Ecommerce Expertise / Ecommerce Marketing

Convert Like Amazon: Improve your product titles and descriptions in an afternoon

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In 1996 Bill Gates declared, “Content is king!” And it still rings true almost two decades later. Content is what connects you to your customer, and more importantly to your potential customers . For an online merchant, it’s your 24/7 salesperson helping shoppers make an informed decision. Great page content never sleeps, never takes a vacation, is loved by both Google and shoppers alike, and unlike other kings (especially on Game of Thrones) lives forever.

In a previous life I was a buyer at Amazon.com, working with big and small manufacturers to set up thousands of products. From my experience, I’ll go one step further to say that not only is content king, it converts. I saw it time and again — products whose detail pages had skimpy content significantly underperformed the products with well-formed titles and descriptions that called out major product features. The difference in conversion was so stark that new product setups without enough compelling info were rejected.

When customers have questions about your products, it stops them from converting. A Bazaarvoice case study with Samsung found that 91 perfect of the answers posted to questions asked online were about details not contained in the product descriptions. Interestingly, their most common questions were whether a TV could be hung on the wall. While the answer seemed obvious, the uncertainty was enough to block a purchase. Filling those information gaps helps turn browsers into buyers.

If customers can’t find the information they need on your product detail pages, they’ll go elsewhere . In 2011, Google found that the average shopper visited over 10 sources (10.4 to be exact) before making a purchase decision, and that number had nearly doubled from the prior year. Since customers have access to more information than ever before, being the source of accurate, complete and compelling content builds trust and boosts sales.

The good news is, if you are a BigCommerce client, it’s easy to improve your titles and product pages. Here’s how you can do it in a single afternoon

To begin, download your product catalog:

  • Log into your store and select ‘Export Products’ from the ‘Product’ dropdown in the menu.
  • On the next page, select the ‘Bulk Edit’ option from the built-in templates and click Continue.
  • In the popup window, click the link “Export my products to a CSV file” and wait for the window to refresh.
  • Finally, click the link “Download my Products file” to save the export to your computer.

If you’d like to watch a video on how to export products, check out this handy Bigcommerce knowledge base article.

Now that you have your full list of products, let’s get started on the fun part! The first piece of content customers typically see is your product title. As our own copywriting guru David Callaway recommends, “You want your product name to be descriptive so customers know exactly what you’re selling.” At Amazon.com, we used a simple formula: Brand + Model + Product Type. If there were variations of color, size or pack-size, that info was added at the end. It’s easy to make this work for many types of products. The Smart Baker includes all their relevant product information in the titles, like “6 in Cake Pan Pre-Cut Parchement, Round, 24 Pack.”

smart baker descriptions

If you’re a wiz at Excel, you can add separate columns for Brand, Model and Product Type, then use the concatenate function to help you build your titles. Just be sure to delete them before upload! Or simply type them for each product under the column labeled Product Name.

Next, we’ll look at product descriptions. They don’t have to be long, but taking a little time with them has huge payoffs. Checking out the manufacturer’s site is a good place to start, but don’t copy their descriptions word for word unless you want to take an SEO hit for duplicate content. The first sentence of the description should sum up the major features of your product without expressing an opinion, i.e. don’t claim it’s the “best” unless you have an award to prove it. This is a great example from our client Sir Jacks: “Raise the bar with our ox horn single old fashioned whiskey tumblers handcrafted in England from natural horn selected for its durability and exquisite variation in both grain and color.”

sir jacks ox horn tumblers

Danielle Mead suggests that thinking like a journalist is a great place to start when creating compelling product descriptions. Think of the who, what, when, where, why and how of you products. Your descriptions should also anticipate questions a customer might have about your product. Be sure to include information on:

  • Dimensions and weight — exact sizes reduce shopper questions
  • Materials/ingredients and care instructions — if the care instructions or ingredient list is long, consider uploading a picture as a secondary product image
  • What’s included in the box — parts and accessories
  • Warranty information and certifications
  • Where the product was made

Here’s a great example from Cricket Store Online, who also has solid product title:

These cricket bats are hand made in England, by one of the finest podshavers in the world. Each bat is carefully handcrafted to exact specifications as drawn out by myself.

Grade: Players grade 1 english willow
Sweet spot/Profile: Monster profile with a higher sweetspot for bouncier pitches. Great for guys who like playing off the back foot, but equally as good for driving as well.
Handle: Multi-piece oval treble spring top quality cane handle
Bow: Subtle, to enhance pick-up
Toe: Factory fitted toe guard
Face: 3.5mm camber

cricket store online bats

Once you’ve written your descriptions, run them through spellcheck (while you’re at it, double checking your grammar isn’t a bad idea either) and add them to your Excel file under the column labeled Product Description.

And now it’s time to upload your file! Just like the product export, Bigcommerce makes it easy:

  • Log into your store and select ‘Import Products’ from the ‘Product’ dropdown in the menu.
  • On the next page, check the box for ‘Bulk Edit Re-Import?’
  • Select the file to upload from your computer (it will likely be called “products-(yyyy-mm-dd).csv”) and click “Next”.
  • Since you used the Bulk Edit template, all fields should be matched automatically. Click “Next”.

When the import is done, you’ll see a success notification. You can read more detailed instructions in this Bigcommerce knowledge base article on importing product via a CSV file.

That’s it, go check out your store — look at all that great content! Improving your product titles and descriptions isn’t difficult. A little creativity and a small time investment will bring you a kingly reward. You rule!

Feature image via Steve Jurvetson on Flickr.

Leave a Comment
  • If you would like to maximize your potential to reach the most customers, it’s vital that you create a Perfect Optimize product title. There’s plenty of differing advice out there on which kind of product titles are Perfect . And what actually need provide with title. For example, whether you should keep your title simple or whether you ought to use as many keywords as possible for greater title optimization.

    http://getproductrank.com/blog/amazon-product-title-creation-advantages

  • Tivelasi

    Very informative blog Jeff. I think that I got some very important ideas which I will apply to my online store tivelasipottery.com

  • Jessica Malnik

    @disqus_DQ2V3c14sL:disqus: This shouldn’t give you any duplicate content penalties. However, it may be in your best interest to tweak your descriptions to cater to a different audience via Amazon.

  • flyway

    Thanks Jessica. We’re actually looking into Channel Advisor already. I’m aware of 3rd parties that will handle the export…my question is as follows – If we export our products to Amazon with our store descriptions, won’t that give us a duplicate content penalty or won’t we simply be competing with Amazon for our own content?

  • Jessica Malnik

    One easy way to set this up would be to use a third party app like Channelunity. https://www.bigcommerce.com/apps/channelunity

  • flyway

    We would like to export our products from BigCommerce and start selling on Amazon. We have thousands of products. Is there a simple way to export our descriptions without having to compete with Amazon for our own content? (Duplicate Content)

  • I’ve always used a similar formula, brand + sub brand + product description + defining features = great title (but then I do have an Amazon background too)

  • Ability Gear

    Thanks. Quite informative article

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