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How to Write eCommerce Product Descriptions that Sell Like Hotcakes

Posted in Conversion Optimization on September 24th, 2013

The best eCommerce descriptions create an impression at once. They communicate value, get people excited, and make them switch from browsing mode to paying customers instantly.

Although it’s not fair to give all the credit for conversions to product descriptions, but they do play a key role (after the images).

Still, so many eCommerce site owners prefer to do without them. And worse, some copy-paste manufacturers’ descriptions on their websites, which are already being used all over the Internet. Don’t be one of those people. This can hurt your SEO efforts as well as the conversion rate of your website.

Realize that your potential customers cannot touch or feel the product. So, the responsibility of identifying and addressing the needs and expectations of your target audience relies on your copy to a great extent.

Make sure you include all the information that they might require to buy the product. Use your words to give them the necessary information in an engaging fashion that impels them to click that “Add to Cart” button right away.

8 Quick Tips to Write Distinctive Product Descriptions that Sell Like Hotcakes

1. Speak to Your Target Audience

Should your voice be serious and formal, or casual and funky? Should you emphasize your descriptions on the technical aspects of the product, or should you concentrate more on its looks?

Understanding main considerations of your ideal customer is the most crucial to make them relate with your descriptions and buy your products. Once you know who your target audience is, you can then know which voice or personality should you take up to communicate with them.

The J. Peterman Company is an apparel website that celebrates vintage fashion. The dreamy descriptions on their website perfectly matches with the taste of classic fashion lovers.

I can tell you this because I’m one big time vintage fashion lover. And I’d buy from them without any second thoughts. Reading beautiful descriptions on their website enriches the shopping experience all the more. This makes them stand out from other apparel websites any day.

Read it to feel the magic yourself:

Product description by The J. Peterman Company matches the vintage taste of their target audience

Creating online personas can help you write more effective copy for your target market.

2. Bridge the Gap Between Features and Benefits

A feature is essentially a fact about your product or offer. The benefit mainly answers how a feature is useful for your customer.

For most products, it may seem like customers are already aware of the primary features, unless the product is really complicated, like crane equipment maybe? And usually, you can easily add specifications of a product in bullet points and get done with it.

But if you want to really persuade your visitors to become customers, you will need to spell out the benefits of these features in your descriptions. Tell them exactly “how” a particular feature is useful for them, and “why” they should make this purchase.

As Simon Sinek mentions in his TED talk,

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Here’s an example of a benefits-driven product description from Mothercare.com:

Benefits-driven description from Mothercare.com

Bonus Tip – Notice how the third point under the benefits section settles the concern many parents, who might be concerned if the material of this teether might be harmful for their baby.

Figure out such concerns of your prospects and address them in your copy to make them confident about the purchase.

3. Rely More on Verbs, and Less on Adjectives

Admission letters are no less of a selling copy. And an analysis of MBA admission letters sent to the Director of Harvard Business School revealed that verbs are much more compelling than adjectives.

In a world where no one clinches from using the same set of adjectives, verbs help to make an impact like nothing else.

This cute, little sleeping bag is perfect for your one year old baby.

Or,

This bright sleeping bag gives your baby plenty of room to kick and wriggle without the worry of getting tangled in layers of bedding. He will never wake up cold having kicked his bedding off. Your baby will feel safe even in unfamiliar surroundings. 

Which one sounds more compelling? Decide for yourself! Or, wait! This article might help you decide (just to be sure!).

4. Use Jargon Only When Talking to Sophisticated Buyers

Excessive jargon that your customers do not completely understand can lead to confusion. It is best that you avoid it in product descriptions because if they don’t understand it, they won’t buy it.

But probably, you want to include the jargon because you think that it makes you come across as an expert. And you’re right. Using jargon adds to your credibility. This is especially true when you want to cater to sophisticated audience.

But if you know that majority of your customers do not care about too many details, it is best to hide these details under the “Know more” or “Technical specifications” section and keep product summaries simple.

Too much information can also overwhelm visitors and segregating information under different sections is a perfect way to display information and appeal to different target audience.

5. Give Them a Story

Make them imagine how their life would be if they buy the product. People take decisions emotionally and attempt to justify them with logic. And weaving a good story is a great way to reel them in.

ModCloth pulls this off brilliantly by transporting their visitors into another world with their charming small stories that have a dash of humor to them:

ModCloth has unique product descriptions that weave beautiful, compelling stories

6. Borrow the Language/Vocabulary from Your Ideal Customer

Joanna Wiebe, the conversion-focused copywriter and the Founder of Copy Hackers, mentions in one of her articles:

Don’t write copy. Swipe copy from your testimonials.

In the article, she explains how she swiped the exact words from a customer testimonial for the headline, which increased conversions (Clickthrough to the pricing page) by 103%.

Here’s the testimonial that she used:

Exact words from this testimonial were used in the copy to improve conversions

And this is the winning headline that swiped words from the above testimonial:

Winning headline that swiped words from the above customer testimonial

Conversion experts swear by this technique and you can easily use it to write high-converting product descriptions. It’s all about matching the conversation in the minds of your prospects.

7. Add Social Proof to Your Descriptions

The popular online furniture store, Made.com, tempts people by adding social proof in their descriptions. They add the media box (like the one shown below) to descriptions of products that have been featured in the press.

Made.com adds media mentions of its products in descriptions

8. Check for Readability

a. Use Short or Broken Sentences. Yes, you got me right! Your English teacher in school probably didn’t approve of broken sentences. But this is no academic writing. Your sales copy or description should be about what is easier to read.

If reading will feel like a task to your customers, they will ignore your descriptions, which will eventually plummet your conversions. Feel free to begin your sentences with words, like “And,” “Because,” “But,” and others.

Here’s how Apple uses broken sentences:

Broken sentences used by Apple in its copy

b. Use Bullet Points. Most people scan pages on the Internet. They do not read word-by-word. Get them to notice the important points by listing them in bullets, like Amazon does:

Amazon uses bullet points to help its customers scan the product description easily

The placement order of the points/benefits is also important. Be sure to mention the primary benefits/concerns first, followed by other lesser important points.

c. Use Larger Fonts and Well-Contrasted Font Colors. It’s annoying to read grey text on a white background, especially if you’re using a smaller font size.

Make sure that your font color easily stands out on the page and that your font size is easily readable for people of all generations. Don’t make your visitors squint their eyes to read your text and they will happily read more, if your words make sense to them.

Otherwise, they would just say “Chuck it!” and move on to some other website.

The best part about changing eCommerce product descriptions is, unless you need a complete page overhaul, setting up an AB test for product descriptions will only take a few minutes in Visual Website Optimizer’s WYSIWYG Editor.

To test the waters, you can only A/B test the descriptions of your most popular product pages to see how it works for you, before assigning your copywriter with the task of writing descriptions for all product pages of your website.

Sign-up for Visual Website Optimizer’s 30-day trial and set up your test now!

Smriti Chawla

Content Marketer at Visual Website Optimizer by the day, SEO enthusiast by the night. I love reiterating quotes and collecting weird people. You should follow me on Twitter.

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6 Comments
Joshua U
September 25, 2013

“And I’d buy from them without any second thoughts”… but did you? :-)

The best way I’ve found to write product descriptions is to browse competitor products to brainstorm gaps of information you’ve overlooked and to setup a widget on http://www.webengage.com targeting product pages with a question: “What’s the biggest question you have about this product?”

Ravi Janardhan
September 28, 2013

This is awesome info, Smriti. Great stuff.

Oftentimes product descriptions are one thing ignored & unexplored area by most! Your post is an awakening call!

Smriti
October 21, 2013

@Joshua – I didn’t. But that’s because they don’t ship to our country. :( And trust me, that’s actually sad for me. And webengage seems to be a good idea. Thanks for mentioning.

@Ravi – Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

Shawn
October 22, 2013

Love the J. Peterman sample, takes me back to the Seinfeld days. My only question is, Are keywords still a factor in the descriptions?

lucas72
November 19, 2013

Curiously written text. cool examples. Yours sincerely

Smriti
December 3, 2013

@Shawn – As long as you’re including relevant keywords in your URLs, meta descriptions and title tags, it should be fine.

Bonus point, if you can include it “naturally” in product descriptions too. But again, I cannot emphasize on the word “naturally” enough. Make sure you are writing both for humans as well as for search engines. That’s the key.

@Lucas – Glad you liked them.

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