Creating product descriptions for your ecommerce online store is a balancing act. You want to provide enough information to shoppers to answer any potential questions they might have, but you also need to keep in mind the idea of attention economics: human attention is a scarce commodity.
So how can you make sure that you’re giving customers both the right quantity and quality of information on your ecommerce site? Keep reading to find out.
What is a product description?
A product description is the marketing copy on each product page that explains what a product is and why a shopper should buy it. The purpose of a product description is to give your customers any important information about a product that they are interested in buying, along with any other reasons they should purchase the product.
An ecommerce sales tool
Your product descriptions can act as a valuable sales tool for your business by helping you directly target your ideal customers. Like a good sales pitch, the copy should capture the tone and personality of your brand and the products you sell to help you connect with potential customers.
Describe product features and benefits
Good product descriptions should cover two main aspects: features and benefits. These are the bread and butter of your product page copy. A feature is a quality or a function of a product. For example, “This laptop bag is waterproof” describes a feature.
A benefit is the value a customer gets from a feature of the product. For example, “You won’t need to worry about the rain anymore” describes a benefit of the bag being waterproof.
Be as specific as possible with your product copy and make sure you are clearly describing features and benefits. Don’t just say a product is high-quality; let shoppers come to that same conclusion through the product features and benefits.
5 tips for writing the best product description
Your product descriptions need to do more than just describe your products — they need to sell them. Here are 5 tips for writing product descriptions that increase sales.
1. Know your audience
First and foremost, you can’t appeal to your audience unless you understand them. Focus on the buyer persona of your ideal customer and sell to them, rather than trying to please everybody.
Who is your ideal customer? What are they looking for in a product? What’s important to them? What isn’t it?
For example, ShipBob client I Heart Keenwah targets customers who prioritize their health but also want to enjoy a fast, tasty snack. Here’s how they connect with their customers through a product description:
Imagine the cheese puff of your childhood, but all grown up. It’s healthy now, made with quinoa and packing 5g of protein, and comes in four refined flavors. The puffs are a great afternoon snack, hors d’oeuvre, or crouton.
This description speaks directly to their ideal customer. The casual tone is consistent with the overall image of their brand, which is hip, friendly, and socially-conscious. It’s important to let the “personality” of your company shine through in product descriptions.
A helpful trick: Imagine that you are a sales associate at a brick and mortar version of your store. Which tone of voice would you use with customers? What kind of language? That’s the tone and language you should use for your product descriptions.
2. Paint a picture
The best way to present the benefits of a product is to use descriptive and vivid language to paint a picture in the customer’s mind.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but you should use vivid, descriptive language in your product descriptions to create imagery, too. Research shows that 88% of shoppers characterize detailed product content as being extremely important.
That doesn’t mean that you need to present a detailed list of technical specs and call it a day. Instead, make sure that you are not only describing the product itself but the experience created by the product.
To do this, make a list of all important product details or features. Then, figure out the benefit each item provides to the customer. All key features should have a benefit, whether it’s utility, aesthetics, comfort, or simply fun.
Finally, use descriptive language to explain these benefits to your customers. Help them imagine what it’s like to experience your product.
For example, I Heart Keenwah describes their toasted quinoa product this way:
Toasted quinoa just tastes better — unlocking a nutty, roasted flavor. Substitute toasted quinoa wherever you use regular quinoa, rice, or pasta for a protein boost plus delicious texture and flavor. Our single-origin organic Bolivian Royal Quinoa cooks up fluffy in just 15 minutes.
From this vivid description, customers don’t just get an understanding of the benefits of the product (high protein, quick to cook, and versatile), but also how experiencing those benefits will feel. You can almost taste the nutty, fluffy quinoa and feel the convenience of substituting it into all of your favorite recipes for a quick, tasty meal — all thanks to the description.
You should aim to conjure a similarly vivid image related to the product that you sell.
3. Format strategically
Reading on screens has altered the way people consume written content. As mentioned above, shoppers’ attention is a scarce resource, and you need to make the most of the time you have with a potential customer — especially because people only read 16% of the content on any given web page.
According to literacy experts, skim reading is the new normal. That is why it’s so important to make compelling product descriptions easy to digest.
Here are some formatting tricks to grab — and keep — shoppers’ attention for better conversion rates:
- Create scannable lists (like this one!) with bullet points
- Use high-quality, eye-catching product photos
- Add power words to your product titles, headings, and subheadings to break up blocks of text
- Make use of short paragraphs for effective product descriptions
- Increase your font size for easier reading
- Include plenty of white space
- Place lengthy technical details behind a cut or in a different tab
4. Leverage social proof
Social proof gives your products and business added credibility: 55% of shoppers say that online reviews influence their buying decision, while 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review.
If potential buyers are on the fence about whether or not to purchase your product, showing reviews from other customers can be the difference between them submitting an order or abandoning their cart. In fact, 72% of buyers will only take action after reading a positive review.
Customer reviews are a great way to show social proof and let someone else’s word help do social commerce for you, but they’re not the only way. Many clothing retailers, for example, ask customers to share photos of themselves wearing the clothes in their daily lives. Like the point above, this helps customers imagine wearing or using the product in their daily lives.
Some retailers also share purchase stats about a certain product, with messages such as “Over 1,000 sold!” or “Viewed by 65 shoppers today.” The latter also adds a sense of urgency; since many people are interested in an item, there’s an increased chance that it may sell out soon.
5. Have high-quality product images
According to Baymard, 56% of users’ first action upon arriving on the product details page is to explore the images. No matter how great your product description is, if your product images are blurry, unclear, or unflattering, it’ll be hard to persuade the customer to make a purchase.
That is why it’s so important to invest in professional, high-quality product images. Enable the option to zoom in on any image, and provide as many different angles of the product as possible. Similarly, show the shopper a photo of each color or style you offer. If you’re selling clothing, shoes, or accessories, show what each variation of the product looks like on someone.
This may sound like you’d end up with too many photo variations, but providing customers with as much visual information as possible is key to convincing them to buy — especially if they’re only skimming your written descriptions.
Examples of great product descriptions
Here are some examples of product descriptions that meet all of the above criteria — and then some:
Creepy Co. is all about celebrating Halloween, horror movies, and all things spooky year-round. That personality shines through the language used in this description. Selling scented candles online — where there’s no pre-purchase no sniff-test allowed — requires a detailed, vivid description. This product description delivers.
My Calm Blanket
Next, they offer a solution to the problem: “Why not simply get your kids a weighted blanket and watch them sleep through the night so they will be energized in the morning?”
It’s crystal clear what the main benefit of the product is: both the kids and the parents will get better sleep. The great example of how to address a specific problem in your product description.
Then they list the main features, making it clear what benefit each of them provides. Also note how sensory language makes it easy to imagine all of the delicious things one could prepare with Vitamix: “smoothest purées,” “heartiest soups,” “chunky salsa,” etc. This vivid language helps paint a picture that sticks with shoppers and can influence purchasing decisions.
Product description templates to write your own product descriptions
When trying to craft the perfect product description, you might struggle with writer’s block. We’ve got you covered with the following templates.
General product description template
If you’re feeling stuck, use these guidelines to create your product description:
- Create an attention-grabbing headline that hooks your audience
- Use a short description paragraph to introduce the benefits of your product
- Add a bulleted list of product features and the benefits they provide
- Include any necessary technical details
- Highlight social proof
- Conclude with a call to action
This template can be customized to nearly any product in nearly any industry — just make sure that you’re highlighting your brand’s personality, using clear and descriptive language, and writing with your ideal customer in mind.
Clothing product description template
Clothing descriptions require a little extra heavy lifting. Shoppers don’t have the luxury of trying on your products in-store, so you’ll need to get as close as you can get to a home try-on through words alone.
In addition to the template above, include the following:
- Item measurements (ex: length)
- Information about the model’s height and clothing size
- Whether your clothing runs small, large, or true to size
- Details about the fit
- Care instructions
Clothing product pages are also a great place to advertise matching accessories or shoes as “related products.” This can increase your average order value by encouraging customers to order a complete outfit as opposed to just one piece.
By following the tips and templates above, you’ll be well on your way to creating product pages that inspire customers to purchase from your ecommerce store. When shoppers can’t physically interact with your products, connecting with them via language and photography can mean the difference between online window shopping and making a purchase.
To learn more about increasing conversions and turning browsers into buyers, download the Guide to Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment. You’ll learn how to understand shopping cart abandonment and improve your checkout. Plus, hear from one ecommerce merchant that reduced cart abandonment by 18%. Download below.