In the growing world of e-commerce, product descriptions are the only chance you have to make a sales pitch.
It’s not enough that you have product descriptions. You need great product descriptions for every item in your e-commerce store.
Today, we’re going to look at what makes a product description great, and offer some tips and tricks to help you write your own outstanding e-commerce listings.
The Purpose of Product Descriptions
Imagine for a moment that you own a brick-and-mortar shoe store. What type of strategies might you adopt to ensure you meet your monthly sales goals?
You probably would start by having a sample of every product on the sales floor, clearly labeled with its price. You would install a cash register and a cashier, to process purchases. Would you stop there?
Probably not, but that’s what a staggering number of e-commerce sites do — and some do even less.
In your shoe store, you would hire a great sales staff and provide them with the training they need to sell your products. That way, when a customer comes in to browse, they can answer questions and explain the benefits of each shoe.
Your staff would probably be well-spoken, friendly and helpful. In fact, you would dress your staff in uniforms and require that they present a professional image for your business. Wouldn’t you?
So why would you consider doing anything less when selling your products online?
Think of your product descriptions just as you would a sales team. In the online world, product descriptions have to present the benefits of your products. They must be well-spoken, friendly and helpful. They must present a uniform, professional image. And perhaps more than anything else, your product descriptions must be able to answer the questions your e-commerce customers are likely to have.
Imagine your shoe store customer, standing alone on the sales floor with nothing more to go on than a photograph of a shoe, a price tag and an automated cashier. That’s no way to make sales!
Components of Great Product Descriptions
To achieve these critical objectives, let’s focus on turning your e-commerce product descriptions into master salespeople.
The first element to consider is the heading or title of your product description. Along with the thumbnail image, your title will make or break your sale. Every title must include what the product is, the brand and the important details.
Below are two examples. Which one would make you look further?
“Young Men’s Long-Sleeved Shirt”
“Young Men’s No-Iron Long-Sleeved Shirt from Van Heusen”
No matter what your product may be, all great product descriptions contain the same basic elements. Think like a news reporter and focus on the who, what, where, when and why. Be direct and descriptive, and remember the power of storytelling. Your prospects can’t hold that product or see it in action, so paint a picture in their minds of what owning your product feels like. Highlight the benefits of the product and end with a call to action.
Now let’s talk about product attributes and features. These are the bullet points that your prospects will scan right after the title. Keep them short but persuasive and remember to include the benefits. Show the customer what’s in it for them.
Let’s not forget about the photos and images you use in your product listings. Remember, high-quality images are a must. Multiple images are too.
The Importance of the Prospect Profile
Yes, we are beating this drum again — because it’s the lynchpin for writing effective product descriptions.
Now that you have nailed down the technical aspects of your product descriptions, you must consider the tone and style that will resonate best with your audience. If your prospect profile includes older buyers or a more conservative audience, your product description tone should be more formal. If your buyers are college students in their late teens or early 20s, a formal approach will send them running.
Here are a couple of great examples.
The product description for this Hammacher Schlemmer clock is written for a different audience than this R2-D2 laundry hamper from ThinkGeek. Duluth Trading takes a lighter, more playful tone to sell this men’s shirt, especially when compared to the more formal tone used for a similar shirt offered by Nordstrom.
Selling the Benefits Trumps Selling the Product
Let’s look at two more product pages for men’s T-shirts.
Nordstrom’s product description is short and to the point, describing the color and cut of the garment. The bullet point features describe the fabric, cut, washing instructions and country of origin. The page gives you all the facts about the product.
Now look at a similar product from Duluth Trading. The product description is longer — much longer in fact. Like Nordstrom’s page, these bullet points tell you about the fabric, cut, origin, etc. But this product description goes way beyond the basics by describing all the problems it solves for you.
You know that if you buy this shirt, it will solve the modesty problems caused by shirts that are too short. It will solve the problem of scratchy collar tags. It will stand up to lots of washing and wearing. And if you have a little extra around the middle, its “generous tradesman fit” has you covered.
And, to top it all off, the Duluth product description has its own call to action.
When you write product descriptions, be sure to explain how your products solve the customer’s problem. Of course they want to know all the facts too, but don’t stop there, as Nordstrom did. Go the extra mile to show your prospects how your products will improve their lives.
Format and Visuals Matter More than You Think
Research shows us that internet consumers scan product description pages quickly, reading less than 20 percent of the text — at least in the first pass. On average, they decide within 10 seconds whether to stay on a page (although some studies say that number is much smaller, more like 5-6 seconds).
They may not realize it but, in that 5-10 seconds, they’re looking for words and phrases to jump off the page and grab their attention. You have to give that to them, and that means saying it quickly and saying it well.
You can accomplish this by using an effective format for your product descriptions that makes appropriate use of headings, bold text, bullet points and graphics or images.
Internet consumers scan any given page in an F-shaped pattern. This means they scan horizontally, from right to left, across the top of the page. Next, they move down the page slightly and repeat that movement. Finally, their eyes move to the side for a vertical scan, top to bottom (although whether that occurs to the left or right of the screen is a topic of some debate today).
Leverage this pattern when setting up your product pages and writing your descriptions. Put the important information in these areas, using graphic design and layout techniques proven to grab their attention.
Optimizing Product Descriptions for SEO
If your targets and prospects never find your products online, they will never have a chance to buy them. This is where SEO strategies can make the difference for your business.
Every product description you write must contain relevant keywords. You don’t need to go overboard though, so no keyword stuffing! Remember to include relevant keywords in your image titles and descriptions too.
Develop an Obsession for Detail
If you have an e-commerce site selling hundreds (or thousands) of products, the all-important details can easily become lost. This is a costly mistake.
From your perspective, the little things may seem insignificant when compared to getting your products up and available for purchase. But details matter to your prospects and customers, and they definitely matter to Google.
This means no grammar or spelling errors, no generic phrases or jargon and limited use of superlatives. Write persuasively, but don’t make outlandish claims for which you have no support.
Here at Be Locally, our obsession for detail helps our clients achieve their highest and best results. As a business owner, you have little time to heed these important details, so why not trust an expert to handle them for you?
Be Locally offers a full suite of online marketing services, designed to improve your bottom line and grow your business. Content marketing, website design and search engine optimization are just a few of our specialties. We work with e-commerce customers every day, helping improve their reach, attract more prospects and increase sales conversions.
Contact us today to learn more about writing the most effective product descriptions for your site.
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