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How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell

Online competition is fierce. With the barrier to entry for online retail both relatively cost-effective and low, differentiating your brand and product is more important than ever. And the best way to do that in an online marketplace is through your product descriptions—succinct copy that lays out what makes your product different.

You know your products are great but your ideal customers need to differentiate them from the rest of the options on the market. And you don’t have the advantage of meeting your customers face-to-face, which means your product descriptions are crucial.

Many retailers entering the market use their product descriptions on the basic level—to describe the actual product. But these descriptions can be so much more. They should be one of the first steps you think about when you start your online business.

If you’re looking to bring buyers to your site and persuade them to purchase your products, it’s time to dig into the nitty-gritty details of product descriptions. In this article, we’ll cover 13 different ways you can make your product descriptions stronger and stronger.

What is a product description?

A product description is a short written description of a product. It should be able to convince the customer to buy the given product.

Product descriptions are a critical component of an online retail business, but they can also be used in different contexts such as catalogues and brochures. They are usually written by authors with extensive knowledge of the given product.

When writing a product description, your overall goal is to convince your target buyer that yours is the product they need. It goes beyond simply explaining the product to actually selling it.

How to write a product description that sells

A good product description goes beyond simply sharing the details of a product. It supplies customers with all the necessary information that they require to make a purchasing decision. That includes the features and their benefits, how the product solves their problem and what it will feel like to own or use your product.

Ultimately, you have three goals with writing product descriptions:

  • Qualify a product—in essence, your ideal customer is looking for a solution to a problem and it needs to be clear that your product solves it.
  • Go beyond the solution and provide a compelling reason that the prospective buyer needs to purchase the product—and it’s best if you focus that reason squarely on them.
  • Help your ideal buyer find your products through search engines. By focusing on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), your product description will be able to act as a sales associate for your brand that’s working all day, every day.

With these in mind, here are 13 tips and tricks for writing effective product descriptions:

1. Commit to an audience

It’s true that there are probably a lot of people out there who would benefit from purchasing your product, but you simply can’t sell to everyone. At least, not in your description.

If you write your product description with all audiences in mind, you’ll end up convincing none of them that your product is a must-have. The best, most effective descriptions address a particular audience and their specific needs and pain points. If you cast too wide of a net while crafting the description, you won’t end up resonating on a personal level.

A targeted product description answers specific audience questions using language that your audience not only understands but uses themselves. It uses personal language, such as words like “you,” that directly address the audience. And, most importantly, it’s not afraid to have a little personality.

2. Focus on benefits

When you have a great product on your shelf that you’re excited to sell, you tend to get giddy about the product features and specifications. But the focus of your audience is them—they need to know what product benefit they get with it. What will they gain?

Talking about features is okay, but talking about the specific benefits of the key feature of your product is where the true description gold lies. Address specifically how the thread count of your sheets will make their dreams sweeter or the aromatic coffee will give them a sustainable morning jolt.

Focus on illustrating how your product solves a problem your audience currently faces. Tell them how it will make them healthier, happier, or more productive. Sell the benefits of your product, not necessarily the product itself.

3. Be specific

No company out there is going to tell you they make poor quality products that make your life worse. Everyone adds bland descriptors like “quality products” and “superior construction” to their product descriptions and, quite honestly, they mean nothing.

Using superfluous words and descriptors puts your products in the excessively average category. If the status quo is “quality” and “superior” then the differentiator needs to be bigger or more detailed than that.

You can avoid bland descriptions like this by being specific in your product descriptions. Don’t say that you make quality sheets, talk about the thread count, materials used, and the quality of sleep the buyer will get. It’s about artful impressions not telling readers who you want them to think.

Use your descriptions to add credibility by being really specific about the what and why of your product. You only have so many words before you lose your readers, don’t waste them on empty text.

4. Justify your superlatives

Beyond avoiding bland descriptors that everyone else uses, you want to step the breaks a bit on the superlatives. When you use them, it sounds insincere and cheap.

If your product is the “best” or “most,” you need to prove it to potential customers. And you don’t prove it by simply saying you make the best toilet paper on the market. Your audience already assumes you think that.

Your justification should also consider how you price your products. If you’re selling a pair of $300 jeans but your product description reads like you could pick up a similar pair at the local department store, then it needs some work.

Which brings up the discussion of how to prove it. Superlatives are best said by someone else who has purchased your product with a review. Or you can do this by being specific with the key product details.

5. Appeal to imagination

Physical retailers have an advantage over online retailers because when prospective buyers actually hold their products in their hands, their desire to have them increases. Unfortunately, that same experience simply can’t be matched online.

Instead, online retailers need to appeal to the imagination of buyers to tap into that emotional buying mindset. Consumers need to imagine themselves having the product and imagine their lives with the product in it. That means you are responsible for explaining how they’ll feel owning or using your product.

With that in mind, you want to write your compelling product descriptions in a way that customers can imagine owning it. Pair a well-written description with crystal clear images and engaging videos to create the whole picture.

6. Tell a story

Stories are one of the most impactful tools we have in our marketing arsenals. People rarely buy products or services, they buy the story behind them and the promises that those stories provide.

Stories help buyers connect to your product. In essence, buyers forget that they’re being sold to and they’re more likely to use positive purchasing behaviour.

What kind of stories can you tell? The most impactful ones play on emotions. You can find them in the product’s history, the inspiration behind why it was created, obstacles that you had to overcome when creating it, or even a story on how the product was tested or received.

7. Use sensory words

Sensory words keep your readers engaged. Go beyond telling the reader what they can expect from your product and show them. Bring in elements of as many senses as you can to help illustrate the experience with your product.

Take food, for example. You can illustrate taste, touch, and sound in a product description when you describe a granola bar as sweet, crisp and crunchy.

These sensory words can help increase sales because they require more brain processing power on behalf of the reader. So, get detailed and be vivid. Really let prospective buyers experience the product before they get it in their hands.

8. Add social proof

As they say, “pics or it didn’t happen.” It’s easy to tell your buyers that others love your products, but it’s more effective to actually show them. Adding social proof to your persuasive product descriptions can really bump your credibility.

Buyers are constantly looking for social proof like positive customer reviews or testimonials to share insights on products they’re considering buying. Providing them easy access to that information can go a long way towards helping customers make that decision.

Amazon is an exceptional example of this. Positive product reviews separate the good ones from the bad ones so purchasers don’t have to rely solely on the product description to make a decision. The higher the review, the more likely the product is to be purchased.

You can also add the ability for purchasers to add their own reviews right to your website. Or you can pick and choose the ones you want and include them in your description. It also helps to add the image of a person to a quote to help give it an air of personalization.

9. Make your product descriptions scannable

Considering you put so much effort into creating stellar product descriptions, it’s a little disappointing to hear that your audience is unlikely to read every word. We live in a fast-paced world and sales content is simply not prime reading material.

With that in mind, it’s in the best interest of both you and your audience to make the description content scannable. No one likes to read a big wall of text, so breaking up content into bite-sized, scannable chunks makes it clear and easier to read.

Scannable content includes:

  • Headlines
  • Brief paragraphs
  • Bulleted or numbered lists
  • A larger font size
  • Ample white space

Not only can this help your audience digest the parts of your content they’re interested in easier, but it ultimately looks more aesthetically pleasing on the screen. It’s a win-win scenario.

10. Choose your lead carefully

Lead with the most compelling piece of information to hook your target customer and move from there. You really only have a few measly seconds to convince the reader to continue on, which means the first few words have to be convincing.

Your lead not only includes the first sentence of your excellent product description, but your headline or product title, and anything they might see before they get there.

What you put first matters. If what they read at the beginning doesn’t grab them, they’ll never even get to the body content of your product description. And if the first few lines of your description doesn’t entice customers to read on, they’ll never know about your superior product.

11. Use your brand voice

When building a brand, consistency is key. You need to be consistent in everything from your imagery to language and tone, which means that your epic product descriptions need to follow suit.

If your brand is formal, the way you describe your products should reflect that. Likewise, if the brand has a fun and cheeky voice, then feel free to ham it up in the description. Your target audience needs that consistency to easily identify your brand and products.

12. Don’t forget SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key for online businesses and product descriptions can be a great way to add to your Google street cred. But SEO in descriptions is not as sure-fire as other areas of text can be, so you want to be strategic about it.

When you fail to optimize your product descriptions for search rankings, you effectively leave money on the table. But fear not, you don’t have to be a professional copywriter to make this happen.

Many experts recommend adding search terms to bulleted lists within your product description. However, it’s important to make sure these lists aren’t just a regurgitation of words you want to rank for or you could be dinged for keyword stuffing—the truth is, Google always knows.

You can also bolster your SEO power by using keywords in your images and other mixed media components. One way to do this by adding them to the alt text descriptions and actual file names. Though, again, it’s important the text you use is relevant to your audience.

There is no guarantee that SEO in your product descriptions will actually help, but well-placed keywords in any area of an online platform is always a good idea.

13. Images and mixed media

Speaking of images and mixed media, most consumers believe that having quality images is actually more important than a well-written product description.

So, while this isn’t a tip for actually writing your product descriptions, it’s important to note that you should always pair a sharp, relevant image or product video (or both) with your description for maximum effect.

Make your products stand out

The time that you put into writing quality product descriptions has the potential to pay you back in the end. This means that putting real thought into how you describe your products is important.

You not only want to give shoppers the information that you need, keep descriptions short and to the point, but you want to give customers a reason to love the product as much as you do, and come back for more. So, whether your product is brand new, or the description needs an update, do yourself a favour and put some real time in writing it.

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