products?
Give readers all the information they need, explain how your product will make their life better, and answer any questions or concerns they might have. Speak to your customer service team to find out common queries.
3. Get them to use their imagination
With online shopping, your customer can’t pick up the product and examine it in person. Instead, they have to imagine doing so.
You can help them by putting yourself in their shoes and describing what their life would be like if they owned this product. Talk about how it will feel when they have this product. Make it emotional and tangible.
For example, if your product is a backpack, you might describe a situation where they are using the bag, transporting them away to the Himalayas or into the Scottish wilderness. If you sell coffee, you might get them to picture a stressful morning that is suddenly transformed by a cappuccino.
Paint a compelling picture. Read the customer reviews to see how your customers are using your products. Make it playful and fun to engage your reader and keep them reading.
4. Give them a back story
A bit of trivia or history can often make a product description more compelling.
For example, what region of India does your tea come from? Are there any cool facts about this particular place? Or what about explaining the origins of a certain ingredient, such as what the ingredient has been used for in the past or what cultural significance it has?
Or you might explain the story behind a particular product. What inspired it? What was the journey to creation? What challenges did you face?
But you don’t want to overload readers with information otherwise you’ll lose them. Make sure you get to the point quickly and keep it concise and entertaining.
5. Or a success story
Including testimonials and case studies in your product descriptions can be incredibly persuasive. Using social proof—a piece of evidence that serves as a vote of confidence, proving that your product is high value—helps influence customers, as people often want to conform to the behaviour of their peers.
Given that 92% of people trust recommendations from peers, it’s a powerful way to boost sales. You definitely want to mention if your product is a best-seller or customer favourite and include quotes from top reviews.
If your product has been featured in the press, you can include this too i.e. “as seen in Harper’s Bazaar.” You can also use a quote from an industry ‘expert’ or a celebrity endorsement.
6. Stick to your brand’s tone of voice
Different brands have different voices. A company selling novelty stocking fillers is going to have a very different tone of voice to a high-end fashion brand, for example.
So, what’s your brand identity? Are you youthful and high-energy? Do you use humour and keep it casual? Or is your tone of voice more professional and serious?
You want to use a voice that will resonate with your customer. Consider how you might address your buyer if you were speaking to them in real life. What tone would you use? Would you be chatty and joking or more formal? The same rules apply online.
Keep your tone of voice consistent across all your product descriptions.
7. Don’t be boring
Whenever you’re tempted to use a word like nice or great, try and think of a more interesting and enticing alternative. Similarly, words like market-leading, innovative, and stunning have all been overused. What other interesting options can you think of?
And you don’t have to just describe the product. You can also describe the buyer. What kind of person is likely to buy this? A high-flyer? An adventurer? A fashion connoisseur? Using this kind of aspirational language evokes a certain lifestyle that the reader will want to be associated with.
8. Use vivid and persuasive language
Sensory words are often the most powerful as they engage the reader by getting them to use their imagination. How does your product feel in their hands? Keep it tactile and tangible.
Another word that is always attractive to readers is easy—because who wouldn’t want their life to be made easier?
Similarly, solution will get people’s attention.
New is also exciting, as is anything that suggests exclusivity, such as luxury, premium, or limited edition.
You also want to use words that win prospects’ trust. Hubspot’s list of highly effective sales words includes “should we…?” rather than “we should”—because the last thing you want is to give customers orders.
And use the word “because” to back up your claims i.e. “our hiking boots last for years because of our advanced materials.” Proven is another good word to use to reassure customers that you are reliable and dependable, but only if you actually have the proof to back it up.
You also want to show you empathize with your customers and understand them. Use language that suggests you know what they’re going through. Most significantly, this means using “you” to speak directly to them.
9. Keep it conversational
You don’t want your text to sound like it was written by a computer. Keep it human and relatable. Would you use all those flowery adjectives and dramatic claims when speaking to a friend? Probably not.
Try to stay down-to-earth and natural. Don’t lecture readers or drown them in jargon. Use short words and sentences and get to the point quickly. Of course, this doesn’t excuse typos and spelling mistakes which can immediately ruin your brand image.
If yours is a niche industry, such as camera equipment, you can get away with using more technical language, as your customers are likely to understand it and will appreciate you treating them as the informed consumer that they are.
However, you still want to keep it simple and straightforward. If necessary, include a secondary page with more complex technical information. Sometimes certain product features are better demonstrated with a video, infographic, or images.
10. Use superlatives with caution
We’re talking about those descriptions like “The Best Mexican Food in Town” or “The Only Shampoo You’ll Ever Need”, or even claims that something is “of the highest quality.” These phrases are empty clichés that your customer will see right through.
Instead, make it specific. Why is your Mexican food the best? Is it because of the ingredients? The experience of your chefs? And don’t claim to be the most affordable unless you can actually back it up.
You can use facts and figures. For example, do you use a particular percentage of natural ingredients in your shampoo that makes it especially good for hair? Does your restaurant have a particularly high rating on TripAdvisor?
Supporting your claims with numbers will boost your credibility and distinguish you from competitors.
11. Don’t forget about design and visuals
Your readers are in a rush so make it easy for them to scan your text. Keep paragraphs short and concise.
Bullet points are an easy way to break up chunks of text and improve the reading experience.
Highlighting key points is also helpful, while different headers make descriptions more digestible. Your audience will appreciate being able to pick out the information quickly.
Don’t make the font too small and use lots of images—as long as they’re high quality. 60% of US digital shoppers say they need to see three or four images when shopping online.
If your product has lots of extra details that some customers might find interesting, rather than overloading them with it all on a single page, consider putting additional information on different tabs. You can then have a short, snappy, and engaging description, and put all the technical specs on another page for them to read if they want.
12. Optimise for SEO
Product descriptions are the perfect place to include keywords to boost your rankings on Google and other search engines. Include variations of the key terms that buyers are using to search for your product. Try and get it in your product title, meta descriptions, image tags, as well as your product descriptions.
But don’t cram keywords. Make sure it’s readable. Plus, for smaller businesses, your traffic is more likely to come from email, social, and other outreach efforts, rather than through organic search, so you might find SEO less important.
Product Descriptions: The Last Word
Writing powerful product descriptions is not as simple as just describing your product.
The best product descriptions offer immediate answers to your audience’s burning questions. They’re imaginative and tell a story. They convey what’s unique and special about you and your services. They are SEO-optimised—but still, sound like a human.
Perfecting your product descriptions isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. In a world where more and more purchases are being made online, your product descriptions are doing much of the heavy lifting for you. Better make sure they’re in good shape.