Online retailers are always trying to find ways to attract customers and, by extension, increase their overall sales. Advice comes fast and furious, and a great deal of it tends to focus on improving your web design, developing your lead magnets and refining your sales funnel. It’s sound advice, and every online retailer should take it to heart.
However, there’s one part of the sales experience that seems to get overlooked when we talk about increasing a website’s online performance. Product descriptions. Which is a shame really, because no matter how well developed the sales funnel if your customer isn’t motivated by an item’s product description there’s a good chance the sale be lost.
The Value of a Great Product Description
An item’s product description is one of the most important contacts you have with your customers. It’s your best, and sometimes your last, opportunity to speak directly to the consumer and promote the products they’re interested in purchasing. A great product description motivates the customer and helps to close the deal. A lackluster product description leaves the customer unmoved and can lead to the loss of potential sales.
So, before you start obsessing over conversion rates and optimized sales funnels spare a thought for your product descriptions. We’ve put together 7 simple tips to help improve your site’s product descriptions and get those sales numbers rolling.
1) Know Your Target Audience
The first step in writing effective product descriptions is to know your target audience. If you want to motivate a customer to make a purchase you need to understand their buyer persona. A buyer persona is a general breakdown of the characteristics of your average customer, and it will help you understand the product features and benefits that will most appeal to your customer base.
Before you begin to craft a product description, ask yourself the following questions:
- What brought the customer to your website/webpage?
- What are their general interests?
- Which features or benefits of the product would most interest your customer?
- How would your customer describe the product to a friend?
Keeping these questions uppermost in your mind should help you to craft more effective product descriptions. If you can start to see your inventory through the eyes of a typical customer you should be better able to create product descriptions that speak to their needs and desires.
2) Focus on the Product’s Perceived Benefits
A common mistake retailers often make when writing their product descriptions is to focus too much on an item’s technical features. Yes, this is useful information and it needs to be included somewhere on the product page but it shouldn’t form the bulk of the product description itself. The average buyer is far more interested in how a product will benefit them than in its various mundane technical features.
To help clarify the point it may help to define the two terms:
- Product Features – technical information that describes a product (e.g. size, weight, color, etc.)
- Product Benefits – how the product can improve or enrich the buyer’s life
When you begin writing your descriptions make a list for each product outlining its features and its benefits. Think about the ways in which the product might give pleasure to the owner or answer the buyer’s unique needs. If you can successfully tie the technical features of the product to the perceived benefits of ownership you will be well on your way to writing a more persuasive product description that speaks to the needs of your customer and entices them to complete the sale.
3) Tell the Product’s Story
Every product has a story behind it, and by telling that story you can connect with the customer on a visceral level. The story doesn’t necessarily need to be complex, but it should always be clear and engaging. Buyers are emotionally invested in the purchases they make, and if you can engage the customer’s on an emotional level you are more likely to make the sale.
When you’re writing your product descriptions consider what went into the design, development and marketing of the item. What was the inspiration behind it? Is there an interesting story about the product’s development? What void does it fill in the marketplace? These are the types of questions your product story should be answering.
4) Keep the Tone Conversational
The most successful product descriptions adopt a conversational tone. They rely on natural language and tend to avoid industry jargon. The copy often reads like a chat between friends. What you are trying to do is to establish and easy relationship with the customers. The more natural the tone of your copy the more likely you are to make a solid connection with the buyer.
That being said, the tone of your product description should always be appropriate to the matter at hand. While a friendly ‘girlfriends chatting over coffee’ tone is fine for a line of fashion accessories it is wholly inappropriate for commercial medical support devices.
5) Make Your Copy Easy to Read
Research shows that the average consumer only reads about 20% of any given webpage. Most people simply scan the content for points of interest before moving on to another page or website. That doesn’t give you much of a window to grab the customer’s interest and convince them to make a purchase. So, above all else, your product descriptions need to be scannable and easy to read.
The following tips should work as a guide:
- Keep your paragraphs short and to the point
- Use short sentences
- Include bullet points to highlight important features
- Use different font sizes to guide the reader’s eyes
- White space is your friend
6) Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key component of any good webpage, and you need to apply its principles to all of your product descriptions. Use relevant keywords to help search engines, and by extensions customers, find your content.
To find the most relevant keywords for your copy make a list of descriptive terms for the item you are selling. Take that list and insert the terms into a keyword search tool such as Google Keyword Planner or LSIGraph. Using these tools you will be able to find out which terms have the highest search volume. You will also be able to find related search terms that can be used in your product copy.
7) Use High Quality Product Images
Finally, no product description is complete without a few high quality images of the product itself. Whenever possible you should try to generate your own images rather than rely on stock photos from the manufacturer. This will help your description stand out from other online vendors who may be offering the same, or similar, products.
Use the highest resolution photographs you can, and take care to show the item from different angles in order to highlight all of its features. Whenever possible show the product in a real life setting. This will help potential buyers visualize the product in the context of their own homes, and that puts them one step closer to pulling the trigger on the sale.
Product descriptions are the unsung heroes of every ecommerce website. It’s where vendors connect with their customers and it’s where buyers are ultimately motivated to make their purchase. If your sales figures aren’t where you want them to be, the answer may lie in your on page product descriptions. Review your product pages and, using the steps we’ve outlined here, you should be able to craft the kind of product descriptions that connect with consumers and motivate them to make that all important online purchase.
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