You've done everything right. You've set up the best-looking, most easily navigated ecommerce store on the web. You're selling the hottest products in the fastest-growing niche around.
Your sales are slumping. Your store's just not the success it ought to be.
What could possibly be going on?
There are many factors that could be contributing, from social media to market research, from product selection to shipping. But it could simply be that your product descriptions aren't up to scratch.
According to a 2016 Product Information Report, 40% of customers routinely return purchases due to poor product content. They thought they were buying one item, and in reality received something different.
A year later, Salsify conducted a study that resulted in 87% of customers rating product content—namely product descriptions—as either "very important" or "extremely important" in making buying decisions.
Today, we're going to cover the five basic elements that your product descriptions need in order to convert browsers into buyers.
To wrap it all up, we'll show you examples of those elements in action from top ecommerce stores.
Let's get started. Those products aren't going to sell themselves, are they?
The 5 Basic Elements Every Product Description Needs
Today's savvy online shoppers look for certain basics in every product description. Let's examine these "bare minimums" and see how some of the best-selling brands are using them.
1 - Product Descriptions Need to Answer the Buyer’s Questions
Your buyer comes to you with questions. Depending on what you sell, they could range from general to quite specific, such as:
- How do I know what size to buy?
- How does product ABC compare to product XYZ?
- What options or choices are available?
- What happens if I need to send it back?
- What's your shipping policy?
Check out this example from Patagonia. It's just a small screenshot from the top of a product page. Notice, though, that in this small amount of space, you are already given a half dozen pieces of information, including:
- Options for size and colors
- The fact that two options are on sale
- A size and fit guide, to help you determine what to buy
- The ability to browse for used, and therefore, cheaper, options
- Shipping and exchange information link
A scroll down the page reveals even more info, including photos of models wearing the items, with their height (and sometimes weight or body build) and the size that they’re wearing.
You'd also find product reviews, the activities customers most often engage in while using the item, and yes, their contact info prominently linked at the bottom center of the page.
Now, let's look at one of our Tadpull clients, West Paw, and see how they do the same thing with their pet products. In this case, it's an adorable plush toy named Taylor.
You can see the same type of attention has been paid to providing the customer with a lot of information in a small amount of space on the product description page. Again, scroll down and you can indeed learn more in the form of drop down menus with even more details.
By anticipating the things your customers will need to know, and offering it to them in a practical, economical way, your product descriptions will shine and your sales will soar.
2 - Put the Focus on Your Customer With Each Product Description
Making the customer, and not the product, the star of the catalog page, goes a long way in making sales.
The easiest way to make your product descriptions buyer-centric is to use their language, their style, and their culture instead of yours.
Let's look at an example from The Oodie, a popular apparel and accessory company.
The Oodie's audience is primarily young—teens and young adults. The under 30 crowd, mostly, and the people who buy for that demographic.
The product description addresses the trendy obsessions of young adults with houseplants and pets that started during the pandemic. It uses humor, with the term "unbeleafable" and the "hugging 1,000 adorable pug puppies" passage.
It also addresses one of the major concerns of many young adults, climate change, in its one-tree-planted-per-purchase guarantee.
Now, let's look at a slightly different, but equally customer-centric approach from Skwala. They sell fly-fishing gear to the outdoorsy types.
These waders are made for anglers who "sleep in their trucks" and "relentlessly pursue fish" through "brambles, briars, and devil's club." Skwala speaks the angler's language, and sets a mental image of a different kind of good time than The Oodie does.
It's a pleasant experience, however, that their customers can relate to. And while there's no "cause" or charity associated with Skwala, they still know and relate to their customers' culture and concerns.
After all, they promise on their About Us page to be a fishing partner who "never drinks the last beer."
By speaking to and with your customers using their own vocabulary and cultural references, you start to form a relationship that often results not only in a sale, but in a lifelong buyer.
3 - Storytelling Product Descriptions Appeal to Buyers' Imaginations
You don't have to give them War and Peace or anything, but adding a bit of storytelling to your product descriptions makes them interesting and unique.
It gives you a chance to connect with your buyers, and it gives them a bit of insight into just who you are as a brand personality.
No one, and we mean no one is better at the imagination-firing story-telling product description than the classic J Peterman. Their catalogs have been famous since pre-internet days, and going digital hasn't slowed them down one bit.
Take this rather plain brown dress from their Fall 2022 collection. It's not really the height of fashion or setting any new trends. But according to the product description below it, it is "soul altering" and able to set your soul on the right course.
In our opinion, a product description that sparks the imagination can raise any product, no matter how plain and possibly even basic, into a best-selling star. Just ask this dress. It sold out all but its smallest and largest sizes in a matter of days.
Oboz, takes their brown and gray hiking boots and other gear to new heights with their stories, as well. While they don't promise you soul-altering apparel, they put your imagination out on the trail or let you just chill out around the lodge.
Let's take a look at one of their hiking boots, and the story they tell about it.
The Sawtooth is a standard looking brown, gray and black hiking boot. But according to its product description, it's a "supreme pizza" for your feet. It has all a hiker's heart (and toes) could desire in a hiking boot. Clever way to sell a boot, we think.
And it's a clever, and effective way to sell whatever you've got to offer your customers, too. Everyone loves a good story. Even when it's just about a boot or a brown dress.
4 - Let Others Sell for You by Including Reviews in Your Product Descriptions
Admit it. You've bought at least one item, tried at least one new restaurant, and probably watched more than one new movie based on the recommendation of a friend.
Give your online buyers access to a whole host of "friends" by providing customer reviews and testimonials in your product descriptions. Word-of-mouth advertising is literally marketing you can't buy, but it's worth its weight in gold.
One online seller, NakedWines, uses its happy customers to lure in new ones to great effect. Check out the image below.
Each and every wine in their online catalog is accompanied by customer reviews. But that's not enough for the NakedWines marketing crew. They use customer data to provide their "would buy again" stats right on the catalog page.
Montana Silversmiths doesn't go to the extent of a "buy again" rating with their product reviews. But, like NakedWines, they do give you a look at "happy customers" from the catalog page, as you can see below.
Each one of their lovely items is accompanied by its "star" rating, and you know just how many previous buyers have reviewed it. They also give you a little boost in finding both their highest rated and most reviewed items in their search menu, featuring each of these categories as search options.
By giving future buyers immediate and easy access to reviews, your product descriptions give your marketing budget a boost. After all, no amount of paid advertising can equal that of a referral from a friend. Or 23.
5 - Product Descriptions Written for Both Humans and SEO Win the Day
Two things you must remember when it comes to product descriptions:
- They are some of the best organic SEO content you can create.
- If they aren't easy for buyers to read or use, all the SEO in the world won't matter.
The best product descriptions include keywords and searchable phrases to help potential customers find your "stuff" in the search engines. They may not even know you exist until they find one of your items in a search return. So yes, it's that important.
However, it won't matter how well you've optimized your product descriptions if, once a customer clicks through, they're faced with an indecipherable mess.
How to prevent that? Follow these tips:
- Keep product descriptions clear and concise. Notice that no matter how imaginative the Soul Altering Dress description is, the fabric content, length, zipper placement and other info is easily and readily available. Likewise with the NakedWines info. Looking for only USA wines? It's right there for you.
- Make product descriptions scannable. Use good online tactics (like lots of white space, short sentences and paragraphs, bullet points, along with different sizes, colors, and types of fonts) to make your descriptions easy on the eyes. Notice how The Oodie makes ample use of this in their example.
- Use subheadings, buttons or balloons, and drop down menus to help customers find the info they need. Patagonia has all those buttons for sizes and used clothing (as well as a few others not included in our graphic) to help you make your selection. NakedWines has their little balloons with White, USA, France, and other product information, again making it easier for the buyer to make their choice.
Buyers won't buy items if they can't figure out what they are, or how to buy what they need. Don't make a hot mess of your sales by creating hot messes of product descriptions.
Tadpull, Your Ecommerce Store, and You
At Tadpull, we combine data and creativity to help you and your ecommerce store reach full potential. We’ll not only help you get more customers through search, email, paid media, and referrals, we’ll help you keep them coming back.
By using AI and analytics, we bring the hard science to the soft touch of creative selling. Our ecommerce experts help brands leverage their data to grow profitably and protect margins.
Reach out for a free growth consultation to see how we can help you boost sales, maximize customer lifetime value, and leave your competitors in the dust.
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