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How to write product descriptions that sell

Learn the secrets of effective copywriting to boost sales and SEO

One of the bonus aspects of using Webgility’s ecommerce integration, is that it frees up more time to focus on other critical areas of your business that will also improve the bottom line for multichannel sellers.

Today’s expert tp is all about writing product descriptions that sell. There are three reasons I selected this topic as the first in a series of tips to grow your multichannel sales.  Not only are product descriptions a make-or-break-the-sale tool, they’re a key part of organic SEO to  sell more products than your competitors! Plus, most multichannel sellers we’ve queried didn’t get into this vertical because of their writing skills and they need some help from a trusted advisor like Webgility. That said, here it is…the first in a series to help online sellers by offering tips and expert advice around the many essentials required for successful selling.

What is a product description? It’s the marketing copy that explains what a product is and why it’s worth ordering. Its purpose is to seduce customers with details that surround the fe­atures and benefits of the product, in an effort to make a browser a buyer.

While there is limited research available on whether products descriptions actually increase sales (but we KNOW THEY DO), there is plenty of research indicating descriptions that lack pertinent information, are poorly written or are missing descriptions altogether can result in as much as a 20% drop in sales of those items. Which product description resonates with you: “Buy this new red bike” or “Be the envy of the neighborhood, and coolest kid on the block when you cruise around on this sleek, red aerodynamic bicycle!” I think you understand that a description that touches someone’s imagination is one that they can actually envision using.  There’s no reason to be boring and a million reasons to catch their attention via words that sell.

A good rule of thumb when writing copy is to offer enough relevant information to make a buying decision (seduce them!). Even the words you use makes a difference. If you have a person on your team who writes the product descriptions, share Hubspot’s terrific how-to guide for using words that sell: Ultimate List of Words That Sell with them. They’ll love you for it. Make your passion for your products contagious! Nothing sells like enthusiasm.

Be sure you know who your target audience is and write descriptions for them. For example, the product description for a bicycle for a senior citizen will be much different that one for a 10-year-old. Make sense? I suggest you create “buyer personas” and here’s an easy article to help you create them. If you sell a niche product, this will be a fairly easy project. If you sell a variety of products to many different types of people, then consider this with each product description you write: what is their gender (women, men or both), age group (college kids, retirees),  lifestyle demographic (teachers, hockey enthusiasts, volunteer) or another defined group of potential customers.

When writing the descriptions for online sales, focus on the product’s benefits, or how the product can improve the buyer’s life. Remember, benefits are what the product will do for them (great for riding in the neighborhood and enjoying friends) and features are about the product itself (26” alloy frame, Shimano gears and 700c wheels). When you mix a feature and benefit together, it will look like this (feature) GT All Terra bio-morphic seat (benefit) for ultra-comfort on long rides. Benefits sell.

Err on the side of too much information rather than the other way around. If the product has a good or interesting back story, tell it! Be sure to use your natural language, voice and tone—like you are having a conversation with a friend.  Rule of thumb: make it memorable! You’ll learn below that while you can have a lot of information, you have to display it in manner that browsers will be attracted to read it.

Here’s a good way to gather the information you need to begin writing about a product. Consider these points:

  • Who is the product for? The target audience can be a gender (women or men), an age group (college kids, retirees), a lifestyle demographic (grandfathers, college students) or another defined group of people.
  • What are the basic details? This includes attributes such as color, size, dimensions, materials, product features and functions.
  • Where would you use this product? Indoor or outdoor use? for your work, car, the golf course, vacation or your home, etc.?
  • When should you use the product? How often is it used? Is it for special occasions or everyday use?
  • Why is it better than its competitors? This is where most of the copy goes as it can include anything from quality to value to features. And don’t forget the benefits that will catch the potential buyer’s eye.

Make sure your copy is easy to read and scannable to grasp the intention of the description. Bullet points are ideal. If you have a lot of copy, break it into smaller paragraphs. Don’t be afraid to bold or color important words. According to the research-guru, Nielson, “Elements that enhance scanning include headings, large type, bold text, highlighted text, bulleted lists, graphics, captions, topic sentences, and tables of contents.” Nielson claims people don’t read on the web; they scan. Excellent point and write accordingly!

The good news about multichannel selling is that you can optimize your descriptions for search engines to make your listing earn a top spot on the first (SERP) search engine results page. This is one of the best ways to capture new customers organically. Do your keyword research to find which keywords are best for your store(s) by using a free keyword research tool.  Incorporate keywords into your descriptions and you’re on your way to more sales! If you’ve automated your ecommerce operations with Webgility, you only have to write and publish your descriptions once for all of your marketplaces.  Without Webgility, you not only have to write the descriptions, you have to map them for each marketplace that you sell on. The time savings with Webgility are significant.

I wanted to provide a really good example of an above average product description. One of my favorite sites for awesome product descriptions is ThinkGeek.com. Here’s the copy for a Captain America 3pc BBQ Tool Set (they definitely have established their voice and know their audience):

BARBEQUE HERO

Let’s face it: when you’re grilling for a big party and you’re trying to manage burgers for the masses, veggie burgers for the vegetarians, hot dogs for the kids, and corn on the cob for everybody, it’s easy to lose track of what needs flipping and what’s done and when it is exactly that you get to eat. But you don’t have this problem. That’s because you are a BBQ Hero, and it’s time you had the tools befitting that title.

The Captain America 3 pc BBQ Tool Set is the perfect gift to say thanks to the hero of the grill. It’s a three-piece set that includes a logo grilling spatula with an offset handle and a bottle opener in the handle, a grilling fork with another bottle opener in the handle, and a pair of long-handled slotted tongs. Each is stainless steel and feels good in the hand (sorry. we’ve been watching a lot of Forged in Fire.) Now the pitmaster at your next cookout will be ready for saving the world AND burger-flipping.

What do you think? Their product descriptions take on a personality of their own. 
What about images?

Included in product descriptions should be at least one good image. And images should be optimized for SEO too. Most vendors or manufacturers of products have original product images—just ask them if you need the images. But you might have to take the photos yourself, which means you should consider investing in a small light box to help you take the best photos possible—the better the image, the more sales. Use several angles of the product, especially shoes and clothing. Some online sellers are using videos too. You don’t need an expensive camera; just one that you can quickly upload the images to your store(s). Think quality.

How do you name the images to compete within SEO? It’s called an alt tag or alt text. Name the image so Google will know what the image is simply by reading its name, not by looking at the image.  Google places a relatively high value on alt text to determine not only what is on the image but also the topic of the surrounding text. If you have an image of a GT All Terra bio-morphic bicycle seat, do your keyword research and title it. For example, you learn that bio-morphic bicycle seat is your keyword, title this image: GT All Terra bio-morphic bicycle seat.png.  For example, the Captain Barbeque Set mentioned above, their alt tag is ksgj_capt_america_bbq_tool_set.jpg. It can take a little more time to focus on this but it will pay off.

Do you use WordPress? A cool thing about using WordPress for your website is that when you upload an image, regardless of its alt tag, you can change it in WordPress. You can also set a title attribute that can be different from the alt tag. If you do not use a title attribute, the alt tag will be the default and that’s not ideal. It’s best to write a new title attribute and use another keyword relative to the product.

Another thing about images: size them. Try your best to crop them to fit the allotted space. Ideally, you’re using a responsive website, which means your images will respond to fit the media users are browsing on. If your images are too large, they could slow down page load times. Never use a 300 dpi image—it’s way too big and is typically used for print. Try 72 or 96 dpi. Page load time is a spoke in the SEO wheel—keep your page load times to a minimum!

I covered how to write product descriptions, how to name images and provided a few resources to help you create the best product descriptions possible. I hope you share this information with your team or the person who writes the copy for your multichannel selling.

If you don’t use Webgility now and are wondering when you’ll ever have the time to put toward product descriptions, let us help you free up time with Webgility’s automated integration for multichannel sellers. Most users experience a 20% increase in sales from Webgility alone. Imagine what would happen if you had Webgility AND fantastic product descriptions? That’s growth!

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