Twenty seconds. That’s the average amount of time consumers spend on a website, according to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group. That means, if you have something to sell, you must get their attention and clearly communicate your proposition within the first 10 seconds, or else lose a sale.

Are product descriptions really that important?

Visuals may be great, but they are not enough to tell the whole story of your product. Despite the popularity and effectiveness of images and videos among consumers, product descriptions still play a big role in the success of your e-commerce business. In fact, another study from NNG also revealed that 20% of abandoned product purchases are due to unclear or incomplete product information, which further result in:

  • Poor product experience. Inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent and outdated product information causing confusion and frustration that lead to a non-purchase
  • Product return. Misinformation resulting in returns, profit loss and unhappy customers

These outcomes not only affect your overall conversion rate, but as well as your relationship with your existing customers and reputation with potential customers and repeat buyers.

Must have elements needed in your next product description

Rich product descriptions are those that call attention and engage consumers. Ensure you have appealing product descriptions with the following:

  • On-point explanation of the product’s purpose
  • Easy to read, jargon-free and informative sentences
  • Benefit-driven lines that overcome objections
  • Key feature highlights that answers frequently asked questions
  • Full disclosure of product origin, environmental impact, ingredients and other similar information, if applicable

It is also a good idea to pair your product descriptions with rich media, responsive and 3D product images with spin/zoom capabilities and videos, as these are what your potential buyers will want to see when they view a product page.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the hyper competitive world of e-commerce, capturing audiences requires you to do the following:

Define your customer’s persona

A product description should be created with a specific buyer persona in mind. This is, perhaps, the best way to ensure your efforts will lead to closed sale, as your messaging is targeted and based on the pain points and wishes of a particular segment.

One good example is how Death Wish Coffee developed their product based on a unique and untouched persona in the crowded coffee space: The ones who want overly strong coffee. Death Wish Coffee obliged by developing the World’s Strongest Coffee and effectively created a brand new space in the coffee industry. They backed up their unique selling proposition with a product description that appeals to the senses of their target market.

Emphasize the benefits of the product

Be descriptive but avoid jargon and practice brevity. Avoid wordy and vague copies that waste the readers’ time. Get straight to the point and be as quick as possible. Take this sample from a sunglasses company:

Describing a product using phrases like “akulon-coated screws” or “polarized polycarbonate lenses” sounds impressive but supporting those features by emphasizing the benefits would really beef up your copy and will immediately let your readers know that the sunglasses have lightweight lenses and durable frames.

Listing features are great to know, too, especially for techies and people who are looking to get more bang for the buck. However, a lot of consumers shop for products that they need, meaning they’re looking for specific information and benefits.

Take this Sperry Shoes sample from Zappos:

Zappos not only described the materials and features of the product; they also included the benefit of each feature:

Write in specifics, avoid hypes

When you don’t have a copywriter to describe your product, you often end up with weird phrases like “excellent quality” or “grade A finish.” As a result, your product description appears templated, not well thought through and not at all persuasive, prompting readers to scroll through the rest of the page and eventually move on to another site.

Observe how Asics did it:

The description doesn’t directly mention the product was made using the best materials, but you get the impression that the shoes were made with quality materials.

Take note of these contrasts:

  • “Fastest pizza delivery in town” vs. “We deliver your pizza in 20 minutes”
  • “Cheapest cable subscription” vs. “Monthly subscription starts at $2.00”
  • “Serves exceptional food” vs. “A 3-star Michelin restaurant”

Customers trust specific language over vague descriptions. From the examples above, the first option makes you a skeptic while the second entices you — and enticement brings you a step closer to closing that sale.

Create easy-to-scan descriptions

A lot of online buyers just scroll and don’t read through copy. Therefore, they want to see the most important details as soon as they land on a product page. So, use short and consistent bullet points to describe your product, just like with this Under Armour compression shirt sample:

After looking at the product image, consumers tend to read the corresponding information to help them come up with a decision. Ensure they immediately find what makes the product worth buying. List the features and benefits in a bulleted format to make it easy for them to skim through and find what they need.

Bullet points are also ideal for products that don’t need to be described, such as pencils.

Consider these Pre-sharpened Pencils from Amazon:

In reality, there’s really not much to say about pencils. What matters is how the product is presented – from the quality of the image to the clarity and accuracy of the product description.

On the other hand, if the product description is necessarily long, bullets can also trick your customers into thinking they can easily scan the product description.

See another example from Amazon:

Furthermore, bullet points can be used as decorative elements as they can make an ordinary page look friendlier.

Here’s a good example of how bullet points can be used:

SEO-proof your product descriptions

SEO is the driving force behind a successful e-commerce strategy. As potential buyers search for the product they need, you want your product to be what they see first. When creating product descriptions, use keywords that consumers regularly use to search. There are a lot of tools you can use to identify these frequently used keywords. Primarily, look for a tool that will analyze how a chosen keyword will perform in terms of impressions, cost per keyword and click-through rate. After you have chosen all your keywords, strategically put them in your product description. But do use your keywords sparingly to avoid keyword stuffing as you can get penalized for it.

Other places where you should ideally add keywords according to Shopify:

  • Page title
  • Alt tags
  • Meta descriptions

There are no hard-and-fast rules in writing product descriptions. You can kick traditional guidelines to the curb and still create awesome content that converts. It all depends on your brand, product and who you’re selling to. Complement your strategy with a reliable Product Information Management (PIM) system that allows you to create compelling product descriptions, and you’ll be sure to write rich and engaging product descriptions that convert.

 

Leslie Fernandez

Marketing Specialist

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