Writing a product description sounds deceptively simple. In fact, even the professional copywriter can fall prey to the number one mistake (you don’t want to make) when writing product description copy that sells: writing a description that simply describes the product. How can you be sure your product description is armed to sell? Let’s take an in-depth look at 20 tips designed to optimize the sales potential of your product copy!
A product description is a sales tool. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to think of it as a quick review of product features or specifications versus a tool. Think about the tools you currently use to sell your product. What is the one quality they all have in common? Likely, it is that each tool sells the product.
Writing a product description involves selling to the potential customer. The customer wants to know why they should buy the product. A review of the features, specifications and technical information can provide them with a technical product description. However, such an analysis fails to illustrate the value of the product.
When it comes to selling a product online, you must take into consideration economic value. According to Wikipedia, economic value is “a measure of the benefits that [are gained] from either a [product] or service.” The concept of value stems from this measure.
Your audience is on the prowl for value, but what exactly is value in their eyes? The dictionary definition of “value” sheds some practical light on this topic. Value is defined in three different ways:
When your audience reads your product description copy, they want to know the cost, the fairness of that cost and just how the product will prove useful or important to them. Notice that value has nothing to do with specifications, features or technical information. While these three aspects of a product can describe it, they fail to sell it because a potential customer will base their decision on what matters most to them: value.
According to WordTracker.com, the typical ecommerce product description is approximately 60 to 70 words in length. Within this small word space, the goal is to educate the consumer regarding the benefits and selling points of the product. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s more of a challenge than you might think. 60 to 70 words go quick, and each and every one has to count. As you embark on the writing process, here are 5 tips you don’t want to ignore:
1. Know your target audience. One of the common mistakes made by amateur copywriters (and sometimes even the professionals) is failing to know the target audience. Never assume you know them. Always take the time to research their needs, wants and preferences in relation to the product you’re writing about. Knowing you audience is the key to writing a tantalizing description because this knowledge will shape the copy, influence the tone and ultimately deliberate over the angle you choose to take.
2. List the benefits over the features. People want to know why your product is so awesome. Why should they buy it? How will they use it? Will it make life easier, save time or solve a big problem? Does it deliver something they want or need, or both? It’s helpful to brainstorm a list of product benefits before you begin writing description copy. Since you will be working with a limited word count, you should choose the biggest benefits. You’ll need to know your audience well in order to choose the benefits that will seal the deal and make them want to buy.
3. Give your audience a preview of their future. Really good copywriters, the ones who know their trade well, moonlight as fortune tellers—at least when it comes to predicting the future of the customer. Give the audience a glimpse of their future if they purchase the product. How will it affect them a month or a year from now? Highlighting the potential future benefits of a product is an excellent way to showcase its value.
4. Check the limits of your CMS. Content management systems, or CMSs, can throw a monkey wrench into your copy if you fail to check their limitations prior to writing product descriptions. CMSs usually have a word or character limit. So, before you write an epic 100 word description with a killer headline, verify just how much or how little your CMSs can handle. Some things to check before writing include:
5. Incorporation of SEO. Product descriptions are like any other online copy; they need to be search engine optimized. Depending on your website design and CMS, your description lengths will vary. When you’re dealing with a limited word count on the lower end (anything under 100 words), you don’t have a lot of room to insert keywords and phrases; this does not mean you leave them out. Your goal should be to insert at least one strong keyword or phrase in each of the following places two or three times, as quality allows:
Responsive product descriptions are the ones that generate exactly the response you’re targeting: product sales. Enticing the audience to buy without misleading or overselling is more of an art than a technique. Here are some tips the professions use to create the kind of descriptions that make the audience react:
1. Don’t start with a blank page. In the copywriting world, very few writers start any project with a blank page. Most keep something called a “swipe file.” A swipe file is basically a collection of copy that works. As you browse the Internet and conduct research, keep an eye out for product descriptions that work. It doesn’t matter what kind of description it is. Once you find one, save it. In a relatively short period of time, you can create an arsenal of ideas to jump start any product description project with a formula that is proven to sell.
2. Know your product inside and out. We already talked about the importance of knowing your target audience. Well, it’s just as important to know your product. In order to effectively entice the customer and hit on the points that sell, you need to know:
3. Write ASAP. Once you’ve researched the target audience and product, and you’ve decided on the angle to take, it’s important to start writing as soon as possible. Every seasoned copywriter will tell you not to hold off.
4. Edit and rewrite. Once you start writing, don’t stop. Never spend time agonizing over getting the copy just right until you’ve written the first draft. There will be plenty of time to correct errors and improve the copy after it’s written. This is called the edit and rewrite stage!
5. Sprinkle in SEO keywords. Search engine optimization is a big part of writing product description copy that sells. Keywords make the descriptions search engine friendly, which allows for potential customers to find them with ease. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find the most searched keywords related to your product or product type. Be sure to include these in the description copy.
6. Use sensory language. Sensory language is a powerful way to make the reader feel the product. Tell them what the product feels like, how it feels to use, how it looks and what is enticing about it. Your goal is to make the product real by painting a picture through sensory language.
7. Insert a little humor. Inserting humor can really motivate the audience to act on your call to action. Humor speaks to them on a very basic level. It adds personality and entertainment to the copy, which not only helps grab and hold the attention of your audience, but also makes them more receptive to your goal: selling them your product.
8. Use slang sparingly. Slang can be useful. When used sparingly, it can create a strong connection with the audience and take their mind right off the fact that they are being sold to. Be careful not to use any offensive slang and—should you choose to use it—be sure you lightly season the product description with it.
9. Focus on uniqueness. Something makes the product standout from all others like it. It has a unique use or feature. Discover exactly what makes the product unique and spotlight the uniqueness and the benefit it offers in the product description.
10. Avoid talking down to the audience. Never assume that anything regarding the product will be too difficult for your audience to grasp. People are intelligent. Unless you’re going full techno jargon, they will likely be able to grasp anything you write. Avoid demeaning their intelligence or talking down. Potential customers will quickly take their business elsewhere if they feel patronized or underestimated.
11. Headlines are important. According to KISSmetrics, the headline of a product description is 80 percent of the sale. Approximately “five times as many people read the headlines” versus the body copy. Be sure your headlines cry out, “Read me!” Otherwise, the work you put into the product description will be for naught.
12. Stay on target. It’s easy to get distracted while writing, which can cause the copy to wander. Stay on target regarding why the audience should buy. Describe the product, discuss its benefits, illustrate its value and close with a call to action.
13. Answer the all-important question: why? Product descriptions that sell clearly tell the consumer exactly why they need the product. Always ensure the answer to this question is clear and concise.
14. Avoid “yeah, yeah” phrases. A “yeah, yeah” phrase is a phrase that is overused and does little to build on why the customer should purchase the product. As writers, we tend to insert these when we’re stuck. Avoid overused phrases, such as “excellent quality.” If everybody says it about their product, the reader will roll their eyes and say, “yeah, yeah” before moving on.
15. Include a mini-story. Mini-stories have been proven to lower rational barriers against persuasion techniques. In other words, by including a very simple mini-story in a product description, the reader forgets that they are being sold to.
Whether you’re selling in bulk or not, quality is always important. A lot of businesses make the mistake of thinking that bulk is an excuse for slacking on quality. In truth, the customer always demands and so should you. A business that doesn’t recognize this is headed for trouble.
When a business is in need of bulk product description copy, the initial reaction is to search for copywriting services that equate to pennies on the dollar, especially if they’re looking for 100 plus descriptions. While this equation can save on overhead, you’ll likely be skimping on quality copy.
As a business, you recognize that quality represents a solid investment. Regardless of whether you have 1 or 10,000 products to write descriptions for, spending a little more to ensure extra copywriting quality is devoted to each description is the smart and solid quality investment.