Ecommerce 101: How to Create Captivating Product Descriptions

Ecommerce 101: How to Create Captivating Product Descriptions

Let’s be frank: there’s too much content out there on the web. Every second of every day we’re inundated with it. As consumers, we receive newsletters and sales promotions in our inboxes; we spend the first half of our work days––you know, those hours spent waiting for lunch––reading online content via CNN, Buzzfeed, and Reddit, and many of our jobs require regularly digging through all the information (some good, most bad) presented to us on the web. So the worst thing you could do for your ecommerce business is to add to the slush pile and fall, unnoticed, among the competition.

In an earlier Ecommerce Rules post, we discussed the importance and money-making potential of product pages. They hold the weighted key to increasing your online store’s conversions; thus, as a smart and savvy online business owner, it is vital that you do everything in your power to write engaging product descriptions for your product pages that not only draw buyers in but encourage them to share with friends and increase your consumer network. In this post, we’ll go over how to create captivating product descriptions that your customers will want to read and share.

1. Tailor Your Text

When sitting down to write killer product descriptions, the first step is to think about your audience. Writing for a large, broad, general audience will lead to bland, generic phrases that more often than not are just reworded copy from manufacturers (read: boring). Depending on what you’re selling, it is likely that you have a niche demographic when it comes to your buyers, but even if you sell something as widely used as cameras, the photographer community still has certain characteristics and trends about it that you can tap into and create product descriptions specifically for. Consider also your brand and company image. If you have built a sleek, modern, minimalist website, then your content should reflect that. You certainly don’t want conflicting tones between your website’s design and content––imagine how jarring it would be to read, “This do-hicky is the best money can buy, bros” on a sleek, refined website.

Tailoring your product descriptions to your audience will ensure higher engagement rate and increased conversion––simply put, your customers will want to read what you write, stick around on your page longer, and share with their respective networks.

2. Sell a Sensory Experience

Now that you’ve locked in who your audience is and the type of message you’d like to relay to them, this is the time to sell them your merchandise. Notice, we said sell and not describe. As with any good writing, you want to show your consumers the features and benefits of your products, not tell them. Strictly telling buyers about your product––listing details and features––is boring, unengaging, and guarantees customers will gloss over the text, leaving only the images and other components of your online store to seal the sale. Why waste that opportunity to nudge browsers into becoming buyers with bland product descriptions?

Spice up your text by adding imagery and sensory words. Create an experience centered around your merchandise. For instance, if your company sells imported Belgian chocolate, a poor way to describe your goods is: Leonard’s Chocolate is made of 97 percent cacao and contains milk. We also offer an excellent assortment of chocolate including almond, pecan, caramel…” Snooze! It’s tough to make delicious, sweet chocolate ho-hum, but this straightforward, unimaginative description managed to do just that. In addition, the use of common superlatives such as ‘excellent’ adds to the blasé experience. Why would any consumer purchase your Belgian chocolate over a competitors?

Now let’s try that again, except this time creating a sensory-filled experience around your chocolate, tailored to your customers: Leonard’s Belgian Chocolate is rich, smooth, and creamy in all the right places. With 97 percent pure cacao, you and your party guests have never tasted such a refined, earthy, sweet delicacy quite like this. Want a little variety at your next summer soiree? Try Leonard’s Chocolate with roasted almonds, toasted pecans, or ooey gooey caramel.

In this version, we’ve added a setting that browsers can picture eating and sharing the chocolate: a summer soiree. The word “soiree” itself establishes a tone: this chocolate is fancy, it’s for folks who enjoy the good life––and for good measure, we added the word “refined” to make that message clear. Of course we aren’t just marketing Leonard’s Chocolates to the elite 1%––we want a wide reach for our company––so we included vivid imagery to entice the palate. We used words you can actually taste: rich, smooth, creamy, and see: ooey gooey (can’t you just picture the caramel oozing out of the center of a beautiful dark chocolate bar?). Crafting delicious (or sensory) product descriptions that viewers can taste will broaden your appeal to consumers of all walks of life––who doesn’t want to eat something decadent and scrumptious?

From the well-executed product write-up, readers get the sense that this isn’t chocolate you pick up at your local Walgreens wrapped in tinfoil. This is chocolate you experience while wearing your sexiest outfit and laughing with friends, a flute of champagne in hand––in other words, this chocolate is totally going to be purchased. Because if you aren’t already living the glamorous lifestyle painted by this product description, you want to. And with the right word choices, we’ve convinced anyone who happens on that product page that they will achieve just that by adding Leonard’s Chocolate to their cart. Go Leonard!

3. Clean Correct Content

Now that we’ve covered the glamorous aspect of writing product descriptions––addressing your audience, the tone of the text, and the right word choice––let’s get down to the nitty gritty of fetching content. The basics of every well-written word, despite use (be it product descriptions, your company mission, email exchanges with customers) is just that: a well-written word. That means you’ve made sure to spell check every line of text, ensuring every single word is spelled and typed out correctly. You’ve copyedited your descriptions for glaring grammatical errors and pesky punctuation mishaps.

If you are new to the written word and are unsure how to begin polishing your prose (if this opening sentence to the following paragraph reads foreign to you, for instance), we recommend you really brush up on basic editing and writing rules. Here’s a quick, simple tutorial laying out tips and steps to copyediting text. And if your company has the budget, it is definitely beneficial to hire a content manager––whether that’s an in-house writer or outsourced content writers, well-produced, correctly written, and thoughtful product descriptions make an impactful difference in conversion rates for many reasons, including engaging consumers and logistically––imagine if a potential buyer comes to your medical supplies online store looking for a defibrillator but no one in your company or website back-end bothered to double check the spelling of your products and thus, defibrillator is misspelled. When that customer, looking to buy one, searches your site for a (correctly spelled) defibrillator, it may not come up in the results or worse Google will dock points when crawling your site’s content for search result ranking. According to Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, typos and errors definitely affect rankings, and low-ranked websites usually contain many spelling or grammar problems, whereas high-ranking sites rarely have textual mistakes.

The verdict is in, having great product descriptions––both engaging for consumers as well as polished, error-free text––is just as vital for your ecommerce as any other factor. Professionally produced product descriptions reflects a professional company. Keep this in mind as you move forward with your online store to ensure its success.

Published by

Joseph Yi

Since he was a freshman in college, Joseph has worked in several internet startup companies and has developed campaigns and digital strategies for Fortune 500 companies and brands including the Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester City FC, the Oakland Raiders, Sephora, and Whole Foods. Follow Joseph on Twitter.

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