Fact: Product description writing can determine whether a customer clicks “add to cart” – or whether they abandon the product page entirely.
Great copy in your product descriptions is necessary to an enjoyable, memorable online shopping experience.
Because buyers can’t use four of their senses when shopping online to determine whether the product is what they want and/or need.
That’s how many senses they miss out on when they shop online — but does it stop them?
In fact, e-commerce and online shopping is an industry that will include 2.14 billion people worldwide by 2021 (up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016). Whoa!
So, we don’t care that we’re missing four of our senses when we buy online.
But, your buyer does have to read and depend on the information you give them to decide if they’re ready to buy.
It’s a delicate balance many online shops get wrong.
For instance, here are a few common e-commerce product description errors:
- Provide too little information, and the buyer won’t know if the product is right for their particular problem.
- Describe the product too blandly, and the casual browser won’t become a buyer.
- Exclude the essential facts from your e-commerce product description, and the buyer will look to other sellers who answer their product questions fully.
On the other hand, when you get it right, you’ll earn more buyers, more sales, and more happy customers. (A desirable trifecta, to say the least )
Ready to learn how to hone your product description writing services and get it “write” every time? Let’s get to it.
Your Product Description Writing Guide: Table of Contents
The Anatomy of a Product Description: 4 Essential Elements
- Focus on Product Benefits
- Address Look, Feel, Smell, Touch, and/or Taste in Your Product Description Copywriting
- Remember to Answer Buyer Questions
- Add Special Product Notes, As Needed
3 Rules on How In-Depth to Go with Product Description Writing
- Analyze the Product, Including What Your Buyer Already Knows About It
- Analyze What the Buyer Needs from Your Product Description Writing
- Go Brief or In-Depth Depending on Your Conclusions
6 Rules to Make Your Ecommerce Descriptions Irresistible (with Examples)
- Stay Buyer-Focused
- Describe the Problems the Product Solves (Benefits, Benefits, Benefits)
- Use Compelling Words and Phrases
- Optimize Correctly
- Keep Your Product Description Writing Easy to Read
- Stay Honest
Product Description Writing is a Learned Skill You Can MasterYour customers may not feel, hear, smell, or taste your product online, but the right words can tickle their senses. Get your customers to click that 'add to cart' button with this #copywriting guide. Click To Tweet
The Anatomy of a Product Description: 4 Essential Elements of Product Description Writing You Must Include
A product description (PD) is the copy that appears on a product page describing that product to the buyer. Ultimately, the product description helps the buyer decide whether or not to pull the trigger and purchase.
So, how do you describe a product to a new customer?
The best product description copy includes a basic foundation of elements that make it effective:
- Product benefits
- Descriptive words that appeal to the senses
- Answers to buyer questions about the product
- Anything unusual about the product that will affect the buyer’s experience: longer-than-usual production times, special shipping needs, etc.
Let’s discuss them in detail:
1. Focus on Product Benefits
The most important aspect of product description writing is including how the product benefits the buyer. Above all, the buyer wants to know how their lives will improve if they purchase.
Beware: Many people confuse features with benefits. They aren’t the same thing at all.
- Features tell what the product can do.
- Benefits sell by relating how the product features help the buyer.
Here’s a great example of the difference from Help Scout:
So, the question is not “What are the cool features of this product we can describe?” but rather “How will the product features benefit the buyer?”
Focus on answering this question in your product description writing, and you’ll have the beginnings of a great product page.
Features tell what the product can do. Benefits sell by relating how the product features help the buyer. More on #productdescription #copywriting Click To Tweet
2. Address Look, Feel, Smell, Touch, and/or Taste in Your Product Description Copywriting
You may think your beautiful product photos will do all the work of showing off the look and feel of that particular item.
The truth is, it’s often not enough. The buyer still can’t experience that product.
They can’t truly tell what it’s like to use it: what it feels like, how it smells, and in some cases, what it tastes like.
That’s why any good, creative product description writing takes the buyer and puts them right inside the experience of using the product. Your descriptive words should evoke at least one or two of the five senses.
Good product description writing takes the buyer and puts them right inside the experience of using the product with descriptive words that evoke at least one or two of the five senses. #productdescriptionwriting Click To Tweet
For example, if you sell hot sauce, describe the fiery zing it adds to even the blandest of foods. If you sell vacuums, describe how lightweight the model is and how smoothly it helps you go from cleaning carpet to hardwood floors.
This PD from Truff Hot Sauce is a good description of the experience the buyer will get when they taste it (“heat experience,” “ripe chili peppers,” “black truffle,” “savory spices” “unprecedented flavor profile”):
“Our sauce is a curated blend of ripe chili peppers, organic agave nectar, black truffle, and savory spices. This combination of ingredients delivers a flavor profile unprecedented to hot sauce.”
3. Remember to Answer Buyer Questions
Before any customer commits to a purchase, they have questions that need answering. For example, when I want to buy a t-shirt, I need a few important details ironed out:
- Does this t-shirt come in my size?
- Does it come in a color I like to wear?
- Is this on sale?
- Will this look good on me?
- How long will it take to ship?
- What is this made of? Will it shrink in the wash?
And these are just the questions for a simple t-shirt. Imagine the questions a buyer has if they’re shopping for something more complicated, like a computer or a lawnmower.
The good news: A lot of these questions can be answered through the options on your product page, as shown for this Madewell t-shirt product description example:
Size? Check. Color? Check. Sale? Check.
However, note the questions NOT answered. A product content writer can address those in the product description writing (in Madewell’s case, the look and feel, as well as the experience of wearing the shirt, are covered):
“Our best-selling V-neck pocket tee is the kind of forever favorite you’ll want in every color. Fashioned of light and airy slub cotton, this T-shirt is live-in-it soft and perfectly draped – one to tell your friends about, in other words.”
Keep in mind: the questions you need to answer in your product copy are entirely dependent on your ideal buyer. You MUST know them inside-out and understand what they need before you can write product descriptions for them.
That’s why product descriptions exist: they’re not for you, they’re not for showing off your product – they’re for your buyer!Product descriptions exist not for you, the seller, to show off your product. They exist for your buyers. A great product copy should answer your buyers' questions and tells how the product can benefit them. #writingtips Click To Tweet
4. Add Special Product Notes, As Needed
If anything will affect the buying experience of a certain product, such as longer production times, a delay in shipping, or special shipping needs, this is something you definitely should note in your product description writing.
For instance, this Etsy product includes real plants:
Because of that factor, the seller has added special notes to the product description:
- The product is handmade and doesn’t ship right away.
- The product includes real plants so the seller ships priority.
- The plants are susceptible to cold, but the seller offers an optional solution.
These are essential for the buyer to know so they receive live, healthy plants, but these notes also tell us that this seller has pride in the product and cares about the customer.
Similarly, don’t forget to include little details like this if your product has special shipping or production needs.
Where to Start with Product Description Writing: How In-Depth Should You Go?
Now that you know the basic elements that make up any good product description, you need to figure out how long your product description should be. Knowing this will make your descriptions (and your writing services) far more effective.
1. Analyze the Product, Including What Your Buyer Already Knows About It
To know how far to go with product description writing for any product, first take a good, hard look at it.
Is the product pretty simple and self-explanatory (like a t-shirt), or is it complicated, detailed, or hard to understand at first glance (like an electronic gadget or new invention)?
You can probably guess which product needs more explanation and descriptive text. That said, don’t forget to take into account what your ideal audience inherently knows and understands about the product.
If your targets are computer geeks, you probably need to do less explaining of a tech toy than you would for an audience of seniors ages 65 and over.
Similarly, if your targets are writer nerds with a nostalgic love for typewriters, you most likely need very little copy to do the selling when they land on your product page:
The product itself definitely determines the length of your copy, but so does your target buyer’s inherent knowledge (if any) of the product.
2. Analyze What the Buyer Needs from Your Product Description
After you determine what your buyer already knows, it’s time to figure out what they don’t.
What does the buyer need to know to make a smart purchase decision in addition to what they already know? What questions will they have before they can confidently click “add to cart”?
For product description writing, think about things like:
- The look and feel of the product
- The experience of using the product
- Size, dimensions, and weight
- What the product is made of: materials or ingredients
- Where the product was made/manufactured
- Suggestions for how to use the product
- How long the product will last
- How it will wear over time
3. Go Brief or In-Depth Depending on Your Conclusions
This next part is relative because every product is different.
- If you figured out your target buyer doesn’t know a whole lot about your product, make the description longer.
- If the product is complicated and your buyer doesn’t know anything about it, go looooong.
- If your target buyer is extremely familiar with the product type, go shorter.
- If your buyer is unfamiliar but the product is simple, strike a balance between providing information and describing the product. You can always test longer vs. shorter product description writing to see which works better.
6 Rules for Product Description Writing: How to Make Your Ecommerce Descriptions Irresistible (with Examples)
Product description writing is slightly different from content writing. To make the description effective, you need to stay buyer and benefits-focused, use compelling language, SEO the right way, and more.
First up: that elusive buyer we’ve been talking about.
1. Stay Buyer-Focused
I’ve been saying this from the beginning of this post, and I’ll keep repeating it to my grave:
Product description writing is about the buyer, NOT about your brand or your awesome product features.
Rule of thumb: Product description writing is about the buyer, NOT about your brand or your awesome product features. #writingtips Click To Tweet
Ultimately, PDs are an online buyer’s shopping tool. Yes, they can help you make more sales, but only if you speak to your buyer’s problems and needs effectively. PDs can persuade more people to hit “add to cart,” but only if you overcome their objections and answer their questions.
This isn’t about you – it’s about helping the buyer make the best purchase decision (which, coincidentally, will be in your favor)!
Note particularly how this product description for bags from Everlane stays buyer-focused (multiple uses of the words “you” and “your” are a dead-giveaway):
“Your do-it-all bag. Longer and taller than the Day Square Tote, the Day Market Tote can carry you through even your most packed schedule – laptop included. This structured bag is made of premium Italian leather that always looks polished, from your morning commute to an evening nightcap.”
2. Describe the Problems the Product Solves (Benefits, Benefits, Benefits)
The next rule for writing product descriptions is to always describe how the product solves the buyer’s specific problem.
That means benefits, benefits, benefits.
How will the product help them? How will it improve their lives?
Look at this product description writing example from The North Face. This raincoat means business:
And the product description writing tells you exactly what problems it solves for buyers: it keeps them rain- and wind-protected while they’re hiking.
“Seek out uncharted territory in any weather with this waterproof, windproof women’s rain jacket that features a breathable mesh lining and a fully adjustable hood that stows inside the low-profile collar.”
For a product like this, it’s that simple. The buyer wants a jacket that will protect them from rain and storms while hiking. This product solves that problem, and the description tells you so.Great product description writing requires identifying buyer problems and how your product can solve these. Ask yourself: How will the product help them? How will it improve their lives? #productwritingtips Click To Tweet
3. Use Compelling Words and Phrases
Sometimes, you don’t need much copy to sell a product. Sometimes, all you need are some compelling words in your product description writing.
Look at this example from the peddlers of literary goods at Obvious State. Here you’ll find a PD stuffed to the brim with compelling words and phrases (“mindless repetitions,” “humble brag,” “hopped up coffee junkie”):
“Was T.S. Eliot commenting on the mindless repetitions that prevent us from making meaningful connections in an increasingly alienating world? Or is this just the humble brag of hopped up coffee junkie? Asking for a friend.”
The person who wants this mug is a word nerd AND a coffee junkie, and the description plays to that perfectly with compelling, powerful words and phrases.
To broaden your vocabulary with some serious adjectives and descriptive terms, I highly suggest reading Smart Blogger’s posts on sensory words and power words to add to your product description writing.
Use compelling words and phrases in your product description writing. Do this by broadening your vocabulary with some serious adjectives and use sensory and power words in your copy. ⚡ #copywritingtips Click To Tweet
4. Optimize Correctly
Do not, I repeat, do not forget to use SEO when writing product descriptions. Optimize those PDs so buyers searching the web for your exact product can find you!
- Use long-tail product keywords – Generally, the longer the keyword, the higher the buyer’s intent to purchase. This is a great reason to target long-tail keywords on your product pages and SEO product descriptions: they have a higher conversion value, according to Yoast.
- Place keywords strategically – Placing keywords in strategic spots on your page and description signals to Google how important those words are. Follow these rules of thumb for targeting keywords:
- Use 1x in the page’s URL slug
- Use 1x in the product title
- Use 1-2 times in the body copy
- Use 1x in the product image alt tag
- Don’t duplicate product description writing – Even if you have extremely similar products on your website, don’t duplicate any of the copy or content. Each product needs a unique description and title to stay high on Google’s good side. (Duplicate content is a major no-no.)
5. Keep Your Product Description Writing Easy to Read
Don’t make buyers work to investigate your product. Make the description easy-as-pie to read so they can get to the purchase part quicker.
Based on your persona and audience for your product description, it’s wise to write at a “reading level” of grade 8, 10, or 12. (Grade 8 is a 14 or 15-year-old.)
- Use bullets and lists to describe product benefits
- Use white space to keep different categories of information separate
- Use bold headings for product titles and smaller font for descriptions
This KitchenAid Artisan Mini Stand Mixer PD is a good example of organizing the page for readability:
Based on your persona and audience for your product description, it's wise to write at a reading level of grade 8, 10, or 12. Learn more #copywriting techniques for e-commerce. Click To Tweet
6. Stay Honest
Last but not least, it’s important to strike a balance of highlighting your products’ awesomeness while refraining from overstating or stretching the truth.
Strike a balance of highlighting your products' awesomeness while refraining from overstating or stretching the truth. #productdescription #copywriting Click To Tweet
If you’re not totally honest, the buyer will find out – and they’ll be mad about it. They’ll probably leave you a scathing review. That’s not the worst of it, though: You could get sued.
Remember Sketchers Shape-ups? The company claimed in ads and product description writing that the shoe toned your legs while you walked. (It’s not like walking alone does that or anything… )
The Federal Trade Commission sued the company for making unfounded scientific claims. They settled for $40 million.
Don’t inflate your product’s benefits – tell buyers what it actually does.
Product Description Writing Guide: Takeaways
Product Description Writing is a Learned Skill You Can Master
Product description writing jobs are not for the novice content writer.
Writing great product description copy is a skill that takes time and effort, but is nevertheless learnable.
Don’t fall back on a product description generator, or take the lazy way out and copy-and-paste your descriptions. Work on making each one unique and irresistible for better results overall – more sales, and more happy customers.
We craft product descriptions for e-commerce businesses. See our services and pricing.