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We all know that good content is key for a product driven business, and your product descriptions are no exception! Unfortunately, though, many business owners and marketing teams take a “set it and forget it” approach. They may take great care in crafting a product description when they set out, but don’t take the time to update, test, or refine as the business evolves.
Your descriptions can be far more than a mundane list of features and specifications. In fact, they’re another way to connect with existing and prospective customers, and sprucing them with features, benefits, and images up can lead directly to increased sales!
According to a Field Agent survey of American smartphone users, 83% found product images “very” or “extremely” influential in making purchase decisions, and 82% responded the same for product features and specifications.
Now, there’s no one size fits all approach that will magically work for every company or every product type, but there are some strategies and guidelines that can help shape your product descriptions into enticing, well-placed, informative components of your overall marketing.
These tips and guiding principles will help you think about your descriptions - and other copy - with more intention, and craft messages that showcase what potential buyers want to see, where they want to see it.
The first major principle to consider when updating or revising your product descriptions is the balance between features and benefits. Including the features of your product is important, of course, especially in tech and other equipment, but a focus on the benefits and outcomes your product provides will better connect with audiences.
Customers don’t necessarily need (or want) to know every detail about how a product was made or the components that make it work - they want to know how it can improve their lives.
For a simple example, batteries included with a toy are a feature… But the benefit is “ready to use right out of the box!” Even with a technology driven product like a smartphone, features such as included apps, storage, and camera specs are of interest to potential buyers, but a benefits-focused message would transform technical details into language about easy access to email on the go, capturing memories with friends and family, and getting great shots for Instagram.
The benefits of your product may be emotional (looking stylish, feeling confident, contributing to a cause), convenience-based (time saving, ease of use), or solving a specific problem (profitability, health, connectivity).
Ultimately, people don’t buy products - they buy what the product provides them with, whether that’s a feeling, a marker of status, or simply the promise of an easier, happier life.
Take the time to really consider what you provide from a benefits standpoint, and focus a good portion of your product description there.
If you’re not sure what benefits to focus on, consult the source! Your existing customers (especially early adopters and loyal fans) know what they get from your business, and are usually happy to share their experiences in the form of reviews, surveys, and even casual conversations (especially if there’s an incentive).
While we can’t share all of the details, a client of ours provides a wonderful case study for the power of a strong, updated product description. When they signed on with us, just after launching their product, they were massively frustrated with their ad agency because sales were literally zero. They were poised to fire the agency when they came to us, but in the process of asking some probing questions, we discovered that they were receiving some 2500 people to their landing page in cold traffic.
This means that the ad agency was doing their job in generating page visits, but the traffic wasn’t converting into sales. It was a problem with the page itself - not the agency or the traffic!
We told them to turn off the ads immediately so they could stop wasting money on site visits that wouldn’t convert, and focused our attention on the page copy and layout. In just five days, we recrafted the page with descriptive, benefits-focused language, images with the same emotional tone as the benefits, and some “at a glance” features that wouldn’t overwhelm or distract potential buyers.
Then we turned on the very same ads they’d been running, and the first sale came in a little under 5 hours.
While the specifics vary by product, target market, and overall business personality, the point here is that all the traffic in the world won’t result in sales if people don’t connect with the content they find. All it took was a hard look at what wasn't working, some creative updates that firmly positioned the message as “customer-facing,” and offering our expertise in a wide array of product niches to help the client develop material that would resonate with their audience.
When’s the last time you gave your landing pages and product descriptions a thorough review?
As always, different types of products and businesses will have different potential for improvement. Even if some of these tips don’t apply directly to your products, consider them as thought experiments or mental exercises for reframing how you present your offers.
Your product descriptions should be as long as they need to be, but no longer… If 50 words will suffice, then a short and sweet approach that gets right to the point is easier for a potential customer to digest. However, most products will need more in-depth information to highlight the important features and benefits that will lead to a sale.
As a general rule, 100 to 300 words is common, with more complex products requiring more explanation. More than 500 words will overshoot the cap for sites like Amazon and Shopify, but perhaps more importantly, they may be too long to hold a potential customer’s attention.
Amazon limits the large product description section to 2000 characters, but provides for a 500-character section of “Key Features” as well. This is a great chance to use short bullet points to describe features, and leave the longer section for establishing your brand and focus on benefits.
Shorter descriptions aren’t necessarily better in every case, but keeping brevity in mind will help ensure that every word of your description is there for a reason - instead of unnecessary fluff that doesn’t provide the prospect with useful information.
This one goes without saying, but all of your copy should have proper spelling and grammar. Typos and other errors will not only distract the reader, they’ll also cast doubt on your professionalism, the quality of your products, and even where they are made. Make sure you proofread everything!
If you’re offering a product across different geographic regions, it might serve you to examine local language and/or culture to cater your descriptions - or at least avoid confusion and potentially negative messaging.
In a classic example (that actually isn’t true at all), the Chevy Nova struggled in spanish-speaking markets because “no va” translates to “doesn’t go.” While the story is apocryphal, largely a joke that became an urban legend, there’s still a lesson to be learned here.
Take the time to consider your various markets, and adjust your product language accordingly if it will help you reduce confusion or better connect to a specific audience.
Connecting Text and Images
Conventional wisdom (and common sense) tells us that product pages need both text AND images to effectively convey benefits, features, and other relevant information. In practice, however, far too many business owners don’t take the time to think about the combined message the text and images send.
This particular area of improvement is going to be different for various product categories, but the important part is to match aesthetic, emotional tone, and double down on showcasing benefits.
The images and text should reinforce one another, whether it’s a message of comfort, freedom, fun, etc. If your product descriptions need to focus on technical features, then diagrams are an excellent companion!
The placement of products is an essential part of retail strategy, but many of the same principles apply to online product listings as well. Just like the “impulse buy” section at the store, a quick, attention-grabbing image and short description on the way to checkout can boost sales (think Amazon’s suggested items).
Similarly, you can take a cue from restaurant menus that use elements of graphic design and careful placement to highlight certain items.
The concept of “anchoring” works here too - where you place the item you most want to sell among other, perhaps less appealing items to make it stand out, whether that’s by price, image, or as part of a special offer.
Anything you list exists in the context of the rest of your site, product page, storefront, or e-commerce platform, so make sure you’re in control of the context too!
A few adjectives go a long way! Descriptive words conjure ideas of premium products, quality construction, and general desirability. One small study of restaurant menus found that words like “succulent” or even adding the word “Grandma’s” to a dessert name increased sales by 27% and added to favorable impressions of the food in general.
You see this approach in restaurants all the time - whether that’s a descriptive title like “Grandma’s Famous ____” or adjectives tied to ingredients like “sun-dried,” “oven-baked,” and other similar words.
This same approach can work with products of all kinds, and will have a similar effect on potential buyers. A few words of warning, however…
First, make sure you’re using descriptive language that aligns with your overall aesthetic (just like the tip about images above). If you’re presenting comfort, for example, a descriptive word like “cozy” is just fine - but doesn’t fit with sleek, luxury branding.
Next, strive for balance and don’t overdo it. If every sentence is packed with adjectives, they’ll quickly lose their impact. Choose your placement carefully, and attach your descriptive words to major benefits or key features.
Lastly, do your best to choose words that truly mean something. Calling your product “amazing” or “great” may be accurate, but such terms don’t say much about what a potential buyer can expect.
These kinds of adjectives can be effective and attention grabbing, but use them sparingly to help them maintain their impact - and be sure to supplement such claims with specifics.
Your product can be “great” - but you also have to tell prospects WHY it’s great! Voice
Whether you’re aware of it or not, your brand has a voice. For tech or professional equipment, that voice could be stark, feature-focused, and no-nonsense. For toys, it might be bubbly and cute. For niche hobbies, your brand voice might be filled with insider jargon and slang…
The point is to identify your voice and stick with it across website copy, product descriptions, social media, and anywhere else you’re communicating with existing and potential customers.
Consistency will help people identify with your business and products quickly, and a clear voice sets an overall tone of what it will be like to do business with you!
All of these same principles apply to your physical packaging as well. From placement to imagery to grammar, the copy you add to your packaging is another component of your marketing strategy.
You can use graphic design elements to highlight certain benefits, include any warning labels in prominent, easy-to-see locations on the package, and incorporate your company’s voice (whether it’s whimsical or purely technical) into included instruction manuals, features lists, and even the names of the products themselves.
Much of this guidance is about cohesion - and your packaging is another piece of the puzzle. Every Improvement Matters Our goal is to help transform your creative powerhouse into a business powerhouse. That means tweaking, fine tuning, and updating your product messaging in ways that align with both your creative vision and proven methods for driving product sales.
These factors (and more) all work together to establish your brand, differentiate from competitors, and create informative, positive interactions with prospective buyers. Putting in the effort to build and improve your product descriptions could make the difference between losing leads and converting traffic into sales.
Here at Products to Profits, we have the experience and know-how to help! We’re running a 5-Day Product Description Challenge from August 8-13, 2022 to transform your existing descriptions into sales-driving, benefit-focused gems that resonate with customers and align with your overall brand.
Sign Up Here!
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