An Ecommerce Marketer’s Guide to Writing Great Product Descriptions
September 2014

In eCommerce, you get what you give. If that’s not the “golden rule” of writing product descriptions, it should be.

Online sales balance on trust. When your customers make purchases from your online store, they trust that the real-life products will match the pictures and descriptions you’ve provided. They don’t get to try on your jade pendant or sample a cup of your organic coffee, and they can’t talk to a sales rep as they consider their purchase. They need as much clarity as possible.

The independent nature of online sales is precisely why you need to write clear, detailed, and engaging product descriptions. According to a study from Nielsen Group, 20 per cent of failed sales happened as a result of incomplete or unclear product information. If you rely on the manufacturer’s token material or approach product descriptions as a matter of course, you miss out on sales as well as traffic—product descriptions offer a rich opportunity to improve your search rankings.

e-Marketers, it’s time to get serious about writing product descriptions. Reel in customers and narrow the conversion funnel with our guide to writing great ones.


Be Your Own Customer

Ask yourself this: if you were looking to buy something from your store, what would you be looking for? What would appeal to you? What would you need to know?

Check out this article on buyers’ personas that Forbes published in 2013. In it, the author suggests becoming an incognito customer, reading blogs and joining groups on social media that your customers are members of. By assuming your customers’ point of view, you will get a better understanding of what you need to put into your product descriptions.


Short and Sweet

The goal of writing copy is to get readers to the next line—and then the next line, and the next, and so on, until the call to action. The same rule applies to write product descriptions. Make sure that every line matters. As the Nielsen Norman Group explains, online customers don’t devour every word you write, they scan. Try to keep your product descriptions between 50 and 100 words. Any more than that might be overwhelming to read.

Tell Stories

Search engines frown upon unoriginal content, so use your product description as a platform for your creativity. Tell a story. Not only is this kind of content more interesting than generic material, it offers a chance to engage your customers by instilling your product in their lives.

But don’t shine the spotlight on you or your business: that will make your customers feel like spectators when you really want them to be the focal point.

One more thing: as Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”


Details, Down to the Nitty Gritty

Happy customers know as much as possible about your products before they buy them. Unhappy customers make returns because the products were nothing like they had imagined.

You may have heard of the 5 W’s of journalism. Ecommerce online marketers should abide by them, too. By answering the following basic questions when writing product descriptions, you’ll provide practically all the information your customers need to know, except for the price.

  • Who is the product for?
  • What exactly is the product? What makes it special?
  • When was the product made? When does it expire?
  • Where was the product made?
  • Why do your customers need the product? Why is it better than your competitor’s?

Think of the how, too. How is the product used?


Offer Comparisons

In providing super-detailed information about your products, you might lose your customers. So you need to allow them to compare products through a dedicated product overview.

Concise product overviews, with the key specs presented in bullet points, ensure that your customers can easily find similar products in your line and decide which is best for them.

As a better alternative, check out the “product compare” feature from Shining Moment Jewelry. It lets customers compare the features of their selected products, in detail, next to one another. This is totally customizable, and it simplifies the buying process.


Bonus – User Reviews and Product Tags

User reviews have nothing to do with the product descriptions you write, but they add something that you can’t: first-hand information about your products from a customer’s point of view. Include user reviews—and, while you’re at it, star ratings—to make the sales process easier for your other customers. They’re an assurance that your products are as advertised.

Product tags allow customers to easily search for the products they’ve already pinpointed. It’s a matter of convenience, but an important one, because the goal is to make buying your products as convenient as possible.

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