Ecommerce Marketing / How To Sell Online

How To Write Product Descriptions To Grow Sales [Samples Below + Updated in 2017]

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Ecommerce manager and online store owners often ask about product descriptions. What should they say? How long should they be? What format is best? How do I make them rank high in search engines?

It’s no wonder they are worried — the quality of a product description can make or break a sale, especially if it doesn’t include the information a shopper needs to make a purchase decision. Providing key product details is critical if you want the shopper to click “Add to Cart” and differentiate your ecommerce website from the competition.

Whether your products have a specific function, like a camera, or a personal purpose, like fashion, all products exist to enhance or improve the purchaser’s quality of life in one way or another. As the shopper browses, they instinctively imagine having each product in hand, using it and enjoying it.

The more powerful the customer’s fantasy of owning the product, the more likely they are to buy it. Therefore, I like to think of product descriptions as storytelling and psychology, incorporating the elements of both prose writing and journalism. A “good” product description will not do. Competition is getting too fierce. It must be great!

Journalists utilize the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How method for getting across the facts of their stories, and following this process is the first step in crafting a compelling product description:

  • Who is this product for? The target audience can be a gender (women or men), an age group (college kids, retirees), a lifestyle demographic (new mothers, car enthusiasts) or some other defined group of people.
  • What are the product’s basic details? This includes attributes such as dimensions, materials, product features and functions.
  • Where would someone use this product? Is it meant for indoor or outdoor use, for your car or your home?
  • When should someone use the product? Is it meant to be used during a certain time of day, seasonally or for a specific type of occasion? Just as important is pointing out if a product can or should be used every day or year-round, as that will speak to its long-term value.
  • Why is this product useful or better than its competitors? This can be anything from quality to value to features — really think about the benefits that will speak to customers. Also consider how images can complement your product copy.
  • How does the product work? This may not be necessary for every product, but if you are selling anything with moving parts or electronics, it’s a must-have.

Use those questions as your product description template when you want to accurately describe your best items.

The next step is determining the best format for the above information. Since some shoppers only scan text on websites, it’s a good idea to have a list of bullet points that cover the most important product details. Bullet points should generally be used for specs (like dimensions) or short phrases (like features) so that they are quick and easy to read.

Unfortunately, bullet points aren’t the best way to tell a product’s story and convince shoppers that they're looking at a great deal. They look cold and clinical on the page instead of engaging the shopper’s emotions or imagination. This is a job for prose! By writing a paragraph (three or more sentences) or two about the product, you can set the scene and help the shopper realize why their life up to this point has been incomplete without it. It may seem daunting, but after some practice, it will become second nature and even (gasp!) fun.

This is your opportunity to be a little creative and establish a voice (personality and tone) for your brand — whether that be serious, casual or even irreverent. Just imagine you’re at a party, telling someone you’ve just met about the product. How would you describe it so that they’d understand how great it truly is?

This voice permeates every aspect of your online marketing: social media, SEO, paid search — every customer touchpoint. Unique, compelling copy makes your products more relevant for search engines and other marketing mediums that value original content.

In fact, following this simple formula below is a great way to writing compelling product descriptions:

[Paragraph(s) of Prose] + [Bulleted List of Specs or Product Features] = [Engaging Product Description]

“But this is going to take a long time,” you might be thinking, especially if you rely on product descriptions from your distributors or manufacturers. And you’re right, this isn’t a quick process. But, if you can commit to writing a dozen or so product descriptions a day using the formula above, you’ll begin to see a variety of benefits:

  • An increase in conversion rate: Shoppers will be more confident in their purchase
  • A decrease in cart abandonment: Again, increased confidence in purchase
  • A lower return rate: Shopper expectations of products are more likely to be met
  • Fewer calls from shoppers: They’ll have fewer questions about your products
  • Better organic search rankings: More unique and original text content on your website

Now let’s take a look at how eight real online stores sell more with product description perfection, with tidbits you can take from their expertise to increase your own conversions.

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Be Short & Sweet to be Effective

Onzie is a great example of just how well the basic formula can work. Their product pages combine conversational paragraph-long descriptions that engage their fans, as well as quick bullet-points on need-to-know specs for any shoppers just scanning the page. This sample of product description bullets is an excellent demonstration of how to concisely convey the most important information:

onzie

Onzie’s product page

Use Storytelling to Your Advantage

Does your product have a backstory that’s particularly special to you? Chances are it will be particularly special and endearing to your audience, too. Use that story in your product description to add more character to your item, engage your audience and win hearts and minds.

product description example

Son of a Sailor’s product page

Boost a Little Bit to Sell More

Take the product description formula above one step further, like water polo retailer Kap7 ( and check out their amazing backstory). Is your product differentiated through a founder’s expertise? Is your product better because of years of testing? Is it hand-crafted?

Call that out!

Tell a better story in your short product description paragraph by including tidbits of detail that prove why your product is better than rest. Don’t be afraid to name drop, either.

kap7

Kap7’s product page

Talk the Technical Talk to Win Trust

If you have a more technical product, don’t be afraid to get in the weeds with your product description. Prove to your customer your brand’s expertise in the industry by providing all possible details they’d need to know –– before they ever even have to ask.

spectrum-audio

Spectrum Audio’s product page

Know When to Show and Not Tell

Text isn’t always the best way to describe your product. If you are getting too wordy, think about how you can simplify.

Images carry weight and are better remembered by customers. If possible, show off your product in a visual that explain exactly what it does.

solo-stove

Solo Stove’s product page

Know When to Show, Tell and Describe

Other than graphics, videos can be an extremely effective way to showcase how to use a product or why it is better than others. Some brands, like BombTech Golf use videos, graphics and text to drive the point home. Check out the following sample description for an online store's top-selling product:

bomb-tech-golf

BombTech Golf’s product page

Don’t Be Afraid to Go Your Own Way

While a short paragraph description on a product page is a best practice -- know when that isn’t what your audience wants. Every industry and every online business is unique. Do you know your customer well enough to know they won’t read that product description? Are all of your customers scanners?

Pull out the content that is most important to them, and find engaging, visual ways to get all the relevant information to them without any headache. Your buyer personas should inform the overall form and approach towards your product descriptions — include the website design on the page.

best description for online shopping

BPI Sport’s product page

Go Big or Go Home

Finally, this last example just blew me away. This is a great example of how far you can take the perfect product description formula above and really hit a homerun.

Joovy followed the simple formula above, but instead of simply writing out bullets, they used the their bullet-pointed list to create a storyline throughout the product page.

The page is long, but engaging and visual. It answers all questions a new parent might have. And, it still uses a simple paragraph to really drive the product home in an engaging, smart voice particular to the brand.

This is what a home run looks like.

online shop description

Joovy’s product page

In all, it is important to first know your audience in order to determine what kind of content will best speak to them to increase conversions.

The ecommerce product description formula works for most brands, but it is only a starting point.

Think visually. Add graphics and optimize your product images. A/B test copy and get personal on those pages. Look in Google Search Console to identify popular terms so you can improve SEO traffic to the product page. People like to buy from people they trust –– and building trust is different based on what you are selling.

From the moment you use a website builder and construct your site's design, think about how images and descriptions can work in harmony to tell your story to customers.

A stroller might not sell well if the description tells of how it was thought up overnight and then handmade. Similarly, a handmade leather playing card case might not sell well if all you show are the technical specs.

Know your audience. Know your product. And then, show and tell with your online shop descriptions!

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  • outstanding
    Goosebump!!

  • Trisha panda

    Hey Danielle,
    Your post is very nice and informative too. For sure, people will learn form this post who are running their online stores and will get more success. You are giving useful tips.

    Thank you for the post
    Hire Freelancer @ http://www.hirefreelancer.com

  • Elit Writings

    Great tips) I like your “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How” method.
    Sometimes website’s owners havn’t enough time to write effective product descriptions. They need someone to write it

  • Thanks for the info, @nelly_grant:disqus — this can definitely be outsourced!

  • Andy

    Great write-up. Experimentation also go a long way in figuring out what works and won’t work using different writing styles and formats in the long run. CAPS, it really is shouting when you need to keep your voice low. But reading this without taking action is injustice, you can check this out https://www.fiverr.com/andychase/write-sensational-article-saturated-with-seo-keywords to get great product descriptions written for your e-commerce website. To our success!

  • Ashleylashea (dot) com. :-)

  • Judih1

    what is your website? or facebook page?

  • It just means that I don’t write bland copy. I tell stories. I create emotion. :)
    My writing is personality infused. :-) so if you don’t like personality or you want basic descriptions? I wouldn’t be the one for you. :-)

  • Judih1

    Yes I am still looking. Not sure what you mean about personalityis non negotiable.

  • If you’re still looking, I specialize in sizzling hot product descriptions. (Personality is non-negotiable).

  • I’m testing this on my blog now. It won’t be a pure product description, but more close to a product review.

  • This is pure gold! Thanks a lot Danielle! I was recently looking for clear directions on converting product descriptions. Even though I found some gems, your post is definitely in my top 3.

  • Judih1

    Thank you so much!

  • Hey Judih! There are actually many services that you could hire to do this for you! Some of the ones I use and really like are http://www.oDesk.com & https://outsource.com – Hope that helps! :)

  • Jason Guarino

    Can’t you download your inventory to excel, update, and reupload?

  • Example added! Let me know if it helps. Thanks!

  • Judih1

    Very informative. Now I have to get to work changing the descriptions on the 600+ products I sell on my website! Wish there was a service I could hire to do that for me! Can you write a follow up article showing examples of various products?

  • Jason Guarino

    Post some examples please

  • This article is so right.

    Its amazing how easy it is to forget whats works on us as customer when we’re the ones trying to describe our new line of products.

    All of it is so logical, yet loads of businesses don’t apply it. Great reminder for me.

  • 100432 285863Some really superb info , Sword lily I found this. 126583

  • Hi Danielle- thanks for this post- I’ve been working on this for a while now. Can you please help me with an example of a bookcase. I find the part about expressing , when, why difficult.
    Also, the part about letting the customer why they need this above any other bookcase.

    We are classic style, imported furniture- our tone is friendly but upmarket??

    I’d really love an example- I’ve got the features down pact. Thank you :)

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