Most product descriptions are terrible.
Who really reads the copy on your product pages, anyway? There are so many other things to do on a website in terms of conversion rate optimization that a product description can’t really make an impact on sales, right?
Wrong. In fact, evidence from an ecommerce study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group shows that 20% of unsuccessful purchases are due to lack of product information.
Ecommerce business owners and marketers alike are susceptible to a common copywriting mistake (even professional copywriters make it sometimes): writing product descriptions that simply describe your products.
Why is it wrong? Because great product descriptions need to augment your product pages by selling your products to real people, not just acting as back-of-the-box dispensers of information for search engines (though SEO can’t be an afterthought, of course).
Let’s have a look at 10 simple ways to draw visitors to your online store with product descriptions that sell.
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What is a product description?
A product description is the marketing copy that explains what a product is and why it’s worth purchasing. The purpose of a product description is to supply customers with important information about the features and benefits of the product so they’re compelled to buy.
A well-crafted product description moves buyers through your conversion funnel. If you add a bit of creativity, your product pages instantly become more compelling, leading to more conversions from casual shoppers.
To succeed in writing product descriptions, you need to answer questions customers have about your products:
- What problems does your product solve?
- What do customers gain from your product?
- What makes it better than the competition?
A product description should answer these questions in a fun and engaging way.
How to write good product descriptions that sell
Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of listing product features when writing product descriptions. This likely results in lower conversions because people don’t understand how the product helps them.
Let’s look at how you can create perfect product descriptions that sell for you:
- Focus on your ideal buyer
- Entice with benefits
- Avoid “yeah,yeah” phrases
- Justify using superlatives
- Appeal to your readers' imagination
- Cut through the rational barriers with mini-stories
- Seduce with sensory words
- Tempt with social proof
- Make your description scannable
- Set goals and KPIs
1. Focus on your ideal buyer
When you write a product description with a huge crowd of buyers in mind, your descriptions become wishy-washy and you end up addressing no one at all.
The best product descriptions address your target audience directly and personally. You ask and answer questions as if you’re having a conversation with them. You choose the words your ideal buyer uses. You use the word “you.”
This is how retailer The Oodie starts the product description for its I Love Plants Oodie.
🎯 Can’t stop buying plants? Unbeleafable. Don’t worry—us too! Cover yourself in your favourite obsession in our NEW I Love Plants Oodie! For every I Love Plants Oodie sold, one tree is planted across Australia.
When it comes to writing your own product descriptions, start by imagining your ideal buyer. What kind of humor do they appreciate (if any)? What words do they use? What words do they hate? Are they OK with words like “sucky” and “crappy”? What questions do they ask that you should answer?
Consider how you would speak to your ideal buyer if you were selling your product in-store, face to face. Now try and incorporate that language into your ecommerce site so you can have a similar conversation online that resonates more deeply.
2. Entice with benefits
When we sell our own products, we get excited about individual product features and specifications. We live and breathe our company, our website, and our products.
The problem is our potential buyers are not as interested in mundane features and specs. They want to know what’s in it for them—how it will address their biggest pain points. That’s why you need to highlight the benefits of each feature.
A great product description example comes from Dr. Squatch.
🎯 Made with real pine extract, this all-star bar is as tough as a freshly cut bat. A true MVP of the shower, this heavy-hitter knocks out grime with its gritty composition and ultra-manly, woodsy scent. Toss in the exfoliating oatmeal and the super-soothing shea butter, and you’ve got a bullpen of natural ingredients that will strike out any stink.
Dr. Squatch suggests that the benefit of its soap is not just that it’ll clean you up in the shower, but that the soap is actually tough enough to knock out any stench. No matter how heavy your day was. It also sneaks in some product benefits including “natural ingredients” and “exfoliating oatmeal” to appeal to its ideal buyer persona.
Consider the benefit of each of your features. How does your product make your customers feel happier, healthier, or more productive? What problems, glitches, and hassle does your product help solve?
Don’t sell just a product, sell an experience.
3. Avoid “yeah, yeah” phrases
When we’re stuck for words and don’t know what else to add to our product description, we often add something bland like “excellent product quality.”
That’s a “yeah, yeah” phrase. As soon as a potential buyer reads “excellent product quality” he thinks, “Yeah, yeah, of course. That’s what everyone says.”Ever heard someone describe their product quality as average, not so good, or even bad?
You become less persuasive when your potential buyer reads your product description and starts saying “yeah, yeah” to themselves. To avoid this reaction, be as specific as possible.
One shopper in a recent study could not find the information he needed in the product description, so he left the site to search Google for more product information. In the course of his search, he found another site with the same product, a more complete description, and a lower price.
Beardbrand, for instance, doesn’t describe the quality of its styling balm as excellent. Instead they describe each detail plus its benefit.
🎯Whatever your style is, Beardbrand Styling Balm is versatile enough to handle it. Designed to work with all hair types, it provides enough hold to keep thick, curly hair under control, keep thinner hair from falling flat, and keep the most unruly beards inline—all while keeping your hair flexible and touchable (no hard, stiff, crunchy hair here). This product pulls its weight when it comes to keeping your look locked in throughout the day. Whatever your style is, wear it with confidence with Beardbrand Styling Balm.
Product details add credibility. Product details sell your product. You can never include too many technical details in your product descriptions. Be specific.
4. Justify using superlatives
Superlatives sound insincere unless you clearly prove why your product is the best, the easiest, or the most advanced.
Amazon explains why the Kindle Paperwhite is the world’s thinnest and lightest e-reader.
The word signature gives the reader the impression that this is something special. Amazon goes on to quote the pixel density (300 ppi) and how the reader has glare-free display and twice the amount of storage as previous generations.
If your product is really the best in its category, provide specific proof why this is the case. Otherwise, tone your product copy down or quote a customer who says your product is the most wonderful they’ve ever used.
5. Appeal to your readers’ imagination
Scientific research has proven that if people hold a product in their hands, their desire to own it increases.
You’re selling online, so your web visitors can’t hold your products. Large, crystal-clear pictures or videos can help, but there’s also a copywriting trick to increase desire: let your reader imagine what it would be like to own your product.
Here’s how Firebox stirs your imagination with a description of its Fizzics DraftPour. It shows how the product solves the problems common with going to the pub for a pint.
🎯Nothing beats a freshly pulled pint in your favourite pub—except maybe a freshly pulled pint in your very own home.
Never battle with crowds, struggle for a seat, or have to hang about outside on the pavement just to enjoy your favourite beer again! The Fizzics DraftPour gives you nitro-style draft beer from ANY can or bottle. Even the cheapest economy lager can be instantly transformed into a luxurious draft pint with just one pull of the lever.
The DraftPour may be a sleek piece of kit, but it’s deceptively high tech under the hood, applying sound waves to convert your beer’s natural carbonation into a smooth micro-foam. These diddy little bubbles create the optimal density for enhanced aroma, flavour, and a silky smooth mouth-feel.
Get a fruit machine and a few boxes of pork scratchings in and you’ve basically completely replicated your local pub. Sticky bar-top and ancient, dubiously-stained carpet not included.
To practice this copywriting technique, start a sentence with the word “imagine,” and finish your sentence (or paragraph) by explaining how your reader will feel when owning and using your product.
6. Cut through rational barriers with mini-stories
Including mini-stories in your product descriptions lowers rational barriers against persuasion techniques. In other words, we forget we’re being sold to.
Wine sellers like UK-based Laithwaites often include short stories about wine makers.
🎯 The Dauré family own one of the Roussillon’s top properties, the Château de Jau. Around the dinner table one Christmas they agreed it was time to spread their wings and look to new wine horizons. The womenfolk (Las Niñas) fancied Chile and won out in the end, achieving their dream when they established an estate in the Apalta Valley of Colchagua. The terroir is excellent and close neighbours of the Chilean star Montes winery.
When it comes to telling a story about your products, ask yourself:
- Who is making the product?
- What inspired creating the product?
- What obstacles did you need to overcome to develop the product?
- How was the product tested?
7. Seduce with sensory words
Green & Black’s sensory adjectives don’t just refer to taste, but also to sound and touch: “crunchy” and “soft.”
Adjectives are tricky words. Often they don’t add meaning to your sentences, and you’re better off deleting them. However, sensory adjectives are power words because they make your reader experience the copy while reading.
Dazzle your readers with vivid product descriptions. Think about words like “velvety,” “smooth,” “crisp,” and “bright” if you’re selling food products.
8. Tempt with social proof
When your web visitors are unsure about which product to purchase, they look for suggestions about what to buy. They’re often swayed to buy a product with the highest number of positive reviews and testimonials.
One gym apparel seller, Gymshark, includes customer reviews on each product page. It also displays a rating system so shoppers can get product information quickly and easily.
Try to include an image of the customer to add credibility to a quote. It also makes your online business more approachable and relatable. You can even integrate a social media feed filled with user-generated content that shows real people using your products.
The above quote carries extra impact because it describes the product as popular. The popularity claim is further supported with a cutting from the press and the phrase “press favorite.”
Most buyers are attracted to buying something that’s popular. When it comes to your ecommerce website, highlight the products that are customer favorites.
9. Make your description scannable
Is your web design encouraging web visitors to read your product descriptions?
Here’s a great example of product description from Kettle & Fire. The brand uses bullet lists to communicate quick, scannable benefits. It also replaces the standard “benefits” headline with “Why You’ll Love It,” personalizing the experience for shoppers on the product page.
Packaging your product descriptions with a clear, scannable design makes them easier to read and more appealing to potential customers.
Leaving shoppers’ questions unanswered can derail a sale or even worse, make shoppers abandon not just the purchase, but the site as well.
Here are some areas to focus on when designing yours:
- Entice your web visitor with headlines.
- Use easy-to-scan bullet points.
- Include plenty of white space.
- Increase your font size to promote readability.
- Use high-quality product images.
10. Set goals and KPIs
The goal of a product description is to move a shopper toward purchase. But how do you know if your descriptions are working or not?
You’ll want to decide on a set of metrics to track on your product pages. Defining these metrics will help you understand what product descriptions are working best and improve on underperforming ones.
Common KPIs to monitor include:
- Conversion rate
- Cart abandonment
- Return rate
- Support inquiries
- Organic search rankings
Struggling to grow sales? Learn how to go from first day to first sale in this free training course.
Product description template
Unfortunately, there is no one template that can write product descriptions for you. Every product and audience is different and has different buying triggers. And that’s OK, because you want your product descriptions to be uniquely your brand.
If you’re stuck on writing a product description, here are a few guidelines to help get you started.
First, answer the following questions:
- Who’s the ideal customer? Knowing who your product is for is foundational to writing a good description.
- What are your products’ basic features? Write out any dimensions, materials, functions, care instructions, and details about the fit (if you’re selling clothing).
- When is the product best used? Is your cozy blanket perfect for cold winter nights with a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace? Or is it more for a brisk autumn evening as the sun goes down? Highlight the ideal scenarios for when a customer should use your product.
- What makes your product special? Think about the unique benefits of your product and why it’s better than that of your competitors.
Once you have this information in a document, use the following template to write out your product description.
- Write a specific headline that grabs your target customers’ attention. Keep your ideas simple while showcasing an instant benefit. For example, if you’re selling a yoga t-shirt with a pattern, call it Fleck Studio Shirt.
- Craft a short paragraph based on the basic features and best-used information above. Look to the examples above to get inspiration for writing an entertaining description.
- Include a bullet list of product features and benefits. Add any technical details needed.
- Add social proof. You can use a customer reviews app to capture product reviews on your website and integrate others from third-party sites like Google or Facebook.
Now you’re all set to add a product (or adjust an existing one) in your store!
A compelling product description will always pay you back
Share your knowledge about your product. Tell stories and explain even the tiniest details. Make an effort not to be boring and instead delight your web visitors with seductive descriptions. Most of all, write with enthusiasm, because your passion for your products is contagious.
Illustration by Eugenia Mello
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Product description FAQ
How do you write an effective product description?
- Focus on your ideal buyer.
- Entice with benefits.
- Justify using superlatives.
- Appeal to your readers’ imagination.
- Cut through rational barriers with mini-stories.
- Seduce with sensory words.
- Tempt with social proof.
- Make your description scannable.
What is the purpose of a product description?
The purpose of a product description is to provide shoppers with important information that helps them make a purchase decision. Think of a product description like a salesperson who works 24/7 on your product pages to sell your stuff.
What is a good product description format?
- Specific product title
- Short, descriptive paragraph
- Bulleted list of features and technical details
- Social proof
- Call to action