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The Art and Science Behind Writing Powerful Product Descriptions (With Examples)

Amanda Sparks
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June 27, 2019
June 27, 2019

Online sellers tend to undervalue the importance of a product description. But when done well, product descriptions have the power to convert people from mere lookers into buyers by illustrating your brand’s superiority and speaking to a person’s unmet needs.

The difficulty? Writing the perfect description is part science, part art. Your descriptions must have the right keywords and creative copy to show up in relevant product search results and catch the eye of the consumer, especially on ecommerce marketplaces where hundreds of millions of items compete for their attention.

In this blog we’ll cover the core ingredients of a product description so that you can craft listings that maximize your potential to win the sale.

The Science: Knowing the Ground Rules

The “science” of listing creation involves the standard rules of engagement for selling on a marketplace. Basic marketing rules apply here for ensuring that your listings accurately represent your product and are visible in search results.

While resellers may be limited in their ability to edit listings, registered brands should be able to modify product descriptions freely. Assuming that you have full ownership of your product listing, remember to:

  • Never use trademark terms like q-tips, velcro, etc. to describe your own products. While terms like these may seem like generic words, they actually have strict trademark policies. Using these in your listings could lead to a removal of your product from the marketplace, unless you’re given written consent by trademark owners.
  • Leverage keywords. Half the battle is making sure your products show up when people are searching for them. Using keywords in your description makes this possible, but it’s not as straightforward as stuffing your listing with buzzwords. Learn more about keywords below.
  • Ensure that your descriptions match your images, and vice versa. It’s important to be very accurate in this regard because buyers want to receive exactly what they see on your product page. In fact, “item not as a described” is one of the most common complaints that sellers receive as a result of misleading visuals and/or copy, so you’ll want to make sure this isn’t said of you.
  • Use simple language. “The average American adult reading level is that of a 9th grader,” according to marketing firm BTC Marketing. “But popular mass-market novels are written at a 7th grade level because studies show adults prefer reading two grades below their ability.” While the exact reading level may vary depending on your target audience, the general rule of thumb is to speak in plain, non-technical terms.
  • Include vital specifications, ingredients and instructions. Descriptions that are too vague will not only turn away customers who are looking for transparency, but could also lead to erroneous conclusions about your product. Make sure to address any details or FAQs that aren’t already required by your marketplace upon listing. If your product comes with a learning curve, mention high-level instructions so that buyers aren’t surprised by their purchase.

contact form for zentail's product information management tools

How to Use Keywords Wisely

Every listing that you publish online is ranked by one algorithm or another, whether it be Google’s organic search engine, Amazon’s A9 algorithm—or both.

The purpose of these algorithms is to surface the most relevant search results based on a buyer’s query and past activity. While ecommerce marketplaces consider other important factors when ranking your listings, such as seller score and price, you’ll still want to keep search-engine (SEO) practices in mind.

One easy way to do this is by naturally folding in keywords into both your titles and descriptions. These are the words that your customers are likely to type in when searching for a product like yours.

To get started, perform in-depth keyword research for your product using free keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Keywordtool.io, or paid platforms like SEMRush and Ahrefs.

Input the main keyword for your product, e.g., “backpack,” into your research tool. You should receive a list of related keywords that people use to search for these items online. Find the keywords with a search result of 100-10,000 and marked as “low difficulty” or “low competition”—these are the ones that you may want to include in your product descriptions.

amazon keyword report from keywordtool.io
Keyword report for "backpack" in keywordtool.io

Once you have a list of keywords, choose several to sprinkle into your copy without overdoing it. In general, you’ll want to:

  1. Use long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are typically generic phrases that span one or two words long. They’re usually highly competitive, making it hard for you to differentiate your product and rank above competitors in search results. Longer keywords, on the other hand, are inherently more descriptive. Going back to our earlier example, long-tail keywords may include queries like “vegan nail polish,” “cruelty-free nail polish,” and “eco-friendly nail polish.” You can even use similar terms like “nail lacquer” to expand your reach.  
  2. Use keywords naturally. You’ll want to avoid overusing any keyword(s) in your titles, subtitles or product descriptions if it makes your copy less readable. “Keyword stuffing” will not only hurt your click-through rate, but negatively impact your search engine ranking. Fit in keywords as you would in natural speech. For long-tail keywords in particular, limit your use to one or two times in your copy.
  3. Follow marketplace guidelines. Marketplaces maintain their own policies around what are and aren’t allowed in listings. Amazon, for example, forbids mention of price, product condition or quotes in any text field of your ASIN. They also have guidelines for how to use search terms effectively.

As an example, cheerleading apparel brand Chasse uses easily identifiable and searchable keywords like “cheerleading travel bag” and “cheerleading backpack for girls” in the below listing.

example of keyword placement in an amazon product description


They’ve made sure to use modifiers like their brand name, color and product features (glitter) to give context to their keywords. And they’ve married SEO best practices with targeted copy to ensure that the listing appears and appeals to the right audience – girls and their parents, not backpackers or military folk.

The Art: Understanding Your Target Audience

The “art” of listing creation requires knowing your target audience, including their wants, needs, lifestyles and pain points. This lets you devise a proper strategy for increasing your listing’s readability and speaking to your buyers in a way that will resonate with them.

The easiest way to do this is by looking at your existing customers and asking:

  1. What do you already know about your customers, particularly high-value ones?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. How much do they make in a year?
  4. How much are they willing to spend on products in your industry?
  5. What are their pain points and challenges?
  6. What service(s) or product(s) do you have that can address these needs?

You may have to repeat this step for multiple customer segments. But the answers to these questions will help you prioritize benefits to mention in your listing versus cramming as much information into it as possible and hoping something will stick.

For example, let’s say you sell nail polishes on Amazon. If your target audience is made up of female millennials, you may find that they care about eco-friendly and cruelty products. By mentioning that your products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, you can increase the likelihood of them purchasing.

example of targeted copy in an ecommerce product listing


Conversely, if your buyers are mostly 50+ year old women, the majority may care more about how effective and affordable your products are, changing the focus of your main bullet points and copy.

In addition to narrowing down the focus of your descriptions, knowing your audience lets you choose the right words to use. After all, you should not only know what to say about your product but also how to say it.

Choose the words that are commonly used and understood by your target audience. If you sell advanced products like industrial equipment, using more technical or professional language will give you an advantage, since your target audience is actively looking for these details.

However, if you’re hung up on a word that may or may not cause confusion among your readers, use a simpler phrase. Follow the practices of the best online writing services and don’t overuse sophisticated words and expressions. It may scare prospective buyers away.

In Conclusion

To write a winning product description, you should do your best to understand your target audience better in order to present the most relevant information, while still playing by the rules of the Internet.

Whether you have great writing skills or not, you can publish high-converting listings. The general rule of thumb: stay connected to your customers while being creative, and you’ll be able to craft a brilliant product description that sells.
   

Written by:

Amanda Sparks

Guest Writer

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