Guest post by Russell Ridgeway
Online stores must adapt to the most effective ways of communication in order to boost sales. People want fast and clear solutions for their problems, so we’ve collected some tips and tricks for you to write the most communicative product descriptions. These will increase your sales and that is a key trend to self-employment.
Talk to your Buyer Personas
In order to write a product description that works, you have to know your audience. There is no product made for ‘everyone’, so you have to narrow down your target group to just a few personas. This is possible with qualitative research as part of your business strategy. Just think of those two or three model characters, who represent the members of your target group. When you write your product description, imagine them as real people, and talk to them personally. Think of their background, their needs, and imagine them as they are shopping.
‘Knowing what your customers want, when they want it, and how they’d like it served up to them is not just at the heart of game-changing television shows.’ – Jen Havice
Consider these factors:
- What are they looking for?
- How did they find your store?
- What are their standards and needs?
- How can they benefit from your product or service?
- What language do they speak?
- Where do they live?
- Consider their gender and how they think about gender.
- How much do they want to spend?
- What do you offer so they’ll choose your product over another similar product?
- Consider their general interests.
- Consider their education.
Silence the Worries – Answer the Doubts
Think about all the possible worries that might come up as risk factors for the customer. There is ‘friction’ every time they are shopping. This includes the price and complexity of the product. To reduce the friction, buyer resistance, try to offer an answer to all their second thoughts. Try to answer everything before they ask you. Imagine a face to face conversation in a shop, with a skeptical customer who asks all kinds of questions. By the end of writing your description, your imagined customer should be convinced that the price and product are a perfect match.
‘Leaving shoppers’ questions unanswered can derail a sale or even worse, make shoppers abandon not just the purchase, but the site as well. One shopper in a recent study could not find the information he needed in the product description, so he left the site to search Google for more product information. In the course of his search, he found another site with the same product, a more complete description, and a lower price. – Nielsen Norman Group
- Longevity: ‘How long is it going to serve me when I hike every weekend?’ > Talk about longevity based on facts.
- Fit or compatibility: What if it doesn’t fit/feel/work as I imagine? > Use testimonials to silence the ‘I don’t think it will be true for me.’
- Shipping and returns: ‘I don’t want to answer questions and mess with the returns, moreover, pay for the return.’ > offer free shipping and returns without reasoning.
- Shipping time: ‘Is it going to arrive on time for the event?’ > Give them a guarantee and shipping info.
Focus on Benefits not Just Features
You design or choose certain features for your product based on the benefit it will provide. When you write the description, you have to explain this motivation and talk about how the buyer will benefit from owning or experiencing your product or service.
Make a list of the features, and pair them with their benefits. As you form your sentences, name the feature and then support the importance of the feature with the benefit. Be clear about how it will improve the buyer’s life.
When you transform the features into benefits, remember the buyer persona you are writing to, and what will benefit them personally.
If you are targeting professionals a small description with a technical focus will work as your customers are only looking for features because they are already aware of the benefits. In the case of professional cameras, computers, etc.
Connect the visual communication with your words.
Great images and mixed media are essential for selling products, but visuals and words work even better together. You should include detailed photos, in-use photos, simple product photos with a plain background, videos, and mixed media when possible.
These images communicate ideas you can also talk about verbally. Match the product photos with the description, make them a coherent idea.
If you have a detailed photo of a sofa’s fabric, talk about the fabric in the description, and tell how the buyer will benefit from the specific fabric they see in the photo. Is it waterproof? Tell them that it will be easy to clean. Is it high-quality wool? Tell them how durable it is, and that it will serve them for decades to come.
When you see the sportsman on the picture inside the house on a treadmill while using the product, tell your customer how they can benefit from it. Ex.: They can have an early morning run without going to have to leave their flat.
This technique will play into your customer’s imagination. If you start your sentences with ‘imagine’ and finish it with how they will feel after using the product, they will see themselves as the user, and if they like the experience they are more likely to purchase.
Make them Part of your Story
Create a complete atmosphere with your branding, and include these stories in your writing. One of the most well-known examples of this is Chanel. They always strive to make the customer want to be part of their historical fashion story. This is how they build their campaigns, name their products, and talk about their products. Tell part of your story with your product description, play on their emotions, desires, and fantasies. Question words like who, why, and how will help you tell your story.
Optimize your Text for Search Engines (SEO)
To find the keywords that you should include in the text, use tools to help you find the related words. Such as:
Google Keyword Planner
Shopify recommends placing your keyword in your
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Image tags (ALT tags)
- Product descriptions
Remember to use a tone where these inserted words sound relevant and natural in a sentence. You do not want to sound spammy.
Write Directly to your Persona
You should sound like you are talking to a personal friend. Take into consideration what kind of language they use and like, and adapt to their style. It can be funny if they like jokes, or it can be serious and technical if that’s what they are after. Just remember your buyer persona and be consistent with the chosen style.
You want to share specific benefits not just words that sound good. You can say your product is the best if you support it with legitimate arguments. Avoid cliches and common words, where your customer would only think ‘sure-sure everyone says that…’
You might also want to use “power words” which are sensory adjectives that can help you sell the products. Jon Morrow’s blog has a list of power words to help even more.
Structure your Text
Customers will scan through your text, and only read about 16-20% of what you write. If you can convince them there is something interesting here, you can make them read the whole text more carefully and step into the next stage of shopping.
Ann Handley’s book, Everybody Writes, shares these ideas:
- Use bulleted or numbered lists
- Highlight key points (either in bold or italic or as a full quote)
- Use subheadings to break up the text
- Add visual elements, such as graphics, photos, slide shows, and so on
- Use white space to give your text room to breathe
Write as much as Necessary
Don’t waste your space and chance with irrelevant words. Write a coherent, convincing text, with important information, based on the previous principles. Every word should have a relevant and clear purpose that adds value to the description. Some people even reduce their product description to a single sentence i.e. Uber’s ‘Tap a button, get a ride.’
If you feel like there is more to say, insert a “read more” button, and help them understand better.
You can make your own description template, and helpful questions from the points mentioned in this article. Then you can always go back to it when uploading a new item. You can also reach out to professional copywriters for help.
Russell Ridgeway is an American writer based in Budapest, Hungary. He writes in business, tech, and fashion as well as creative fiction. You can find him on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.