Simple Tips to Make Writing Your Product Descriptions A Doddle.
Do you struggle to write descriptions for your products?
Perhaps you find yourself staring endlessly at a blank piece of paper?
Or are you worried your product descriptions aren’t helping to sell your products?
If you mentally replied yes to either of these … do not fear. It’s perfectly normal. In fact it’s something I see countless times every single day.
Six years in to showcasing card and gift products here on Card & Gift Network I’ve read thousands upon thousands of descriptions for new products. My conclusion? 99% of people struggle to write product descriptions.
Ok, that is a guessed percentage but I hope it highlights how rarely I come across a full, accurate and tempting product description.
More often than not, when I ask people to tell me about their new products I get a single sentence. Concise? Yes. A good way to sell your stuff? Not really.
The problem with not working on your product descriptions is that you’re missing a golden opportunity to sell your products.
& for your product catalogues and websites that’s a disaster.
While I’ve shared copywriting tips in the past, today I wanted to specifically focus on product descriptions and give you a few tips that will make them easier to write and more effective.
Let’s begin …
1. Talk to Your Customer.
Your product description is a great way to talk directly to your customer. Your products won’t be for everyone so it’s important to appeal to the right people, the people most likely to buy. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and aim your descriptions towards them. What would they want to know? What questions or hesitations might they have? If you can speak your customers language, appeal to their imagination and overcome their doubt you’ll be on your way to a great product description.
2. Be Interesting.
Your product descriptions should be appealing so make sure you’re using descriptive words that will appeal to your customers senses. While it’s logical to think that people’s buying habits are rational, studies have shown that emotions have a much greater influence on what and why people buy. Avoid writing just facts and figures, instead try and see how you can make your products interesting and engaging to potential buyers.
3. Focus on Benefits.
One way to ensure you’re not creating a dull description is to focus more on the benefits of the product and less on the features. Describe what problem your product solves for the customer. Your greeting cards might use a 250gsm card stock but will a customer know what that means? Will they understand that a heavyweight card stock will stand better on a shelf and feel more luxurious to the recipient? Maybe not. Features are important (see tip 4!) but they need to be balanced out with benefits that your customer will understand and buy into.
Take a look at Simon Sinek’s video on ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action‘ for a great explanation on how Apple use benefits over features.
Also have a look at how Amazon sell their Kindle Paperwhite eReader. While they could talk about the gadgets ‘built-in front light’, they instead focus on the benefit of this feature, that it “won’t tire your eyes in the dark”.
4. Use Bullet Points.
While you don’t want your products to be a dry list of features it is important to include some basics. This is especially important for your websites, where people can’t pick up, prod and squeeze your products for themselves.
Using bullet points for features is a great way to include details such as size, weight or colour without having to think of an inventive way to add them into your description.
A block of bullet points will also create a section of information, perfect for online readers who tend to scan read. Combing a paragraph of prose and a block of bullet points allows you to tackle both benefits and features in a format that will be appealing to your potential customers.
5. Think About Keywords.
If you’re product description is to be used online it’s important to consider keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases people would use to find your product via a search engine. Alongside your engaging, descriptive language you also need to ensure that the standard words are also used in the titles and description of your products.
It might seem obvious but I’ve seen many product descriptions about new card designs that fail to use the word ‘greeting card’ or ‘birthday card’. Sure I can see the picture that’s been sent with the description and I know I’m looking at a birthday card but computers and search engines don’t know this unless you tell them. Double check you’re product descriptions to ensure you’re covering the keywords a buyer might use.
6. Tell a Story.
Marketers love the power of stories, they can make a company seem more likeable, appeal to emotions (good for tip 2!) and are often more memorable than a regular description. Adding a story to your product is therefore a great way to liven up a boring description. Think about any stories that revolve around your product. Was it made to solve a problem? Are there any noteworthy stories about how it was made? It won’t always be possible, but if there is a story to your product try adding it to your description.
It’s worth noting that your stories don’t have to be the length of War & Peace. Firebox have created a story element for this Brewdog brewing kit gift (below) in 3.5 lines.
7. Answer Questions.
Although I mentioned this briefly in tip 1, this is important so I think it deserves another mention. A good product description needs to answer any questions a potential customer may have. If you work in retail or have ever exhibited at a trade show, you know that customers usually have questions. Questions might be about cost, use, buying quantity or anything else and while it’s not possible or preferable to answer every question under the sun it’s a good idea to use your description to cover the basics. Make a list of what you think will be the most common questions and ensure you’ve answered them.
8. Keep it Clear & Concise.
Unlike novels, tutorials or creative writing that people are reading for pleasure or education, product descriptions are utimately functional. For this reason it’s wise to try and keep your words clear and concise. Get to the point quickly so you don’t lose or bore your audience.
9. Avoid Jargon.
While it’s sometimes hard to avoid jargon, it’s well worth having a go, especially if you’re selling direct to consumers. If people don’t understand what you’re selling you’re creating a barrier to them buying. Words like thermography, flitter and foiling might be commonplace for printers and greeting card designers but might easily confuse someone looking for a card to celebrate their parents wedding anniversary. Ask a friend or family member (not in your industry) to proof-read your product descriptions to ensure they’re jargon-free.
10. Check for Uniqueness.
Your product description should help your product stand out from the crowd. You want people to buy your product over every other option available to them so it’s important to include your “Unique Selling Point” (USP). Ask yourself what makes your product different or better than others on the market and include this in your description.
Take a look at this description from Benefit Cosmetics for their Agent Zero Shine powder. It’s a great example of many of today’s tips (talking to the customer, showcasing the benefits, telling a story, adding interest) but it also highlights it’s USP as the “No 1 selling powder in the UK”.
11. Refine with a Little Research.
While you should try and ignore your competitors at first, I am going to encourage you to have a look at what others are doing after you’ve written your first draft or after a few weeks of testing your new product descriptions.
Seeing how others create product descriptions is a great way to get inspired. You can then use what you pick up to refine your own product descriptions and make them even better.
When looking for examples to inspire look at online-only retailers and be careful of marketplace descriptions. I suggest online-only retailers because they don’t have another avenue to sell through (such as a bricks and mortar store) so they have to make their website work or they’d be out of business. I encourage caution with marketplace sites like Etsy or Not on the High Street because these are sites with thousands of sellers writing their own descriptions so it can be hard to tell how well an individual item is performing considering it can be buoyed by its marketplace location.
If you want to study product descriptions first try googling the keywords for your product e.g. “40th birthday card” and looking at the results and product descriptions that rank at the top of search engines. These should (in theory) be the highest quality entries that Google can find for your chosen keyword. Secondly take screen-grabs / photos or bookmark web pages of products you buy or adverts you like. Reviewing what appeals to you as a consumer should give you some clues on how you can appeal to your own customers .
12. Print & Proof-Read.
While I hope I’ve managed to complete this feature without typos I’m sure it’s not likely so my final tip is to print a copy and proof-read your product descriptions. A printed copy is for some people a little easier to digest than an on-screen copy so printing is a good way to take a final look at your descriptions. It also gives you the opportunity to make a few notes.
Check your writing against the tips mentioned today. Also pay attention to your sentence length (keep sentences short for websites) and look out for repetition, which can reduce the quality of your text. If you’re describing your product as “beautiful” 3 times in a paragraph it will stick out and look awkward to a reader. Use an online thesaurus to find different words that will add variety to your writing.
Last but not least do a final sweep (or ask a friend) for any typos or spelling / grammar issues. Like repetition a mis-spelled word or bad grammar reduces the quality of your writing and is a poor reflection on your brand. So remember it’s “stationery” with an ‘e’ for the paper goods and “stationary” with an ‘a’ if something isn’t moving!
Your product description is a way to talk to your customers and showcase what you do. It needs to be as special as your products, so dedicate a little extra time to making it unique and interesting. A true reflection of your products that will encourage people to buy. Your product descriptions are sales materials so they shouldn’t be overlooked.