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How to carefully craft product descriptions

Websites are evolving more rapidly than ever, and to me, they show no signs of slowing down. As global eCommerce grows, little niches grow with it. The result is a colourful variety of eCommerce sites, all with a style, some more unique than others.

When designing your product pages you could stick to the current format or go with something a little different. Not one approach is right for every company, but you should definitely make sure your approach matches your company’s style.

Pick your style

Playful Style

Firebox is an example of a niche that has grown with eCommerce.

It definitely doesn’t have a common style, but it is consistent throughout its website, which is really important. For example just look at this product, “the wallet ninja”

This product isn’t a joke, it actually does what it says it will, but the way Firebox sells it makes it playful so it will appeal to their customers. Having this style could be why the product makers choose to sell their products on Firebox and why customers choose to visit and buy from Firebox.

Now because I started with Firebox I have quite an act to follow. But the big hitter amazon should be able to put on a good enough show.

Copy and Paste Style

Amazon copy and paste the product description that the manufacturer gives them or at least they don’t put very much effort in to the product descriptions. They do get hundreds of thousands of products thrown at them though so maybe that is to be expected. Sellers on amazon seem to follow suit and don’t stray far from the manufacturer’s description.

Less finesse to the layout than Firebox, but this seems to work for Amazon. They don’t have the best product descriptions but they do have a very good customer reviews community. With 52 reviews plus 3 questions answered, the community have made up for the lack of information or clarity of the information given by Amazon.

Without having to worry about creating the perfect descriptions they can turn the hose of products back on. This will not work for everyone so definitely be cautious when copy and pasting manufacturers descriptions, there will be a tonne of other businesses that will have done that and you know amazon will have.

Practical style

Ikea describe their products in a practical style, the small description near the picture reassures customers of the strength and toughness of the build. Which, for a self-assembly furniture company, might be a good thing to stress.

In the more detailed description further down the page they leave nothing out, listing from environmental impact to how to clean.

So far we have seen the playful description, the copy and paste description and the practical description; next is the luxury description.

Luxury Style

The language used in the description here has obviously been specially selected to reflect the company and portray a sense of luxury; what you are about to buy is something really special.

If you are trying to convince someone to spend a large amount of money you are going to have to put a large amount of effort into the description as well as many other things.

Stay consistent

If you are using your product descriptions as a selling point, and you should by the way, then customers will be expecting to see that same style and calibre of product description. I’m not saying this alone will push every single customer away, but it will cause some unmet expectations and your competition might be able to win some customers.

I might just be speaking for myself here, but if I am looking to buy something and when I find it there is a vague description which just doesn’t give me enough information, I will keep looking. If I find that same something on another website but with the full description I need and a similar price, I will buy from their without blinking an eye.

Content

When actually writing your product descriptions in your style there are still some things you should keep in mind.

Be Specific

Throughout your copy you should try to be specific when making statements about your products. An obvious example is if you say that your sports bottle, the water jail, can carry liquid with not a single drop escaping without your say so; then you should probably say how much water can be contained at once… you know, for practical reasons.

Or if you sell a super comfy sofa, you could say it is 150cm wide but not everyone will be able to picture that; you could then convert that to something most people will be able to picture, how many people it can fit. I would say three people or two if you have your legs up on the sofa.

Bullet points

Having a big block of text for a product description can be intimidating to the customer and makes it look like it will take far too long to understand what the product is all about. Using bullet points will make it easier to highlight features of the product in a way that customers will be compelled to read them all. Though bullet points can take a lot of the human aspect of a description out… hmm how about a bit of both? A short sensory word heavy paragraph about the product and then some bullet points highlighting key features to quickly convey the overall value of the product.

Solutions and benefits

Something I feel is very important to customers is the “what can the product do for me?” question. Most companies don’t seem to approach this question with as much enthusiasm as I think they should.

Have you ever looked at a product and just thought… that is pointless. Well that might have been because the product was described using its features not its solutions and benefits and basically what it can do for you. If you know great uses for the product then why not say them?

Don’t just say this spade is metal; say this metal spade is tough enough for the most stubborn gardens. Adding a reason why that feature will be useful to them makes it a far more compelling description.

An extreme example of this is testimonials, someone tells their real experience using the product, usually a problem they had and how this product was the solution they needed. If you can get some decent testimonials they can be pretty powerful when wielded right. Companies with bigger products that need more convincing of the value tend to have full video testimonials. Which are obviously great for any product but if you are selling paperclips maybe you should think about the ROI on a fancy video testimonial.

Storytelling

Going even further with the solutions idea, you could tell stories about how the product could be used in specific situations.

Storytelling can be applied to the manufacturing process too. As consumers become more and more conscious about environmental impact, fair trade and animal cruelty, product journeys from creation to the shelf can be reassuring enough to convince people to buy your product over products that are not as convincingly ethical as yours or just not ethical at all.

Justification

Anything you do claim your product has you must have evidence somewhere to back it up. Some people like to read everything and absorb all the information, if you don’t backup your claims this will trigger alarm bells for these people and they could just pass on those bells… oh no the dreaded word of mouth. You could be completely truthful but a big claim without evidence might start some pretty damaging rumours. Don’t let word of mouth be damaging, instead wield it like the mighty PR weapon it is.

Keep it all in mind and more

If you keep all this in mind you should be set for some pretty smashing product descriptions. Obviously don't think that these are the only things you should consider; use a checklist of the suggestions made here, add your own and tweak them to fit your business.

If you need any help with your product descriptions feel free to contact us at iD30.

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