You could have the best products in the world in your online store, but poorly written product descriptions could mean losing your customers.
Product descriptions are absolutely critical in online shopping. Remember: Customers cannot touch your product online. They can’t step back and look at it in person, nor can they sample it. If they have never handled your product in real life, all they might know about it is what you put in your product description.
If you already have your online store up and running, take some time to objectively review the product descriptions. Are they interesting? Accurate? Easy to read? If you haven’t built your online shop yet, you are in luck, because you can do your product descriptions right the first time.
Do Your Homework First
Before you get started writing or improving your product descriptions, you need to do some homework and planning. Here are a few things to consider before writing product descriptions:
1. Can You Write?
This applies more to the solo entrepreneur or small company, as bigger companies will often have marketing staff with some background in copywriting. But even large companies will farm out copywriting to qualified professionals if they need to.
Please be objective and consider whether you or your staff has the writing capabilities to handle your product descriptions. If not, consider hiring out to a qualified copywriter or content agency. Or at least, you might want to hire a copyeditor to review and improve your work before it is posted.
2. Consider Your Audience
Who are you selling your products to? You need to answer this question first before tackling your product descriptions, as it will impact how they are written.
If you are part of a marketing department at an established company, you might have already done the job of creating “user personas” to represent the visitors to your website. If you are with a smaller company, or are a solopreneur, and you don’t know what personas are, now is a good time to learn.
A user persona is a profile of an ideal customer. It is not a real person but a representation of a person, or even a group of people merged into one “persona.” You can have multiple personas per online shop. Each persona has a (fake) name and attributes. You can determine which attributes are important to your shop. For example, an online store selling fishing gear might have the following personas:
Persona: Jerry James
Hobbies: Fishing, Boating, Golf
Story: Jerry is a stressed-out lawyer who likes to go fishing with his friends when he can, but he is often busy and unable to get away to the lake as much as he likes. He does like to buy the latest high-quality fishing gear, but he doesn’t want to waste a lot of time shopping.
Persona: Tim Jones
Hobbies: Fishing, Gardening
Story: Tim is recently retired and tries to go fishing every day. He has lots of free time and enjoys collecting fishing lures. He loves reading about fishing and learning new tips about the sport.
Based on these two personas, the first user (Jerry) might want a product description that is to the point and easy to scan. Tim, on the other hand, might really enjoy a lot of in-depth information about a product. You can cater to both types of users by writing a short introductory description then providing a link to more in-depth information for people like Tim.
3. What eCommerce Platform Are You Using?
Different online stores have different options for product descriptions, including length and ability to add features such as colors and sizes. Additionally, you might also talk to your developer (if you have one) about what options are available with your current shop theme.
BigCommerce has built in SEO features which automatically create meta descriptions from your product descriptions and also allow for manual overridding, should you wish to insert an optimized meta description, not based on the product’s main description (good for longer descriptions).
8 Tips on Writing Snazzy Product Descriptions
Now that you have determined whether you will do the writing in-house, what your audience is, and how your platform will impact your products, you are ready to work on the product descriptions. Follow these tips to develop some great product descriptions and watch your sales increase.
1. Keep it Simple
The introductory paragraph of your product description should mostly be a straightforward description of the product. Don’t worry about including every little technical detail or measurement, as those can usually be added in a “product details” area below.
2. Be Creative
Depending on your audience, you should try to use interesting and descriptive language that should be informative if not entertaining to read. Once again, know your audience. Millennials might respond well to very casual, personal language, whereas business professionals or scientists might want “just the facts.” Keep in mind that a product description does not have to be dry. It can even tell a story, as long as you don’t waste too much time getting to the core idea of what the product is.
3. Explain the Why
Give the potential customer a tangible reason.Why should a customer buy your product vs. another one? Does it use superior materials? Is it using advanced technology? Remember, you are trying to sell the product. Now is not the time to be modest or shy.
4. Use Direct Language
Regardless of the type of audience, you don’t want your product description to read like a college term paper. It should use direct, straightforward language. Avoid fluff and jargon. Sentences should be short and to the point.
A great free online tool to use to make your writing more streamlined is the Hemingway App. Just paste your copy in there to see how your copy compares.
5. Be Truthful
Being truthful is always better in the long run. If you lie in your product descriptions to try to make the sale, you risk permanently alienating customers. And if you are farming out your product writing to a professional agency or writer, make sure they understand the product.
Remember to include accurate information about the little “extras” that might come with a product. If these items change, then the description should be updated. You might notice (with a quick perusal of many reviews on leading eCommerce websites like Amazon) that often a top complaint is that a certain “extra” wasn’t included with an item as “promised.”
In other words, don’t display a photo a guitar that advertises a carrying case and then neglect to include the carrying case.
Note that this problem is often due to pictures that include extra items that aren’t shipped along with a basic package. If your pictures aren’t quite accurate, then you need to note that clearly with your product copy.
6. Add Quality Pictures and Video
Speaking of pictures, make sure your product description comes with a high-quality photo, or better yet, photos. Once again, the photograph should be an accurate depiction of the product, along with any accessories that are included.
If it is appropriate, including a video demonstration of the product can go a long way in reassuring a customer that your product is the real deal. These videos should be professionally shot and edited – no shaky cam for a product video, please.
7. Choose the Appropriate Length for Your Product and Audience
Product descriptions should be long enough to give a full description of the product without being so wordy they bury the important data in a wall of text. A good average length for a product description is approximately 350-400 words, and no more than 600 words. Even longer product descriptions should have a concise, main paragraph that covers the product basics, with an option to scroll down and learn more for those interested in additional information.
8. Look at Product Descriptions You Like
Take a look at some shops that might appeal to the same customers you are targeting and notice how they display their products. Find some product descriptions you really like as inspiration. Of course, you won’t be copying them outright, as that would be a violation of copyright. But you can use them to give you some guidance on how to do a product description well.
Your Product Description is Your Online Sales Tool
With a virtual shop, what you need to make the sale is your product description along with accompanying media. Skimping on product descriptions equals skimpy sales figures. Hire a writer or editor if you need to, and make sure you have quality descriptions that will inspire your customers. Our expert consultants at oBundle can also help you with designing your product strategy.