The two things you need to write product descriptions that sell

Abidemi Sanusi
Oct 5, 2017 · 6 min read

Strange things, product descriptions. Shoppers may claim not to notice them, but you put a poorly written product description on your e-commerce website, and the likely result is comatose shopping carts. And just in case you aren’t clear on why this is a BAD THING, already shopping cart abandonment rates hover around the 70–75% mark (data: statista.com).

Poorly written product descriptions gives shoppers — who are already consumed with ‘shopper’s guilt before they even think about buying anything — even more reason to flee your website to assuage their guilt, and skyrocket the 70–75% the already dismal checkout abandonment rate.

We know we should, but…

On the flip side, while the owners of e-commerce sites understand that product descriptions are ‘a necessary evil’, they tend to find them too time-consuming and too onerous to write.

With 1000s of descriptions to write and little time to do it, it is no wonder they fall back on using the product manufacturer’s descriptions, which, for the most part, aren’t even meant to be used as sales copy, which also explains why they’re usually so awful.

If you’re having problems with your product descriptions, here are two things you need to know to write product descriptions that sell and make your life that little bit easier.

Apply these two techniques to your product descriptions and I guarantee that you’ll be banging out great descriptions that sell in no time.

1. Write for your persona

Your product is not for everyone, so it will not appeal to everyone.

Writing a product description for a persona makes it more personable and better focused, so you’re more likely to get the sales for that product — Abidemi Sanusi

Put it this way: writing a product description for Sally, a mid-30s communications manager with two children under five-years-old, a demanding job and family life, no-to-little time to shop or do anything she enjoys, but who loves to read, travel and spend time with her family, is easier than writing a product description for a ‘UK size 12 woman who likes yellow sun dresses’.

Sally’s persona gives us context and a framework to work with, which will result in a more creative product description that will excite and compel the prospect to buy.

The opposite: a nondescript ‘UK size 12 woman who likes yellow sun dresses’ gives us bland copy and consequently, empty shopping carts.

If I were to write a product description for a yellow sundress for Sally using her persona, it would go something like this:

A gorgeous sundress that evokes magical sunsets, fabulous barbecues and the sounds of a beautiful get-together with loved ones. Available also in fiery red and with one-day shipping.

The copy would appeal to Sally and compel her to buy, because it speaks to her love of travel and family. After all, who doesn’t want ‘magical sunsets, ‘a beautiful get-together with loved ones’ in a ‘fiery red’ dress that comes with convenient ‘one-day shipping’?

If I were to write a product description for a ‘UK size 12 woman who likes yellow dresses’, my product description would be:

Lovely yellow sundress for summer evenings.

Not exactly inspiring copy, is it?

So, write for your persona. It makes your copy more personable, better focused and consequently, will result in more sales for your product.

2. Write about the benefits of your product to your persona, not its features

The classic mistake that is made on product descriptions is writing about the features. It’s easy to make this mistake when you’ve got 1000s of stock and 1000s of descriptions to write and it’s just ‘easier’ to copy and paste what the manufacturers say.

Going back to personas and how crucial they are for writing persuasive product copy…, if we were to write a product description for a hand food blender, we would focus on the benefits for Sally:

Say goodbye to expensive shop-bought smoothies and hello to a healthier lifestyle and bank balance with this hand blender. Comes with its own recipe booklet, and with each recipe taking approximately one minute to prepare, you’re never more than a minute away from your favourite smoothie.

Let’s take a detailed look at that product description…

This is what was written:

Say goodbye to expensive shop-bought smoothies.

This is what Sally reads:

‘Yes, the smoothies I buy from the shop are expensive [she’s agreeing with the ad, because it speaks to her current situation and pain point]. I don’t even like the fruit and vegetable combinations anyway.’

This is what was written:

Say hello to a healthier lifestyle and bank balance with this hand blender.

This is what Sally reads:

‘This is the push I need to help me save more money and be healthier. Also, it’s a hand blender, so it can fit in a corner of my tiny kitchen.’

This is what was written:

Comes with its own recipe booklet…

This is what Sally reads:

‘Great. My family are bored and tired of eating pasta five times a week just because it’s convenient.’

This is what was written:

…and with each recipe taking approximately one minute to prepare, you’re never more than a minute away from your favourite smoothie

This is what Sally reads:

‘So even if I’m running late in the morning, I can still whizz up a healthy smoothie for my family and I.’

It’s all about transformation in your persona’s life

To the outside world Sally might be buying ‘just a hand blender’. But she isn’t.

She is buying a tool that will:

  • save her money (she’s making her own smoothies at home, so she’s not buying expensive, shop-bought smoothies anymore)
  • save her some time (the recipes mean that she won’t be thinking about what to cook)
  • save her some time (she’s got 2 kids under 5, so the fact that the she gets a smoothie in less than 60 secs is a life-saver for a time-pressed mother)

This is the transformation that Sally envisions in her life as a result of buying the hand blender:

  • more time with her young family (because she’s not stuck for food ideas or in the kitchen, cooking for long hours on end)
  • more money in the bank for their annual family holiday (she gets her travel fix)
  • more time for herself: she’ll be so inspired by the healthy smoothies and soups she’s been making that she’ll start running again and be more intentional about leading a healthier lifestyle

All these from one product description. Except it’s not just a product description, is it?

Over to you: what are your challenges or solutions to writing engaging product copy?

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Abidemi Sanusi

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Author. Nominated for Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Helps writers write better & make more. Write your first book: https://www.abidemi.tv/learn/how-to-write-a-

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