How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell
Online sales, although much more time-efficient and practical, have the disadvantage of not giving shoppers that tactile, “real” experience that brick-and-mortar stores do. Customers have to imagine how what you’re selling could fit in their lives based on the visual and written information that your online store provides. Therefore, what makes a sale happen online is the combination of beautiful branding photography, well-written product descriptions and store functionality (payment and delivery options, fun/easy shopping experience, etc.). We’ll talk about all these different aspects in a series of articles on this blog, but for now let’s focus on product descriptions. That’s because if you understand the way descriptions work, then you can just write them yourself and save some money, or you’ll know what to ask for when you hire a writer to create the copy for you.
First, what makes a good product description?
Good product descriptions are a combination of useful, easy-to-understand information written in a fun, interesting, brand-appropriate manner. Ideally, you’ll include both these aspects in your descriptions, but if you’re going to ignore one, it’s better to ignore the second. And you’ll find out why in a second.
1. Information value
Provide worthwhile details about the product. This means the boring stuff: fabric, ingredients, style, general characteristics, measurements, maybe some useful presentation suggestions – anything you can think of as useful when making an informed decision about your products.
Include the things that people want/need to know about the product before they buy it. In a physical shop they’d get all this info by touching or testing the product themselves, but because they’re shopping online, you need to be their eyes and describe it to them.
The easiest way to do this is to imagine your ideal customer browsing your store. What would they like to know? What details would get them interested, or seal the deal? How could you make sure their expectations match the real product? It’s answers to questions like these that keep the number of returns to a minimum and add great reviews to your store.
2. Entertainment value
Insert a little fun, to match the voice of your brand. Make the product descriptions funny or emotional or direct, whatever fits your vision and your story. Remember that people make decisions based on emotion, not necessarily common sense or need. Try not to go overboard, though. Always keep it simple.
Now… to sell some stuff and create a community (to be more than just another online store), the descriptions have to be both informative and entertaining.
If you keep just the information value (1), you’re probably going to sell, but won’t necessarily stand out. This is an option that many online shops on a tight budget choose in order to save some money. It’s also a good idea for shops with hundreds or thousands of products. They leave the descriptions useful but bland and invest in copy for ads or various marketing campaigns to compensate. And it generally works.
If you make the description just fun (2), people are going to have a great time on your site, but won’t necessarily buy anything. For example, if a buyer really likes a dress that you’re selling because they love how it looks in the photo and they find your small limerick in the description fun, they might bookmark it, or show it to their friends. They won’t buy it unless they know what size it comes in, what it’s made of, where it was made and other practical information. You’ll find yourself being inundated with calls and messages from interested buyers trying to get all this information somehow. But that’s if you’re lucky. In most cases, they just leave.
How to combine valuable information and the fun factor?
To write good product descriptions, the first and most important thing you do is list what information needs to appear in the descriptions.
I’m talking about the product specs, maybe some brand info, benefits… make a list!
Then, you have 3 ways to make this information stand out:
- Providing just the details of the product but in an interesting, fun way (“Fabric: 100% polyester, 200% evil.”).
- Keeping the details simple and informative but adding a fun section to the description (list the practical details – ingredients, style, measurements, etc. – and add an entertaining paragraph before or after).
- Combining 1 and 2 – so you’d have a fun intro/conclusion and a fun description.
Whatever style you choose does not matter much. What does matter is consistency. So, if you start out writing the descriptions one way, it’s best you stick to that throughout. Just bear in mind that complex descriptions that read like small “stories” or jokes work well when you have a small online shop (people will eat them up). However, they are a serious expense and hassle as your store grows and you have to write descriptions for hundreds if not thousands of products.
How to create and use product description templates?
Unless you’re selling totally unique products that need totally unique descriptions, you should use what you’ve read so far to create templates. A description template is necessary in order to have some coherence in the shop. That makes you look dependable, professional and it enhances your brand awareness. There are a few options for this too:
- Use a single template for all products, as long as you make sure it can be adapted to fit ALL products. You don’t want to realize half-way through your writing that oops, some of the products don’t quite fit.
- Create a template for each category of products. Use template “a” for phone cases and pillows, template “b” for hoodies and shirts, or any such combo. Analyze your inventory well and group products according to your objectives.
Once you have the above figured out, it’s just a matter of coming up with the wording. Even if you haven’t done this before, or you’re not that good with words, you can still list your product characteristics. Get the practical info out there first (that’s going to help you sell) and come back to add the entertaining/brand-guided info later, when you’ve figured out your branding, or you’ve hired someone to do it for you.
To save some time, you should choose a representative product from each category and create the description for that. Then use that product description as a template for the rest.
You can write the same description (or parts of the description) for multiple similar products. For example, 2 or more hoodies can share the exact description, or they can share the same specs, but have different intros. How much repetition and original content you want throughout your store is completely up to you.
Before you start promoting your store and creating campaigns for products, you should make sure the product descriptions do the products justice. Focus on useful information first and then figure out a way to package it nicely and give your buyers a memorable shopping experience.
While you’re there, you may also want to test out payment options and cart functionality, anything and everything that can break the flow of the shopping process. The better you optimize this flow, the less you’ll need to invest in customer service and deal with complaints. Find us if you get stuck in website and ecommerce customizations.
And if you have any questions about this or any other marketing topic, drop them in the comments section. I’ll try to answer as soon and possible. After all, we want to write about topics that are relevant to your activity as a business owner, entrepreneur or freelancer. Your questions will drive the conversations on this blog.