Writing product descriptions that convert customers and charm Google
This blog was last updated on March 17, 2022.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of a well-written product description. And yet, most product descriptions are swept under the rug.
Never mind the fact that product descriptions are key to ranking on Google. Never mind that 87% of shoppers value accurate, complete product content when they’re making a purchase.
Most product descriptions are dull or poorly written—overlooked as merchants fixate on other parts of their product pages, like product photos and reviews.
Today, we’re looking to give product descriptions the attention they deserve. In this blog, we’ll cover the art and science of a strong description, plus 10 expert techniques for writing product copy that converts.
What are product descriptions?
Let’s start with the basics. A product description is a blurb that provides essential detail about your product and explains the benefits of purchasing it.
Within an online store, the product description is typically located close to the product photo(s). For instance, online retailer House Salad—whose site is powered by Wix eCommerce—displays their description above the fold, right next to the main image. In the product listing below, the description touches on two unique qualities of House Salads’ Autumn Apple candle: its transportability and its scent (“scented like a fall apple pie baked fresh from the orchard”).
If you have a multichannel selling strategy, it’s worth noting that each marketplace may have its own length and placements for product descriptions. Amazon, for instance, places its product descriptions below the fold (bullet points earn priority placement at the top of every listing). Amazon also limits descriptions to 2,000 characters and maintains certain regulations, such as barring any mention of time-sensitive information or customer testimonials.
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on writing descriptions for your website, where you have the most flexibility over your product page. Many of these tips, however, can still be used as guidelines for your multichannel listings.
The fundamentals of product copywriting
When it comes to creating product copy, there are common “traps'' that sellers fall into. Among them: the habit of blandly describing product features as opposed to illustrating their benefits. Or, publishing a long wall of text, absent of any spacing or formatting to make it easier on the eyes.
Generally speaking, you should observe the following copywriting techniques:
Keep your copy brief and succinct
Prioritize the unique selling points of your item
Appeal to your buyers’ emotions
Check for grammatical errors and inaccurate statements
Naturally include keywords for both SEO and user experience purposes
On the topic of eCommerce SEO, it’s always best practice to write your own product descriptions. If your catalog includes products from other brands, avoid copy-pasting text from your manufacturer. Take the time to create your original descriptions so that search engines like Google don’t get the wrong idea; Google doesn’t take well to duplicate copy and may default to showing your manufacturer’s site if someone enters a relevant query.
Make sure that those searches lead to your website by authoring one-of-kind, SEO-friendly copy.
9 advanced tips for writing product descriptions
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into more advanced tips. Grab some coffee (or tea) and settle in to read our top nine tips for high-converting product copy.
01. Understand your audience before you write the first word
No matter how brilliant of a writer you are, you can’t reach your audience if you don’t understand what they want. To get to the bottom of this, make it your mission to fully understand your target buyer before writing a single piece of copy.
Think: is that wool blanket in your catalog for new mothers, kids, or college freshmen? Is it usually purchased as a gift or as a much-needed necessity? The more you can get into the head of your customers, the stronger your product copy will be.
As a first step, create buyer personas. Uncover the demographics, motivations, daily habits, and other key characteristics of your target buyer. It’s entirely possible for your item to attract multiple buyer types—but the more specific you can get, the easier time you’ll have with appealing to your buyers’ emotions.
As an example, Urban Outfitters rarely wavers from its target market: teenagers and young adults who value alternative fashion. Everything from their product assortment to photos fit this bill—and their product descriptions are no different.
“Glide your way through life,” notes one Urban Outfitters listing for roller skates, playfully luring the attention of carefree students. “Lace-up design features three sets of speed lacing hooks at the ankle, equipped with a toe stopper…for comfort, precision and control to show off your moves like a pro at the roller rink.”
In the last sentence, Urban Outfitters subtly speaks to their buyers’ inclination to attempt tricks and “show off” at rinks. (A highly relatable feeling if you take a minute to transport yourself back to your angsty teenage years.)
While other product details are included as bullet points below the description, the main blurb is reserved for emotive copy. It also weaves in a wide range of keywords that shoppers are likely to use when searching for roller skates (“lace-up,” “patterned,” “toe stopper,” and “faux leather”).
02. Be specific about your product’s benefits
You may have heard the saying that “features tell, but benefits sell” or some variation of that. There’s plenty of wisdom in that statement.
The job of your product description isn’t simply to list out your features, but to help your buyers realize why they need your product in their lives. What do they gain from using it? Why do they need it now, not later?
Consider the difference between these two descriptions for a dog mat:
“This machine-washable mat is made of high-quality cotton and polyester. The bottom is layered with silicone. Fits dogs who weigh between 40-90 lbs.”
“This durable and easy-to-clean dog mat will finally make your pup excited to sleep in his own bed. The cotton and polyester blend gives it a cozy feel while its unique non-slip design keeps your family and your pet safe and steady. The size is perfect for dogs between 40-90 lbs.”
Description A and B both speak to the same product features. However, Description B emphasizes their true value: your pup will be excited to sleep in his own bed (not yours), and the mat’s non-slip design will keep your family safe.
When defining your product’s benefits, it helps to ask questions like:
Why is the product important for your customer? With consideration to your personas, how does your product satisfy their needs, wants, and/or worries? Take some time to reflect on the original problem that your product was intended to solve. In fact, talking about your product’s origin story could help you to connect with buyers and find common ground.
Where, how, and when can your product be used? While your product may have a dozen different uses, it helps to pinpoint several of the most common ones. Paint a picture for your customers so that they, too, can visualize themselves using your product. What are they doing when they pick up your product? Where are they? Who are they with?
What product details does your buyer need to know about? Considering how “item not as described” is one of the most common reasons for a chargeback, it’s critical to note which product details need to be communicated right off the bat. Do your buyers need to be reminded of the fit of your product? Material? Weight? Are there special instructions for assembly? For their part, COMFEE.—a fashion brand and Wix Merchant—includes a sizing chart in place of a traditional product description. Your goal, like COMFEE.’s, should be to dispel any doubts or minimize any unwelcome surprises surrounding your product. Returns, after all, are costly. Making a sale on a poorly described product could potentially do more harm than good.
03. Avoid generic superlatives
As you seek to write appealing copy, be on guard against generic or fluffy language. Avoid using superlatives like “excellent,” “great”—or even “high-quality”—as crutches.
None of these words are all that persuasive or interesting. They’re simply opinions.
Instead, use strong and precise language that demonstrates why your product is so great. Use fresh, uncomplicated copy that’s also on-brand. For example, rather than describing your jewelry as “fashionable, top-quality earrings,” try saying something like “whimsical drop earrings made from solid gold.”
There is one exception to this rule: if you have proof to validate a claim like “best-selling” or “brightest,” then it could be worth including in your description. If that’s the case, make sure to attribute the sources that validate these statements.
At the end of the day, brand trust is of utmost importance. Be careful not to overpromise and let personal biases dictate your writing.
04. Write descriptions that match your images
Your product descriptions should pair nicely with product images in order to paint a vivid mental picture for your customers. As a matter of fact, your images could serve as good inspiration.
For instance, say that you already have a few photos of a young woman wrapped up in the wool blanket that you’re selling. She’s sitting on a couch sipping a hot cup of coffee in what seems to be a sunny, window-lit room. Your product description could take this visualzation further by mentioning how your blanket could be used at home to stay warm on a chilly, winter morning.
As another example, Apple relies on visualization to highlight the benefits of the Apple Series 7 Smartwatch, and to persuade buyers to upgrade from their previous models. They practically wax poetic about the updated Smartwatch, superimposing the product’s most desirable features over full-screen images of the watch face.
The primary product description begins with the most notable feature of the redesigned watch—a larger display screen. The copy reads:
“Full screen ahead.”
“Largest, most advanced display yet.”
Breakthrough Health Innovations.”
“Up to 33% faster charging.”
“Five all-new aluminum colors.”
“The larger display enhances the entire experience, making Apple Watch easier to use and read. Series 7 represents our biggest and brightest thinking yet.”
Apple leans heavily into their crisp, clear product images, marinating their copy product in the photography throughout the page. The copy depends on the imagery (and vice versa) to create a cohesive story.
05. Use storytelling to capture attention
A good product description communicates essential information about an item without being overly salesy. The goal is to make your customers forget that they’re being sold to, while persuading them to take action. This isn’t an easy task, we know. Luckily there’s a great tool you can use to achieve this—storytelling.
As with any great story, your product description should have a character, setting, theme, conflict, and plot. In this case, the character would be your target buyer. The setting would reflect the ideal time and place for your product. The conflict and plot would refer to the problem that your item addresses and its benefits, respectively.
Taking this approach will help you to generate descriptions that are more active and engaging. For example, consider this description for a hand soap:
“Our organic soap is soft on the hands and smells like a prairie.”
What if you converted it into a mini-story?
“Our organic Bergamot Rose Hand Soap is a welcome addition to any bathroom. Treat yourself, your family, or a guest to the subtle scent of roses complimented with undertones of distinctive spicy-floral bergamot. Our handmade, small-batch soap is safe for people with sensitive skin, plus your house will smell like a garden.”
In the same vein, luxury fashion brand (and Wix eCommerce user) House of Sunny utilizes colorful, flowy descriptions to hook readers. A product page for a bodysuit reads:
“Although equipped with short sleeves and hotpants, this bodysuit is knitted from a vegan yarn - making for a light stretch and sensational fit without compromising on sustainability. The material is distinguished by a technicolour wavy print that alternates between a smooth and fluffy touch, much like jacquard. The playful ensemble is completed with a retro collar and button-down neckline. It also comes with the cutest tiny pouch bag, ready to hold your AirPods.”
While the story is delivered differently than in the previous example, you still get a sense of whom the description is written for: a young, environmentally conscious yet fashion-forward consumer.
06. Showcase your brand’s personality
A powerful brand isn’t built in a day. But in order to successfully build a brand, you need consistency.
As part of your strategy for branding your online store, make sure that your product descriptions capture your brand’s unique voice.
Take Dollar Shave Club, as an example. The Club doesn’t hesitate to use playful language—or to even break conventional editing rules—in order to express itself. Between descriptions that flaunt “get your way to a smooooth shave” to those that say “Smell like a sandal? Eww. Smell like sandalwood? Ooh!” the Club stays true to its brand personality.
At the same time, it’s important to prioritize clarity above creativity. Make sure your consumers can easily understand your copywriting. Avoid diluting your message with Shakespearean language.
07. Establish trust with social proof
Question: what do customer reviews, product ratings, and user-generated content (UGC) have in common?
Answer: they’re all vehicles for social proof that you can strengthen your product pages.
At a time when 94% of surveyed consumers say that customer reviews are crucial to their decision-making (even above price, according to PowerReviews), social proof is invaluable. Consider weaving social proof into your product descriptions in these ways:
When explaining what people love about your product, include a testimonial. Write about how Steve, 43, from Arkansas, said your sneaker’s arch support helped cure his back pain.
Reference write-ups, awards, and ratings that your product has earned.
Add a quote from a user. Let proud owners of your product vouch for its efficacy and uniqueness themselves.
Shameless plug: Wix makes it easy to integrate customer reviews and UGC into your site. Wix offers built-in tools for collecting user videos and images, plus has integrations with today’s top-rated review apps.
08. Make your product descriptions easy for shoppers to scan
As much as we’d like to believe that buyers read every single line of copy we write, the reality is that most are skimming it. With the rise of mobile commerce, it’s especially important to provide content in a digestible format.
Think: bullet points. Proper headings. Bolding and italicizing (albeit these should be used sparingly). Quick, easy-to-read statements.
Fashion brand and Wix eCommerce merchant Áraw takes a minimalist, yet effective approach to their product page layout. With discrete sections for “Description,” “Washing & Care,” and other details, Áraw makes it easy for buyers to find the information that they care most about.
Remember that you’re also not limited to top-of-fold content. You have an entire page to leverage.
Apple, Fitbit, and Urban Outfitters are among some of the retailers who make full use of their product pages. They, at times, employ an “endless scroll” approach that makes a product page resemble a social media feed.
09. Measure your performance and optimize based on KPIs
As you’re flexing your creative muscles, make sure that you’re writing with specific goals in mind. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and a system for measuring the impact of your copywriting.
Product descriptions can help to influence a number of KPIs, including:
Average order size (AOV)
Average per item sales value
Product page conversion rate
Customer return rate
Search engine rankings
While various factors affect these KPIs, A/B testing your descriptions can help you to see what product benefits, values, and overall messaging resonate with your buyers. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console additionally help you to track on-page and search behaviors: time on page, bounce rate, search terms, etc.
If you’re not sure where to start, start by analyzing your most visited pages first. How many visitors are currently converting into customers? How long are they staying on the page? What are return rates and customer feedback like?
Quantify the type of improvement you’d like to see in the conversions and behaviors. Then, create a plan for testing new copy.
Create a great buying experience from start to finish
Your product description is prime real estate for expressing the undeniable benefits of your item. Fight the temptation to rush through them, or to set them aside for a later time. Give your descriptions the attention they deserve in order to yield the results that your business deserves.
Allison Lee Editor, Wix eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.