Writing Product Descriptions That Sell
I’ll admit that a picture is worth a thousand words. We live in a visual world, and as a writer, I can accept that.
But you also have to put some serious effort into product descriptions if you want to move your ecommerce products off their virtual shelves.
Even if you feature the most high-end product photography that offers up close and personal views of every angle of your product, you could miss a sale if the customer doesn’t know who it’s for, what it does and what to do with it!
Have a conversation with your audience
Create your buyer personas — imaginary characters that represent your audience — if you haven’t already, and write the way they speak. While your product specifications and tech details can be dry, your “hook” shouldn’t be. That means write your first sentence in a way that draws your audience in and shows them why they need your product.
Rasa Coffee Alternative does a great job with this. Judging by Rasa’s product descriptions, their target audience is organic-minded shoppers who struggle with fatigue, but don’t want caffeine or chemically induced energy boosts.
“Delish on its own, or mixed with Cacao or Dirty Rasa when you need extra strength against stress. “
“Extra strength against stress” is the first message sent by the copywriters of this product description. This is actual a core message of Rasa. I first discovered this brand on Facebook through a sponsored ad. I assume my data informed them that I am a mother of young kids, chronically tired, and quitting coffee because of the caffeine shakes.
The brand promises not just a coffee replacement, but a line of defense against exhaustion through the use of adaptogens. What the heck are adaptogens? Rasa gives you that information right in the second paragraph.
The product description tells me what I’m looking at — “a nourishing coffee alternative” — as well as the benefit the product offers — it holistically supports your health and energy.
You want to solve your buyer persona’s problems, and you want to tell them how you’re going to do that as fast as you can.
Modcloth also has descriptions that make you want the thing they’re selling more than you should.
This description is very sensory, and tells you how you’ll feel when you wear it. You’ll be comfortable and look classy (“the added elevation of bishop sleeves”). But it’s the first line — “With the wearability of your favorite knit tee” — that sparks a conversation between buyer and seller.
Highlight the benefits, but give the specs in a way that’s easy to digest. Offer the details in bullet points.
Grove Collaborative has lots of good examples of this. Ignoring the rest of Grove’s pretty fantastic marketing strategy, the specification list for their products are great.
Using the subhead “Why we love this product,” they list things like being “ultra-strong and durable” and “Made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.”
Modcloth uses a Description/Details/Size Chart click-through section. The description is vivid and highlights the benefit to the buyer, while the details section uses bullet points to provide more technical information.
It provides the fabric info, how to wash the item, and a few other details.
Depending on what you’re selling, you can play around with the layout of the description and the details. If you’re selling more practical items, you may want the bulleted list to display first. Home Depot does this. The snow blower shown below lists three bullets with practical details up top with a much longer description further down the page. Modcloth, however, puts the flowery description right beside the product.
Make it sing
When writing product descriptions, describe your product in detail (obviously), and make sure to place the most important information at the beginning of the description. Customers want to know what your product does, what it looks like and all the technical details. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle brand personality into your copy.
Don’t leave any questions unanswered. If shoppers can’t find the information they’re looking for in your product descriptions, they’ll head back to the search engines.
Avoid using superlatives and flat adjectives like “great,” “the best,” “interesting,” or even “the most amazing.” These aren’t true. These aren’t provable. These phrases rob credibility.
If you tell your audience that your shoes are “the best shoes” or “the greatest shoes” or even “the most comfortable shoes,” why should your audience believe you? Why and how are they the best? It’s important to present a credible case, and not to just stuff your product descriptions with fluff words.
You can tell your friends you just ate the best spaghetti you’ve ever had in your life, or you can tell them that the spaghetti had noodles cooked to al dente perfection, topped with a sauce filled with robust tomatoes that hit the perfect note of tang and sweet, served with meatballs filled with mouthfuls of flavorful spices. That might be a little over the top for a casual conversation but you get my point.
Make a list of all the features your product offers. Then add a list of adjectives you could use to describe them. Write, then rewrite, and rewrite again. Keep rewriting until your sentences are short and concise but pack a punch. Appeal to the senses and remember to describe how your audience will feel once they have your product. How will the life of your audience be affected?
Write for Search Engine Optimization
If your customers can’t find your website, it won’t matter how fantastic your products are. Your product descriptions — and your photos! — should speak the language of Google.
This means you’re going to need to do some keyword research. SEMRush and Moz Keyword Explorer are fun, easy ways to learn which keywords you should use. These tools will tell you how many people are looking for certain keywords, how hard it will be to rank high with that keyword, and other words and phrases you can use with the original keyword.
You’ll want to use those keywords naturally in your product descriptions. Don’t overuse them or it’ll have the opposite effect — Google will penalize you.
Strong SEO plays a role in getting more organic traffic to your site and sales in general. A lot of this will happen on its own. If your product descriptions are written well, Google will like it. What’s good for your audience is good for search engines because the whole point of search engines is to point shoppers to what they actually want.
Know your product inside and out, but know your audience just as well. Talk to them about why they should purchase your product. The way to do that is to tell them why you sell it to begin with. You wouldn’t be selling something if you didn’t see a need for it in the market, so explain your “why.”
About those photos
Adding alternative text — also called alt tags — to your photos is important. Alt tags are text that you add as you upload the files, and it needs to include keywords and phrases. This drives additional traffic to your site and helps you rank higher on search engines like Google.
Images are crawled for keywords by Google search engine bots — just like the text on your website is. Bots can only read text, not pictures. Use phrases rather than single keywords. For example, using the keyword “dress” will be less effective than using the phrase “blue knee-length evening dress for formal occasions.”
The more specific, the better off you’ll be. Think like a shopper! If you’re looking for a new set of dishes and want to get ideas before you shop, will you search for “dishes” or “blue dishes for regular use?” If your product descriptions and alt tags are described correctly, it’s easier for Google to match a shopper to you.
The size of your images is important, too. Images that are too large will slow down your site, and that reflects negatively on Google rankings.
Writing product descriptions that sing isn’t easy. But it is something that gets easier the more you do it. The key is to know who you’re talking to, why you’re selling and why people should want it. Share as many details as possible, but keep the technical details short and bulleted.
About the Author
Crystal has over a decade of experience in writing everything from award-winning investigative journalism articles to how-to guides. She’s written for magazines, newspapers, websites and even her local community theatre. Crystal has also managed marketing campaigns for artists, restaurants and music festivals.
Her favorite part of the job at FUNYL is brainstorming creative marketing ideas, and then creating the perfect script, ad copy, email or white paper that brings the concept to life. She also writes product descriptions that make you want to buy stuff. When she isn’t writing for FUNYL, she’s usually writing something else, or editing the Norris Bulletin, her hometown paper.