7 Simple Steps to Writing Product Descriptions that Sell

How seductive are your product descriptions?

Does your product copy entice readers to click buy or try? Or do you simply describe your product and tell web visitors what it does?

The “secret” to writing seriously seductive product descriptions is to follow a proven process to engage, persuade, and sell.

To get started, you need to know exactly who it is that you want to buy your product.

1. Define Your Buyer Persona

Basing your work on buyer personas prevents you from sitting on your butt in your comfortable office just making stuff up, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing. ~ David Meerman Scott

A buyer persona is an imaginary customer. It is the person for whom you’ve developed your product and to whom you’d love to sell it (of course!). He or she represents your target audience, but is much more real than a vague description of some demographics.

You need to know your buyer persona so well that you know exactly what makes her laugh, what makes her shake her head in disbelief, what makes her click buy, and what makes her hesitate to order.

To describe your buyer persona, think about what she’s reading and which websites she visits, because that will help you understand the right tone of voice that will engage her. Consider what keeps her awake at night, what she dreams of achieving, and how she makes decisions, because that will enable you to create copy that speaks to her and taps into her feelings.

Clearly defining your buyer persona will give you the information you need to transform product-centric descriptions into customer-centric descriptions. Visualizing your buyer persona will empower you to make your descriptions more vivid, personal, and persuasive.

Let’s have a look at how this works.

2. Create a Comprehensive List of Features and Benefits

You love talking about your products.

Maybe you’ve spent years developing your app. Or you’re excited about the upgraded specs of your best-selling item. You enjoy providing people with all of the details, the features, and the specs, and that’s what people want to read about, isn’t it?

No. Not really.

Potential clients don’t want to know what your product is or does. They want to know what’s in it for them. How does it make their lives better? Which problems does it take away?

Before you start writing, list all of your features and specs, and then translate them into benefits. A feature is a fact about your product, while a benefit is an explanation of what that feature does for your reader. A benefit can be phrased as a positive (e.g., improves productivity) or as a problem that’s avoided or reduced (e.g., decreases stress).

The bullet points below for Amazon’s Paperwhite, for instance, mix positive benefits (read with one hand and battery lasts weeks) with problems that are avoided (no screen glare and read without eyestrain).

Amazon paperwhite

Most people are risk-averse, so it’s wise to include some references to how your product avoids glitches, hassles, and problems.

3. Define Your Tone of Voice

Do you want to sound like a boring big corporation? Or do you want to engage readers with personality and a dash of humor?

Your tone of voice can differentiate you from your competitors; it gives readers a strong impression of your organization’s culture and personality.

Rather than say you’re fun to deal with, let your personality shine through your content and add a dash of humor. Rather than remark that your customer service is excellent, let your tone of voice demonstrate that you’re friendly, approachable, and interested in understanding your client’s business.

The descriptions below are for similar products, but they strike a completely different tone of voice:

Fuzzy Fleece Slippers on Zappos:

Zappos fuzzy fleece slippers

Furry Adventure Slippers on ThinkGeek:

ThinkGeek furry adventure slippers

Your tone of voice shows who you are and how you deal with your clients.

To define your tone of voice, consider what you are and what you’re not. For instance: We’re cheeky and fun, but we never use bad language. Or: We’re business-like, but not boring, and we don’t use gobbledygook phrases such as market-leading and world-class.

If you were going to speak to your buyer persona in real life, which tone would you strike? That’s the voice you want to emulate in your writing.

Check out MailChimp’s Voice and Tone website for an excellent example of how to describe your tone of voice.

4. Create a Scannable Format

Research suggests that people read only 16% of the words on the average web page.

To entice people to buy your product or trial your app, they probably need to read your copy. So how do you tempt people to stop skimming your page and start reading your content?

Let’s look at two examples:

The InVision product page uses an easy-to-scan and easy-to read format. The subheadings have a font size of 30px, while the body text has a comfortable font size of 20px.

Most subheadings focus on a benefit (e.g., a real time to-do list keeps projects moving forward), while the body text provides a more detailed explanation. Pictures and simple animations almost make you feel as if you’re using the product, increasing your desire to try it.

InVision product description

The product descriptions of UK-based smoothie maker Innocent follow the format of a straightforward headline, an engaging story, and bullet points that highlight three benefits. Their smallest font size is 16px, and they use a variety of colors to attract attention to their headline and bullet points.

Innocent product description

To make your product descriptions easy to skim and easy to read, consider:

  • Subheadings to entice scanners to start reading
  • Bullet points to attract attention to key points
  • A large font to improve readability
  • Video or photography to increase the desire to use or buy your product
  • Plenty of white space to guide readers through your content and make your page a joy to read

Web design and content writing should work together like yin and yang. They interact and strengthen each other.

5. Write a First Draft

Once you know who your buyer persona is and have planned your content, writing a first draft becomes much easier.

Go through your list of features, benefits, and objections, and rank them in a logical way that your buyer will find easy to follow.

If your list is relatively short, include the most important benefits first and the least important last. If your list is longer, you may want to go for a topical arrangement. Apple, for instance, has specific pages about design features and built-in apps.

Apple image

Make your copy comprehensive and persuasive by mentioning all of the benefits of your product, and make sure you take away common objections. If your product is relatively expensive, then you need to point out how much value buyers get out of it. If buyers are concerned about how complicated it is to sign up for your app, then suggest how quickly they can do it.

Turning a drab first draft into passionate copy is like flogging a dead horse. So write your first draft when you feel positive and enthusiastic. Write rapidly, and don’t worry about spelling and grammar mistakes (that’s what’s your editing phase is for).

6. Edit Your Text to Boost Your Persuasiveness

Editing your text doesn’t mean you just correct typos and grammar mistakes.

You edit your copy to make it more readable, engaging, and persuasive:

  • Review your list of features and benefits to ensure you haven’t missed anything.
  • Check your engagement level. Is the copy focused on the reader or your company? Highly engaging copy uses the word you more often than your brand or product name and the words I, we, and us.
  • Improve readability by replacing difficult words with simple words and by reducing average sentence length. Don’t worry about starting a sentence with and, because, or but. Even Apple copywriters start their sentences with conjunctions.
  • Replace generic phrases with specific details, because specificity increases your credibility. Excellent customer service is a generic phrase that doesn’t sound credible. We’ll answer your inquiry within 24 hours is more specific and credible. Include numbers where possible, because they represent facts and stop wandering eyes.

Before you move on to your last step, picture yourself talking to your buyer, and read your copy aloud. Do you stumble over any sentences? Does your copy engage your buyer? Does it persuade him to buy?

Polish your copy until you can seduce your buyer to purchase.

7. Optimize Your Copy for Search Engines

When you write for your buyer persona and use the phrases he uses, you’re automatically optimizing your product descriptions for search engines, because these are the phrases he searches for on Google.

A few more tips:

  • Avoid jargon unless you’re buyer uses jargon, too.
  • Consider using your key phrase in your headline, subheadings, and body text.
  • Optimize your product images by using your key phrase in the file name, image description, and alt tag.

Thinking too much about search engines kills your seductive powers because no one enjoys reading content that’s sagging under keyword sludge.

Always write for your reader first, and optimize for search engines later.

How to Make Product Descriptions Seductive

When you sit down to write, don’t just create another product description.

Instead, think about your buyer. Consider how you can make his life easier, richer, or more pleasurable.

Quit talking in vague statements. Stop babbling on about features and specifications. Turn them into enticing benefits. That’s how you seduce your buyer to buy.

About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make booooring *yawn* company blogs fascinating and seductive. Sign up at Enchanting Marketing to receive your free copy of 21 Simple Tips to Turbocharge Your Web Copy.

  1. Great stuff…the examples really help. I prefer having feature+benefit (similar to the Zappos examples) versus having separate features and benefits pages. The two combined have the most impact and appeal to a wider audience.

    • Yep, I agree. Features without benefits aren’t persuasive, so it’s best to provide them side-by-side.

  2. Love it when I learn something new and useable. “Numbers represent facts and stop the eyes wandering… “. Hadn’t heard that before. I’ll definitely be looking to use it. Great job.

    • That’s why list posts work so well, too. The number at the beginning of the headline stands out when people share the post on social media.

  3. Very useful post Henneke!

    Having worked for a large online b2b trading portal, I can relate with your points very well. Everyday we saw new products thrown our way with precisely the same content mistakes that you’ve pointed out.

    I love the first point of your post about buyer persona. It’s absolutely critical.

    Cheers!

  4. Really this guide will definitely help me out in writing an attractive product description, i already know more than half bullets you have listed here but some major and significant headings for instance optimization of your content according to the search engine, and define the benefits of features in your products instead of listing them. Thank you for your amazing publish, cheers!

  5. Great tips! What I thought was the most valuable is the point Henneke made about turning features into benefits from #2: Create a comprehensive list of features and benefits. Customers care about “what is in it for them” not about your product/service features or specifications.

    Thanks for the article! Really appreciate it

  6. Great stuff…the examples really help. I prefer having feature+benefit (similar to the Zappos examples) versus having separate features and benefits pages.

  7. Nice post Henneke. I share your pet peeve of marketing cliches/gobbledygook like “best-of-breed”, “world class” and “market leading”. Most marketing copy is too long, misdirected and fails to engage readers. Your mission is well warranted.

  8. The last paragraph is really the entire article.

  9. Hi Henneke,

    What tips would you give for identifying your buyer persona through online channels and using data? It seems that surveys would be one way to do this but I’m keen to learn of other options.

    Thanks for a great post,

    Charlie

    • Getting on the phone (or Skype) is one of the most effective ways to learn more about your buyer persona. Just speak to a few of your favorite customers.

      You can also learn more by asking questions (especially open questions) in your e-newsletter or check comments on your blog or on other blogs that are read by your target audience. You learn most by a mixed approach and by listening more and learning how to read between the lines.

  10. Love the emphasis on buyer personas. :) It’s the core of effective marketing, no matter the approach. You should check http://www.jpeterman.com/ for some real seductive descriptions. I promise you’d fall in love with them.

  11. Hi,
    I am working on a marketing project. This blog helped me a lot for writing the description of products. Thank You for sharing such a use full words.

  12. This article is so right.

    Its amazing how easy it is to forget whats works on us as customer when we’re the ones trying to describe our new line of products.

    All of it is so logical, yet loads of businesses don’t apply it. Great reminder for me.

    • Yes, it’s common sense, but it’s so each to get wrapped up in describing products and forgetting about who they’re intended for.

  13. Great points! I and my team will be practicing these!

  14. The advises here are very helpful. I’m glad I stumbled on your blog.

  15. Love the first point on buyer personas. It really does start there – understanding your buyer, and everything behind buyer psychology. I also completely agree on benefit selling. It’s really how you can get your ideal buyer to relate to what you’re offering.

  16. I’m in the midst of writing product descriptions, and after reading this I tossed all my drafts to start from scratch! Tip #4 regarding scannable content is one that I often overlook. I have to remember that people don’t read, they skim. The examples were especially helpful, thanks for sharing!

  17. Love it– thanks so much. Great info and very helpful.

    If you care! Not a biggie but there’s a typo.
    “Avoid jargon unless you’re buyer uses jargon, too.”

    It should be “unless your buyer”

    Again, thanks so much, just thought you might want to know:). Feel free to delete this.

  18. This is a fantastic record of guidelines. What are your ideas on “pain” targeted explanations of item. We all react to eliminating a issue or an irritation and I’ve discovered that when your item 0′s in and recognizes the actual discomfort and how you fix it, tends to turn quite well.

  19. From starting till end every point is very well define and very clear to me. Understanding your buyer is really very important and that’s where we all are lacking but thanks to you, the way you the way you guide is highly appreciated. Good job!! Lots of blessings for your future.

  20. Some stellar information in here, and a great primer of the essential parts of a product description. However, I’d disagree about the tone. At the point where a would-be customer is on the product page, it’s past time to woo them with tone and emotional appeals. They just need clearly presented, thorough information that helps them make the right choice.

  21. Step by step procedure to describe the product is must along with you have to take care what you are describing. Thanks for such a nice information

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