E-commerce & Internet Retail

How to Write a Product Description That Sells

  • April 18, 2017
  • Alex Chrum
  • 10 minutes

Writing 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.

Create unique product descriptions

A number of internet retailers still rely upon manufacturers to supply descriptions for the products they sell on their websites. This is problematic for two reasons.

The first reason is that search engines frequently ban websites that contain duplicate content. When the product descriptions on your site match the content on a dozen other sites, search engines are likely to exclude your website from their 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 12 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 unique product descriptions are important is that manufacturer-provided content is 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.”

Your brand voice is an expression of the people behind your product, and your copy should embody that personality. Don’t overlook the importance of this touch point when writing product descriptions.

Incorporate frequently used keywords

In addition to creating unique product descriptions, another way to boost your visibility in organic search results is to infuse your copy with relevant, high-traffic keywords. Each product page you create should be built around the key terms your potential customers are actually searching for and should incorporate common synonyms and variations of these words.

Take a pair of women’s black slacks, for example. A wide variety of terms can be used to describe slacks, so when you’re writing a description for a product like this, it’s important to consult a keyword research tool such as SEMrush or Moz Keyword Explorer. These tools help you identify your target keywords by revealing the terminology customers use the most.

For example, in the chart below, you can see that “women’s black dress pants” has a higher average monthly search volume than “women’s black trousers” or “women’s black slacks.” An ideal product description would therefore focus on “women’s black dress pants” as the primary keyword, with “women’s black trousers” and “women’s black slacks” as secondary keywords.


To fully optimize your descriptions, it’s also important to incorporate longer-tail keywords. These keywords may have a lower average search volume than their more general counterparts, but because they indicate a more direct and targeted search, incorporating them into your product descriptions can lead to higher conversion rates.

Take the previous example of “women’s black dress pants.” Below, you can see related, longer-tail keywords, such as “maternity black dress pants,” that would also be important to incorporate whenever it’s relevant to do so.


When it comes to product descriptions, remember that optimizing your content with keywords and staying customer-friendly requires balance. Having too few keywords can leave you unnoticed, while having too many can get you earmarked for keyword stuffing, damaging your search result rankings as a result. The right amount of keywords is the perfect recipe for serious search-engine love.

Use descriptive language

Research shows that of all the factors that influence consumers’ decisions to make online purchases, product content is number one, followed by ratings and reviews and then price.

In fact, 94 percent of shoppers will give up and either search for what they want on another retailer’s site or simply abandon the purchase altogether if they can’t find the information they need.


Source: Salsify

Many product descriptions go awry because they lose focus on describing 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. The reader feels no connection with the product in relation to his own needs. Product descriptions that sell focus on the audience and use vivid language, sensory adjectives and active verbs to bring products to life and inspire shoppers to make a purchase.

Here’s a stronger alternative to the above example: “The panels of these curtains are adorned with a neutral geometric design, which works well with both traditional and modern decor.” This description is vastly more vivid and powerful. It starts with features specific to the product, such as “panels” and “neutral colors” and immediately suggests a benefit (“works well with both traditional and modern decor”). Any reader who happens to have traditional or modern decor will feel as if this description was written just for him.

As you’re writing your product descriptions, ask yourself not only what your product does (its features), but how it benefits the consumer. For example, in the second description below, the content describes the product, a photo print, as “high definition” and “colorful,” but it fails to mention how those features impact the customer’s life. The first description describes a benefit of this product by saying that it adds energy and elegance to the customer’s home.


If your content can convince shoppers that your product will solve their problems – make them happier, smarter, healthier or more productive – you can make their purchasing decisions virtual no-brainers.

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 dull or submissive language.

When you incorporate emotional hooks into your product descriptions, you bring to mind strong feelings such as joy 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”) can carry meaning and makes the reader feel like you’re speaking directly to him or her.


The second example above is weak because it doesn’t evoke emotion in the reader. 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 first example is powerful because it immerses the reader in a world of emotionally charged concepts such as enjoyment and satisfaction. Also notice that the first 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.

Cut the fluff

Most e-commerce websites require product descriptions to be a certain length, so it can be tempting to pad content with generalities and filler language to meet the minimum required word count. Take this sentence, for example: “This beautiful ottoman allows you to update your common rooms with a trendy style and updated design flourishes.” Here, the writer uses vague descriptors such as “beautiful,” “trendy” and “updated.” These words sound nice, but they don’t actually convey any meaningful or concrete information about the product. This can discourage customers from reading on and may ultimately affect their decision to make a purchase.

Knowing how to write a product description that sells depends just as much on what you’re willing to remove as what you’re willing to include. One tip that can help you cut unnecessary words is to look for sentences that begin with the word “there.” For example, “There are three things you can do with this set of canisters.” A sentence like this provides little value to the reader and should instead address the actual features of the product, such as: “These canisters have pressure-fitted lids to keep contents fresh and gauge windows so you can easily see how much inventory you have left.”

When you’re struggling to come up with compelling content for your product descriptions, it’s tempting to throw in staples such as“excellent quality,” “superior” or “best-in-class.” Avoid these types of descriptors, as they’re used so frequently in marketing materials that shoppers have become numb to their impact. Focus instead on highlighting specific features and benefits, and offer proof to back up any claims you make.

Keep it simple and scannable

Help your customers make faster and more informed purchasing decisions by making it easy for them to find and read the most important information about your products.

The inverted pyramid is a metaphor used in journalism to illustrate how information should be prioritized and structured for easiest comprehension, and it can be applied to product descriptions as well. Start with the most relevant, “newsworthy” information; this area should entice the audience to keep reading with an emotional hook and descriptive language. Then, move on to the important details. In the case of product descriptions, those details are usually the features and benefits of the product. It’s best to use bullet points for this section, as it makes the content easier to scan. Finally, provide general or background information; for product descriptions, this includes the product’s attributes, or specs, e.g. weight, dimensions, materials, etc.


To display additional information or more detailed product specs, use tabs or “Learn More” links for easiest consumption. Doing so will help prevent information overload and allow consumers to choose how many details they want to explore before making a purchase.

Maximize results with OneSpace

Need support in creating compelling product descriptions at scale? OneSpace offers a built-in network of freelance e-commerce writers to work alongside your internal teams in an efficient virtual workspace. Our workforce automation platform allows you to create and publish engaging product content in a fraction of the time while effectively tracking performance metrics.

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