When buying online, customers have three sources of information they can consult before deciding which product is right for them: photos, reviews from other customers, and product descriptions. Of the three, it is the latter whose influence is often underestimated. Product descriptions are run through a subpar machine translation tool, stuffed with keywords or composed without care as to the information being imparted. This negatively affects the retailer’s credibility. That might be okay for very cheap products, but anything beyond that will suffer as a result. Some descriptions verge on satire:
Screenshot from a major American online store
The copywriters in our freelancer pool, by contrast, understand that a product description requires a careful balance of energy and key information. Read on for a few tips on how to create excellent product descriptions.
What makes a good product description?
“A good product description is based around the customer, addresses the issue they are seeking to remedy, and lists exactly how the product does this.”
“A good product description should be coherent and easy to read, motivate the reader and present the facts. The length, scope and level of detail of the text should depend on the product’s complexity. A white cotton T-shirt can be described in fewer words than a special gardening appliance, for example. The register should be right for the target audience, too. Personally, I don’t like product descriptions that ape the low-IQ Clickworker format. I recently read a description that went as follows: ‘We always have an idea in mind when it comes to a man’s bike. With the [PRODUCT NAME] by [BRAND], that idea becomes reality.’ It sounds like a bad joke, but that’s the exact wording they use on the website.”
“A good product description should be concise and targeted in highlighting the benefits the product offers the reader. That said, it’s also important to go beyond simply listing the details – the reader should feel as though the description was written for them. One way to do this is to point out the problem that the product solves or to offer a few use cases.”
What kind of information should be included?
“Include the details that will allow the customer to make an informed decision and compare products. Take a piece of equipment for a new type of sport: you might have to offer a brief explanation of the sport first. Compare that to a fully threaded, cross-recessed round-head screw made of tool steel – there’s nothing more to add in this case. Anyone looking for a screw like this knows what they’re getting. When describing clothing, it can be useful to state how it feels against the skin. With a vacuum cleaner, it can be worthwhile to say how loud it is. It all depends on the product.”
“The product description shouldn’t just rattle off the technical information; it should shine the spotlight on the benefits it will provide to the customer. Of course, the specifics depend on the product in question.”
How should the description be structured?
“It should start with something punchy, followed by a description that mimics the way a customer would look at the product in a store: a general overview, moving on to the key details. The important thing is to anticipate the customer’s desires.”
“As a rule of thumb, I’d start with the product’s strongest features, followed by a closer look and any other aspects that are worth covering. For longer texts, it may be a good idea to briefly talk about the area of use or the product category.”
How do you write a product description so that the customer will want to read it?
“Make it emotional, brief and succinct. Directly address the reader and explain exactly how the product will make their life easier. As you will be listing a host of advantages, it is important to avoid using the same sentence structure each time. Variation is your friend. This makes the text flow better and will allow the advantages to come to the fore naturally.”
“While it depends on the product, you should definitely know who your target audience is. You sell a Harley Davidson by appealing to adventure and freedom. A dining table is about conjuring up images of happy families and get-togethers. Anyone looking for a specific product has a certain mood in mind. Your goal is to sustain that mood without trying to curry favor. Many years ago I wrote a product text for a mole repeller for a platform that gives away vouchers. I kept the description humorous and it managed to go moderately viral. If you did that for other products, you would miss the point and you would end up with the wrong result. Someone looking to buy an expensive electric mountain bike, for example, doesn’t want humor; they want to read about top performance and material quality.”
Title image via Pexels