How To Write Product Descriptions That Sell

Helen Bradley explains the basics of writing good product descriptions for the Web.

Product descriptions are critical to the success of selling on the Web. Great product descriptions entice your visitors to buy while at the same time properly describe the products thus avoiding returns because visitors didn't fully understand what was offered. We’ll look at what you need to know in order to write great product descriptions for your Web site.

Write Your Own Product Descriptions

It’s important that you write your own product descriptions for each product on your Web site. Do not copy them from other Web sites. This is crucial because Google and other search engines may penalize your site if product descriptions are simply copies of those that are available elsewhere on the Web. You’re more likely to rank higher on the keywords that you use if you write original product descriptions for your site.

JPeterman.com
J.Peterman.com product descriptions are guaranteed to excite and titillate the site's up-market audience.
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Sell the Dream

Great product descriptions make readers feel good about themselves and about the purchase they’re about to make. In short, sell the dream rather than the specifications.

For example, instead of selling a travel coffee mug item number #2334, sell your customer the feeling of pride that they’ll experience doing something good for the environment by using a reusable mug. Tell them that their co-workers will admire the mug’s sleek style, and that they will be envious that your coffee stays hot and delicious long after their coffee is cold and tasteless.

If you know your customers and what motivate them you can determine how to describe your products in ways they can relate to. When you tailor your product descriptions to your customers, you'll be more likely to sell to them. Two sites that have well-crafted product descriptions and very different audiences are DuluthTrading.com and JPeterman.com

Don’t Overlook the Details

While you’re selling the dream, don’t forget to include the details, too. These details can appear further down the page but you should explain everything your customer wants to know about the product. They’ll want to how big it is, what colors it comes in and, if you are selling food, customers will want the ingredients and the nutritional information

In our travel mug example a customer will want to know if the mug can hold cold things as well as hot, how long their coffee might stay warm in it, how much it holds — 12, 16 or 20 ounces, and if you can relate this to a standard familiar size — such as a Starbucks cup size, all the better as this increases the chance that your customer will understand how big it is. Tell your customer if the mug is spill-proof and how easy it is to wash the mug and how to do this.

DuluthTrading.com
DuluthTrading.com follows a smartly written product description with the detailed product specifications.
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When you put detail in your product descriptions, you give your customers all the information that they need to have to make a decision about the product.

If you get a lot of product returns because customers misunderstood what they were buying, or if you get a lot of customer questions, it's an indication that your descriptions may need to contain more detail.

Accuracy is Essential

Product descriptions must be accurate. There is no quicker way to lose a customer than to provide an incorrect product description. If a customer acts on that description, purchases the product and then finds that it does not meet the description, they won't be happy.

If you are lucky they will return the product, which gives you a chance to mend the broken relationship. If you are unlucky they won’t complain to you and they won't buy from you again. Worse, they may badmouth your Web site and discourage other potential customers.

Seriously, Don’t Overlook the Details

Combine images with text descriptions, and don't expect a picture to replace the need for a proper description. Some things, such as size, are not easy to identify from an image and, if you show a picture of the front of an object, some rear details may not be visible.

Some products include other items in the box such as manuals and cables, so point this out in your description. Likewise, if the product needs something additional to make it work, such as batteries or a cable, then make sure to include a warning about this so that your customer can check to make sure that they have what they need. You won’t win points with your customers if they open the box only to find that they need other accessories to make the product work.

Sell the Benefits

Whenever you’re inclined to list a series of specifications for a product, particularly specifications that may be technical, you can’t expect that all customers will understand them. Explain the technical term in terms of its benefits.

For example, if you’re selling a shirt made from a newly developed fiber, instead of listing the technical details of the fiber, you can summarize the benefits by pointing out that the moisture is wicked away from their body so they’ll stay cool and feel fresh even in the hottest and most humid of climates.

It’s important that you draw the conclusion that you want your customers to reach about the product specification in words that they can understand rather than leaving it to them to work it out for themselves.

Easy to Read

To ensure product descriptions are readable, give your product a descriptive title and then include the descriptive paragraph that sells the dream. Follow this by the technical specifications for the product — with benefits included if it’s not completely obvious what they are. You can arrange these in bullet points for easier reading. Finish with relevant customer testimonials, the price and any discounts or details of special offers.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

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