Content Marketing Manager
Reading Time: 13 minutes
Ask merchants what are the most important things to nail with showcasing products, you’ll likely get several answers. However, few will list these reasons without quickly stating one thing—product descriptions.
Your customers need to know about your products, including why your product is great and what makes it so great. Alongside product images, your product description is often the deciding factor for many customers.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, your customers will still need those words to properly understand your product.
Naturally, you should strive to optimize your product listings and descriptions. But first, merchants should address some primary questions. After all, you want to write product descriptions that sell—but how do you write a good product description?
This is the question we’re going to address today. We’ll explore how a product description fits onto a product page, as well as some product description examples. Together, we’ll figure out how to write a product description—piece by piece.
What are the Most Important Elements for a Good Product Description?
Sometimes, merchants can make one of the biggest ecommerce mistakes possible—they can opt not to include any product descriptions at all.
This lack of content is likely utilized either due to one of two reasons. They might want the product images to speak for themselves. Or, simply, they don’t have the capabilities to properly craft a product description.
Whatever the reason, this is akin to a grievous sin for marketing—failing to communicate with customers. This is the ultimate goal of product descriptions and what function they serve—they allow you to make a sales pitch to everyone who visits your store.
To make an effective sales pitch, you need to know how to properly communicate with a customer online. Unlike talking to customers in person, product descriptions should pre-emptively address their questions. This helps to tell them what they need to know about your product.
Template of Product Descriptions
To understand the basics of doing so, let’s take a look at a product description template
- Product title: While many would consider it an obvious inclusion to add a product title, there are ways that you can get it wrong. Or, at the very least, miss golden opportunities for product descriptions.
It’s good product description practice to make a product title short, sweet, and straight to the point. But, there are ways that this can exclude key information for a customer.
Naturally, you should handle this with a deft touch. For example, a set of weights could have the product title “3-Piece Weight Set”, but more accurately, it could also have the title “3-Piece Set of Weights: 5kg, 8kg & 10kg”. This version includes vital information about what’s within the product.
However, a product title could potentially get out of hand, especially if a merchant aims to go in hard on the keywords. After all, we’ve all seen an alternative to this that looks like “Men’s Weights Home Weights Weight Set for Home Work Out”, or something to that effect.
This is where the balance of necessary descriptions and concise messaging comes into play.
- Main image & images: Images are another seemingly obvious inclusion, but one that has description potential. There are SEO benefits to having accurate alt tags for images.
Yet it’s the captions or image descriptions themselves that can make your marketing more successful. In some cases, these won’t even count towards a total word count.
This is especially true if the captions and image descriptions only appear during an image slideshow. Or they appear when clicking on the image in general.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t raise the flag for stuffing image captions with lots of text. Not at all, it’s another ‘less is more’ style approach that’s needed here. Especially as using a short caption for an image can help to drive home the selling points you’re discussing in the main product description.
For example, a sprinkler system with a single image showing three different modes that the sprinkler can be set to. The caption can then exclaim that the sprinkler has three different settings, which would be one of the listed features.
- Introductory paragraph: Now we’re moving away from structure and towards the product description itself. An introductory paragraph can fall into two categories—being nothing more than an introduction, warming up the description, or a concise summary of the product itself. These approaches work well for different merchants, stores, and products.
‘Warming up’ allows you to set the scene and prepare the customer as you take them through the product, point by point. This would work for a product that has many different benefits or requires explanation, like a specialist tool. A summary, on the other hand, aims to give a customer a general view of the product, which may be all it requires. This would work for a product that’s mostly familiar to customers, like a type of paint.
- Further paragraphs: If a product description requires a little more than just one paragraph, you can continue writing and explaining. You can opt to place this before, after, or sandwiching a list, depending on the content within the description.
For example, you can use the list to set up the primary features and benefits of a product, with the following paragraphs elaborating. Alternatively, you can use the list as a summary of the content within the description. This would place it after the introduction paragraph and the following paragraphs.
- List of features: Any merchant that works with Amazon will understand that their page structure requires clear use of the bullet points and lists. Amazon’s page formatting makes conveying product descriptions an afterthought. This calls for easy-to-spot and understand bullet points and lists to highlight main points about a product.
Even for product descriptions not on Amazon, it’s useful to make use of these same lists. A list should include three to five main takeaways about the product. This isn’t just easy on the eyes, diverting attention to the list and therefore the key features.
It’s also a prime opportunity to break up your page and make the product description easier to read. Better yet, it lets you clearly spell out what makes the product worthwhile.
- FAQs: A fantastic way of addressing potential (or researched) customer queries is with a short FAQ section at the end of a product description. You can even use them in conjunction with SEO keywords or key phrases, which can often take the form of questions.
Include these questions and quickly answer them. This way, you essentially cut out the middleman between customers’ inquiries and your customer support team. They also serve as ample ground for promotion, as it allows you to elaborate on your product’s selling points.
For example, with the question “is your chocolate vegan friendly”, a merchant can answer with “yes, it is, it’s also gluten-free, low in sugar,” so on, so forth.
- Recommend products: Finally, and optionally, there are product recommendations. These serve as supporting materials for product descriptions. More so than being part of product descriptions themselves, at least.
However, context is often king, and offering similar products to the main product can help your customers understand it better.
This can include two specific types of products. First, add-ons to the product, such as coffee beans to a coffee maker. Second, similar products that put the main product into perspective, such as a matching jacket to a shirt. Product recommendations have a variety of other benefits, such as opening the door to cross-selling.
However, next to a product description, they can passively provide more information to the customer.
But beyond this template, what elements make great product descriptions? How can merchants write product descriptions that convert to sales? Let’s explore them, one by one.
Make Your Product Descriptions Short, Sweet, and Easy to Read
When you set out to write product descriptions, naturally, you want to create product descriptions that sell. Some may think the way to do so is to point out everything that makes a product great.
Remember though, you should understand the importance of moderation. Your passion for your product can lead your hand to write lengthy lines and paragraphs, but taking a step back might be necessary.
The key point to recall is this—what does your customer need to know? That’s ‘need’ with a capital ‘N’. It isn’t everything you want them to know, or what you think would be nice to know.
Bullet points, a short list of key features, and a short word count—keeping things short, sweet, and easy to read is the way to get your message across.
Of course, you’ll need to walk a fine line between important information and a word limit. This is particularly true when crafting SEO product descriptions. Ensuring that you naturally and organically implement any keywords that’ll draw traffic to them is vital.
Anything that reads a little unusual will more often than not seem off-putting to human eyes. This is regardless of whether they’re what made Google bring customers to that page.
The rule of thumb is usually nothing longer than 300-500 words for a product description, including any bullet points or lists. Think of it this way—if your customer can’t understand what makes your product so great in a glance, is sitting them down and explaining it to them going to make them want it?
Take trading cards, for example. You can think of baseball cards, Pokémon cards—any kind of trading card. A customer can look at these often colorful, shiny cards and instantly understand why they want them. They’re part of a culture that they love, they look cool, and they can even function as part of a game.
Now imagine you have a store with these cards, and you let some kids loose in it. Do you really believe that explaining their potential financial investment status is going to excite them? Or will they get excited when they see a shiny card with a cool picture and big numbers on them?
The same applies to product descriptions—give them the information that they need, what makes the product special, and any more information that can fit into a small word count.
Choosing the Best Format to Describe Your Products
Not only should product descriptions be short and sweet, but they need to fit comfortably on any screen. This is the importance of crafting descriptions for all formats—it needs to read well on large screens and small screens equally well.
Studies reinforce this, as in the US alone, 85% of adults own a smartphone, 77% own a desktop/laptop, and 53% own a tablet. These numbers are only growing, which shows that ensuring your descriptions can adapt to any screen size is vital.
However, some audiences may only respond to product descriptions that read well on mobile devices. After all, in the last 10 years, smartphone usage has skyrocketed from 35% of adults owning them to 85%. Included within this group are 15% of adults who don’t even use conventional broadband, opting to only use their phones.
To understand how formatting can change perceptions of a page, let’s take a look at the following product description example:
As you can see from the mock-up, a product description can fill an entire desktop monitor. However, this does not translate well to mobile screens, as it makes the text too small to read and the page layout is harder on the eyes.
By formatting the page and product description to be more mobile-friendly you make it easier to scroll through. This way, you can deliver your product description in a much more visually appealing manner that’s sure to resonate better with customers.
Focus on Your Ideal Buyer
Whether you’ve had them in mind since day one or you need further research into who your product is truly for, you need to know who your ideal buyer is. When you know who they are, then it’s time to speak their language.
Effective product descriptions convey what makes your product worthwhile to audiences. This should appeal to both ideal and potential buyers. However, the way that you hone in on the ideal buyers in particular is to:
- Use their power words: If you speak their language, you know what makes them tick—and what they want from your products.
- Know what sets you apart from the competition: This includes specific product features, telltale signs of quality, and unique elements of your product.
- Don’t be afraid to be niche: If you know what your ideal customers talk about, give them something that they’ll uniquely understand and resonate with. Don’t worry, we’ll explore this more later.
A great example of this would be computer parts. Some audiences may understand that, say, a good graphics card makes games look good. However, your ideal buyer will be more likely to understand and expect a high price tag. They’ll know why it’s priced so high, as well as references to the latest high-demand game that requires such a powerful graphics card.
Of course, elements of focusing on your ideal buyers will come down to the likes of marketing. Segmentation can help get your products in front of the right audience. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you meet your target audience out of a sea of potential customers.
This includes where you appeal to them. Some audiences are best appealed to via social media, while others will find you through the many webs of search engines.
However, when they arrive at your door, you need to make sure that they like what they see through the window.
Consider your buyer persona—what about your product appeals to them? Why did you create your product in the first place? By understanding what your potential customers and target audience needs, you can start to appeal to them.
Explain the Benefits
Really, this one shouldn’t need any explanation—tell the world what makes your product great.
For your non-ideal buyer audience, you might need to spell out the finer points of your product. This doesn’t include several pages of hand-holding content—you simply have to make your product’s benefits easy to understand.
It’s not so much that you need to explain it to a child. Rather, it’s considering what might be unclear or confusing to a wider audience. For example, let’s consider a specialty whiskey.
Some might not understand why a key benefit is how the manufacturer stores the spirit in specific casks. Your ideal buyers might understand the complexity of how casks influence the whiskey. It’s less likely that wider audiences will. The solution is addressing a benefit both audiences can understand and appreciate—taste.
Simply stating how the type of cask influences the taste helps convey this benefit to both general and niche audiences. This is how you should aim to explain your benefits—with unique product features and how they address your buyer’s pain points.
Anticipate Your Buyer’s Pain Points
Your customers’ pain points are the key reason they’d make a purchase decision with your product. There are ways that your ecommerce site can address this, such as with the product page design. Ultimately, it’s the product that should be addressing these.
Consider these pain points and anticipate how your product handles them. Let’s take a quick overview of these pain points:
- Financial: How does your product pricing affect their finances? Is it a cheaper alternative to the competition? Does it save them money? Or is it a luxury product that requires a higher price?
- Productivity: How does your product affect their day-to-day life? Is it a niche product for a niche problem? Does it solve many problems? Is it a product that saves time?
- Process: How easy is it to buy your product? Are there bundles that make it easier to buy more products or that make your product more useful? Is there a way that your ecommerce site can make it easier to complete a purchase? Are there simply delivery options?
- Support: Is all the relevant and essential information on the page? Can all of your audiences read the product descriptions, with different language options? Do you offer post-purchase support?
Once you’ve narrowed down how your product anticipates a customer’s pain points, you can handle this information in one of two ways.
First, you can blend it into the product description itself—anticipate their train of thought when you’re discussing features of your products. Second, phrase these pain points in an FAQ section, so that you can directly answer any questions customers might have about your product.
For example, let’s say you sell cookies that are a low-calorie alternative to conventional store-bought cookies.
You could reference how low-calorie they are in the introductory paragraph. This can include showcasing how many calories they are and how many calories store-bought cookies are.
Alternatively, you can have an FAQ section at the bottom of the page, featuring the question “How many calories are in a serving?” The answer will feature the same information referenced above.
Use Longer, Educational Content if Needed
It’s important to make product descriptions concise—but this doesn’t mean that longer explanations aren’t impossible to include. All you need to do is use them wisely.
One great way of doing this is having longer, educational content easily available on your website. Whether this is on your blog or you have specific pages for information, you can link to additional content.
For example, consider how vital this information can be for industrial equipment. Industry experts will be more likely to understand the information on a product page.
This could include concise descriptions detailing unique features. Or, bullet points referencing specific parts. For this example, let’s look at a street steam cleaner.
The steam cleaner could reference how it has specific nozzles for cleaning gum. Or, it could discuss how it was created to clean cars. At a first glance, this is impressive, yet some customers might want more information. This may include those that are new to the industry or experts that are more discerning about equipment.
The solution to this would be links to video demonstrations, or in-depth feature description. It could even include the instruction manual for the product.
Anticipating whether customers will need this information helps you craft concise product descriptions. However, you can also focus on offering more information elsewhere on your website—somewhere that is easily jumped to from your product description.
Don’t be Afraid to be Unique
As aforementioned, your unique features should be some of your greatest strengths. These are often the best-selling points to sing from the rooftops—especially if they resonate with a niche, ideal audience.
If you believe that a more casual tone best portrays your product, use it. If your audience responds better and expects more formal language, speak technically. In a world where industries are full of the same style, don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.
For product descriptions, this can extend to what you think is important for your audience to know. For example, let’s say you’re launching a line of fruit flavored beverages. You want your brand to be as vibrant and eye-catching as possible, hoping to reflect the vivid taste of your product. You can go down one of many different paths here, but let’s pick two for the sake of comparison.
For our first path, let’s say you want to shock your customers and lean into the vibrant angle—this way, you go unapologetic with your descriptions. “Flavor that packs a punch,” “With each sip, there’s a raging party in your mouth”, “Putting the ‘passion’ back into ‘passion fruit’”.
This is bold messaging that captures extreme flavors. It’s a more casual approach, something that hopefully appeals to younger audiences.
For our contrasting path, let’s stick to a more natural approach that explores more about the product than just taste—this way, you stay subtle with your descriptions. “Invoke nature,” “Taste nature every day,” “Enjoy sustainability with each glass.”
This toned-down messaging that aims to give a larger picture of the product. It’s a more measured, sensible approach, something that looks to appeal to eco-friendly, moderate audiences.
This doesn’t just extend to product descriptions—you should never be afraid to experiment with your brand’s tone of voice and how you communicate with your audience.
Ultimately, the decision of how you structure your product descriptions and the message you want to share is up to you. Different products and industries will often call for radically different approaches—none of which are wholly perfect.
The important thing to remember as a merchant is to know your product, who you’re looking to appeal to, and how to concisely express that. After all, the key objective of any language is to convey information from one party to another. If one party has little patience or a fickle attention span, you simply have to figure out how to alter your language to get through them.
Naturally, once you’ve crafted some truly engaging product descriptions that capture your voice, tone, and message, you’ll need to get your target audience to read it. Sadly, without the right marketing, this may never happen—which is why you need to make use of equally engaging platforms.
With highly personalizable segmentation and customer intelligence features, Omnisend certainly serves as a customer-focused platform. To see how successful you can be with Omnisend, simply start your free trial today.