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Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

Selling online has unique challenges. There is a world of difference between physically picking up an item in a store compared to viewing it on a website prior to purchase.  Not being able to physically touch or examine a product can be a distinct disadvantage for e-commerce shoppers and retailers.  That’s why product descriptions on e-commerce sites are considered such a vital component of any successful e-commerce website.

Product Description Page ExampleOne of the primary benefits of an e-commerce website is scalability – the ability to readily grow and sell a larger number of goods and services to an ever widening audience all the while utilizing fewer tangible resources than a physical location.  E-commerce technology has provided great opportunities for business owners to expand their operations efficiently while minimizing some of the physical location costs, including fewer trucks, fewer buildings, as well as fewer employees.

Employing fewer physical resources and fewer employees also has a tendency to minimize human interaction, but many consumers love being able to shop without human contact.  Shoppers can find products anonymously without having to interact with unfriendly customer service folks and merchants can scale their operations rapidly without having to hire additional people to serve customers.

E-commerce sites are built to minimize human contact to maximize efficiency, but minimizing human contact exposes a few potential problems.  For one, lack of human interaction can be a problem when products are first presented to the customer.  Your site has to convey product information extremely well with limited or no human interaction and with very limited space in order to get the job done.

That’s why copywriting for product descriptions is so critical.  Site owners need to write product descriptions that focus on keeping the end in mind and the ultimate goal – selling products.

We’ve provided a few tips and recommendations on how to write those product descriptions to do just that below:

  • Write with Your Target Audience in Mind: Before writing your product descriptions, you have to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is.  You need to shape the language and the voice that you use in your copy to fit your audience.  Product descriptions for Hello Kitty accessories should be written differently than product descriptions for performance automotive parts.  The demographic and psychographic make-up of your target audience should guide the language that you use in your product descriptions.  Get inside the head of your best customers and try to speak their language when writing for them.
  • Grab Your Customers Attention: One of the best ways that you can maximize the effectiveness of your product pages is to grab your customer’s attention quickly by writing compelling product descriptions that will stand out.  Product descriptions that sell products well must quickly capture a shopper’s attention—if you don’t grab your shopper’s attention within the first second or two, you might just lose them entirely.
  • Don’t Use the Manufacturer’s Product Descriptions: Above all, you have to make your product descriptions distinct and unique.  You should never, ever use generically-written manufacturer information for your product descriptions, if you can possibly avoid it.  For starters, manufacturer’s product descriptions are typically glum and uninspiring and don’t adequately sell the product well enough.  Secondly, manufacturer’s product descriptions might be used by hundreds of other websites selling the same products, creating a massive duplicate content issue.  Ranking in the search engines, with Google in particular, is nearly impossible if your site contains lots of duplicate content.  Google’s search engine algorithm actively filters out duplicate content and will not rank web pages that are built with substantially duplicated content.  You may include portions of the manufacturer’s content but, in order to rank in Google, you’ll have to make the content on those pages predominantly unique with your own content with things like product reviews, customer reviews, and testimonials.
  • Tell a Compelling Story with Emotional Appeal – An alternative way to effectively grab your shoppers attention with your product description is to tell them a compelling story about the product that appeals to their human nature and their emotional side. Utilizing the emotional appeal of your products in the descriptions with compelling story lines is an extremely powerful way to engage your customers.  You need to articulate the appeal of each product, and point out specifically in what way it is better than competing products.  Your job is to identify a meaningful reason that a customer would prefer Product A over Product B.  Which product feature appeals to you the most and why?  Your intimate knowledge of the product line gives you the ability to distinguish those features that might be most appealing to your shoppers.  Above all, you need to explain how the buyer can benefit from the product and what it’s going to do for your customer.  How will your customer benefit by spending their money on this product?
  • Keep Your Product Page Uncluttered: Keep everything on the page that is “above the fold” clean and organized, with the ‘add to cart’ button in a prominent position. Try to keep technical specifications, more detailed product descriptions, and secondary feature information “below the fold” on the page. Avoid spelling and grammatical errors that will call the credibility of your site into question. Nothing can kill the conversion rate on your site like typographical and grammatical errors.

Additional Resources on Writing Product Descriptions:

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Carole Jones March 1, 2010, 10:59 pm

    Hi there – just read “Writing Product Descriptions that Sell” and had a bit of a laugh when reading the last paragraph about grammatical errors.

    “below the fold” on the pag. Avoid spelling and grammatical errors that will call the credibility of your site into question. Nothing can kill your conversion rate like typos and grammatical errors.

  • Bill H. March 1, 2010, 11:05 pm

    LOL. That’s fantastic! Thanks for catching that, Professor. I was very clearly NOT an English major.

  • Carole Jones March 1, 2010, 11:30 pm

    Now that I have your attention. I’ll ask for a little free advise. What do I do for an art gallery website that is mostly pictures of art and not much content. If I overload on keywords I’m afraid I will be viewed as spam?? Any suggestions?

  • Bill H. March 1, 2010, 11:43 pm

    Point out an error on the page and then ask for some free advice … is that your strategy? Outstanding! I love it.

    Check out this post here on the art of writing persuasive copywriting:

    You should add some unique content (text other than pictures) that describes the art, it’s style, characteristics and appeal to the audience that you’re targeting. Add some ALT text to the images as well.

    The bottom line is that search engines are still very much interested in words on a web page. If it’s unique and compelling, the search engines will index it and your audience will love it. That’s what will attract the search engine spiders. Not the images (as good and as compelling as they might be.)

  • Carole Jones March 2, 2010, 12:13 am

    Okay – Thanks for that. And yes that is my strategy. I have noticed another minor error but I will save that for a later date when I want more free advice.
    Thanks again.

  • Bill H. March 2, 2010, 12:34 am


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