Even if you have an engaging product and an attractive value proposition, you still need to convince prospective customers to actually take the plunge and buy your product.
Enter product descriptions.
Product descriptions sell your product—or they don’t. It's that simple.
How you write a product description, what you include—and what you don’t—can mean the difference between a product that sells and a product that doesn’t.
Of course, it’s easy to say that you need a winning product description. What do you do when it actually comes time to draft one? What do you write? How do you begin?
Learn How to Write a Product Description: 8 Tips
Knowing how to write a good product description goes beyond simply describing your product’s features and its benefits. It means providing your potential consumers with just enough information to help them decide to buy—but not so much that you cause them to develop “analysis paralysis” or to move on to your competitor’s offering.
It’s a given that you need to tell potential consumers:
- what your product does,
- what problem(s) it solves,
- what benefits it provides, and
- what makes it unique.
But beyond these basics, you also need to engage your customers so that they’ll be convinced to make a purchase immediately.
To do so, follow the eight tips below.
1. Know your target audience
If you try to please everyone, chances are you’ll please no one.
Instead, you’ll do much better by catering your product description to your target audience, however small it may be.
For an idea of how that might look, check out the fashion retailer LOFT. As an extension of the larger Ann Taylor brand, LOFT’s clothing selection caters to affluent career women. Take a look at its tweed pencil skirt below for a taste of its style.
Now compare it to the skirt below from another retail chain, Hot Topic.
See the difference in copy between the products? Both items in question may be skirts, but their descriptions were clearly written for different audiences.
With phrases like “perpetually polished” and “chic tweed rendition,” LOFT’s product details are clearly intended to appeal to working women. Meanwhile, Hot Topic offers a far more casual tone, as exemplified by its use of Mickey’s iconic catchphrase, “Oh boy!” This is perfect for the brand because unlike LOFT, Hot Topic’s target audience consists largely of teenagers and young adults.
Had either brand taken a more generic copywriting approach in the effort to reach more user, they’d have probably come across as a lot less sincere. But by understanding their audience's demographics and psyche, both LOFT and Hot Topic become more familiar and authentic.
2. Use words that describe your product honestly—not exaggerate it
Reams of research abound all over the internet on which words to use and which to avoid when writing product copy. But, when you get down to it, what you write needs to be authentic to your brand, and it must resonate with your target market.
After all, not everyone looking to buy a skirt will be swayed by a description including so-called power words like “sensational” or “revolutionary.” Sometimes, your consumer is just looking for a flattering, functional skirt to wear to work.
Let’s look at our earlier example from LOFT—notice the word choice used in its product copy:
Perpetually. Polished. Flattering.
These are three of the first five words in the pencil skirt listing—perfect for conveying to buyers that this skirt will look professional, fit flatteringly, and last over time, both in terms of quality and fashion. They’re straightforward, informative, and far more meaningful than words like “remarkable” or “amazing.”
Sure, you can write a description that calls your product “the best,” or “life-changing,” even.
But these vague assertions ultimately provide little value to readers. Moreover, they’re often misleading, since people interpret such claims differently.
And even if claims of this nature do succeed in selling your product, you’ll risk unhappy customers and negative reviews down the road. (“This product calls itself the best, but it’s barely mediocre.”)
Be honest and write clear, rather than hyperbolic, product descriptions. Tell customers exactly why your product is better than competitors’ and how it will change their lives.
3. Tell customers why they should care—what’s in it for them?
Assume your potential customer wants a mug.
Obviously, there are countless mugs offered for sale across the internet, and nearly as many places to buy them from. But, of all places, a prospective customer has landed on your page. Here’s your chance to tell them what it is about this particular mug that they need—that is:
- Why do they need your product specifically?
- And why should they buy it right now?
In the example below, Bed Bath & Beyond doesn’t bother telling customers what they already know—that the mug will hold liquids, that there’s a handle to hold it, etc.
Instead, Bed Bath & Beyond launches right into what makes this particular mug unique—namely, its appearance and design.
In fact, the product description’s first two sentences center solely on how the mug looks: an “eye-catching” piece of “beautifully enameled stoneware” in a “sophisticated ombre.” From there, the description moves on to cover more practical details, such as its resistance to heat, scratches, and stains—features that not necessarily every mug has.
The takeaway here? Don’t beat around the bush—get right down to what separates your product from others.
4. Make your copy scannable
No one wants to be inundated by a wall of text when they shop online.
That’s why you need to make your product descriptions easily scannable.
You can look no further than Amazon for an idea of how to achieve this. Its countless product descriptions follow a specific format:
- The name of the product, in large font, followed by the name of the seller on another line
- The product’s rating and links to customer reviews
- Any relevant tags, like “#1 Best Seller” or “Amazon’s Choice”
- Pricing and shipping information
- Brief phrases highlighting major product details and listed as bullet points
See for yourself with just one example below.
This simple and straightforward layout makes any Amazon listing easy to digest and understand. You, too, can make your product descriptions more scannable by writing shorter phrases (rather than complete sentences) and using bullet points.
5. Evoke emotion in your customers
There are dozens of ways to market older products like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a game console that first launched in the early 1980s.
But there’s perhaps no more effective way to do so than by appealing to customers’ nostalgia.
Below, Target does exactly that in its re-issue of the classic gaming system.
For starters, Target nails all the fundamentals of good product copy—scannable highlights and a clear explanation of what the product is.
But going a step further, Target summons its target audience’s fondest NES memories—their “first Goomba stomp” and “Final Fantasy victory”—and invites them to “get ready to relive those good old days.” It also doesn’t hesitate to mention new features included with the NES reissue, such as it coming pre-loaded with the gaming classics and its adaptability to both old and new controllers.
As a result, the company effectively appeals to two distinct generations of gamers: those already familiar with the NES and those interested in trying it for the first time.
But appealing to customers’ emotions isn’t only for older, nostalgia-inducing products. You can follow Target’s lead and write your product descriptions to evoke emotion, so long as the sentiment fits the product. For instance, that could be by creating:
- A sense of wonder for a telescope
- An invitation to relax with a scented candle
- A tug at creativity with Play-Doh
6. Make your product description consistent with your brand personality
The novelty gift store Firebox is a fun brand, with a uniquely playful brand voice. This is apparent not only through the company’s web copy, but also through its product descriptions—even for products that don’t actually exist.
For instance, Firebox advertises a fictional product called Fork Yourself, modeled after the character Forky from Toy Story 4.
Just how would you go about selling a spork, pipe cleaner, and some googly eyes for $12.99 plus shipping?
Firebox does so by staying in line with its brand voice—specifically by appealing to its customers’ inner children and even acknowledging concerns about plastic in the environment. This product copy is so effective that Firebox must remind readers several times that its Fork Yourself product isn’t real. And even though it’s just for fun, it’s a good example of staying true to brand voice.
7. Tell a story
Want to distinguish your product from its competitors? Try telling a story.
British-based Loaf takes this approach when describing its wool bean bag.
In just a few sentences, Loaf’s product description manages to welcome us into their “home” and briefly explain how this bean bag chair came to be and why it’s the bean bag we should buy. At the same time, Loaf conveys that its bean bag’s price point beats others.
8. Show why you’re special
The brand Morton Salt is known for its flagship product, table salt. For ordinary commodities like table salt, how do you go about writing an enticing product description?
Answer: explain why the consumer should buy such an item from you, rather than from whoever offers it at the lowest price. Morton Salt accomplishes this by noting that its “uniformly shaped crystals” make it ideal for baking, “where precise measurements are critical.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all template for crafting a winning product description, but the best product descriptions stay true to your product, your brand voice, and your audience. They find new and creative ways to convey the characteristics of your product and the nature of your value proposition.
But most importantly, effective product descriptions resonate with your audience.
Thus, when crafting your product descriptions, remember to above all else, keep your customer in mind and cater directly to them. After all, while a good product description engages and persuades consumers, a bad one discourages would-be customers from buying and, possibly, returning to your business ever again.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Ryan Owen.