A good product description informs. A great product description sells.
Writing product descriptions that resonate with your target audience opens the doors to your lineup’s key features and benefits, holding the power to convert a user into a client.
It’s one of the many shortcuts to success you can take. And we’ll help you get there.
In this guide, we walk you through the techniques needed to write great product descriptions while enabling your ecommerce business to be perceived as one of the best in your niche.
Our voyage through product descriptions begins from the fundamentals, going through language and tone, brand identity and trust, structure and length, and performance metrics. We finish with several questions that people who aim to produce a top-quality product copy have.
Off we go!
Fundamentals of a great product description
An online store with product descriptions that sell is one that can differentiate between benefits and features, using language that pulls your target audience in through the value it offers them.
Focus on benefits, not just features
The truth is, you need both. But before anything else, let’s clear up any confusion around features and benefits.
We make decisions based on emotions while thinking that we make decisions based on logic.
Features are logical. The benefits are emotional.
It’s easy to determine why we buy a thing when we look at its features, but it’s often not enough to push us into investing in that thing. When we feel the subconscious, emotional reason behind an item, the push becomes much more powerful, and we insta-click that button.
We don’t buy Apple products only because they “just work,” being well-optimized. We buy them because they represent excellence and make us feel capable and powerful.
Features usher in users, explaining to them logically why they should purchase. Benefits keep users engaged, giving them the emotional charge they need to make the purchase.
Product benefits turn mundane features into something desirable. Product features justify the emotional investment in key benefits in cases where those alone aren’t enough.
So, benefits and features work together to influence the purchase decision of weary potential buyers, turning them into customers.
Use persuasive language that appeals to your target audience
When you imagine your ideal customer, you use broad strokes to outline all the essential aspects. From there, you build a buyer persona by identifying your target audience’s pain points, needs, and desires.
For a description to sell, the language in those product details has to resonate with your buyer persona. And for that, you need to address directly the same pain points, needs, and desires from earlier.
Dollar Shave Club knows how to write persuasive product descriptions, and it shows. Its specific audience feels connected to DSC’s conversational language and unique style, so it get drawn in.
The company fills its descriptions with humor, power words, and sensory words that act as an echo chamber for potential customers looking for shaving products to help them feel confident and enjoy the process. DSC isn’t the only one to do this, but it does it for the people who are most likely to buy its products, and that’s why it sells.
The selection of words should speak directly to your target audience, but remember – it should also reflect your brand voice, whether formal, casual, playful, or serious. This consistency keeps users engaged and magnetically pulls them in to do more on your site.
If some of the terms above are unknown to you, don’t worry! We’ll cover them as we go.
Highlight the unique value proposition of your product
At the end of the day, the perceived value of what you offer is what sets you apart from other people selling the same or similar things. To stand out, you highlight your unique value proposition (UVP) in your description with a clear and concise statement.
Everlane is a clothing retailer highlighting its commitment to ethical manufacturing and transparent pricing as its UVP. Their product descriptions include information about factories where the products are made, and they break down the cost to show how the pricing is determined.
This detail-oriented approach appeals to their target audience, who value ethical consumerism. Et voilà, more sales for Everlane.
The UVP answers one question: “Why choose this product?“. Your product description is the form your answer takes.
Language and tone
We use language to communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Through them, we connect on another level with what’s around us.
Use sensory language to create a vivid mental image for the reader
Words and phrases that tingle the five senses are called sensory words. They allow readers to “experience” the product even before they use it.
Lush uses sensory words to tell about their cosmetic products, and they don’t just tell you what they sell; they create an image in your head by describing the experience created by the scents, colors, and sensations.
Let’s examine one of its many products with unique descriptions – a bath bomb with fruit flavor inspired by Spongebob.
The first thing you see that the product description does is create a situation and guide the reader from the moment they enter the bath to the moment they finish up their aftercare routine.
Between the start and the end, you have both features and benefits to help you understand and feel the product, along with many sensory words that let you imagine you’re there, playing around in the bathtub with a fresh aroma.
Here are some sensory words in that description:
- Dive (touch, movement);
- Fresh and fruity blend (smell, taste);
- Popping candy (sound, taste);
- Cracking good time (sound);
- Sparkling citrus (sight, smell);
- Lemon oil-rich (smell;
- Brilliantly moisturized skin (touch).
Sensory words make the product description more relatable and appealing, bringing abstract concepts to life through stories that readers can imagine and feel for themselves.
Thus, you don’t only sell products. You also build connections between products and the customer.
Use power words that evoke emotion and create a sense of urgency
Words and phrases that evoke emotion and compel the reader to take action are called power words.
Before we dive into the specifics, here are power words from the previous example with Lush products that you can feel out for yourself:
- Party-time (excitement, joy);
- Favorite (positive emotion);
- Wild (intensity);
- Plastic-Free July (socially conscious);
- Silly (fun, playfulness);
- Build (growth, improvement);
- Last (endurance, sustainability);
- Replace (change, transformation);
- Perfect (extreme positive quality);
- Brilliantly (intensity, excellence).
They don’t tell a mini-story, no. They take a shortcut and deliver the punch to a line.
Power words evoke emotions that bubble up and push people to make a change by going from point A to point B. What is the best way to make that change? By taking the action of buying a product.
Nike’s motto, “Just Do It.” is perhaps the most famous set of power words.
If we examine them, we see:
- Just (now);
- Do (act);
- It (what you want).
“Act now on what you want.” Cool, right? It’s clear and works with pretty much anything.
Beyond that, the company uses power words in their product descriptions, making the experience of just doing it with Nike much more realistic for the reader. Phrases like “conquer the court” or “dominate the game” evoke feelings of victory and superiority, aligning with the brand’s athletic image.
When you use power words, you create a sense of urgency. Readers feel that.
The essence of the message is simple: “Take action now. Or else – the product might disappear and, along with it, the opportunity to make a change.”
You’ll often encounter phrases like “limited stock” or “exclusive offer” to prompt quick decisions. Verbs in the imperative form give directions on how customers will feel when they own a product, while time-related words clock the remainder before the opportunity is lost.
We recommend being careful, though. You don’t want to be too aggressive by cramming many power words in your product descriptions.
Many online stores tell success stories to their customers and push towards action at the same time. They also include technical details and relevant information that will justify the purchase on a logical level. That’s one of the reasons many of them sell.
Being persuasive comes in different shades, but at its core, that means guiding through (mini-story, technical specs) and prompting to (make a change and take action).
Keep the tone consistent with your brand voice and image.
Even with the best product descriptions, if their tone is all over the place, you start to confuse your crowd and lose potential sales.
Consider carefully what your brand voice sounds like and what your brand image looks like. Your product descriptions should reflect those.
Whether your brand is sophisticated, casual, whimsical, or serious, the tone in your product description acts as an extension of what your brand represents.
Wendy’s fast-food chain is known for its witty and slightly sarcastic social media presence. This voice carries over into their menu descriptions, where they infuse humor and playfulness.
That’s a brand voice that is both engaging and consistent, making it consistently engaging. If you need help with how to write product descriptions that are always aligned with your brand voice, there’s a way to do it.
Create guidelines that define your brand’s tone, style, and values. Use them to shape the language and tone of your descriptions, maintaining consistency across all products.
Brand identity and trust
To gain trust and maintain it, you need a complete brand identity. We discussed how words affect brand identity, and one of the components of its completion is the social factor of customer experience.
Use social proof, such as customer reviews or testimonials, to build trust
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others, assuming them to be correct. In the context of product descriptions, that means leveraging positive reviews, ratings, and testimonials.
They say, “Seeing is believing,” right? Well, seeing good reviews or testimonials from real customers is reassuring. It facilitates the purchase decision of users in doubt and acts as a method to build trust.
Amazon employs a strategy to place customer ratings prominently on their product pages – at the top. Anyone can click and see the percentage of stars a product has received and read the individual reviews of verified and unverified customers.
Some sites hide negative reviews. Others create their reviews and fetch them as unbiased opinions of actual customers. We don’t recommend either of those approaches.
While it can affect sales, choosing transparency is the ethical way of conducting a business.
On one hand, having only positive reviews can seem fishy to some. Conversely, replying to as many reviews as possible, including both positive and negative, shows customers that you’re reading and care. It is even better if you take action on potential issues and keep customers informed.
Incorporating user-generated content like product photos from customers further adds to that authenticity. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and consider showcasing particularly glowing testimonials.
Social proof is a compelling tool for writing product descriptions that sell.
You build trust by being honest and dedicated to your customer base. In return, you are showered with praise for your effort and care for each customer’s experience.
Avoid generic descriptions and focus on what sets your product apart
A generic product description is vague and unremarkable, and it often turns out to be a duplicate copy used by other sites selling the same things.
Switch on your lightbulb. Focus on what makes your product yours.
Before you wrap your description in your brand voice, figure out what specifics you should provide. Those make your product tangible and relatable, helping readers understand why your particular product is the one for them.
Eyewear retailer Warby Parker does that well. They give details about the design, sustainability efforts, and their home try-on program, setting themselves apart from competitors.
Identify aspects differentiating you from others in the same market and highlight them in your product description. Whether it’s a unique manufacturing technique, innovative features, or exceptional service, shine the light on it.
Structure and length
Text structure and formatting point the eye to prominent places. Length should be adjusted according to the complexity of a product.
Keep the length of the description appropriate to the product and audience
Product description length is a balance between being brief and informative. It is too short, and it lacks necessary information; it is too long, and it loses the reader’s interest.
The right length presents all the relevant information without overwhelming the reader. It’s enough to cover key features, benefits, and product details while keeping the reader engaged.
A rule of thumb is to keep paragraphs short. Say one, maximum of two things per paragraph.
You can break up explanations that require more sentences into several short paragraphs. Or, write a short paragraph, followed by a one-liner to emphasize on an aspect.
That’s what it means to adapt your description to your audience and product – to serve both.
Breville sells kitchen appliances, some of which are coffee machines. If you’re an aficionado, you know how costly they can get.
The company captures each item’s charm in the product title and product images. But it’s the product description that allows users to take the leap and invest, being exhaustive, with plenty of detail, and to the point, without dilating the quality of the text.
Use formatting, such as bullet points and subheadings, to make the description easier to read and skim
Continuing from the example above, we see that Breville uses various formatting elements in its descriptions to tell its customers why they should invest in the products.
It includes the following:
- Product titles. They’re pretty unique: the Barista Touch™ Impress, the Oracle® Touch, the Dual Boiler™, the Infuser™, and so on. That leaves an impression and creates a mental image with a few words. Some of them are even trademarked – another point of authenticity.
- Headings and subheadings. Separating each section and subsection with headings and subheadings makes navigation much easier. Feature-rich products might require longer descriptions, and proper formatting makes them more appealing.
- Bullet points. A clean, organized layout where key benefits and features are listed. Also, it is easier to skim.
- White space. The space between various elements. It enhances readability, allowing you to point the reader’s eye intentionally.
- Graphics. Visualizations of the content within descriptions give some breathing room and act as a summary.
With these formatting tools, you can transform a dense block of text into a pleasant, easy-to-read text that serves any kind of audience.
Performance metrics and SEO
Search engine optimization – eminent and almighty. If you’re wondering, the answer is yes: product descriptions can improve your performance in organic search rankings. But they can also hurt it.
Test and optimize your descriptions based on performance metrics, such as conversion rates and click-through rates
CTR measures the number of clicks your ads get per number of impressions (views). Conversion rate is the percentage of users who take a desired action out of the total number of visitors or views.
Want better performance in terms of sales and engagement? Test and optimize your product descriptions until they’re optimal.
Companies like Etsy regularly run A/B tests, analyzing metrics such as click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates. That helps them understand what resonates best with their audience.
Such testing allows for ongoing refinement and personalization to reach a point where your content completely aligns with your audience’s preferences, expectations, and brand identity.
Periodic tests provide actionable insights to implement within descriptions, leading to higher conversions and increased sales.
Align product descriptions with your SEO and content marketing strategy
Aligning the pieces of a puzzle gives you the complete picture. Doing the same with your marketing strategy and optimization for search engines creates a complete snapshot of your website, increasing its visibility and ranking.
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) offers outdoor wear and equipment, working with brands like Cotopaxi, Patagonia, and Columbia. Their product descriptions are part of a broader content marketing strategy that includes blogs, guides, videos, and other educational content.
This holistic approach puts all pieces of content on the same level, being of the same high quality. It shows the company’s dedication to providing value and empowering customers to make informed purchase decisions.
Traffic and sales come when that approach is combined with others, such as keyword optimization.
Use keywords and semantics to rank higher in the search engines
Keywords are specific words or phrases that people are likely to search for. Semantics refers to the meaning behind and context of keywords.
Defining and using keywords relevant to each of your pages ranks it higher in search engine page results (SERP). Using semantically related words prevents keyword stuffing, which can negatively affect your SEO performance.
The knack of keyword optimization is to implement keywords naturally.
NEXT BASKET’s website is optimized for search engines on all levels, from the site structure to the home page to the hundreds of other pages that go down its hierarchy and, of course, to each blog post.
So far, there are around 50 keywords in the text of this article. How many of them did you spot?
The fewer have left an impression on you, the more naturally they’ve been implemented. Why? Because you’ve read them, it’s made sense to you how they were placed in the overall structure and individual paragraphs.
You’ve likely found this piece engaging if you’ve been reading from the start. The reason for that is the variety in how this topic unfolds before you.
As such, now, you’re more likely to have an interest and read our other blog posts. You may even send an inquiry to see how we can help with your online business. And that’s how engagement works.
Variability leads to engagement, and engagement serves to improve your reputation and sales. As long as your product descriptions follow the general requirements of keyword optimization, you can reach the first page of Google.
In case you’re interested to learn more, we’ve written a whole blog post covering SEO keywords.
As mentioned in the beginning… Good product descriptions work. Excellent product descriptions sell. Now, do you know why that is?
To conclude, we’ve prepared some product description FAQ for you. Enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
How do I respond to negative reviews in a way that builds trust?
Customers have taken the time to write a review. First, understand the value that brings you. It might as well be the next step to improve your overall service. From there, you’ll feel it natural to respond with empathy, offer solutions, and stay committed to enhancing the customer’s experience.
Should I include information about sustainability efforts in product descriptions?
Yes, if that is part of your brand identity or a key product feature. It gives a better understanding of what you go through to make your products, which can resonate with eco-conscious customers.
How do I make my product descriptions more inclusive and accessible?
Use precise language, offer alternative text for images, and consider cultural sensitivity to appeal to a wider audience.
What are the risks of over-promising in product descriptions?
It can lead to disappointment, negative reviews, and loss of trust, impacting reputation and long-term customer relationships.
How do I update descriptions for seasonal or trend-based products?
Build your content with the idea of changing it with seasons and trends. You can structure descriptions so that it’s easier to make changes later by substituting only certain pieces of the text or adding an extra subheading.