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VWO BLOG

on Conversion Rate Optimization

This blog was updated on 04/08/2016 with links to latest industry examples, and research. Give it a read for fresh insights on writing eCommerce product descriptions that sell.


The best eCommerce descriptions create an impression at once. They communicate value, get people excited, and make them switch from visitors to customers instantly.

Still, some eCommerce businesses simply copy-paste the manufacturer’s descriptions on their product pages. This can hurt your SEO efforts as well as the conversion rate of your website. Moreover, a description copied from the manufacturer’s website lacks human touch.

Mac Product Description

 

eCommerce product description for Mac

Above is an example of an eCommerce store copying the manufacturer’s (Mac) product description.

Realize that your potential customers cannot touch or feel the product. So, the responsibility of identifying and addressing the needs and expectations of your target audience rests on your copy.

Make sure you include all the information they might require to buy the product. Use your words to give them the necessary information in an engaging fashion that impels them to click that “Add to Cart” button right away.

8 Quick Tips to Write Distinctive Product Descriptions That Sell

 1. Speak to Your Target Audience

Should your voice be serious and formal, or casual and funky? Should you emphasize the technical aspects of the product in your descriptions or concentrate more on its aesthetics?

Understanding the main considerations of your customers is most crucial to make them relate with your descriptions and buy your products. Once you know who your target audience is, you can decide which voice or personality you should take up to communicate with them.

The J. Peterman Company is an apparel website that celebrates vintage fashion. The dreamy descriptions on their website perfectly matches with the taste of classic fashion lovers.

I can tell you this because I’m one big time vintage fashion lover. And I’d buy from them without any second thoughts. Reading beautiful descriptions on their website enriches the shopping experience all the more. This makes them stand out from other apparel websites any day.

Read it to feel the magic yourself:

Product description by The J. Peterman Company matches the vintage taste of their target audience

Consider another example:

Old Spice conveys its personality traits — masculinity, longevity, and experience — through all its marketing copy. The product descriptions on the eCommerce website are edgy, fresh, and spell confidence.

old spice product description

Creating online personas can help you write more effective copy for your target market.

2. Bridge the Gap Between Features and Benefit

A feature is essentially a fact about your product or offer. The benefit mainly answers how a feature is useful for your customer.

For most products, it may seem like customers are already aware of the primary features, unless the product is really complicated, like crane equipment maybe? And usually, you can easily add specifications of a product in bullet points and get done with it.

But if you want to really persuade your visitors to become customers, you will need to spell out the benefits of these features in your descriptions. Tell them exactly “how” a particular feature is useful for them, and “why” they should make this purchase.

As Simon Sinek mentions in his TED talk,

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Here’s an example of a benefits-driven product description from Mothercare.com:

Benefits-driven description from Mothercare.com

Bonus Tip 1: Notice how the third point under the benefits section settles the concern many parents, who might be worried  if the material of this teether might be harmful for their baby.

Figure out such concerns of your prospects and address them in your copy to make them confident about the purchase. One way is to dig out the keywords they use in their search query. Try the Google Keywords Planner for this. For insights into how Google Keywords Planner helps do this easily, read this post. Center your product copy around the keywords and questions that your users are hunting answers for.

Google Keywords Planner
SOURCE: https://selfstartr.com/persuasive-marketing-techniques/

Bonus Tip 2: Product descriptions that bridge the gap between features and benefits can lessen buyer’s guilt and ease the buying decision. For example, mentioning that a certain 100% organic cotton shirt is sweat-free and anti-allergy justifies its high price.

Bonus Tip 3: eCommerce store owners who want to uncover problems that users face while searching for products on their website can try website surveys.

For example, you could trigger a survey to a user who has spent 7-10 minutes on your website browsing through various shaving razors but isn’t able to find the one he needs.

“Not able to find what you are looking for? Tell us what you are looking for”.

If a considerable number of users are looking for a specific benefit, you can write that into your product description. For instance, if a critical number of survey responses ask for “hypogenic shaving razor”, you can add that benefit to the relevant products on your website, helping users make a purchase decision faster.

3. Rely More on Verbs, and Less on Adjectives

Admission letters to colleges are no less of a selling copy than a product description. And an analysis of MBA admission letters sent to the Director of Harvard Business School revealed that verbs are much more compelling than adjectives.

Consider these product descriptions:

This cute, little sleeping bag is perfect for your one-year-old baby.

Or,

This bright sleeping bag gives your baby plenty of room to kick and wriggle without the worry of getting tangled in layers of bedding. He will never wake up cold having kicked his bedding off. Your baby will feel safe even in unfamiliar surroundings.

Which one sounds more compelling? Decide for yourself! Or, wait! This article might help you decide (just to be sure!).

4. Use Jargon Only When Talking to Sophisticated Buyers

Excessive jargon that your customers do not completely understand can lead to confusion. It is best that you avoid it in product descriptions because if they don’t understand it, they won’t buy it.

But probably, you want to include the jargon because you think that it makes you come across as an expert. And you’re right. Using jargon adds to your credibility. This is especially true when you want to cater to sophisticated audiences.

At the same time, too much information can overwhelm visitors. It is best to hide these details under the “Know more” or “Technical specifications” section and keep product summaries simple.

5. Give Them a Story

People take decisions emotionally and attempt to justify them with logic. Make them imagine how their life would be if they buy the product. And weaving a good story is a great way to reel them in.

ModCloth pulls this off brilliantly by transporting their visitors into another world with charming small stories that have a dash of humor to them:

ModCloth has unique product descriptions that weave beautiful, compelling stories

6. Borrow the Language/Vocabulary from Your Ideal Customer

Joanna Wiebe, the conversion-focused copywriter and the Founder of Copy Hackers, mentions in one of her articles:

Don’t write copy. Swipe copy from your testimonials.

In the article, she explains how she swiped the exact words from a customer testimonial for the headline, which increased conversions (Click-through to the pricing page) by 103%.

Here’s the testimonial that she used:

Exact words from this testimonial were used in the copy to improve conversions

And this is the winning headline that swiped words from the above testimonial:

Winning headline that swiped words from the above customer testimonial

Conversion experts swear by this technique and you can easily use it to write high-converting product descriptions. It’s all about matching the conversation in the minds of your prospects.

7. Add Social Proof to Your Descriptions

Social proof is the modern day word-of-mouth. That is why a product review by a customer is more convincing than a sales copy on your website. Research has it that approximately 70% of consumers read and consider product reviews before making a purchase.  eCommerce businesses can use the credibility established by social proof in their product descriptions.

The popular online furniture store Made.com tempts people by adding social proof in their descriptions. They add the media box (like the one shown below) to descriptions of products that have been featured in the press.

Made.com adds media mentions of its products in descriptions

8. Check for Readability

a. Use Short or Broken Sentences

Yes, you got me right! Your English teacher in school probably didn’t approve of broken sentences. But this is no academic writing. Your sales copy or description should be about what is easier to read.If reading feels like a task to your customers, they will ignore your descriptions, eventually plummeting your conversions.

Here’s how Apple uses broken sentences:

Broken sentences used by Apple in its copy

Or, you could go with the Rule of Three to create copy that’s sticky and has a higher recall value.

b. Use Bullet Points

Most users scan pages on the Internet. They do not read word-by-word. Get them to notice the important points by listing them in bullets, like Amazon does:

Amazon uses bullet points to help its customers scan the product description easily

The placement order of the points/benefits is also important. Be sure to mention the primary benefits/concerns first, followed by other lesser important points.

c. Use Larger Fonts and Well-Contrasted Font Colors

It’s annoying to read grey text on a white background, especially if it’s written in a smaller font size.

Make sure that your font color easily stands out on the page and that your font size and type is easily readable for your target audience. Don’t make your visitors squint their eyes to read your text and they will happily read more, if your words make sense to them.

Otherwise, they would just say “Chuck it!” and move on to some other website.The best part about changing eCommerce product descriptions is, unless you need a complete page overhaul, setting up an A/B test for product descriptions will only take a few minutes with Visual Website Optimizer’s WYSIWYG Editor.

To test the waters, you can only A/B test the descriptions of your most popular product pages to see how it works for you, before assigning your copywriter with the task of writing descriptions for all product pages of your website.

Conclusion

Your product description should answer three basic questions – what are the product’s benefits, who is the product for, and how does it provide value. Experiment with different product descriptions on your website, and A/B test to see what works best for you.

Have questions or suggestions? Go ahead and drop us a comment right away.

Sign-up for Visual Website Optimizer’s 30-day trial and set up your test now!

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(9) Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. “And I’d buy from them without any second thoughts”… but did you? 🙂

    The best way I’ve found to write product descriptions is to browse competitor products to brainstorm gaps of information you’ve overlooked and to setup a widget on http://www.webengage.com targeting product pages with a question: “What’s the biggest question you have about this product?”

  2. This is awesome info, Smriti. Great stuff.

    Oftentimes product descriptions are one thing ignored & unexplored area by most! Your post is an awakening call!

  3. @Joshua – I didn’t. But that’s because they don’t ship to our country. 🙁 And trust me, that’s actually sad for me. And webengage seems to be a good idea. Thanks for mentioning.

    @Ravi – Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  4. Love the J. Peterman sample, takes me back to the Seinfeld days. My only question is, Are keywords still a factor in the descriptions?

  5. Curiously written text. cool examples. Yours sincerely

  6. @Shawn – As long as you’re including relevant keywords in your URLs, meta descriptions and title tags, it should be fine.

    Bonus point, if you can include it “naturally” in product descriptions too. But again, I cannot emphasize on the word “naturally” enough. Make sure you are writing both for humans as well as for search engines. That’s the key.

    @Lucas – Glad you liked them.

  7. Good advice Smriti 🙂
    Have you thought making an updated of the blog post? There’s a plenty of new tips about product descriptions recently.

    I also did my own observations and compiled a valuable post on smart ways for eCommerce business owners to improve their product descriptions.
    http://masterofwriting.com/smart-ways-to-improve-your-product-descriptions/

    It’s clear there’s a lot of thing to include in the ultimate example for PD, however we shouldn’t go much beyond what our target audience perceives as a value.

  8. “It’s annoying to read grey text on a white background, especially if you’re using a smaller font size.” – Oh, the irony!

    Great article though. 🙂

  9. I’m a first year copywriter going into a job with essentially no experience. This article not only drastically improved my product descriptions, but gave me insights that made all the copy I write more engaging and effective. Thank you so much!

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