To Conversion and Beyond: Make Your Product Descriptions Go That Little Bit Further
George Rowlands, Marketing Journalist
Your ecommerce business is your baby. You care about it, you nurture it, and hopefully you love it. The process of writing product descriptions for that business is pregnancy. Ultimately, this stage of the process has a direct correlation on whether a floundering loser that you have to financially prop up for the rest of your life pops out. Or, whether a little rocket scientist, your one-way ticket to retirement somewhere in the South of France, becomes the shining light of your life.
Product descriptions are the copy that drive sales for your business. As we fall deeper into the World Wide Web's black hole, they are becoming increasingly important; they replace the salespeople that customers are able to interact with in a brick and mortar store.
We've already told you, amongst other things, how to prepare 6,000 product descriptions against a tight deadline, and how effective product descriptions can help eliminate shopping cart abandonment. This is a guide about how your product descriptions can go that little bit further.
PERSONALISE YOUR PRODUCT LISTINGS...
If you don't plan your baby, pregnancy can come as a nasty surprise. Like everything else in life, your product listing needs to be planned out. To do this, it's important to figure out a "buyer persona" for your business.
This is a semi-fictional representation of your average customer. You have to do a little market research to obtain your buyer persona — looking into your potential customers" information, from their demographics to their standard career history; their average family size to their common hobbies. A detailed buyer persona allows you to get to know your customers better, opening up worlds of opportunities when it comes to your product descriptions.
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? Have no fear, the guys over at HubSpot have made a brilliant, ready-made buyer persona template that you can download for free!
TO SOLVE PROBLEMS AND CONQUER FEARS
The hallmark of a great ecommerce business is to manufacture or distribute products that solve the world's most common problems. You can understand what your customers' most common problems are with a detailed buyer persona and comprehensive market research. A brand can act like a friend to their customer, vouching for a particular product and recommending it based on certain needs.
Skullcandy have got this technique down to a tee. It seems so simple but the truth is that so many brands don't do it. What problems do wireless headphones solve? Well… problems that come with wires. Wires are irritating — they get tangled; they break. Skullcandy, simply but effectively, tell us that our wire worries are over in short, sharp clauses. "No tangled cables. No awkward controls. No worries." Use of the word "liberate" is powerful and almost hyperbolic.
Alternatively, you can use a more mischievous technique to sell a product based on a customer's problems. You can agitate their worst fears; presenting a product as the perfect remedy to those fears as Uncommon Goods have done with this iPhone holder.
The description starts off by referencing "breeding ground for bacteria" and "dirty work", which is enough to give any germaphobe the heebie-jeebies. Skilfully, it then outlines the ways in which their product solves this problem by hiding phones from the outside world and killing germs with UV lights. Phobia busted.
TO BUILD TRUST
All in all, good buyer personas are essential in building trust with a customer base. The better you know someone; the easier it is to make them trust you. You can use your detailed buyer persona to meet the three defining factors of trust: expanding the chance for gain, curtailing the chance for loss, and eradicating uncertainty.
Away Travel have used this exact technique. They have included a fairly specific line stating that their product is "ideal for people with extra outfits". They are speaking directly to their customer base, both new and old, about why their product is perfect for them. Their content is suggestive, but without being too pushy.
PAINT A FULL PICTURE IN YOUR PRODUCT LISTINGS...
Ecommerce can be a bit of a minefield when it comes to consumer reviews. Especially on platforms such as Amazon, where the reviews are readily available in all their glory. Even the most spectacular products thought up by the greatest inventor minds of our time have received the dreaded one-star review. Bad reviews can have a domino effect for your business, and future customers can be deterred because of one avoidable grumble.
TO EXPLAIN HOW
Sure, a lot of the time there are problems with the product; sometimes there are problems with customer service. Most of the time though, it's simply that the customer doesn't know enough about something. Nobody actually reads instructions, do they? To combat this, your product listings can be a fully comprehensive, how-to guide on the what"s what of your product.
Asy Trends have incorporated this into all of their product listings. This product page for a Portable Crepe Maker features a whole gallery of images, outlining exactly what comes in the box, how to turn the product on and off, how long to preheat the appliance for, and even how easy it is to clean after use. Apart from giving a comprehensive overview on operation of the appliance, pages featuring "how-to" infographics give an overall sense of ease for a product. Afterall, who doesn't want a crepe on the go?
TO EXPLAIN WHY
With this in mind, it"s also important to be completely sincere about products in their listings. When running an ecommerce store, you probably know the positives and negatives of your products backwards. If you don"t, you should. Understanding the cons of your product can answer the doubts of your visitors before they have a chance to leave a bad review.
So what's the problem with this beard brush? Well, it's bloody expensive… and Beardbrand know it. So, they ask the question "What makes boar's hair better than synthetic brushes?", and continue to list all the reasons for which somebody would want to spend 28 hard-earned dollars on a brush specifically for their beard. It goes to show that in product listings, even negatives can be turned into positives.
USE POWERFUL LANGUAGE IN YOUR PRODUCT LISTINGS...
Keeping with the theme of positivity, product listings should always be positive. Avoid use of negative words such as "no", "not", and "never". Positive language is essential because if you don't believe in your product, there's no chance that a customer will.
Adjectives can be especially problematic, and sometimes it can feel like it'd be better to just delete them altogether. If used correctly, they can transform your product listings. It's important to avoid flatulent phrases such as "excellent product quality" and "best on the market" because everybody uses these phrases and let's face it, there's no meaning behind them. To set yourself aside from the rest, you can reference this "ultimate list of words and phrases that convert" from Buffer. It's a comprehensive list of words that are sure to push customers down the path to conversion.
Your choice of language is essential in selling a product. Whilst using powerful words, it's also important to use language that your customers would use, speaking to them directly about the features that they find the most important. Overall, your listings can be engaging and inspiring if you follow the correct formula.
The copywriters at Whittard of Chelsea, an upmarket hot-drink retailer, have their heads screwed on. When selling food or drink, it's important to give the reader as much of a flavour for the product as possible without having them try it. This product listing is not just inspiring, but it's alluring. We are "treated" to "luxury" hot chocolate with "cashmere smoothness" and I can taste it already.
The CTA is two simple words: "go on", and you know… I think I just might.
TO ENGAGE WITH A NARRATIVE
Likewise, your product listings can be entertainment tools. Product descriptions that tell a story are a good way to lower the rational barriers against being persuaded to do something. In short, having an entertaining mini-story can help your customers forget that they are being sold to.
Such a great narrative (hope it'll be used as a real product description somewhere soon!)
It's easy to get lost in this made-up product description for a real low-range South African white wine. This is not just a rundown of the specs of that simple bottle of wine, this is a piece of fictional writing to whisk the reader to a happier place. It sucks us in emotionally by referencing common problems that the rest of us encounter on a day to day basis such as the stresses of the working week and the lust for a good holiday on white, sandy beaches.
The beauty of a good story is that it can end however the writer wants it to. In product descriptions, it's important that your stories end happily ever after.
Congratulations on your new baby business. Your product listings are unspeakably important when you are trying to sell things online. You need them. Your brand needs a voice, especially if there is nobody working in a high street store to speak to your customers.
So, your product listings, especially your descriptions, are a blank canvas on which you can paint whatever you want to paint. Using any of the aforementioned techniques can help to convert a standard window shopper into a fully-fledged supporter of your business that comes back for more in the future. So, be informative, be fair, be inspiring, and be entertaining whilst understanding exactly who your customers are and why they are on your page.
Be the best parent to your little baby business.