How to Write Product Descriptions

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The Ultimate Guide to Product Description Writing

how to write product descriptions featured image

A description of your product that is both truthful and perhaps a bit lavish can be the final thing you need to turn a window shopper into a full-on shopper.

This can be easy in person, when your glowing charisma can convince even the most staunch individual that they need your product. Online, however, it can be a bit trickier to do this with a static description that could be read with any inflection the reader chooses.

Obviously you can’t just use an image of your product alongside a vague description and hope the buyer will be able to discern everything they want to know. After all, 50% of online shoppers have returned a purchase due to it not matching its description.

How to write product descriptions

  1. Write for your target market
  2. Focus on benefits, not features
  3. Use storytelling
  4. Make your copy scannable
  5. Be specific
  6. Get persuasive
  7. Answer questions
  8. Provide backstory
  9. Harness the power of social proof
  10. Make it digestible

Writing a good product description is a blend of science and art, and there’s no foolproof method. So, as we go through our ten points, let’s make our own product description. The product we’ll be hypothetically selling is bespoke grandfather clocks, because why not?

Further Information

  • Do you still need to build your online store? If so, we can help – check out our Online Store Builder Comparison Chart to find your perfect match
  • Need a bit of help writing for your online store? Read our guide on Writing for the Web for 19 easy tips to creating better online content

1

Write for your target audience

Knowing your product’s audience is business/marketing 101. A toy company should market to children and parents, while a home alteration company should market to middle-aged homeowners looking to increase the value of their property.

It’s nice to think that your product can appeal to everyone, but if you try to focus on appealing to everyone, you won’t really capture anyone. As the proverb goes, “Chase two rabbits, and you’ll lose them both.”

And this doesn’t have to be as broad as the difference between toys and home improvement. Two similar products can benefit from their information being presented in different ways. Have a look at this snippet from Nintendo’s page for their latest Super Mario game – a game intended for childish fun.

Mario Product Description

They keep their information very direct, talking about the game’s file size and genre in the simplest terms possible. This allows confused parents or small children to get what they need to know before buying the game. Compare this to a similar page for Microsoft’s Halo game, a much more mature and gritty experience.

Halo Product Desc

Here they talk about load times, the game’s HD support, and LAN support. If you don’t understand those terms, don’t worry, that just shows that this page is intended for gamers who are a bit more hardcore.

So who is the target market for a grandfather clock? Well, it’s not likely that anyone in a rental house is going to be looking for a large clock they’re going to have to carry around when they move. People looking for a grandfather clock are probably homeowners who have a substantial amount of disposable income, so we’ll need to frame it as a distinguished, premium product.

Let’s start our product description and add to it as we go.

“Our grandfather clocks are handmade upon request. We send an expert to your home, who will show you various samples of wood and trimming, and allow you to decide which would best suit your aesthetic and preferences.”

This has made it seem like the clocks aren’t coming off an assembly line, and are instead made specifically for each customer, which is an appealing prospect for a customer with a financial and emotional investment in their home.

2

Focus on benefits, not features

When you’re an expert in a trade, it’s very easy to be so used to talking shop that you start using complex terminology when talking to someone who might not know what you’re talking about.

Let’s look at Apple. Unsurprisingly, Apple knows a thing or two about online marketing, and are a brilliant example of this tip.

Apple Product Description

When looking for a laptop, this description is exactly what you want to know. It’s thin, has a massive battery life, lots of storage, and hey, it’s also good for the environment! But if you’re a tech-head, and you want to know the specifics, they have a more comprehensive breakdown at the bottom of the product page.

Apple Product Description

If you don’t know what these snippets are talking about, then this would look like a lot of meaningless jargon. Apple has done well to keep it on the page for those who are interested, but out of the way for the average customer.

All this to say, it’s always better to discuss what the product can do for the customer, not what allows the product to do those things. Keeping this principle in mind, let’s see how we can add to our clock description.

“Our clocks are finished with a highly reflective matte varnish, and loaded with tightly wound springs and cogs that allow for accurate time-telling down to the millisecond. The interior bell is made of an expertly crafted brass that allows the sound to resonate throughout even the largest households.”

Notice in this description, we didn’t mention the kind of springs or the numbers behind the inner mechanisms. A casual user on the outside of your industry isn’t going to understand or care about the specifics behind your product, they just want to know what it does for them.

3

Use storytelling

When you’re in a physical store, inspecting something like a vase or a hat, it’s easy to see how this can slot into your life – where you could put it in your house or what outfits it would suit. But doing this online is a bit trickier.

That’s why it’s up to you to paint this picture. Flex your creative muscle and explain to your customer how your product will fit into their lives. Here’s an example from Signia, a hearing aid brand.

Signia Product Description

Focus on that final line, about how their product will connect you to your friends and family, or allow you to have a nicer experience in a store or restaurant. Signia uses colorful language and relatable scenarios to make their product that much more appealing. Let’s do that with our clock.

“Imagine the chime of a grandfather clock echoing proudly through your halls, or gently ticking along as you spend a lazy Sunday afternoon reading a book.”

Rather than using stats and numbers, sometimes you can appeal to their sense of nostalgia or aesthetic and allow them to convince themselves that it’s a worthwhile purchase.

4

Make your copy scannable

We live in a very fast-paced world, and unfortunately, some people might not have the time to read your entire page. That’s why it needs to be easy to scan for crucial information.

There are many ways to make this information pop out. These can include:

  • Using boxes
  • Using one-line phrases with a larger font size
  • Usage of white space to emphasize certain points

In fact, small bits of text that are isolated from larger chunks are so enticing, that it’s possible your eyes drifted to the above bullet points before you started this section. You can use this method to highlight features or details that you’re particularly proud of. Going to our clock, we could say something like:

  • “Our chimes are capped at 75 decibels, making sure they’re loud enough to hear, but never unsafe.”
  • “With 12 selectable wood types and 20 possible trimmings, you can make your clock your own.”
  • “From the day you order, we vow to deliver your clock within three months.”
5

Be specific

If you believe in what you’re selling, which you hopefully do, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in your own excitement and start ranting about how great your product is.

There’s no shame in this, but make sure you channel it into specific points instead of rambling. For example, you never see a film review that simply states:

“This film was amazing, it was one of the best films of the year, and is absolutely going to clean house when award season rolls around. It was a lot of fun and had a lot of heart as well.”

That’s because this review used a lot of words to say very little, an easy trap to fall into when you’re excited. Every middling product page in the world is going to talk about how their product is high-quality, but if that’s true, then you’ll need concrete statements to back it up.

BMW Product Description

In the above screengrab, you can see BMW describing one of their car models. They employ a perfect combination of objective detail and subjective flourish. Employing this on our clocks, we can rewrite our first section.

“Our grandfather clocks are handmade upon request by award-winning craftsmen. We send an expert to your home, who will show you our curated samples of our twelve types of wood, sourced from Romania and Canada.”

You’d want to expand it a bit more than that, but you can already see that by backing up our original statement with numbers and awards, we’ve made it that much more legitimate and enticing.

6

Get persuasive

This is one of the more vague tips on our list, as this could mean any number of things. What it boils down to is being creative with your word choice and storytelling. You can break this down into a couple of different subpoints.

Use power words

“Power words” has become a bit of a buzzword itself recently, but if you understand them and use them correctly, they can be a huge help in swaying someone who’s on the fence.

Power words are words that push people in the right direction without seeming like you’re desperately trying to nail down a sale. This can mean inciting a sense of urgency in the customer, or making it feel like they’re privy to an exclusive deal.

These words can include:

  • New – make it seem like your product is fresh and exciting
  • Hurry/soon – puts pressure on the buyer to make a quick decision
  • Exclusive – tell your buyer that buying through you is cheaper/easier than buying a similar product elsewhere

This is such a ubiquitous marketing tactic that it’s done in even the most microscopic examples. If you’ve ever wandered around a market, you might have vendors telling you that a product is usually $10, but for you it’s $7.

Use sensory words

These are similarly subjective, and work particularly well if you are selling something intended for improving sensation, like food or headphones. Many audio equipment vendors use words like “bassy” or “rumbling” to describe the feeling you’ll get using their products.

Candle

Take a look at this Chase and Wonder page, and take note of how many of the words they use evoke the feeling of a cozy afternoon. “Flicker,” “warming,” “rich,” alongside all the scents within the candle might be enough to convince you to add one to your cart.

So let’s improve our clock description with some power words.

“Our craftsmen have recently started using a new cherry wood, which gives the clock a rich red colouring. This wood is lighter than our other samples, allowing the sound of the ticking clock to resonate throughout the home. These are popular new resources, and stock is limited, so act fast.”

Just like that, we’ve given a tactile feeling to the color and sound of the clock, and given it some urgency by telling the reader that it’s a limited product.

7

Answer questions

We’ve all been there – you’re very close to buying something, but you just need to know something specific, like the battery life. You’re scrolling through the page, but this one simple statistic is nowhere to be found. Oh well, they would have had a sale if they just listed this simple information.

You should be worried about missing out on easy sales by withholding information. Similar to point #2, you should never assume that someone knows anything about your product.

To get a good idea of what you’ll need to answer, you might want to ask a friend or family member what they’d want to know about the product, as they might ask some obvious questions that you might not think of.

You’ll need to think of information specific to your product, but here is some common information you’d want on your product page:

  • Product weight
  • Delivery times
  • Battery life
  • Washing instructions
  • Dimensions

For more complex answers/information, you can also have a dedicated FAQ section, like headphones manufacturer Bose has for their headphones.

Bose FAQs

It also helps to have an area on your page where potential customers can ask questions directly, as there might be some specific information they’re looking for. These questions and answers can then be displayed publicly for future customers.

Our theoretical clock manufacturer might have an FAQ page that looks like this:

“How long does it take to craft a clock?

Our clocks are handmade by a small team of experts. Upon your day of ordering, you’ll be given an estimated delivery time that can range from six weeks to three months. However, even in our busiest periods, we vow to never take longer than three months.”

“How do I clean my clock?

Periodic dusting is recommended based on your discretion. For times where a more intensive clean is needed, use an anti-dust agent. Try to perform an interior cleaning routine once a year in order to keep the mechanisms clean and functioning. Do not use soapy water, as it will strip the varnish.”

8

Provide backstory

Everyone loves talking about themselves, and here is your chance! Customers feel reassured when you have faith in what you’re selling, and there’s no better trust signal than a passionate recounting of why you’re selling in the first place.

You’ll find this a lot in smaller companies, when the goal of the company is quite personal to those running it. For example, we have The Giving Keys, a jewelry company that uses some of their profit to help fight homelessness.

They make sure to point this out in their product description, emphatically stating that each purchase helps to create jobs, as every five units sold creates an hour of work. They also point out that each of their keys is unique, adding to the narrative of each piece.

giving keys product description
The Giving Keys uses its mission to add emotion to product descriptions, centering its backstory at the heart of its brand.

Let’s make our fictional clocks a bit more personal:

“From commoner to king, time is one of the most important parts of human existence. Our founder and original craftsman, John Doe, recognized this back in 1903, when he created his first grandfather clock.

“Since then, we’ve prided ourselves on upholding the noble tradition of timekeeping, investing dozens of hours into creating unique products that will last for centuries.”

9

Harness the power of social proof

If you’re not familiar, the term “social proof” refers to the fact that people are more likely to buy or do something, if that thing has been verified by other people.

The simplest example of this is user reviews. 92% of people check over user reviews before buying a product online, which shows how much value is put in the experiences of other customers.

In fact, product reviews are 12 times as trustworthy as product descriptions, since a customer doesn’t have as much motivation to stretch the truth. And it’s not just reviews, here are some other forms of social proof:

  • Star ratings
  • Customer reviews
  • “Low in stock” or “selling fast” labels
  • Number of units sold
  • Seals of approval

Who better to exemplify a well-oiled online marketplace than Amazon? Have a look at this page and see how many examples of social proof you can find.

amazon product description
Amazon rules the roost when it comes to using social proof – its customer reviews lie at the heart of its business.

Star ratings, user reviews, the “Amazon’s Choice” banner – these are all great trust signals that increase the viewer’s faith in your product. As it’s kind of tricky to add these to our grandfather clock description, since it relies on customer input, we’ll skip this one.

10

Make it digestible

Finally, even though we’ve given you a lot of tips to think about and employ, it’s important to keep it clean and easy to digest. This tip is similar to tip #4, about making the copy scannable, but instead of making your copy scannable for important information, this is more about making sure that the whole page itself is condensed and doesn’t drag on.

While you definitely could write paragraphs upon paragraphs about why your product is so great, your customers won’t want to spend time rifling through waffle just to get to the information they care about. If you bore them, they’re likely to just leave.

This is why it’s a good idea to mix it up! Throw in some pictures, bullet points, or quotes that can break up the pacing and display information in more interesting ways. Even in this article we’ve tried to insert pictures and examples, alongside changing the way that information is presented.

4 things to avoid when writing product descriptions

So there are a lot of things to keep in mind when writing your description, but like anything where there are things you should do, there are always things you shouldn’t do. Here are some things to avoid when writing your product description.

Risky words

There are a few words you’re going to want to avoid when writing your description. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid talking about the price in any capacity. Using the word “cheap” makes it sound like the product might be flimsy, while using “pricey” or “expensive” is obviously not ideal either.

And try not to describe your product as “safe” either. A lot of the time, this can make people think that you’re tricking them, since it should be assumed that every product is safe. Bringing it up just brings the question of safety to the forefront of people’s minds.

Keyword stuffing

If you know your fair share about search engine optimization (SEO), then you might know that focusing on keywords is a good way to get traffic to your website. For example, if you sell hand woven baskets, it’s a good idea to feature the phrase “hand woven basket” in prominent spots on your website.

You might then think it’s a good idea to put this phrase everywhere, to maximize the relevance of your page. However, search engines do not like this practice, and will sometimes put your page far lower on search results if they think you’re trying to game the system.

Passive language

This is a common writing tip, whether it’s a product description or an academic essay. The passive voice is easy to avoid, but also easy to fall into. An example of passive voice is “the ball was thrown by the player” instead of the active “the player threw the ball.”

The latter is that much smoother and easier to read, saving your reader some mini headaches.

Plain description

If you’ve spent all day tweaking the webpage and linking your payment and doing whatever else, you might be tired and looking to just wrap it up. While no one could blame you, you need to tap into whatever energy reserves you have left and make sure your description isn’t just a plain objective summary.

Socks product description

Your product might be a bit more interesting than a pack of mixed socks, but if your summary looks like the one above, you won’t be engaging anyone. Anyone who came to your page on the fence will most likely be stepping away from the fence, and not in the direction you want. Take the time to really look over your page and see if it’s enticing.

Our final product description

Keeping all of this in mind, let’s have a look at our final grandfather clock product description:

From commoner to king, time is one of the most important parts of human existence. Our founder and original craftsman, John Doe, recognized this back in 1903, when he created his first grandfather clock.

Since then, we’ve prided ourselves on upholding the noble tradition of timekeeping, investing dozens of hours into creating unique products that will last for centuries.

Our grandfather clocks are handmade upon request by award-winning craftsmen. We send an expert to your home, who will show you our curated samples of our twelve types of wood, sourced from Romania and Canada.

Our clocks are finished with a highly reflective matte varnish, and loaded with tightly wound springs and cogs that allow for accurate time-telling down to the millisecond. The interior bell is made of an expertly crafted brass that allows the sound to resonate throughout even the largest households.

  • Our chimes are capped at 75 decibels, making sure they’re loud enough to hear, but never unsafe.
  • With 12 selectable wood types and 20 possible trimmings, you can make your clock your own.
  • From the day you order, we vow to deliver your clock within three months.

Our craftsmen have recently started using a new cherry wood, which gives the clock a rich red colouring. This wood is lighter than our other samples, allowing the sound of the ticking clock to resonate throughout the home. These are popular new resources, and stock is limited, so act fast.

Imagine the chime of a grandfather clock echoing proudly through your halls, or gently ticking along as you spend a lazy Sunday afternoon reading a book.

How long does it take to craft a clock?

Our clocks are handmade by a small team of experts. Upon your day of ordering, you’ll be given an estimated delivery time that can range from six weeks to three months. However, even in our busiest periods, we vow to never take longer than three months.

How do I clean my clock?

Periodic dusting is recommended based on your discretion. For times where a more intensive clean is needed, use an anti-dust agent. Try to perform an interior cleaning routine once a year in order to keep the mechanisms clean and functioning. Do not use soapy water, as it will strip the varnish.

Obviously in a real setting you’d use more pictures and handsome formatting, but throughout this article we’ve crafted a nice skeleton of a product description.

How to write a product description: Conclusion

So there you have it. With these tips in mind you’ll be well on your way to crafting a brilliant product description. To wrap up, here are those ten tips for a final time.

How to write product descriptions

  1. Write for your target market
  2. Focus on benefits, not features
  3. Use storytelling
  4. Make your copy scannable
  5. Be specific
  6. Get persuasive
  7. Answer questions
  8. Provide backstory
  9. Harness the power of social proof
  10. Make it digestible

Remember, at the end of the day, product descriptions are their own mini pieces of art, intended to appeal to people’s emotions. And like all art, they can never be perfect. What appeals to one person might turn someone else away. So don’t be afraid to tinker and experiment with your page to see if it can be improved. Good luck!

About Duncan Lambden

Duncan Lambden

I’m a writer on WBE. I am definitely more of a creative when it comes to writing, or anything really, so the world of website building seemed so stiff, cold, and alien to me. However, I quickly realised that building a website is a much more creative process. With the amount of help and beginner-friendly tools on offer, I learned that building a website is only as technical as I wanted it to be, so I was free to be as artsy as I wanted.

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