How to Write Product Descriptions
When you’re selling online, effective product descriptions help customers find your products and drive sales. They answer questions before customers can even think of them and can even help browsers feel like your brand understands their desires and needs.
In this guide, we’ll review how to write product descriptions strategically—as well as discuss writing SEO product descriptions, pairing descriptions with imagery, and more—so you can put your best foot forward and increase sales to your online store.
How to Write Product Descriptions That Drive Sales
In the digital marketplace, consumers have more options than ever. Therefore, the quality of your product description may mean the difference between you making or losing a sale. After all, compelling product descriptions help drive customers to purchase. They illustrate how a product fulfills their needs or wants and minimizes the need to seek more information about a product, which can stall a purchasing decision.
The data supports this. One report showed that 87% of consumers consider a product’s description before making a purchasing decision, with millennials valuing descriptions more than anyone else.
When it comes down to it, however, there’s no single formula for how to write effective product descriptions. However, there are some best practices you can keep in mind when you’re creating yours:
1. Know Your Consumer
Who, exactly, will be reading your product descriptions? This is the first key to writing effective product descriptions. You need to know what consumers are looking for—both out of your products specifically as well as their broader needs, desires, and aspirations—so you can directly serve them with your product descriptions.
But it’s not only having a sense of who your target audience is in terms of their personalities and motivations. You also need to understand their behavior. For instance, how much information do they generally need before they make a purchase? What specifically drives them to make a purchase? Are they looking to understand certain features or have certain questions answered before they’re empowered to make a purchasing decision?
All of these answers should factor into how much information you include in your product descriptions and what type. Once you figure this out, you should also take into account the way that consumers expect to see information displayed—for example, whether it should be a long paragraph or bullet points.
As an example, you can see below how baby and toddler product company Munchkin knows their audience—parents seeking out the best products for their kids that also make their own lives easier.
Their product description for “Love-a-Bowls” does an excellent job of answering lots of common questions from caretakers to help drive purchases, such as use cases, features, benefits, and advantages.
Because they understand the common questions and desires that their demographic often have when purchasing children’s products, they’re able to preempt them with answers in the description, which can help convince shoppers to buy.
2. Write Directly to Your Audience
Knowing your audience isn’t just important for the content of your product descriptions, it’s also necessary to know how to write directly to them. The voice of your copy should resonate with your audience—how they speak, what they read, and what they respond to.
For instance, if your company serves a younger audience, you don’t want your descriptions to be stark and rambling. Conversely, if you’re selling goods for a more serious audience, you should match your tone to reflect this. In general, the tone of your product descriptions should also match the rest of your business branding and positioning.
Additionally, length is a big factor when you’re learning how to write effective product descriptions. Some consumers want a quick hit in which they can see the information they need immediately, while others want more detail. Consider how much you actually need to write as you’re composing your product descriptions.
With their younger, more casual demographic in mind, they’ve used playful tone and language to not only call out exactly what they’re selling, but also evoke the mood for drinking the product itself once it’s made.
3. Highlight Features and Benefits
An important part of writing effective product descriptions is making sure that customers understand what sets your product apart from similar models. Get specific: How can your product help consumers and what makes it different from competitive products? This is the information for which many of your customers will be looking, so make sure you provide it toward the top of your description, so they don’t have to go digging for it.
You might want to put these details right into a paragraph, but you can also consider listing the features and benefits as bullet points or even visual icons if you think your consumers will respond better to this format.
As an example, beauty company French Girl Organics gets right down to the key features in their product description for this bath soak, helping shoppers see the ingredients in their products and their subsequent intended benefits.
They’ve even chosen to create a separate section in the description to draw browsers right to the key benefits to help market the product and drive decision making.
4. Tell a Story or Offer Connection
Some product descriptions are effective because they appeal to the aspirational sensibilities of customers. For instance, some brands will tell customers situations in which they can use the product—i.e. “Great for picnicking with friends”—to help them visualize themselves using the product. And keep in mind, an effective story doesn’t have to be long.
Additionally, many customers are interested in origin stories. For example, let’s say that one of the components of your product is deliberately sourced from another country, which is an important distinction, benefit, and selling point of your specific item. In this case, make sure customers know that information through your product description.
Another helpful marketing tactic might be adding reviews or quotes in your product description, which can help consumers connect to real customer stories.
In this example, at-home fitness company obé is offering suggestions for how to use their product to help customers envision themselves using it. By providing examples, they’re showing the versatility of a seemingly simple item and its applications for multiple situations.
As you can see, they’ve even included a call to action to share pictures of how buyers use it. They know their audience—they’re working out, of course, but they also have lives when they’re done sweating, which this short, snappy description takes into account. Take note that it’s also written in a fun, self-aware tone that speaks directly to their young, female demographic.
5. Make Them Easy to Skim
Even if you put significant effort into your product descriptions, many consumers won’t take the time to read through every word you’ve written. Often, they’re looking for key words or phrases that tell them exactly what they need to know. That’s why it’s important to make product descriptions easy to skim.
There are a few ways you can do this. You can put important features in bold, use bullet points, or front-load the most important pieces of your description. Test out your decision by skimming the description yourself to see if you have all of the information you need.
Water bottle company S’well relies on bullet points to communicate their product features in a skimmable fashion.
Not only do they use this format to help shoppers quickly see their competitive advantages, but they also frontload the important details, such as size and materials, at the front of each bullet point, making the descriptions even easier to skim.
6. Choose Your Superlatives Carefully (and Avoid Hyperbole)
There’s a temptation to tell customers how “excellent” or “superior” your product is. Often, however, these words can backfire—everyone thinks their product is “the best available.”
Customers will often be wary of your claims and can be better convinced by sensory descriptions, effects, or data. Let’s say your product has been effective on 75% of people surveyed—advertise this instead of saying “one of the most effective formulas on the market.”
You also want to think about using “power words” that are persuasive to customers. These include emotional, evocative words such as “blissful,” “strong,” and “effective,” which can trigger more connection to a product. Of course, too many of these words can veer into hyperbole, so be judicious with how many superlatives you use.
As an example, in the product description by MeUndies below, they’ve chosen compelling words to encourage browsers to purchase their fun onesie: “softer-than-soft,” “heavenly,” “breathable,” “static-resistant,” and “impossibly cozy.”
7. Be Efficient
Even if you’ve decided that longer product descriptions are a fit for you, it’s still important that there’s a sense of efficiency—in other words, that you get to the point.
Be mindful that all the information you include is highly relevant to the product and what consumers want to see. That doesn’t mean that you have to only write about its features and benefits, but you should be choosy about anything else you include that would make the product description feel unnecessarily long and rambling.
The apparel company Girlfriend Collective makes an interesting choice with their product description length and format.
They’ve decided there’s a lot of information that’s important to convey—sustainability, details, sizing, and shipping and returns—so they’ve organized the description into a few sections, enabling browsers to zero in on what’s important to them. At the same time, they’ve been efficient with the information in each section, so even though there’s a lot of copy, it’s all serving a purpose.
8. Optimize for Search Engines (SEO)
Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be an important driving factor for effective product descriptions. You want customers searching for your product to be able to find it quickly and easily.
So, when you’re learning how to write SEO product descriptions, your descriptions should contain words that your customers are using to search for your product.
For instance, if you’re selling scented candles, you want to make sure that your descriptions include trigger words such as “fig-scented candle,” “soy wax scented candle,” “handmade scented candle,” etc. This is especially important for ecommerce SEO if your product name itself doesn’t explicitly spell out what the product is—i.e. maybe your candle is called “Fig Dreams,” which isn’t a term that people will be searching for.
That said, you can start by using your intuition to make sure that your product descriptions are full of high-volume search words and see if that moves the needle. You can also use tools such as Ahrefs to do a little more targeted research. If you’d like to see search volume on some of the keywords you’re already using, you can consider Google Trends, which is free.
The simple name for this hot sauce (shown below) from the Bushwick Sauce company—Ghost Pepper Tequila Lime—has all of the essential information for customers to know what’s in the bottle and for those who are searching for ghost pepper sauces to be able to find their product.
9. Pair With Strong Imagery
It’s important to note that writing product descriptions alone won’t sell your products—or at least not much as you’d like. Strong images are the other piece of the puzzle since they add a dimension to your product descriptions and help drive whether a customer chooses to make a purchase.
Here are a few things to consider when posting product images:
- Choose crystal-clear images that load quickly and are optimized for desktop as well as mobile commerce
- Make sure your images show off the details and features that your text descriptions mention and emphasize
- Pick images that show the features that make your product different from competitors’
- If possible, add video clips of your products to demonstrate how to use them, how they look in action, etc.
Oral care company Quip has done a nice job choosing photos for their Starter Set. They’ve added multiple, sharp photos that look good on both desktop and mobile.
The photos show browsers exactly what they’re going to get, scenarios in which the product can be used, how big it is relative to other common objects, and also feature the product in multiple color choices. (They’ve added a nice product description, too, making it easily skimmable and highlighting its features.)
The Bottom Line
Product descriptions can decide whether or not customers purchase your products, abandon their shopping carts, or even visit your competitors instead. It might take a little bit of time and effort to find the descriptions that fit, but it’ll be worth it to see the positive effects on your sales.
That said, as you’re learning how to write product descriptions remember that the right approach is different for everyone. Don’t be afraid to embrace granularity and pay close attention to the voice in which you write.
Finally, it’s important to keep your product descriptions fresh as you get feedback from your customers, and get a sense of what’s working by which products are moving. The more you test and iterate, the more likely you’ll be to find the effective product descriptions that sell.
- Salsify.com. “2017 Cracking the Consumer Code”