6 steps to writing an effective e-commerce product description

Sep 30, 2021

Published by: Jessica Fender
Great Product Descriptions

Depending on whether you act as a reseller or sell original products, e-commerce product descriptions represent the main differentiator between you and your competition.

According to BigCommerce, e-commerce will make up 22% of global retail sales by 2023, while over 75% of people shop online once a month.  Data by Shopify also indicates that 57% of worldwide customers prefer shopping from overseas retailers, making timely e-commerce fulfillment and customer servicing essential for success.

Given how prevalent online shopping has become in recent years and 2020 in particular, you should pay attention to how you write your product descriptions.

There are several ways product descriptions can make a difference for your storefront:

  • Informing potential customers of the exact features and benefits of your products

  • Helping paint a clear and practical mental image of how your product can be used

  • Higher ranking of your storefront links in global search engines such as Google and Bing

  • Easier organization of different products into corresponding categories on the storefront

  • Higher customer engagement and conversion rates due to more appealing product descriptions

With that, let’s take a look at the benefits of reevaluating your e-commerce product descriptions, the ways to do so, and the pitfalls to avoid.

Reasons to rethink your e-commerce product descriptions

To start things off, let’s discuss the benefits of rethinking your product description writing process. As we’ve mentioned, competition can get fierce in the e-commerce market, especially now that social distancing and online shopping have become more prevalent.

The ways in which you describe your products and present their value proposition will convince or dissuade a customer from going forward with their purchase. As such, some of the most practical reasons to think about your product descriptions more carefully as we move into 2021 include:

  • Make your e-commerce platform more unique and appealing

  • Increase the global SEO ranking of your internal links

  • Provide customers with a better understanding of your products

  • Boost your brand awareness and industry authority

  • Raise your overall engagement and conversion rates

Steps to writing effective e-commerce product descriptions

1. Active voice leads to better personalization

To engage your customers as best as possible, you should avoid using passive voice in your product descriptions.

Defined as a sentence with a subject that acts upon its verb, active voice’s result in this sense is a more compelling and vivid product description. Active voice also generally keeps sentences shorter and more scannable (see point #3 for why this matters).

Likewise, actionable words that are used to describe your products’ texture, smell, geometry and other properties can serve as great sales points. You are not selling products to emotionless drones or AI – you are selling them to customers or people like yourself.

Refer to a tool such as Power Thesaurus while you write your descriptions, in addition to legibility platforms such as Readable to personalize your writing.

2. Focus your writing on solving common customer issues

Which problems or issues can be solved by using your products?

This simple yet expansive question can serve as a great starting point for your e-commerce product description writing. Take any product which you may sell on your platform as an example and create a shortlist of problems it can solve. To make things easier, put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer and look at your product from a more objective perspective.

Customers who purchase products online do so with the intent to solve some kind of an issue they have.

These issues can range from needing a new sweater for winter or a new microwave for the kitchen. Describe common problems and obstacles which can be solved by using your product and integrate those into the benefits section of each individual product description.

3. Facilitate skimming with smart formatting

For better or worse, customers who frequent e-commerce platforms rarely read through every product description. They skim for the most valuable information and keywords that will correlate with what they are searching for. You can take advantage of that fact by introducing smart formatting into your e-commerce writing to meet customers’ demands halfway.

Tools such as Evernote will provide you with extensive formatting features, including bullet points, numbered lists, italics and bolds, as well as underlines, among others. Make sure to emphasize the most important keywords and benefits of each product in your product descriptions while also formatting the text into small paragraphs.

This is especially helpful for customers who prefer shopping via mobile devices or tablets with smaller screens, adding to your e-commerce platform’s accessibility.

4. Refresh your writing with trending keywords

Even though you shouldn’t start your writing process with keywords in mind, they should eventually find their way into your content production pipeline. Given the importance of SEO in e-commerce, looking for trending keywords to integrate into written content is a no brainer.

Thus, tools such as Google Keyword Planner become irreplaceable due to their up-to-date repository of fresh keywords and phrases.

Write your product descriptions by freeform writing about each product before you conduct SEO optimization.

This will maintain your tone of voice and writing style while also adding a layer of optimization on top of the original written content. Tackling keywords in the opposite order can result in writing that can come off as robotic and spam-oriented rather than creative and original.

5. Complement your writing with adequate visuals

Visuals play a pivotal role in ensuring that your e-commerce product descriptions shine and seal the proverbial deal for online customers. Using original visuals is always a smart move to avoid copyright infringement or other legal issues.

Relying on non-original visuals in e-commerce can also be a sign of poor conduct on your part since you should be as transparent as possible.

Using stock photographs from websites such as Shutterstock and Unsplash is good for blog posts or ads that don’t promote a particular storefront product.

However, most stock photos represent highly curated, directed, and retouched compositions, which won’t reflect the product you are selling on a particular product page. In that sense, creating your own photos with a professional photographer or mockups with the help of a graphic designer is a better option.

This will help create your platform appear more professional and trustworthy since you aim to use your own visuals to promote each individual product.

You can augment your visuals by introducing alt-text tags with trending keywords in addition to transcriptions or closed-captions for videos. In short, alt-text tags represent short snippets of written content meant to display on a user’s device if the original content is unable to load.

This typically happens for customers with poor bandwidth or those using mobile devices with data caps or outdated operating systems and hardware. Alt-text should be written with keywords and raw information in mind, not like the product description itself.

Amazon’s approach to writing product titles is a good indication of how alt-text tags should be written to both inform customers and help your SEO. Remember, increased accessibility also will allow your links to rank higher with search engines such as Google and Yahoo, thus bringing new customers.

Write your product descriptions and attach adequate visuals to each product on your online store to boost its appeal for customers worldwide.

6. Look for UGC and social proof integration opportunities

As humans, we are inherently tribal when it comes to purchasing goods or services from unverified sources. This is where social proof and user-generated content come into play as they can solidify your e-commerce store’s legitimacy.

Social proof in the form of statistical data, infographic content, and charts that showcase your store’s performance can find their way to your landing page.

Likewise, testimonials, quotes, and reviews from satisfied users should be integrated into product descriptions as “seals of approval” for future customers. You can go a step further and introduce user-generated visual media to each product description as a means to showcase your pro-consumer business model.

Look for ways to collaborate on product description writing with your customer base, and converting leads will be that much smoother.

E-Commerce product description writing mistakes to avoid

Before we close the discussion, let’s also briefly mention several writing pitfalls you should keep in mind as you write product descriptions going forward.

For starters, you should always keep trustworthy writing and rewriting services close by and use tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor to manage content.

Beyond that, there are a few crucial missteps that can drive away potential customers from your online storefront or cause it to rank poorly.

Do your best to mitigate the following points if they appear on your e-commerce platform:

  • Duplicate product description among similar items

  • Poor presentation of the product’s benefits for the customer

  • Lack of calls to action or invitation for customers to interact with the store

  • Overreliance on trending keywords without context in hopes of boosting SEO

  • No clear target audience or demographic to which you are speaking

  • Use of stock multimedia or visuals lifted from other websites

Successful sales through smarter writing

Managing an entire e-commerce platform and its product descriptions can be a tall order, especially for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses. However, once you get into the groove of writing and formatting product descriptions, the process will become second nature rather quickly.

Keep in mind that your product descriptions should be original and true to your business’ values first and foremost and SEO-optimized second. This will keep your bounce rates low and engagement rates high; leading to more lucrative online sales.

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