The Anatomy of an Engaging Product Description

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How to write product descriptions that sell

Figuring out how to write a good product description is part art, part science, part trial-and-error. A lot of people struggle with it, and it can be the make-or-break for companies that want to stand out in a saturated market. It’s a huge part of branding and optimising your SEO. So how do you get started if you’re stumped? Here are some tips.

First, figure out who you’re talking to

If you’re really starting from scratch, ask. Come up with a focus group of your ideal buyer and ask them to fill out a survey of websites they follow, news sources they read, shows they watch, brands they like, memes they’re into. You’ll have a starting point to see what kind of content interests them, and how that content is framed. Take the time to read through this content and note the style, tone, and phrasing they’re using.

It’s better to write to a specific audience than a general one. Having an ideal buyer in mind helps you develop a tone and personality, while trying to appeal to everyone and their mother makes you vague.

Next, talk to your ideal buyer

If you’re struggling to actually sit down and write your product descriptions, try something you’re a little more familiar. Sit down with someone who is your target buyer that you know well, like a friend, coworker or even a focus group participant. Pull out your phone, hit record, and describe each product to them as if they’d never heard of it.

Listen to your recording. Chances are, you’ve pitched your products in a way that’s accessible, comfortable and persuasive. Draw on what you said to figure out what to write, turning your description into a narrative.

If you’re a bit stumped, you can conceptualise a product description to include the following questions

  • Who uses your products?
  • What details set your product apart? What features make your product different from competitors?
  • What inspired the product?
  • Where and when would your customers use your product? In particular rooms, in particular situations? While traveling? While commuting?
  • How does your product work, especially if it’s a new type of technology?

Always focus on what’s in it for them

Sure, you might know all the ins and outs of every product spec and be excited by them. But a good product description always focuses on what the value is to the customer. How it makes them feel. What it will add to their life.

Hackney Wick Boulder Project does this well. Their company description feels like someone is talking to you. They offer their customer a place to hang out and get fit among a group of like-minded people. They give the impression of being friendly, neighbourhood-y, and casual (which they are!).

Another way to think about this is bridge the gap between features and benefits. You know what features your product has. You know what makes it useful to a buyer. Your product description can include a sentence that says “Because of Feature X, you’ll get Benefit Y”.

This bottle opener from Uncommon Goods, for example, features cast iron hardware and the shape of a state. Their sentence “These wall-mounted bottle openers help you celebrate your favourite state every time you open a refreshing beverage”. The feature they highlight is wall-mounting. The benefits are celebrating your state and opening a beverage.

Use your crossword puzzle brain

You can improve your descriptions by reminding yourself of every word that could be used about your product. Start by brainstorming descriptive words that relate to your product, and use thesauruses to help.

One type of adjective that works particularly well is the

Broadening your list of adjectives can help you avoid phrases that make people go, “Yeah, never heard that one before…”. You know the ones I’m talking about.

“Highest quality”
“Best in line”
“Excellent customer service”

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is having your product descriptions read like a technical manual. Another is having it read like a teenage girl’s magazine -- filled with repetitive fluff. Use a couple of key adjectives that actually say something, and cut out everything that doesn’t add substance.

This is also the time that you really think about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). That basically means you want your product description to include at least a couple of keywords that people would use to find your product through a search engine. Although you should not stuff keywords in unnaturally, aim to include at least three keywords per description.

How do you figure out what keywords are important? Well, there are companies that will charge you to do that research. If you want to DIY and figure it out yourself, start by listing them out logically, then digging through everyone else who sells that product and see what words are coming up most often. Go on Instagram and Facebook and see what #hashtags are associated with your industry.

Consider the h8ers

Your product descriptions are a great place to address possible objections from the get-go. If you think buyers might object to it being particularly expensive, write about exactly what makes it worth it and how long it will last. If you think buyers might object to it being the same thing they’ve seen everywhere else, talk about what makes your company the best one to buy from. Addressing concerns like these head-on can help you attract people who were on the fence.

Choose a vibe

Is your brand the kind that would go for cheesy puns like ModCloth?

Or, are you into sounding science-y and high brow like Rolex?

Are you into kitchy cliches, pop culture references and general cuteness like ThinkGeek?

Here’s one product description for a throw pillow from The Roostery on Etsy.
They take a more straightforward approach, starting out by describing the size and origin of the product.

They continue on to be a bit more in-depth, describing that it would be “perfect for bedding and seating” (how to use it) and “crisp knife edge finish and a discreet hidden zipper” (what makes it stand out).

Others take more of a storytelling approach, like Laithwaites in the UK. They start by telling you a bit of a story about the winemakers to become more compelling and develop a personal connection.

Think about formatting

Your product descriptions should be scannable -- easy to browse through without reading every word.

Take a look at David’s Tea for example. They have four major spots:

  1. A photo of the actual product
  2. A headline, short description with a couple keywords next to the Add To Cart function
  3. A longer description area with a catchy slogan for the product, a short narrative description, and a section specifically for ingredients and specs
  4. An image that tries to capture the sensation of the product

Not every description needs to look like this, but having a consistent structure with a separation between elements is a good way to improve your SEO and make your descriptions more scannable.

Do you have baller descriptions?

We’d love to see them. Get in contact with Elkfox and talk to us about how you want to improve your product pages.