6 Keys to Writing Product Descriptions That Sell

12-30-15Writing effective product descriptions is an art. Getting it right can mean the difference between selling millions of products to millions of people and watching millions of visitors click away to purchase the same product from your competitors.

Follow these rules when writing product descriptions to engage consumers and convert casual visitors into loyal customers.

Use an emotional hook

Consumers respond favorably, even if it’s on a subconscious level, to vivid and engaging language. Words that carry emotional heft grab a reader’s attention more quickly than submissive or docile words.

When you incorporate an emotional hook into your product descriptions, you bring to mind strongly felt emotions such as love or frustration, which activates the center of the brain responsible for decision-making. Even something as simple as writing in the second person (“you” and “your”) carries meaning and makes the reader feel like you’re speaking directly to him or her.

  • Product Description With No Emotional Hook
  • This coffee maker makes great coffee.
  • Product Description With a Strong Emotional Hook
  • Savor the taste of deliciously blended coffee, when and where you like it, with this coffee maker.

The first example is weak because the language is passive. The word “great” is subjective, and the sentence does little to paint a picture of how this product will make the person feel when he or she uses it.

The second example is powerful because it immerses the reader in a world of emotionally charged concepts such as enjoyment and deliciousness. Also notice that the second product description begins with an active verb (“savor”), and speaks directly to the reader by saying, “when and where you like it.”

By opening with an emotional hook and speaking directly to customers within your product descriptions, you can improve conversion rates and dramatically boost your sales revenue.

Don’t underestimate the power of uniqueness

A number of merchants still rely upon manufacturers to supply product descriptions for their websites. This is problematic for two reasons.

The first reason is that search engines are not capable of ranking websites that contain identical content. When the content on your site matches the content on a dozen other sites, search engines are likely to exclude your content from search results altogether.

Major players like Google, Bing and Yahoo! provide value to their users by returning a wide range of information. It wouldn’t make sense for these tools to return a list of twelve websites that say the exact same thing. Therefore, sites with duplicate content are filtered out. The presence of unique content on your site is therefore critical from the perspective of search engine optimization (SEO); customers can’t find you if you don’t show up in their online searches.

The second reason uniqueness matters is that manufacturer-provided product descriptions are unlikely to reflect the distinct tone and voice that you work hard to incorporate into your brand. In the words of Philip Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management, “If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the one with the lowest cost is the only winner.” In other words, your brand voice is an expression of the people behind your brand; the tone of your copy embodies your brand’s personality. The way something is said plays a significant role in how it is interpreted. Do not overlook the importance of this touch point when writing product descriptions.

Incorporate keywords

Keyword-rich product descriptions keep your website on search engines’ radars. Weaving relevant keywords into your copy helps search engines deliver results that direct consumers to the products you’re selling.

You cannot count on shoppers to type in the exact name of the product they’re looking for. For example, when searching for a pink sundress, a shopper might type, “coral sun dress,” or, “magenta sundress.” There are so many variations of any given product name that it can seem impossible for merchants to keep up. Fortunately, there is a better way.

When you optimize your site with just the right blend of keywords, it is more likely that your products will be found, even if your keywords do not match the original search exactly. Why? Because search engines have come a long way since their inception. Modern algorithms are written to return pages that contain similar keywords, rather than just pages that contain the keywords that exactly match the original search term; this includes misspellings, relevant variations and synonyms.

When it comes to executing your own keyword strategy, brainstorm a list potential terms and phrases that come to mind when describing your products (Pro tip: use Google Keyword Planner for inspiration. It’s free!).

  • Example List of Keywords and Related Search Terms
  • Shoe accessories
  • Bridal shoe accessories
  • coach handbags shoes and accessories
  • coach authentic shoes accessories
  • shoe accessories items womens
  • … and the list goes on.

Use this information to find creative ways to incorporate these keyword variations into your product descriptions. The more robust your keyword inventory, the more likely it is that your products will be found in searches.

Optimizing SEO with keywords and staying customer-friendly requires balance. Too few keywords leave you unnoticed. Too many get you earmarked for keyword stuffing, and your rankings can suffer as a result. The right amount is the perfect recipe for serious search-engine love.

Use descriptive language

Many product descriptions go awry because they lose focus on the product and its benefits.

“These curtains look good with any decor,” is, in addition to being bland and disengaging, virtually free of any content that actually describes the curtains. Nothing about the curtains has been described, so the reader feels no connection with the product in relation to his or her own needs. Irresistible product copy starts with the audience and the need, and then draws the audience in with vivid descriptions that use sensory adjectives, active verbs and stories shoppers can relate to.

A stronger approach is to describe one feature of the product and explain how it will make the customer’s life better. “The panels of these curtains are adorned with a neutral geometric design, which works well with both traditional and modern decor,” is vastly more descriptive and powerful because it starts with features specific to the product, such as “panels” and “neutral colors”, and immediately suggests a benefit, “works well with [specific styles].” Any reader who happens to have traditional or modern decor will feel as if this description was written just for him or her.

  • Product Description Without Descriptive Language
  • High-definition, colorful photo prints on canvas
  • Product Description With Description Language
  • Add elegance and energy to any room with high-definition canvas photo prints in a wide array of vivid colors..

As you’re writing your description copy, ask yourself not what your product does, but how it benefits the consumer. In the example above, the first description attempts to describe the photo print as “high definition” and “colorful” but fails to mention how it fits into the customer’s life. The second description describes the benefit of this product in saying that it adds energy and elegance to the customer’s home.

If you can convince shoppers that your product will solve their problems – make them happier, make them smarter, make them healthier, make them more productive – quickly, easily and at a price they’re willing to spend, you make the purchase a no-brainer.

Cut the fluff

Product descriptions are often written to a minimum word count, so the temptation to pad the content with generalities is prevalent in the world of e-commerce. For example, “this beautiful ottoman allows you to update your common rooms with a trendy style and updated design flourishes” is a jumbled word salad. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that the sentence is about an ottoman, but no other information has been conveyed. This discourages customers simply by being long-winded and impenetrable.

Writing effective product descriptions depends just as much on what you’re willing to cut as what you’re willing to include. One exercise that you might find helpful when deleting unnecessary words is to look for sentences that begin with “there.” For example, “there are three things you can do with this set of canisters,” says, “these canisters can be used in three ways,” with a lot more words.

It is tempting when you’re struggling to come up with something unique for your description to throw in staples like, “excellent quality,” “superior” or “best-in-class.” Avoid this temptation. These types of descriptors are used so frequently in marketing materials, shoppers have become numb to their impact. Bottom line: shoppers largely ignore them. Focus instead on being specific and offer proof to back up any claims you make to describe your product.

Keep it simple and scannable

The simpler it is for a shopper to find and read the most important information in your product descriptions, the higher the conversion rates you can expect.

Add weight to your most important content by incorporating it into a list and perhaps using different font sizes for emphasis. Make sure that the parts of the description that will connect most with your potential customers are in the forefront and are easy to read. You can still provide detailed, supporting information, but do so in a way that does not distract from your main points. For example, use tabs for detailed specs or “expand for more” sections. Doing so will help prevent information overload and allow consumers to choose how many details they want to explore before making a purchase.

The inverted pyramid is a metaphor used to illustrate how information should be prioritized and structured in journalism, and it applies to product descriptions as well. Start with the most relevant, “newsworthy” information; this area should include the features and benefits of the product. Then, move on to the important details; consider using bullet points for this section. Finally, provide general or background information; in the case of product descriptions, this would likely include the product’s specs: weight, dimensions, materials, etc.


Following these tips will not only boost your search engine rankings, it will make your product descriptions more persuasive to customers.

Learn more about OneSpace Enterprise.