9 Dos and Don'ts of Product Description Writing
Terrible product descriptions cost money. That's a fact! Learn how to master the devilishly difficult art of product description writing.
Neglected by many online eCommerce businesses, product description writing is the toughest task in copywriting. Not only do you need to describe a product customers cannot see in person, but you also need to convince them to buy it.
Too much copywriting focuses on the first part and neglects the second. They write solely to describe – sacrificing sales. So what? Nobody reads product descriptions, and they don't affect your sales, right?
Nope! Poor product descriptions are responsible for 20% of unsuccessful purchases, according to the Nielsen Norman Group.
Online product descriptions aren't just back-of-the-box labels. When persuasive and descriptive, they can compel shoppers to choose your product over another brand. They're the final hurdle in the buyer's journey.
Let's explore the 9 dos and don'ts for creating persuasive product descriptions – and we'll feature some product description examples.
1. DO: Target your ideal buyer
Here's the golden rule of marketing: when you speak to everyone, you talk to no one. Product descriptions work best when they address your target audience personally and directly. You answer questions they'd ask. You speak with the words they use. You use the word you.
Picture your ideal buyer: What words do they use? What do they want? What problems do they face?
Answering these questions is critical to crafting your product description. Relying on puns and humour will work for some brands – like a sweets company – but isn't going to sell a boutique dress.
You can also solve your customer's problems in the product description – talk solutions, not features. What annoys them? And how do you solve their problem?
Let's take a look at the difference:
Here, we've got a feature-focused product description example.
This fully functional backpack features a double zip-lock front pocket, a sizable main compartment, a built-in laptop sleeve, and a side bottle holder. Available in midnight, camo green, and grey.
It's utilitarian and non-descript. Sure, it says everything it needs to, but it doesn't explain why you need to buy this backpack.
How about a solution-focused product description example?
Look the part with this comfy backpack available in professional – office-ready – colours: midnight, camo green, and grey. Protect your laptop with the cushioned built-in sleeve. Don't struggle for space. Stash your work essentials in the handy double zip-lock front pocket, roomy main compartment, and a side bottle holder.
Be backpack ready!
2. DO: Get to the point
Too many product descriptions go on and on and on – they suck. Like the best copywriting, the product description should skip the fluff and get to the point. The very best product descriptions distil a product down to a paragraph (along with a few bullet points).
In some cases, you can extend it to two or three paragraphs. If you do, ensure the information is organised intuitively. Each point should be a paragraph – and your paragraphs should be short. No more than two or three sentences long.
For best results: write your product description and then remove a third of the words. Everybody appreciates clarity – ramblers make awful writers.
3. DON'T: Rely on bland buzzwords and phrases
We all know the dreaded phrase that sends a shiver down every copywriter's spine: "excellent product quality." The horror!
Such bland, nondescript language conveys nothing – it's a "yeah, yeah" phrase. The more you rely on such phrases, the less persuasive they become.
Trust your product's key benefits. Forget calling a beard oil "high quality" or saying it "uses the best ingredients." Stake your claim: Your beard oil "nourishes hair" and "banishes beard knots."
Product details establish credibility. That's not to say all buzzwords are bad – words like "sleek," "fast," or "fine" can be appropriate. Adding fine to a shirt adds no value; add it to wine, and you've doubled the price.
4. DO: List the key benefits
Save your customers time; use bullet points to list the key benefits. Call the section "Why You'll Love It" or "What to Expect" for variety.
Like your main paragraph(s), your key benefits should be concise, buzzword-free, and customer-focused. For example, a dog toy isn't "robust and well-made"; it "holds up to hours of rough and tumble at home or at the park."
5. DO: Use superlatives sparingly
Superlatives – the most-est words – are bold claims. The best, thinnest, crunchiest, sleekest, easiest – whatever your claim, you need to back it up.
We've all seen cafes selling the "best coffee in the world": it's never true. Unless you want to sound insincere, justify your superlatives. When Amazon says their Kindle Paperwhite is the world's thinnest e-reader, they can prove it.
6. DON'T: Treat your buyer like an idiot
Judge your reader's level of understanding and speak to it. Don't condescend or speak down to your customer. That includes unnecessarily dumbing things down.
If you're selling computer parts, it's unlikely you're talking to an eight-year-old computer novice. Feel free to go a little technical. You don't have to make it dry, however. The same rules apply no matter the level. In short, your buyer isn't ignorant, but they can get bored.
7. DON'T: Forget to be SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of ranking in Google (let's be honest, no other search engine matters). That means sprinkling relevant keywords throughout the description.
SEO content writers dabbling in product description writing often make the cardinal sin of writing for SEO, not customers. They jam keywords into the text with little regard for flow. You need to do both: add keywords and be interesting.
Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords and include them several times in your description. SEO shouldn't be an afterthought. Get it right, and you'll see a significant uptick in page traffic. Get it wrong, and it doesn't matter how many people see your product; they won't buy it.
8. DO: Seduce with sensory words
eCommerce businesses face a problem: how to convey their product through a screen. The answer: sensory words.
That chocolate isn't just delicious; it's rich and velvety. That sequined dress isn't merely elegant; it sparkles and glitters in the evening light. Evoke your reader's imagination – tingle their tastebuds, cast an image in their minds.
9. DON'T: Speak in a passive tone
A passive tone is the worst way to write. It's talking at your reader, not to them. Novice writers often struggle to write actively (especially those trained in the god-awful art of essay writing). Passive writing moves people and objects around mindlessly; active writing puts them in the driver's seat.
"The bracelet dazzles" rather than "dazzle with this bracelet." Write actively by starting your sentences with a verb: consider, capture, dazzle, showcase.
That's not to say the passive tone is always wrong. Pharmaceuticals and technical companies, for instance, often use passive writing. They seek to educate customers without persuading them.
Compelling Product Descriptions Earn You Sales
Delight customers with fun, creative product descriptions. Turn features into solutions. Dazzle readers with vivid descriptions. It's a tall order – especially when you've got dozens of product descriptions to write. Many business owners turn glassy-eyed as the product descriptions blur in an amorphous mass of buzzwords and corny phrases.
Not with us! We pour personality into every product description, tailoring our style to the product and brand in question. Hand over the hassle, and we'll deliver evocative, punchy descriptions that work.
Contact us today or schedule a free consultation – we're ready to put your passion into words!