Five tips to writing better e-commerce product descriptions

Retail e-commerce revenue in Australia exceeded $19 billion last year and is set to increase steadily in 2016. As more retailers flock online and competition gets fiercer, creating product descriptions that convert should be a key part of your digital arsenal.

Imagine you’re standing in a busy mall with a megaphone, yelling the obvious at passers by, hoping your random statements will spur them to want to know more. That’s what the majority of product descriptions look like. The average product description reads like a public service announcement, stating the obvious and achieving nothing more than sending conversion rates south. With more eyes on page than ever before, your product descriptions need to do more than just describe your products – they need to sell them.

There is no golden rule when it comes to product descriptions, but here are five tips to writing product descriptions that people want to read.

Nicole Kersh: The female entrepreneur who sold up big – and is starting all over again

1. Accentuate the positives

E-commerce consumers are still risk adverse – they are buying something in the absence of the tactile experience and are relying on your product description to put their minds at ease. Make good use of the opportunity by outlining what benefits your product has that your user can’t see. Studies show the majority of people don’t read the whole description, the scan, so use appropriate headlines to highlight the point.

2. Less is more

Keep your product descriptions as short as the average attention span. No one wants to voluntarily read an essay – unless it’s essays you’re selling. A solid product description will have between 100 – 300 words. Pay attention to your headline as most people won’t read past it if it doesn’t resonate with them.

3. Be realistic

Cut through the bland with imagination and stay clear of ridiculous superlatives. You may think your wares are the “world’s best” but unless you can back that up with hard-core evidence, avoid the embarrassment as it only makes your products look worse. Rather talk about the awards your products have won or use customer feedback to prove your product is as awesome as you think it is. Customer reviews not only have SEO benefits but data shows that user generated reviews increase sales by up to 18%.

4. Know your audience

Regardless of what you’re selling, communicate the benefits by answering potential problems. Empathy is the magic word when it comes to knowing your audience. Product descriptions look different from the sellers side of the fence; an outsider’s point of view can help you see things from a consumer’s point of view. Your audience is looking for value in your product, they want to know why your product is awesome, why they need it, how they will use it and what problems it solves for them.

5. Copy and paste is not your friend

If you were in a store or pitching to a potential customer you wouldn’t point to the guy next to you and say “what he said”. The same theory goes for product descriptions. Copying and pasting from other websites isn’t going to win you friends – in fact Google will penalise you for it. Be original. Seduce your readers with your words instead of pushing them to the outer limits of boredom.

Quality product descriptions can mean the difference between a one-click stand and a long-term relationship. Your content is your voice. It must elicit a needs itch in your readership.

Nicole Kersh is the founder of 4Cabling, building the company to annual revenue of $10 million. Nicole has notched up awards and listings including AFR Young Women to Watch 2013, Eastern Region nominee for the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program and Deloitte ‘Technology Fast 500’ Asia Pacific Winner 2012. She recently sold 4Cabling and and now runs The Content Folk and consults in the area of e-commerce strategies.


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