There’s no doubt that product descriptions are an important part of the eCommerce funnel.
According to Salsify’s 2017 Consumer Research Report, 87 percent of shoppers say product descriptions are an extremely important part of their decision-making process. The same survey found that 98 percent of shoppers have decided not to purchase a product because its description was incomplete, incorrect, or non-existent.
Product descriptions are used to convey information to the shopper that images can’t. If your product descriptions fail to connect with shoppers, or fail to give shoppers the information they need to make a purchase, they’ll likely buy somewhere else.Your product pages are the final part of the funnel – the last opportunity to convince shoppers to click 'Add to Cart.' Click To Tweet
How do you make sure your product descriptions are up to the task?
1. Focus on results
Here’s an important marketing adage you should always remember: “Customers don’t buy products. They buy better versions of themselves.”
Your shoppers want to know what your products do for them. They want to know the benefits. It’s your job to identify how your product meets their needs.
Admittedly, this is the hardest part about writing product descriptions. It’s easy to focus on the features – the size, colors, texture, etc. It’s hard to get inside your customers’ heads and figure out what they really want.
Start by creating buyer personas for your customers to help you understand them and what motivates them to buy. Use what you learn to craft compelling descriptions.
2. Optimize for mobile devices
More shoppers are using mobile devices to make online purchases than ever before. According to Statista, 24 percent all eCommerce dollars were spent via mobile devices in the last quarter of 2017. That statistic raises by about one percent every quarter.
Plus, Google hasn’t been coy about its preference for mobile websites.
This means that for the sake of the user experience and your search engine rankings, it’s important to optimize your entire website, especially your product descriptions.
What does a mobile-friendly product description look like?
- Shorter sentences and short paragraphs. Avoid longs walls of text. If you need to include a longer description, place it further down the page.
- Use headings and bullet points to help your shoppers quickly scan the content (but don’t use them if you don’t need them).
- Put the most important information near the top of the description.
3. Talk directly to your customer
Many product descriptions make a critical mistake: They talk about the product, not the customer. They fail to put the product in the context of the customer’s life.
- Bad description: This popcorn maker pops up to four bags of popcorn at once.
- Good description: Make an after-dinner snack for yourself or pop enough for an entire party! You can pop 1-4 bags at one time.
The bad description talks about the popcorn maker. It’s boring and dull.
The good description talks about the customer and how he/she would use the product.
4. Add SEO target keywords
Google uses keywords to index your pages and rank them against similar websites. One of the places it will look for keywords is in your product descriptions.
Furthermore, Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing (keywords that relate to other keywords) to understand the page’s context. For instance, this Sephora page sells makeup blush, but “blush” has several meanings. They use related keywords in the description to help Google understand that the page is about makeup.
Focus your keyword research and use on long-tail keywords. These are specific keywords with high intent. For example:
- Short tail keyword: Brake caliper
- Long tail keyword: Honda left brake caliper #5986-05116738
Notice how the long tail keyword contains the entire short tail keyword and other information a searcher might input into Google. This increases the odds of your page appearing on Google searches.
Plus, long tail keywords usually have higher intent. Someone who searches for a specific product number is highly likely to buy.
5. Add personality and branding
Your brand should be a part of everything you do and say. Your shoppers expect a consistent experience across your entire online presence and your product descriptions are no exception.
Look at this product description from ThinkGeek. The company built its fun, quirky, and nerdy brand style right into its copy.
6. Don’t use your supplier’s stock description
Like a lot of eCommerce stores, you may sell generic products from a supplier that other stores sell too. Your supplier or manufacturer may give you some stock product descriptions to help you sell, but these assets are usually bland, uninteresting, and unhelpful.
Using stock descriptions also puts you at risk for a duplicate content penalty, which wreaks havoc on your SEO. Use the supplier’s descriptions as inspiration, but make sure to rewrite them completely.
7. Steal from your customers
Your product descriptions are supposed to appeal to your customers, so it makes sense to use the same words, phrases, and ideas they do.
You can find inspiration for your descriptions in your customers’ product reviews, their comments on your social media posts, their replies to your emails, and the questions they ask your customer service team. These sources are full of personal and insightful commentary.
In fact, you might want to use the most powerful review/comment right in the description (in quotes with the customer’s name) like Banktivty does:
Remember to ask for permission before using your customer’s full name, though.
8. Use emotional language
Emotions play an important role in how people use the web.
The Missouri University of Science and Technology says “Consumers’ emotional responses play an important role in predicting and measuring behavioral intentions and satisfaction.”
In advertising, emotional language has a greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy than the content of the ad itself – by a significant factor.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania learned that emotional impact is the whole reason some pieces of content go viral while others don’t.
Basically, people buy based on their emotional response. While their practical needs are important (and you should take care to meet them), you must push their emotional buttons if you want to convert them.
To elicit an emotional response, use trigger words that lean on your shoppers’ feelings. Trigger words help you add emotional charge to an otherwise bland message.
Here are some examples:
- Health: “Cure, energize, boost, flush, youth”
- Anger: “Greed, arrogant, unscrupulous, cruel, irate”
- Hope: “Bright, undo, overcome, destiny”
- Frustration: “Tired, temporary fix, had enough?, pointless, ache, never again”
- Powerlessness: “Surrender, paralyzed, helpless, agony, stuck”
- Passionate: “Blissful, rave, thrilled, delightful”
- Urgency: “Deadline, ending, limited, seize, before you forget”
- Betrayal: “Conspiracy, left alone, swindle, scam, fleece, lie, abandon”
- Revenge: “Turn the tables, vindicate, reclaim, payback”
- Forbidden: “Banned, taboo, exclusive, insider, VIP, exposed, controversial”
That said, don’t lean on emotional language so hard that you seem disingenuous. For instance, it’s smart to encourage parents to purchase their child’s school supplies before school starts. You might say “Buy your kids’ supplies before summer ends,” but you wouldn’t say “Don’t suffer the agony of forgetting to buy school supplies!” which might convey a negative connotation around your products.
9. Include the important details
The results of the product should be your focus, but that doesn’t mean you can forget the details. Measurements and specifications are boring, but you can’t leave them out.
Many shoppers will hunt for the product details first to rule out your product if it doesn’t meet your needs. For instance, if someone wants to buy a fitted sheet for a deep mattress, they’ll probably look for the phrase “fits extra deep mattresses” (or something like that) before they bother with the rest of the description. If they don’t find their unique requirement, they won’t read the rest of the page.
The best product descriptions lay out these details separate from the main description, but still in a format that’s easy to find and read.
This swing set product page lays out these elements nicely. It uses a main description at the top and specific details at the bottom, formatted nicely in lists.
Include these types of details (where relevant):
- Specifications/technical details
- Materials used
- Construction techniques
- Usage ideas
- Power, intensity, luminosity, etc.
- Size charts, measuring guides, etc.
- Nutritional facts
- Part numbers, ID numbers, product numbers, etc.
- Brand or generic names
- Alternative names
10. Skip the “yeah, yeah” phrases
It’s tempting to add vanity words to your descriptions to pump up your products. This includes words like “amazing,” “exciting,” “remarkable,” “unbelievable,” “incredible,” etc. They’re usually adjectives.
These types of words make customers say “Yeah, yeah” or “Sure, whatever you say” to themselves. They dismiss your description because you’re obviously biased.
Of course you would say those coffee beans are “amazing.” Of course you would call that dress “exciting.” No marketer would call their own products “average” or “dull.”
These types of phrases aren’t just useless. They actually ruin your credibility. Shoppers are less likely to buy if they think you’re misleading them.
Instead, convey the qualities of your product through its features and benefits. Take these Zappos boots, for instance.
Zappos doesn’t have to tell you that the boots are “Well-made from quality materials.” Instead, the company gets specific with its details so you can’t help but think “Wow, these are well-made.”
Test your product descriptions
Like every other element of your eCommerce store, your product descriptions deserve testing. Test their personality, language, layout, and even location. Use a split testing tool to identify which format converts highest for you. Your pages may convert best with no description at all!
Spend time on your product descriptions because they’re your last opportunity to create a sale. smile