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How to Write Product Descriptions That Convert

Conversion Rate Optimisation

Recently I gave 5 tips to increase conversions with imagery including how to use imagery effectively on product pages. So today I’m returning to the subject to give our top tips for great product descriptions.

A good product description should:

  • Match your company language and tone of voice

  • Be custom crafted

  • Turn features into benefits

  • Reduce customer queries

  • Be persuasive

  • Include keywords

  • Be balanced in the page structure

Here’s your guide to writing high-converting product copy:

Find Your Voice

The tone of the copy should match your branding. Setting out guidelines for all the content on site will ensure there’s a coherent voice behind your company, one that your customers will come to recognise.

This voice should speak to your customers in a way that they can relate to. For a high street fashion brand that might mean using slang and crafting a casual persona. For a jewellery retailer language that evokes luxury and style is more fitting.

Let’s look at two brands with very different voices, Firebox and Abobe.

Firebox markets itself to young professionals with expendable income. Their products are fun and their copy follows suit.

Firebox hot peanuts

These fiery peanuts are described as

“Not your average boring bar snack, God no. These painfully powerful peanuts have been generously coated with a 1 million Scoville Naga Chilli mix and if you value your taste-buds even in the slightest, we wouldn’t recommend shovelling handful after handful into your mouth.”

This product is not ‘average’ or ‘boring’, thus positioning it as exciting and unusual. The second sentence runs long, less like professional copywriting and more like a friend telling you about this awesome product you should try.

The copy is daring; Firebox are being negative about their own product. The peanuts are ‘offensively hot’ and they ‘don’t recommend’ eating loads. It’s classic reverse psychology at work here.

Adobe, on the other hand, sell IT products that many people rely upon to be able to do their jobs. Their product descriptions focus on highlighting reliability and functionality. The language is business-like but easy to understand.

Adobe Acrobat product page

The description includes words such as ‘smart’, ‘flexible’ and ‘power’, terms that fit with an office environment. The tone is even, neither exciting nor tired. The structure of the sentences is short and easy to digest, as if a salesman was showing you the features and letting you turn the product over in your hands.

Make it Unique

While the voice should be familiar the copy should be unique for every product. Avoid samey content even for samey products to make sure each bit of copy is impactful. Duplicating content can hurt your SEO but also hurts the user experience. Duplicated content fails to create new engagement.

Answer Questions Before They’re Asked

What do shoppers need to know about the product? It’s important to make the shopper feel that they’re well informed about the product, after all they can’t inspect it in person yet. Your product development team have taken a long time thinking about the features so make them shine.

In doing so you’ll also answer questions that your customers have e.g. what material is it made out of? Where was this item made?

This is also your chance to convince your customers they need this product. Is it useful, cool, time saving?

Remember to also provide links to other information that will be important to the buyer such as delivery options and the returns policy. Try not to send the shopper off the page to look for these as that will disrupt their buying process, making it less likely they’ll complete the purchase.

Create a Story

The product description should do more than just describe the features, it should convince shoppers that it will benefit them in some way, either from pure enjoyment, time saved or task eased.

It’s easier to write persuasive content if you understand what matters to your customer. Start by formulating buyer personas. Write down everything you know about your customers and identify a limited number of types. Match your products to your personas and write for one persona at a time.

Now you can approach your product description as if you’re writing a story. The aim here is to create a narrative that gets to the heart of what matters to your buyer persona. Creating an emotive story should improve your conversions. Campaigns with purely emotional content prove to be almost twice as effective.

Graph with bars depicting emotional and rational brains

Source: Buffer

Nike include a story about each shoe collection alongside unique product descriptions.

Nike origins product page

This insight into how the Free Origins collection was developed is engaging. It paints a picture of an epic 8 year journey. It tells how Nike gained “a profound understanding of the foot’s natural landing angle”.

This story speaks to shoppers looking for the most natural running experience. It also tells you that Nike care about the quality of your run and that these are technically advanced shoes worth paying a lot for.

Why Keywords Still Matter

Keywords aren’t just an SEO tool, they’re also relevant to conversion rate optimisation and user experience. Imagine this; a shopper comes to your site from Google but the keyword they searched isn’t obvious to see, they leave again, frustrated.

The most effective keyword planning follows user intent, serving people rather than search engines.

Craft your content around a different keyword for each page. Put the keyword and associated terms at clearly visible points e.g. the product name, headings and description. The visitor sees green lights, they’ve found what they were looking for.

Strike Balance with Length and Placement

The length and placement of a product description affects the overall user experience of the page. Is the call to action or imagery less effective because of the length or placement of the copy?

Long vs Short Copy

There’s no definitive ideal length for a product description. Shorter, well structured content is easier to read but must be comprehensive to avoid being too vague.

Concertinaed content or a link to ‘more information’ could resolve this problem. This is what Nike do. The short version consists of a sentence or two and a bullet list of the key features of the product. The long version which sits below the fold expands on each feature and includes that all-important story.

Schuh limit product descriptions to 255 characters. In just two sentences they’ve described the attributes of the shoe and even managed to tell a story that sees the buyer “drive into a new season”.

Schuh high heel product page

Placement

Between 2013 and 2014 Schuh have changed the placement of product descriptions from the right of the image to below it.

2013:

Schuh boot product page

Source: EConsultancy

2014:

Schuh high heel product page

Despite being moved underneath the main image it seems to have gained more prominence. As your eye is drawn the image it’s easy to read the text below and relate each feature mentioned back to the image.

The change in placement has given the content on the right more room to breath.

Let’s Recap

  • Start by creating buyer personas you can write directly for.

  • Find an emotive story, it’s there in every product and can be told even in short copy.

  • Make sure you make shoppers feel well informed.

  • Test the length and placement of the text.

  • Use SEO principles of unique content written around a keyword to improve the user experience.