How to Write Product Descriptions that Sell

How to write product descriptions that sell

Ecommerce stores have a lot of advantages -- low overhead costs, the ability to sell 24 hours a day, the freedom to be your own boss, and many more. Unfortunately, one of the only advantages that brick and mortar stores have over online shops is too big to ignore: people are more likely to buy something if they can hold it in their hands.

How can we, as budding ecommerce giants, get customers to commit to a product that they’ve never seen with their own eyes? The answer lies in how you present your product in your store, particularly in ensuring that your product descriptions sell your products rather than just describing them. While high street stores have the advantage of persuasive salespeople, the tools at your disposal are basically just the shop themes you choose, the photos you take, and -- most importantly -- your words. It pays to use them wisely.

Know Your Audience

You’ll get this advice again and again, but there’s nothing more important than knowing who you’re selling to when creating a product description that will convince a casual shopper to actually place items into their shopping cart.

Who is your ‘ideal’ customer? Do they pride themselves on their impeccable taste, or do they eschew the finer things for a more do-it-yourself, quirky style? Ask yourself: is your customer most likely to buy your product because of its usefulness or its novelty? Are they drawn to an air of luxury or value for money?

Watch Your Tone

In the same vein, it’s important to keep your tone accessible to your audience. Are your customers fluent in LOLcat and internet humor, or would they be put off by a funny product description with a bit of snark? Don’t entertain your customers when they want to be informed, or vice versa.

Some brands thrive with product descriptions that describe sights, sounds and smells in a dreamy way that transports the reader to exotic locales. Others have a customer base that would balk at such flowery language. Knowing your brand and your audience will allow you to hit the right notes in your product descriptions.

How to write product descriptions that sell

Appeal To The Senses

Even if your customer doesn’t like flowery language, sensory words are the best tools you have to let customers know exactly what they’ll be getting.

Appealing to the senses with words like smooth, worn, fresh, and rich engage your reader, associate your product with pleasant past experiences, and paint a picture of what your product is like. When they can’t physically hold your product before they buy it, this is a must.

How to write product descriptions that sell

How to write product descriptions that sell

How to write product descriptions that sell

How to write product descriptions that sell

Your product description must address the emotive and logical benefits of the product - in that order.

Take a closer look at one of the above descriptions and you can break it down into a checklist:

Your product description checklist:

  • Brand mention: ROXY
  • Product name: COAST IS CLEAR
  • Generic keyword: DRESS
  • Emotive appeal: "If you were hoping to fly under everyone’s radar, you’d better pick another dress. Slinky and sporty with...:
  • Logical appeal: ...nautical stripes, slight bell sleeves, and a lace-up neckline. 32-inch length. 100% cotton French terry. Machine wash. Imported.

Keep It Personal And Tell A Story

No matter what your ideal customer is like, one thing’s for sure: they’re shopping at an online boutique, rather than a big box retail store. This means that they’re looking for something special and unique instead of mass-produced, and will probably respond well to ‘background’ stories about your brand and products.

Where does your product come from, and who makes it? What inspired its creation? These kinds of anecdotes can make product descriptions seem less like a sales technique, and more like an invitation into the creative process.

Don’t forget that your store’s ‘About’ section is a product description in itself, as customers like to know your story, how you started, and what you’re about.

Going nowhere fast"

"Velmost is a project based on the dreams that we all have but are afraid to follow. We're here not just to make t-shirts but to bring about a new way to see life"

How to write product descriptions that sell Velmost
Velmost gets the story right when pitching it's T-Shirts

Don’t State The Obvious

Since you’ve gone so far as to start your own online store, it’s a given that you’re proud of your products and that you strive to deliver the highest quality goods.

Saying so in your description can sometimes lend an ‘aspirational’ air of exclusivity and luxury, but often it’s just repetitive and bland to say that your products are “excellent” and your standards are “high”.

Instead, describe the specific aspects of your product that make it desirable: this product’s unique and beautiful ______ is sure to turn heads, or has a specially designed ______ that will ensure it lasts longer than others on the market.

Be specific: what problems does your product solve? When will it be used? Will it bring your customer joy, calmness, excitement, or make them the envy of their social circle? You designed, created, or researched your product thoroughly, so no one knows better than you why it’s better than anything else on the market.

Keep Descriptions Easy To Read

It’s the rare shopper that reads every single word on the page. Most of us get hooked by a photo, and then scan quickly to see if the product is worth a closer look. With that in mind:

  • keep your product descriptions easy to read

  • use lists where applicable

  • feature keywords by making the text bold, larger, or putting them at the beginning of a sentence

  • use eye-catching headlines, which lead into a more detailed description

Let Others Do The Talking

Finally, one of the most convincing things you can do to sell your product is to stand by and let others do the talking. Reviews and glowing feedback from your customers sound more real, relatable, and convincing than your average sales pitch.

The last time you bought something from Amazon, did you read the reviews first? Of course you did, and that’s no accident. In fact, top Amazon reviewers get thousands of pounds worth of free merchandise a year in exchange for their reviews, because Amazon knows how much they affect their customers’ chance of making a purchase.  

(Credit goes to Marny Bassett for the product descriptions used above)

Useful resources

  1. Marny Bassett a fashion copywriter full of experience and panache

  2. Elance to hire skilled freelancers from around the world

  3. How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers a great book by Henneke Duistermaat

  4. Freelancer for crowdsourcing your ideal product descriptions