It’s difficult to overstate the importance of product descriptions.

Few other page elements have as direct and significant an impact on a website’s conversions.

Almost 90% of customers, for example, say that product descriptions are a major factor in their purchasing decisions.

And Overstock.com nearly doubled its traffic by improving its product descriptions.
But the vast majority of online retailers get product descriptions wrong. From poorly researched buyer personas to overly-technical and sleep-inducing copy, the list of mistakes is a long one.

But we’ve got you covered. If you’ve ever wondered how to write product descriptions that sell, you’re in exactly the right place.

Following these nine tips will ensure that your copy is well-written, engaging, and, most importantly, pushes your visitors straight to that “Add to Cart” button.

In this article you can find:

What Are Product Descriptions?
How to Write Great Product Descriptions: 9 Essential Tips
1. Do Your Research by Building a Customer Avatar
2. Focus On Emotional Needs and Practical Benefits
3. Make Your Descriptions SEO-Friendly
4. Use Power Words but Avoid Cliches and “Empty” Phrases
5. Use Descriptive Language That Paints a Picture of the Product
6. Leverage the Power of Proof-Building Stories
7. Mention Celebrity Endorsements, Testimonials and Awards
8. Make Sure Text Complements Images
9. Make Descriptions Short and Scannable
Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Food
Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Clothing
Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Jewelry
Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Etsy
Conclusion

Let’s dive in!

What Are Product Descriptions?

A product description is a block of text displayed on a product page that explains what your product is and why visitors ought to buy it.

Product descriptions have two purposes: to explain features and to prompt potential customers to buy.

The second area is where most copywriters go astray. While the technical aspects of an item are important, it’s equally crucial to use product descriptions as an opportunity to persuade visitors.

Product descriptions present an excellent opportunity to use tactics like urgency-building, social proof, calls-to-action, and more. When crafted properly, they also drive traffic through search engines.

Product descriptions present an excellent opportunity to use tactics like urgency-building, social proof, calls-to-action, and more. When crafted properly, they also drive traffic through search engines. Click To Tweet

How to Write Great Product Descriptions: 9 Essential Tips

Ok, onto the tips themselves.

You can use the information below as a step-by-step checklist for crafting new product descriptions or when improving current ones.

1. Do Your Research by Building a Customer Avatar

Before you write a single word, you need to know your readers.

A customer avatar doesn’t represent any single group within your target market. Rather, it combines all the characteristics of your ideal buyers (note the plural there).

So an avatar might be both male and female, young and old, high-income and low income. An avatar hones in on the shared and most prominent characteristics of your target market.

4 dimensions avatar
Customer avatars encompass many facets of your customer-base, including demographics, personal characteristics, pain-points, desires, and more. Source.

When creating an avatar, ask the following questions about your customer-base:

  • What are their demographics (age, income, location, etc.)?
  • What language and phrases do they use?
  • What cultural references do they respond to?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What are their most pressing fears, needs, and wants?
  • What are their values?

When undertaking research, pay specific attention to the kind of language that your customer-base uses. Using the same words as them will make it easier to connect and build engagement.

A clear understanding of your potential buyers acts as a guide when implementing all the other points on this list, providing you with the exact information you need. Such an understanding allows you to empathize with customers and talk as though you were speaking to them directly.

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2. Focus On Emotional Needs and Practical Benefits

There’s an old saying: “People don’t buy products, they buy feelings.”

And when it comes to product descriptions, that statement holds a lot of truth.

Ask the fundamental question: “What emotional pain-point does this product solve or what pleasure does it provide?”

Then point out the problem directly. Many copywriters describe the features without expressly describing the pain-points that they remedy, whether practical or emotional.

By reminding visitors of the specific issues they’re facing, you create urgency and a desire to buy.

If the lumbar support feature of a chair eases back pain, then say so clearly.

If the seal on a water bottle eliminates frustrating leaks or the padding in a pair of shoes prevents annoying and painful blisters, make sure visitors know about it.

Apple appeals explicitly to emotions of empowerment ease and control in its product description of the iPad MiniApple appeals explicitly to emotions of “empowerment”, “ease”, and “control” in its product description of the iPad Mini. Apple also outlines the specific problems that individual features address.

Ideally, you should include both the practical benefits of a product, like in the example above where the iPad Mini allows you to “capture your biggest ideas whenever they come to you”, and the deeper emotional outcomes, like empowerment.

3. Make Your Descriptions SEO-Friendly

Unsure about how to write SEO-friendly product descriptions? You’re not alone.

SEO can seem complex and finicky. With meta-tags, keyword density, rich snippets, and a host of other things to think about, it can all get confusing pretty quickly.

But there’s no need to despair. Making products descriptions SEO-friendly is a relatively easy task.

Just follow the simple rules below:

  • Include high-volume keywords in product descriptions – Search engines pick up on the main keywords in your descriptions. Use competitor research and a tool like KWFinder to brainstorm and identify high-volume keywords related to your product and include them in your descriptions.
  • Include titles, meta-descriptions and image alt tags on product pages – Meta-descriptions and titles are crucial. They’re what a visitor sees on the search page, so they directly affect your click-through rate. In fact, a good meta-description and title can make up for not occupying the first or second search result by enticing visitors to click.
  • Display star ratings and product prices – In the screenshot below, some results have a star rating and product price. To show these on your own results, you need to use what’s called “schema.org markup” or “microdata”. By adding a little bit of code to some of the information already on your product landing page, Google is able to see that it’s the price or aggregated review rating.

ote how some titles and descriptions are more enticing than othersNote how some titles and descriptions are more enticing than others.

Don’t underestimate the power of SEO. Paying a little attention to keywords, meta descriptions, titles, and “markup data” can dramatically boost your search engine CTR, leading to more traffic and higher revenue.

4. Use Power Words but Avoid Cliches and “Empty” Phrases

Certain phrases and “power words” are used because they work.

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of using generic, overused language that customers just ignore. These words are common for no other reason than the fact they’re common – they’re not power-words or proven phrases.

Cliches are statements like “the best product on the market” or “excellent quality” or “loved by all”.

The alternative? Be specific.
Instead of saying a pair of shoes is “great”, pick a specific feature, like the soles or design, and then explain why they’re so good. What benefits, USPs, and testimonials make them so wonderful?

Instead of saying a pair of shoes is 'great', pick a specific feature, like the soles or design, and then explain why they're so good. What benefits, USPs, and testimonials make them so wonderful? Click To Tweet

Instead of saying something like the best mattress Casper includes a quote from Which a respected review publicationInstead of saying something like “the best mattress”, Casper includes a quote from Which?, a respected review publication.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should eschew power words altogether. In fact, certain words have been shown to elicit a strong emotional response and increase sales.

Just remember to differentiate between genuine power words and cliches and always substantiate your claims with specific points. If a commonly-used phrase can’t be backed up by concrete evidence, then it’s likely a cliche that can be discarded.

Also, remember that testimonials are very beneficial for backing up big claims, especially if those testimonials come from a reputable source.

5. Use Descriptive Language That Paints a Picture of the Product

“Appeal to the five senses” sounds like “fluffy” advice without any practical implications.

When it comes to product descriptions, however, it’s anything but.

In fact, marketers even have a name for it: sensory marketing. And there are tonnes of research to back it up.

Now, “sensory marketing” actually refers to the literal stimulation of the senses. Marketers use scents and physical objects in-person with a potential customer. Obviously, that’s not what we’re doing.

We’re attempting to recreate experiences in words.

So how do you do it?

By using specific adjectives and relatable comparisons. Let’s unpack both of those terms.

“Sensory” adjectives are words that evoke a specific sensation related to sight, smell, hearing, taste or touch.

In the example below, Ben and Jerry’s talk about the “creamy-richness” of their ice cream.

Ben and Jerrys describes its Pecan Sticky Buns ice cream as buttery sticky and creamy richBen and Jerry’s describes its “Pecan Sticky Buns” ice cream as “buttery”, “sticky” and “creamy-rich”.
Comparisons are another useful tool. You’ve probably come across them when you’re buying a bottle of wine. Wines might be described as “smelling like apples and berries,” or having a taste “reminiscent of pears, hazelnut, and honey”.

You create comparisons by referring to something that everybody knows and recognizes, like the taste of fruit or the smell of herbs.

Wine com states that this cabernet sauvignon has expressive aromas of dark berries currants raspberry sorbet nutmeg and baking spices with lingering flavors of dark fruit and subtle oak undertonesWine.com states that this cabernet sauvignon has “expressive aromas of dark berries, currants, raspberry sorbet, nutmeg and baking spices” with “lingering flavors of dark fruit and subtle oak undertones”.

There’s one caveat to all of this advice, however. Don’t overdo it. Overuse of adjectives can make text “clunky” and difficult to read. Most of the time, one or two-well placed adjectives or comparisons will do.

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6. Leverage the Power of Proof-Building Stories

Product descriptions are a good place to tell short stories.

Direct description will make up the bulk of your product text, but brief stories – sometimes spanning no more than a sentence or two – will build interest and engagement with visitors.

In only a few words Heavens Whiskey tells visitors how its whiskey is created and where the inspiration for the bottle design came fromIn only a few words, Heaven’s Whiskey tells visitors how its whiskey is created and where the inspiration for the bottle design came from.

Product descriptions are an excellent place for describing the following points:

  • How a product is made – What manufacturing processes make your product unique? Is it made, for example, with locally-sourced materials or ingredients? Do you adhere to traditional techniques? Do you use any uncommon methods that result in superior quality?
  • How a product is quality-assured and tested – What processes do you have in place for quality assurance? This question is especially important for expensive items. Are products tested in the field? Are they inspected in-person?
  • How a product was invented or conceived – Many products have interesting backstories. If a product has unusual origins, consider telling visitors about them.
  • Relevant cultural references – Does the product have any celebrity followers? Has it made any appearances in films?
  • The values that underlie the product – Is a product made by a family-owned business, for example? Do any proceeds go to charity? Do you support local artisans and businesses?

Use your buyer avatar to determine which stories to include in your descriptions. Ethically-minded customers, for example, will be interested in the values that underlie products.

Alternatively, customers interested in high-ticket luxury items might be more interested in quality-assurance processes or the backstory of the materials or manufacturing process.

7. Mention Celebrity Endorsements, Testimonials and Awards

Product descriptions are ideal for building social proof and trust.

Product descriptions are ideal for building social proof and trust. Click To Tweet

Including a section dedicated to customer reviews on product pages can dramatically boost ecommerce conversion rates. But endorsements and reviews can also be placed both in and alongside your copy.

Many visitors won’t bother to scroll down to check out reviews, so including testimonials earlier will ensure you build trust with the majority of people that land on your pages.

Don’t try to cram everything in. Rather, select the best of the best and make sure that visitors see them.

The following are good examples for product descriptions:

  • Excerpts from the best customer reviews.
  • Celebrity endorsements.
  • Awards.
  • Mentions in the media (especially the logos of magazines and popular websites).
  • The number of customers that have bought your product.

Snow a company that sells teeth whitening products shows logos of the magazines its been positively mentioned in just under the main product descriptionSnow (a company that sells teeth whitening products) shows logos of the magazines it’s been positively mentioned in just under the main product description.

Phrases like “As Featured In…” and “Voted Best Product By…” are excellent ways of seamlessly integrating social proof into your descriptions.

8. Make Sure Text Complements Images

Everything on your product pages should fit together seamlessly. The customer journey should flow from one element to the next, prompting visitors to click on your CTA (Call To Action).

If you mention specific benefits or features, ensure there are corresponding images for visitors to check. Product descriptions are usually placed directly next to or underneath images, so there should be a lot of overlap and interaction between them.

In particular, it’s important that the most desirable and original features of products, like the soles of shoes, main designs on clothes, technical aspects of sports equipment, and so on, are clearly displayed in images. If you have described these features, visitors will often want to cross-check with images.

Zappos clearly shows the most important parts of productsZappos clearly shows the most important parts of products.

You can even encourage visitors to look at pictures by citing them directly in your description. If you point out a feature, include “See Pictures” or “As Shown Above” in brackets.

9. Make Descriptions Short and Scannable

Product copy needs to be scannable or it won’t be read.

Short, easy-to-consume content performs better than content that requires a lot of attention.

Here’s some advice for ensuring your copy doesn’t require the brainpower and focus of a rocket scientist:

  • Use one or two-sentence paragraphs – Don’t be afraid of writing paragraphs that are only a few sentences long. When text is nicely broken up, readers can move seamlessly from one point to another. White space is also visually pleasing.
  • Keep sentences short – Don’t make sentences too long. Again, it’s all about keeping your readers’ attention and not taxing them too much. Generally speaking, longer sentences are more difficult to consume and process.
  • Bullet points work well – Bullet points are easy to scan and perfect for double-checking. Amazon uses bullet-points on all of its product listings.
  • Avoid ambiguous words – Generally speaking, it’s better to use plain English as opposed to more ambiguous language. Stay away from multi-syllable words like imperturbable, ignominious, concomitant, effervescent and so on. The one exception to this is technical language written for an audience that will definitely understand it.

Amazon presents its product descriptions in bullet points with one product feature per bulletAmazon presents its product descriptions in bullet-points, with one product feature per bullet.

To ensure ease-of-reading, ask: “Would a ten-year-old understand I’ve just written?”

Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Food

Harrods includes all necessary information in an easy to read formatHarrods includes all necessary information in an easy-to-read format.

Writing food descriptions can be tricky. Different products – from ready-made microwave meals to rare thousand-dollar bottles of wine – require unique description elements.

Generally speaking, it’s appropriate to include the following information-points in product descriptions:

  • Ingredients – Ingredients don’t need to be center-stage, but they should be included somewhere. Allergens should be in bold.
  • Location of production – Mention where the food made or sourced from to highlight quality.
  • Suitability for vegans, vegetarians, lactose-intolerant, etc. – Include this information right at the beginning. People with special requirements will often scan product pages.
  • Taste profile – Use sensory language and comparisons to evoke a sense of taste.

Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Clothing

ASOS uses bullets and short paragraphs to outline necessary informationASOS uses bullets and short paragraphs to outline necessary information.

Clothing is one of the biggest, most successful ecommerce sectors. But there are difficulties too. Many of the aspects of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store can’t be replicated exactly online, so descriptions have to provide as much specific information as possible.

Include the following information in your product descriptions for clothes:

  • Item specs – Describe the type of fit (regular, slim, skinny, etc), the neck, the hems, zipper vs. buttons, pockets, etc.
  • Size of the model – Show the height and size of the model in the description so that customers have a clear point of reference.
  • Brand – Include a little back story about the brand. Many shoppers are eager to know who is making what they’re buying. Products with unique backstories are more desirable.
  • Care instructions – Customers often want to know how products should be cared for before buying. Pointing out that certain products can be machine-washed, or that they can only be dry-cleaned or hand-washed, reduces uncertainty.
  • Materials – Include all the materials used to make a product. Also, point out if fabrics are ethically sourced.

Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Jewelry

This Watchbox description of a Rolex includes a table and brand bioThis Watchbox description of a Rolex includes a table and brand “bio”.

Pieces of jewelry are high-ticket items. Because of this, it’s common for customers to be hesitant and doubtful. A good description will allay these concerns.

Along with technical specs about size, color, and shape, include the following points in product descriptions for jewelry:

  • Warranty information – Warranties are important for expensive items.
  • Materials – What is the item made of? What are the exact specifications of the materials used?
  • Packaging – As jewelry is often bought as a gift, include details about packaging.
  • Brand information – Brand names carry a lot of weight. Everybody immediately recognizes the name Rolex, for example. Include information about the brand, including history, values, and manufacturing techniques.

Example: How to Write Product Descriptions for Etsy

Its clear that every product sold through this listing is hand-painted and uniqueIt’s clear that every product sold through this listing is hand-painted and unique.

Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, is one of the biggest ecommerce stores on the web.

When writing descriptions for Etsy, it’s important to remember that buyers are looking for original, unique pieces.

With that in mind, make sure to include the following details:

  • Materials – List the materials from which the product is made. Be specific about types of wood, paint, metal, etc.
  • Inspiration and technique – Include a few sentences about how you make the product and where your inspiration comes from. Describe the history of vintage pieces.
  • Personal bio – For artisan pieces, talk a little about yourself. This builds engagement and adds character to the product.
  • Reemphasize originality – To eliminate doubt, emphasize that the item is unique and handmade.

Conclusion

Product descriptions are easy to write once you have the right formula.

And great copy comes from great processes.

If you can build these tips into a specific, repeatable process, you’ll produce consistently good product descriptions.

What’s more, as you test and refine description elements, you’ll develop your own winning mix that works uniquely well for your store and product ranges.

So, time to implement and start tracking the results.

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