Quality product descriptions make all the difference between any old online shop and a successful online shop that sells. Nowadays in the world of e-commerce, if you want to establish a mail order business online or pit your enterprise against your competitors, you can’t neglect the importance of including meaningful, professionally curated product descriptions.
As an online retailer, you have a clear goal in mind: to sell as many of your products as possible to visitors to your web shop. However, in stark contrast to the good old bricks and mortar stores of yesterday, you can not strike up a face-to-face sales talk with your customers in the realm of online retail. Efforts you might have once dedicated to this task must instead be incorporated elsewhere. Namely, your efforts should be focused on producing content specifically tailored to your product catalogue and the services you sell in the form of pictures, videos and engaging, expressive texts.
The e-commerce sector is a massive industry with a veritable ocean of competitors. In order to keep your head above water, content strategies and tactical tricks are called for. Simply put, the content you put out must be unique, unmistakably your own and perfectly matched to your individual product assortment.
In addition to insightful product texts with plenty of useful detail description, numerous other factors need to be considered when keeping your eye on the prize. Unfortunately, you can not control all of them yourself. However, you can always influence them. An extensive product data sheet made available for printing is one of these signature factors that takes a description beyond the limits of simple SEO texts.
It’s also worth remembering that testimonials from previous customers can have an either a positive or a negative effect on the sales of a product. What’s more, product test findings also play a crucial role. They’re an important part of ideal product descriptions and should motivate all manufacturers and distributors to offer the best products possible. Delivery time is also a decisive factor. After all, no customer likes to wait longer than they have to for a product to arrive.
In the world of online retail, we see that the most established suppliers at the top of the tier have reached their position through the targeted use of unique content. The world leader in this market is Amazon, whose lead is virtually unbeatable and one which we don’t wish to compete with at this point. After all, the US company quite literally offers everything a consumer could wish for and enjoys a truly global reach. However, you can use the advice on this page to more professionally describe products that you might offer via Amazon itself. What’s more, it doesn’t hurt to take a peek at what the Californian market leader is up to.
Our other case studies are all successful online retailers who specialise in specific sectors within the market, or even specific types of individual products. Naturally, you can apply the tips and guidelines laid out below to other languages.
What you’ll learn from this page about writing great product descriptions:
The category description comes first
This particular piece of text should be dedicated to the general description of products available in your online shop. However, to ensure that visitors to site engage with the products you offer, their attention need to be captured by appealing category descriptions. That’s why we’ll touch briefly on the importance of them here. We advise you to learn more about the specifics of writing category texts later.
It’s bad practice to have your products scattered wildly about the page with no clear organisation. All items should therefore be categories according to their characteristics or intended use. The obvious result is that it’s far easier for customers to navigate through your shop pages to find the product they’re looking for. Instead of having to click through drop-down lists with endless product lines, visitors can instead first select the appropriate category to drastically narrow down their search. At the category page level, potential buyers are already provided with general information containing useful insights that will inform their purchase decision later.
Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, if you’re a retailer of particularly unusual products, be it gag gifts or fringe fashion and apparel, then web layouts that stray from the standard might be the order of the day.
Why do you need product descriptions?
Nowadays, it’s not enough to simply depict a product online, provide a price and a few keywords and expect the customers to come and order in their droves.
Customers often don’t have the fullest idea of which products best suit their needs, whether they’re looking for something to show off their status or a gift to go down a storm with the lucky recipient. With meaningful SEO marketing and skilfully- worded category descriptions, you have drawn your site visitors to the crucial point where they are finally thinking about making a concrete decision of whether to buy or not in your online shop. However, you still have to convince outright. The product description is therefore the final and decisive step required for cementing that purchase decision.
Studies show that online shoppers attach great importance to comprehensive product descriptions. If an online page has insufficient information, almost two-thirds of potential buyers will end their visit to a web shop prematurely.
However, it’s not just the description and explanation of products that’s important. A description for an individual item can be supplemented by testimonials from happy buyers who’ve purchased it previously, with ratings portals and user reviews an option. Your services can also be included here, with information regarding delivery times, payment methods and more all tied directly into the product description. This not only enriches the information provided generally, it also provides answers to frequently asked questions in advance.
Show your customers that you have a real insight into your product range and can best support them should they have any questions. Successful product descriptions not only inform the buyer, they also build trust in your brand at the same time.
Language to use in product descriptions
Of course, all descriptions should be tailored to your target audience. Speak the language that your customers understand. And by that, we’re not just talking about the respective local language of your various buyers. If you’re selling computers and other complex tech, a more serious tone is the general rule with a focus on specifications. If you’re selling skateboards, rollerblades or surfing equipment, a more vibrant and expressive approach to language might be called for. Most female customers tend to respond well to a warmer, more polite approach. Male customers, particularly those seeking sports equipment, may appreciate an assured, more gruff choice of language. That being said, there is a convergence between the genders that is increasing from generation to generation. Younger people tend to show significantly less gender differences when it comes to the language they use every day. Consider then, whether your products are intended for children or adolescents.
In general, all statements in product descriptions need to be clear and unambiguous.Do not use complicated terminology, unless of course you think it necessary to include because of your particular sector. In this case, try to explain the message as clearly as possible.
If you want to sell your products outside of English-speaking territories, you need good quality translations of your online shop content to use elsewhere.
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Selecting the right form of addressing your audience when it comes to writing product descriptions
Industry-specific writing also means you need to seriously consider the correct form of addressing your audience. Whether you decide to address your customers directly or indirectly is ultimately a matter of taste.
The direction you take will largely be dependent on the age and interests of your target audience. The more serious the industry, the more suitable a formal address is. Although the older generation of today is leaning more toward the casual and generally savvier when it comes to the web, most of those born before the 1960s still value a respectful, more formal way of address.
When it comes topics like the body, life and personal existence, a serious tone paired with robust content is important. This certainly applies to sectors including medicine, finance and insurance. With these, things must be described accurately and correctly when it comes to content. The effects of respective products should be illustrated clearly, while directions for use must be thorough and contain no misleading information. In addition to the benefits for your readers, this also has legal implications and could protect you as a provider of such products. We’ll delve even deeper into the subject of legal issues related to product descriptions later on in this article.
In creative industries such as art or design, casual and uncomplicated works perfectly well. When it comes to fields like sport, social and computer games, the informal form of address can be used. Likewise, when it comes to recreational activities, many prefer the casual approach.
With an indirect approach, you’re always on the safe side. Ideal if you’re in any doubt regarding what’s suitable. For example, instead of writing “this and that experience with this product”, you can instead opt for, “Product X offers the following benefits to the user.” In general, however, we recommend addressing customers directly, as we’ve opted for in this article.
If you work as a copywriter for a larger company, you’ll no doubt have had to pay careful attention to their “wording”. It’s a variant of the larger corporate identity, which dictates particular usage of language. In this case, for example, the type of address, the use of specific product names or the structure of whole sentences and sections of copy is predefined. The wording is similar to a company design to ensure that the business as a whole is presented in all its contents as a recognisable entity.
How are great product descriptions that sell structured?
A meaningful and interesting headline precedes each product description. This is implemented with the H1 tag, which should only ever occur once on each page. It’s recommended that the description is divided into separate sections with sub-headings if required. For these sub-headings, and even H3 and H4 tags can be used.
The introductory section of the text – also called the teaser – sets the initial points of interest and engages by identifying the most important product information available.
Amazon places several listings at the top of product pages. These are several short texts that include various product details, giving an overview of the benefits and characteristics of a product. Often referred to as bullet points, these sections include information such as materials, ingredients, uses of or certificates attributed to a product. Amazon also places reviews, including customer reviews, at the top of the product page.
Essentially, the most crucial information relating to each product should be easy to identify without the user having to scroll through the page.
The main bulk of the product description follows on from the short description, price information and other teaser content. Thelength of the descriptive text block should be appropriately chosen for each product. Keep your points relatively succinct and avoid overlong sentences. Pick out the most pivotal pieces of information by bolding your statements and use subheadings to make sense of various facts and figures.
When it comes to writing great product descriptions, the overall length needs to be considered carefully. Ultimately, the length of the text will be influenced by the complexity, uses and features of the item in question. However, factors such as price can also play in forming unique product descriptions. The more expensive an item is, the longer description tends to be. It’s no surprise that this expected by the customer who is prepared to pay a considerable amount for an item. A significant investment in a status symbol or something promoted as exclusive requires an insightful presentation so that the customer feels fully advised. Another rule to remember here is that informing is more important than advertising.
You can include features of the product both in text form and in the form of a listing in the respective item page. Not only do you provide accessible summaries of content, but you also have the added benefit of a variety of visual information references. Anyone who is already familiar with the product in question usually needs nothing more than a few details to arrive at the purchase decision anyway.
You should strive to ensure that once the reading of a product description is done, a potential customer will have no further questions regarding the given item. Ideally, your content will clear up any queries a uniformed customer might have, with all the necessary details and benefits laid out in front of them. The main descriptive text is also significant for search engine optimisation due to its length, the rich detail of the content itself and the keywords found within.
One thing that customers find particularly appealing and of use is information about the intended use or resulting effects of a product. Things like how to use it, what’s considered the optimal function and so on, are all examples of this desired detail. For example, if you’re describing an electric hedge trimmer, explain its operation and function in a concise and user-friendly manner. Talk about essential trimmer maintenance, mention the maximum thickness of branches and twigs it can cut through, or explain how to avoid common issues caused by improper use. At this point, you’ve enough information that you don’t need to compile a complete guide to all aspects of hedge trimming from scratch. However, ideally a guide should be available and linked in the product description.
Incidentally, on occasion it’s advisable to discuss whom the product may not be suitable for. Think about how some products are age-restricted, while others aren’t a suitable match with particular customers due to health issues or physical limitations. A prime example of this would be epilepsy warnings on some films and video game releases.
When striving to write product descriptions that sell, the following information should ideally be included:
How much does the product cost?
What material is it made from?
For foods or medicines: What ingredients are included?
What colour variants are available?
What is the product and how is it used?
Does it have to be assembled upon delivery, or will it be delivered ready to use?
According to which standards is the product certified?
Are certain regulations or safety standards to be observed during use?
Are there warranty services applicable to the product? If so, how long is the warranty?
Do accessories exist that can be used with the product and are they available to purchase?
For whom is the product particularly suited to and who is it not suitable for?
USP (Unique Selling Proposition): Why is the product the best choice for the customer?
Links to similar or complementary products are also handy to include. You’ll have no doubt have come across these online at successful marketplaces lie Amazon. Corresponding items are lined up for the customer to view with hints such as: “Customers who viewed this item, also bought…” or “Customers also bought the following”.
In any case, all the supplemental information about the product is vital and may lead to your customers purchasing further items from you as well. If possible, you should mention any corresponding accessories or available upgrades you can fulfil.
The product data sheet: When more info is required
Perhaps you’re not merely selling your own goods in your web shop. Perhaps you’re offering products produced by another manufacturer. In this case, you can use the descriptions from their website. In many cases, manufacturers even provide their sales partners with product data sheets that serve as templates for descriptions of their products. However, it’s not wise to simply copy and paste these exactly. Above all else, online content must be unique , in order to avoid conflict with Google’s search engine algorithms, not to mention ensuring you avoid any legal ramifications of posting duplicate content. Of course, it can be a problem if your partners do not provide useful information on their website or via another source.
You can also create a product data sheet containing all detailed information, numbers and variantsthat would go beyond the scope of the basic product description in your online shop. It might be worth considering offering such product data sheets as a document for download or printing. The standard PDF format from Adobe is the best option as it is readable on all device types.
Frequently asked questions and reviews
In addition to the above, unique product descriptions can be enhanced further with an FAQ section for each item. Once again, Amazon demonstrates how to do it in a good way. There, you can ask questions about each individual article, which are then usually picked up and answered by other customers. In your own online shop, you should answer wherever possible to keep control in your own hands. Customer answers are not binding and must be entertained with some level of caution. Make sure that FAQ sections are always up to date.
Consider all the reasons that customers could decide against buying your products. Your product texts, together with the FAQ section, product data sheet, images and graphics must be able to ward off all negative arguments and to dispel possible reservations in would-be customers. Ideally, the product description already ensures that there are as few queries regarding the item left open.
Testimonials and product test findings provide an excellent way to gain consumer confidence. If the product in question has been given awards or seals of quality and approval, these should also be placed prominently on the product page.
Place the price information clearly on your product page. Also very important is information regarding expected delivery time and any other delivery specifics. If the transport of an item is very time-consuming or incurs additional shipping costs, make sure your customer is presented with this information.
Social media is an unavoidable part of online business nowadays. Give your customers the ability to share product descriptions on their favourite social channels. Users who are interested in the product will, in any case, exchange their views, opinions and feedback on the product. By officially giving them a way to carry out these actions, you can gain their trust. Another positive effect is that customers and potential customers are essentially providing you with unpaid advertising benefits and increase your reach in social networks.
Do you need an explicit call to action? The “Add to cart” button is understandably less motivating than a vibrant invitation to “Enjoy now!” or “Try something new”. Matching purchase requests to the style of your shop and inventory is a great way of building personality on the page.
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Have your product descriptions written by qualified authors.
The visual design of great product descriptions
The eye plays an important role in the buying decision. Make sure your products are optimally presented with professional photos. In addition to classic packshot imagery, which usually includes photographs of the product both in and outside of its packaging, there’s also the option to include images of the product in use. Usually, the first image that is displayed of a product is the standard packshot one.
Do you have more photos or graphics that explain the product in more detail or present it in a more positive light? You can organise them as you see fit in the image gallery. However, make sure not to overload any galleries with too many pictures. Use only the best and most useful ones. In many cases, infographics serve as a valuable resource for the buying decision. These can illustrate the functionality of the product in a user-friendly and visual manner. You should use these types of elements only when they really make sense to incorporate them. Anything like funny emojis or animated GIFs should be dispenses of in the product description, but have their place on social media networks.
Strong contrasts work well with both imagery and typefaces. Highlight different text areas such as the important key points about a product, visually clearly to attract the eye of the reader.
Use dark writing on a lighter background for continuous texts. Light letters on dark backgrounds are very unsuitable for the screen and are uncomfortable for the reader to read. In fact, they produce an unpleasant ghosting effect on the retina after only a few minutes. An exception to this is, for example, buttons that can be recognised at a glance. Here, the contrast can be used to light to dark meaningfully.
It makes sense to embed videos. These should not contain pure advertising messages, however, but reveal information related to the product and how to use it.
Particularly important is the page load time when thinking about material to include on the product page. Videos, graphics and pictures shouldn’t be added to the detriment of swift loading times. Make sure all images are under 100 kilobytes wherever possible. The faster the page loads, the better.
Think about search engines: SEO for product descriptions
Your products will sell more if you have produced SEO-friendly descriptions so that customers find your store prominently with Google Search. Search engines like Google are intuitive enough to see if a descriptive text actually provides the reader with a high level of informational content.
Use the main keyword in the H1 heading and, if possible, in several of the subsequent H2 sub-headlines. Break your text into concise paragraphs that contain the most important keyword and supporting keywords.
Keywords alone don’t make for good search engine optimisation, however. The relevant terms for your topic must be integrated into meaningful and informative texts. We recommend that you read more on the topic of optimisation according to the WDF*IDF principle .
Images in product descriptions not only serve to provide a visual reference for the product, they can also be used to increase your ranking status. The crawler bots of search engines recognise both the content of the images and graphics, as well as their labelling. Use alt tagsto describe the image content and title tagsthat contain the corresponding keyword.
Duplicate content is an SEO deadly sin. Not only does duplicate content cause your site to suffer massively in the ranking stakes, but it can even lead to your deletion from the search engine index. As such, be creative when it comes to using product information from vendors and partners and look to what they provide as a template to produce engaging, unique product descriptions to avoid the issue of duplicate content.
If you offer other products that correspond to a particular item, you can link to them in the description. Useful links help search engine optimisation efforts. As a rule of thumb, do not use more than three to five additional links per page. However, if a product has a lot of matching or required accessories, you should of course link to all of them.
Legal issues to consider when writing product descriptions
For all the advertising tricks and motivational product copy, it’s still crucial that you pay attention to legal issues to avoid incorrect labelling and delivering false information to consumers.Even if you don’t produce the products offered in your online store, you are still responsible for their correct labelling. As such, check all product labels carefully before offering goods online.
Since there are specific labelling obligations in all industries, we advise you to consult with a lawyer on these issues. However, we’ve summed up some of the more important ones for you.
For example, if you sell clothing or other products that are at least 80 percent textile in composition, you must label them in accordance with applicable regulations. For example, the labelling must include the fibres of which the product is composed, whether it is made up of 100 per cent of a fibre or of different percentages of cotton, polyester or other materials. Note that the European Textile Labelling Regulation applies not only to clothing, but to all other textile products.
Even when selling food products, various EU-wide regulations must be observed. With the exception of the sell-by date, as an online retailer, you must provide a wealth of information. For example, ingredients and processing information must be included, along with net quantities, countries of origin and nutritional values. . Some foods require specific instruction for preparation or use. Also, alcohol or caffeine content must be provided within the description.
Medical products, devices and related accessories are also sensitive subjects as far as legislation is concerned. Here, it must be clearly communicated what the product is intended for and how it is used. This includes specifying the fibres of each product, whether it’s made up completely of a specific material, or a composition of various materials. Potential allergens found in products, such as the case with latex gloves, must be labelled with appropriate warnings.
As you can see, legal issues are an important part of your product descriptions and make the professional advice of a legal professional indispensable.
Back to product copy: Mistakes in product descriptions
Mistakes and lack of attention to detail in the main description cause potential customers to stop reading your product page, closing the browser window in frustration. As such, you must take great care to avoid misinformation. In order not to provoke this frustration in users or fall foul of the law, consumer experience report elements must never be falsified or outright fabricated.
You should never specify delivery information that cannot be honoured. If the delivery of certain products will take longer than the usual standard, the customer must be forewarned about this. Regular updates on which products are out of stock will also prevent customer frustration and failure to fulfil orders.
Here are the most common mistakes encountered and tips for avoiding them at a glance:
Order product descriptions from an external provider
In an ideal world, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to hire one or more capable freelancers to take over the job of authoring product descriptions. Certainly, you’ll find a large number of copywriters in the online realm with varying levels of experience who’d be happy to take on such an assignment. If you’re just starting out in e-commerce or simply want to shorten the recruitment stages required to find capable writers, online portals are an ideal solution. With these, you can usually choose from a large pool of writers and copy editors, with skill levels varying to best meet your budget and requirement. Reputable portals also assist you in the selection and briefing of product copywriters.
If you can pay the talent to handle the delivery of great product descriptions, you can focus on the core of your business. In theory, you can even have testimonials or product test pieces written by external copywriters and then have said text commented on. If that’s the case, you would of course need to provide said pool of writers with the product or products in question. A great way of achieving big results from advertising with minimal effort is to reach out to known and reputable influencers.
A copywriter must be made aware of your desired keywords, along with all framework conditions and mandatory data relating to your product assortment. Please use our information on important components of a good product description to compile quality briefs for your product copywriters.
Examples of strong product descriptions
If you’re looking for inspiration, there’s one sure way of seeing what makes a superb product description. Just like any other industry, the e-commerce sector likes to give those businesses that go that extra mile a just reward for their efforts. In the United Kingdom, the UK eCommerce Awards and the eCommerce Awards for Excellence are just two of the prestigious awarding bodies to commend those companies killing it in the content stakes online.
Taking some time to glance over just what’s being awarded by these events is well worth your time. A quick peek over the eligible categories receiving merit from the UK eCommerce Awards reveal nods for specific markets like Electronics, Travel & Tourism and Furniture & Interior Design, alongside the obvious candidates like fashion and apparel. By looking at the most recent winners for categories relevant to your online efforts will give you a best practice masterclass.
Let’s consider some of the fortunate prize recipients at the 2019 UK eCommerce Awards. To start, we’ll focus on the winning nomination for the Furniture & Interior Design category. Furniture123 might not immediately scream best in class, but look beyond the unimaginative trading name and you’ll find an e-commerce website that scores top marks for user-friendliness. Product titles are comprehensive, but not complex. Likewise, image galleries across product ranges are consistently useful, with clear captures of the products themselves, along with detail shots that draw attention to notable accents and key design features. When it comes to the product description, all the crucial information is captured. There’s not a great deal of inspirational copy immediately visible on the page, but there’s enough in the way of styling suggestions and positive adjectives to encourage a customer to click through to a purchase. Essential information like product dimensions are a standard here, while more specific information relevant to this category of product, such as whether a product arrives fully assembled or not, is also captured.
When it comes to purchasing furniture and bulkier homeware products online, availability and delivery times are of paramount importance to a customer and often the bottom line when it comes to finalising a buying decision.
In fact, the delivery and stock level information for each product is visible beneath the product title and price information, taking precedent over the key features and more extensive description. This eliminates the chance of a customer spending many minutes studying an individual product before clicking to make a purchase, only to find their desired item is currently unavailable. Immediately after delivery and collection information the customer can see a copy snapshot of unique selling points relevant to each individual item. On average, there’s five to six bullet points offered here summarising key design details, appropriateness to various interior design styles, not to mention assembly info. Before the main product description text resumes, a cross-selling tactic is deployed, displaying complimentary items regularly bundled along with the one on page by customers.
The rest of the description is far more exhaustive. The key features section is once again summarised for reference. Next, there’s an “All about me” section of text comprising of one to two paragraphs that delve into the design features and individual functions of each piece in detail. Although the overall tone enters sales territory with far more inspiring choices of wording, it’s no less assertive than the more succinct pieces of copy above it. A “Need to know” section follows, outlining dimensions, materials and assembly specifics. In theory, the inclusion of this should leave no questions regarding these details. As if to remind the customer should they have forgotten, the key features of each piece are once again summarised, in a more abbreviated form. Throughout the product description page, the individual item code is clearly displayed numerous times, helping indecisive customers return to a desired piece later on with ease.
Here’s your chance to make a killing with unique product descriptions
Professional product descriptions should be a staple of any self-respecting online shop. Astonishingly, too few providers follow the simple rules of producing good content, or simply don’t describe their products at all. Their bad practice could be your good news, however. You can distinguish yourself through the delivery of quality product descriptions to set you aside in an ocean of competitors.
We wish you success when putting together premium product descriptions.
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