If you do any reading in the digital marketing space, you’ll find a ton of articles on landing pages, conversion rate optimization, email techniques, etc., etc.
These are great resources, and I think you should keep reading them.
But there’s a gaping hole in the marketing literature and blogs. I see very little being published on the subject of product descriptions.
The Conversion Vortex of Product Descriptions
I think that the lack of conversion optimization interest in descriptions is a big problem. Why?
Because product descriptions are an important part of the conversion process. Let me explain.
- Product descriptions are a major reason a user may (or may not) convert. What a user reads about the product influences whether or not she will buy.
- Product descriptions are the final point in the conversion funnel. The product page is usually the final point in the conversion funnel before a user enters the checkout path. You have a final and critical point at which you can secure their purchase.
- Many ecommerce retailers use the standard product descriptions provided by a manufacturing company or third-party marketing organization. These are usually brief, bland, uncompelling, and may result in duplicate content.
- Product descriptions are usually outsourced to a writer who may not have conversion copywriting experience. The result is sometimes poorly written descriptions that lack the conversion-ready sizzle that you truly need.
Basically, we’re not talking enough about this important subject. What I’ve tried to do in this article is provide a few simple things that you can do with your product descriptions to improve conversions.
Note: In this article, I’m focusing on ecommerce sites as opposed to SaaS or service sites.
Use emotional language.
According to research on the psychology of advertising, the “emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.”
In the online space, the whole reason that content goes viral is because of its emotional impact, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School of Business.
Researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology argue, “Consumers’ emotional responses play an important role in predicting and measuring behavioral intentions and satisfaction.” In other words, consumers buy based on their emotional response.
Since emotions are so powerful, it is possible to influence them in some way? Thankfully, it is. There is a wide variety of things that further the emotional impact of a website. The website’s design, the customer’s previous experiences the product or service, the time of day — there are plenty of factors.
One such factor is the manner in which the product description is written. Emotional language has to do with feeling words. Instead of using ordinary functional words, go for some emotional pizzazz.
Here are some examples of such words:
- Taste = savor
- Smell = aroma
- Use = luxuriate
- Sweet = decadent
- Future = destiny
Be careful, though. You don’t want to get so emotional that you lose the meaning. People like simplicity as much as they like emotional connection. Don’t mask the meaning.
Miele coffee machines make an emotional connection with their product descriptions. Here’s an example:
How does this description connect with the emotions? Let me show you some of the phrases that have emotional resonance:
- Enjoy the delicious aroma = The sense of smell is powerfully connected to memory and emotion (source).
- Is for you = “You” is an important word.
- Whichever system you choose = Inspiring a sense of freedom of choice
- Your favorite drink = “Your” and “favorite” are emotional words.
- Comfort = The dictionary definition of “comfort” is “A consolation; something relieving suffering or worry.” That’s pretty emotional.
- Perfect and simple = also emotional words.
The entire sense of this description is one of freedom, peace, comfort, ease, lack of worry, enjoyment. The language that the writers used produced more emotional engagement.
Compare that product description with this generic one:
One product description promises me a life of ease and comfort. The other promises me a coffee maker with “auto shutoff.” Which one do I want?
You can describe almost any item, no matter how unsexy, in emotional terms. Take an office chair, for instance. This description has plenty of emotional terms.
- Instant comfort
Use descriptive words.
Emotional words are often descriptive words. But descriptive words deserve some specific attention.
Descriptive words are ways of describing the product in unusual or innovative ways. It’s challenging to come up with these words, because they aren’t typically associated with the product.
The best way to explain is to show you some examples. See if you can guess what product is being described in the following brief description:
- New heights
It’s spray gel. For your hair.
Aussie even invented a new word to pull off that description: Va-va-voom. I may not know what it means, but I know how it makes me feel, and I sense something of the power and authority of this hair gel.
But really. Command? Heights? Those aren’t your typical hair gel terms. Yet they work, and they help to describe the product in an intriguing and engaging way.
Here’s another one. Check out the words:
- League of its own
- Extreme tactical responsiveness
- Self defense
- Weapon mounted
Sounds like a S.W.A.T. team. But it’s a flashlight.
Descriptive words are more than just adjectives. They are a way of painting a picture of your product that is unique and interesting.
Talk to the customer.
Many product descriptions are written in such a way that they talk only about the product.
Wait a second. Instead of merely describing the product, why not describe that product as it’s connected to the user.
For example, to use coffee example, you have two options in the way that you describe the product:
- Brew capacity, six cups max.
- Brew a single serve for just yourself, or put on a steaming hot carafe for your entire party — six cups total! The choice is yours.
The first description talks about the coffee maker. The second description talks about the person using the coffee maker. You want to write like that second one.
Some products are explicit about it. L’oreal uses a website refine feature to help a customer find exactly what she wants.
Based on those unique specifications, the company recommends a variety of products. But first, they help the user understand how to enhance her specific physical characteristics.
Only after seeing this information does the user see the actual product description.
By this time, the user has already seen plenty of compelling description in the previous screens. It was focused on the user herself, making the product seem far more personalized and compelling.
Here’s another example. This product description from JayBird describes the Bluebuds X.
Notice these phrases:
- Ready for anything you can dish out on the trail, in the gym, or on the slopes.
- Offering a full week of workouts
- A full day of listening
- Use your music device on your left or right side, above or below the waist, it doesn’t matter…
Descriptions like that speak to the user, and don’t just describe the product.
Axe, which provides hair care products, does this quite well.
That’s the extent of their product description. Obviously, photos play a huge role in this description. (Take heed!) But the description itself is powerful because it focuses on the user.
Read these phrases:
- Feel your finest.
- How you feel says it all.
The phrase “feel your finest” appears twice. The word “feel” appears three times in the space of a few sentences.
Why? Because Axe knows that it’s all about the customer, and the way that they feel.
Describe results, not functions.
A customer is more interested in what a product does for her than what the product does.
This is hard for product description writers to do. They are so focused on the product, its unique feature, or its selling points that they forget that the product not only has functions, but also results.
A good example of a product description that blends the two is Sleep Number. Sleep Number makes mattresses, and their most notable feature is that can adjust to your exact preference for firmness or softness. Notice how the description subtly weaves the result of this feature into their discussion of its function (highlights mine).
GoPro, the maker of a portable action camera, blends results and functions nicely with their product description.
The feature described here is called burst mode. The camera can take a rapid succession of pictures. But the result is what’s important — “capture the moments you don’t want to miss.”
Downplay product details.
Have you ever gone to a product website only to discover that the product description is all about facts, stats, and measurements?
Most people are looking for a description of how the product benefits them. For this reason, place your technical specs in a place where they don’t blind the user with jargon right off the bat.
Look at how Bose does it. They frontload their description, which is full of powerful language.
If you want specs, you can click on the “Details” tab to see this:
Are those details important for a user to know? Maybe. But do those details sell the item to a potential customer? Nope.
Tiger Direct is a great place to get tech products. They sell a lot of items to technologically-savvy professionals. But even Tiger Direct realizes the importance of placing the friendly description before the specs.
Here’s the overview (somewhat interesting):
And here are the specs. You have to click a tab to see them. Why? Because people don’t deeply care that the vertical refresh rate is 55~75 Hz.
If you want to take your product descriptions to a whole new level, you’ll have to do a whole lot more than just plunk out a few words to fill up a copy block. You’ll have to work hard to create descriptions that are emotional, descriptive, and result-oriented.
Once you master the art of the product description, you’ll be soaring to new heights of conversion optimization.
How do you tend to write product descriptions?