This week, we’ve been hunting down the holy grail of product description at Around.io in an attempt to learn about product descriptions that sell. We have found 7 universal principles that you should use to increase sales just from your product description.
I’ll tell you this: writing product descriptions that sell is not easy. A simple, straight-forward wall of text doesn’t sell. Fanciful and over-zealous descriptions don’t sell either.
Creativity is not enough
A splash of creativity is the only way to hook your visitor to your product page. But is that enough?
Nope. You need more than creativity. Product descriptions are not just run by how artistic / creative you can get but by a few principles that come down to one basic thing: what’s in it for me?
Throughout this post, if you can find one recurring theme, it will be the visitor/potential-buyer’s self-interest. Appeal to this and you increase the chance of making a sale. And that’s the mantra to product descriptions.
The basic anatomy of great product descriptions
Very briefly, the recipe for a great product description is:
Emotion + Appeal to Self-interest + Scan-able + Trust
When you want to purchase a product online, your try to read as much about the product as possible. Information.
So it’s natural for you – now as a seller – to fill your product description with a lot of information.
Here’s the truth: information works but not without emotion in decision-making.
Go back to your shopping experiences. A description that tells you how you will feel when you use the product, that shows you how your life will be better once you have this product – all that coupled with the technical information is much more easy to get sold on.
Work backwards: what’s the purpose of the product description?
Before you write the first word of description for your product, work backwards. Try to find out what’s the primary purpose of writing this product description.
- Grab the interest of the visitor in the product
- Convince the visitor that this is the product they need
- Convert the visitor into a buyer.
If you can do these three better than before, you increase the number of sales. That’s all there is to writing great product descriptions that sell.
What follows is a set of principles – and actionable ways to implement them – and you’ll notice that each of these principles is aimed at directly hitting #1, #2 or #3 of the purposes above.
1. Create a buyer persona
If you’ve written a generic description targeted at a broad audience, go back and delete it. Writing on the web is all about communicating to one person – your customer.
A buyer persona is the profile of your ideal customer.
If you’re selling premium-quality men’s wallets, the ideal customer is a male, in the age group of 18-35, preferably working a white-collar job, who is technical enough to purchase wallets online. Now that’s just a start for the buyer persona.
You should dig into research and demographic statistics to figure out a more complete version of the buyer persona (male, 29-year old average, makes about $70-100k/year, owns a car, lives in US/UK/Can – is a highly focused buyer persona).
But why create a buyer persona?
Imagine your product description says, “this wallet costs cheaper than all other premium wallets” but the visitors to your site make upwards of $100k/year and they are looking for wallets that are actually costly (because they associate premium cost with premium quality). You will lose all sales because your description does not engage the visitor. In fact, it does the opposite: it drives him away.
Finding out your buyer persona can take a bit of time – you can use on-site surveys, email customers who have purchased from you in the past, use analytics etc. to find out accurate information about your visitors to create a complete and correct buyer persona.
Once you have the buyer persona, you know what this person’s interests are. You can then appeal to these through your product description.
2. Always appeal to self-interest
One of the primary tenets of writing a description for the product is self-interest.
A product description is no different than an advertisement for the product you’re selling. The tenet of self-interest applies very much to product descriptions too.
Here’s the thing:
The visitor thinks he wants information about the product. Yes he does. But what he truly needs is assurance that this product is the right choice for him right now.
This works at a subconscious level (and what’s copywriting if not an art of the subconscious). On the surface, your visitor wants information but deep down, what he really wants to feel is that this product works for him. Assurance.
Assurance is met when you appeal to the self-interest.
Answer “why is this wallet good for me?” and you have the first lines of your product description.
Here are some more questions whose answers can lead to some ideas:
- how will I feel if I use this product?
- how will having this product make my life better?
- Saves my time?
- Makes me feel comfortable?
- Adds a level of security to my stuff?
When you talk about a feature on your product, always attach it to a benefit that is intensely personal to the prospective buyer.
Never talk about the product unless you can tie it up with a benefit.
3. Emotions, not just words
This is where it gets tricky. Product descriptions that follow the “feature + benefit” formula can still fail. And there’s one reason why that happens: lack of emotion.
If there’s only a feature and a benefit, your descriptions will become bland pretty soon. They will stop engaging in a way that stories engage.
And do you know why stories engage us? Because it’s all about emotion.
There are one or two primary emotional motives associated with your product. If it’s a premium wallet, it’s the sense of being able to flaunt a particular style. If it’s a wardrobe, it’s the sense of finally having a single wardrobe that fits all my cloths (being organized and neat).
This primary emotion is the trigger that clinches the sale. Find out this emotion and incorporate that into your product description.
4. Longer description sell better
From newspaper ads to online sales copy, it’s a universal fact that longer copy sells way better than shorter ones.
There are plenty of reasons to this but one that David Ogilvy constantly points to is that a reader subconsciously thinks – on seeing a long description – that there’s something important written about the product.
If your product description is just a line or two, in all probability, you can’t even achieve #1 from our 3 primary purposes.
Descriptions that are lengthier have a lot of information about the product (in a way formatted to appeal to the ideal customer’s self-interest, emotionally). This hooks the visitor to read on. With the right formatting, you can guide the visitor from one section to another and get him interested deeper.
5. Make product descriptions scan-able
If you don’t have bullets in the product description, no one’s reading your description!
If your product descriptions span a few paragraphs (3 is a good number for small shops, but it’s not backed by any statistic), make sure the text is easily scan-able. Here are a few ways to do that:
- use bold to highlight key points of the feature + benefit combo
- use bullets to summarize the salient features
- tabulate features (and if that’s not ideal, separate the features information section from the rest of the descriptions)
6. Give social proof
Social proof is a way of assuring the buyer that the product is good and it fits their need. A customer testimonial is one of the most common social proofs used in product descriptions.
Many ecommerce software separate this to the “Reviews” part of the product page. People do check these reviews a lot but in case the visitor has to click away to read the reviews, it helps to add a couple of reviews / testimonials to the product description itself.
However, social proof is not just customer testimonials / reviews.
It can be a certificate of quality (for instance, if you use military-grade material for the iPhone case, or a safety-checked plastic that’s certified).
It can also be relevant personal credentials.
7. Include videos!
We’ve successfully shifted to being online shoppers but the need to take a closer look at the product has not left us with the drop in traditional shopping. As buyers, we still crave to look at the product – preferably from every angle, in every one of its modifications.
Photos are great. They are important. A lot has been written about good product photography too.
But if your product description has a video attached, it helps in engaging the visitor more. It keeps the visitor interested. And not just that, but a video can show your product in much more detail in the virtual world.
But why are we talking about an entirely different media when we talk about product descriptions?
- Between a video and paragraphs of text, people gravitate towards the video.
- People get distracted easily when reading text. With video, it’s harder to get distracted (this is because reading involves much more brain process than watching a video).
- Information in 3 paragraphs of text can be conveyed in a 1-minute video.
It’s definitely important that you have product descriptions in text. But it’s better to top it up with a video.
Write multiple variations / sentences: The Hidden Benefits
Sellers typically write one product description that’s edited to perfection.
It is better to write a lot of sentences for the product description (even better to write a couple of variations).
Here’s why it’s useful:
- A/B Test: You can A/B test easily by mix-n-match of these variations that you have.
- Social shares: With multiple variations of sentences or entire product descriptions, you don’t have to create descriptions for social shares. You have them ready. Even though Around.io auto-fills the social share text, we do recommend our users to craft or edit their share texts so that it’s engaging.
Adding value through related links
Most shops slap a “related products” plugin to their product pages right beneath the descriptions. This is good cross-selling practice.
Here’s something better: add value to your product descriptions (instead of just selling).
- Value can be a link to a recipe blogpost on a product page selling skillets.
- Value can be an infographic on a product page selling watches.
- Value can be a link to a detailed review on someone’s blog. Or a how-to. Or a DIY related to your product.
If you explore deep enough, you can find many links and ideas that relate to your product. Adding value this way increases the engagement. Sure, the buyer might leave your page briefly but the benefits of trust and unique-content (for SEO) are greater.
Conclusion and Takeaways
Come to think of it, this is a lot of information to process for a few paragraphs of product description. Here’s a gist:
- When writing product descriptions, work backwards: start from what the buyer is expecting to read / see to be convinced enough to buy the product.
- Appeal to self-interest – always.
- Use emotion instead of benefits only.
- Longer descriptions work better. Avoid 1-2 line descriptions.
- And when you make the description long, make it scan-able with bullets, bold highlights and such.
- Highlight reviews, testimonials, social proof
- Use a video to illustrate and sell better
So that’s about how to craft better product descriptions that sell!
I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts about product descriptions that urge the visitor to purchase. Tweet to us @aroundio_.