Just look at advertising guru Joseph Sugarman. All he had to sell his product was words in a magazine or newspaper...
And he used those words to accomplish amazing sales numbers, like 100,000 pairs of sunglasses in just six months.
That’s how powerful your product description is. It can make or break your online store.
But how do you do all that?
To help you level up your product descriptions, I’ve put together this handy guide consisting of tried-and-tested tips, real-life examples, and more. All will be revealed!
Specifically, in this guide you’ll learn how to:
- Create search-optimized, high-converting product descriptions for your online store
- Test different versions of a product description to find out which converts best
- How to write like a copywriting master, without actually being one
Here’s an index of everything in this guide for easy access:
- What is a product description?
- Do you need to write unique product descriptions?
- 8 tips to write product descriptions that sell
- 10 product description examples to inspire you
- A product description generator to automate the process
- How to outsource product description writing to a freelancer
- A free product description template you can copy-paste and edit
Let’s get started!
In short, a product description describes the features, benefits, and common uses of a product to a customer.
But more than that, product descriptions should be easy to read, compel customers to purchase what you’re selling, and strengthen their confidence in your eCommerce store.
They should paint a picture for your prospective customers to imagine holding, smelling, and using your product.
Plus, your product description sits on your product page, which is the final point in the conversion funnel.
It’s not enough to just list a few quick bullets like this...
...you need to really sell it. Let your words be your biggest marketing asset.
Right before your customer clicks on that “buy now” or “add to bag” button, they’ll be reading your product description. Think about that!
Listen, I know that many eCommerce store owners get lazy and just copy their product descriptions from their manufacturer’s website (also known as “content scraping”).
But, guess what?
It’s only a matter of time before this comes back to bite you.
Google frowns upon duplicate content, and once they realize your product descriptions are basically lifted from your manufacturer’s site, they could penalize your store.
This means less traffic, less sales, and less money in the bank :(
On the other hand, taking the effort to write unique product descriptions doesn’t just help you avoid penalties - it also helps you increase your conversion rates!
I’ll go through some concrete examples in the product description examples section.
We’ve talked about what product descriptions are and why you should use them in your online store…
… but you can’t just come up with a few random product descriptions and expect your sales to double overnight. Product descriptions have to relate to your target audience, after all!
Instead, think about what would make a compelling backstory for your product, and craft your description specifically to sell that product through your story. At the very least, use it to help your customers imagine owning it.
How do you do that? Check out the following tips.
1. Write unique, vivid descriptions
First things first: your product descriptions have got to be unique. We already covered that.
But let’s give a specific example...
Let’s say you want to buy a phone case online, but can’t decide between three options.
If they each have excellent product descriptions, they should help you choose. It should use words specific to the ideal buyer you’re targeting, explaining how one phone case might “make your friends ask where you got it” or “have the coolest phone case at the party.”
OK, I’m not hip with the high school kids, but you get my point - your descriptions need to be unique and benefit driven, using the exact wording your buyer persona would use. (More on buyer personas and ideal buyers in tip #3).
Aside from helping you close the sale, unique product descriptions are also extremely crucial for SEO and helping you rank in search engines.
I know I’ve talked about this already, but it’s so important that it warrants a second mention.
If you want to rank for your keywords (and avoid getting penalized), then you gotta have unique product descriptions.
There’s no way around it!
Pro Tip: The photos you choose matter, too! Don’t throw generic stock photos up unless it shows all aspects of your product.
2. Make your descriptions easy to scan
Listen, ain’t nobody got time to read a long ass product description.
Before anyone actually reads the fine details of your work, you have to convince them it’s actually worth reading. People are scanners these days.
And as Joe Sugarman, expert copywriter, once said:
“The purpose of your first sentence is to get the reader to read the second sentence. The purpose of the second sentence is to get them to read the third sentence. Until they’re sucked into the slippery slope of reading your whole article and buying.”
So how do you get people to read the first, second, third sentence and so on?
By convincing them it’s worth reading, using your other visual cues - like bullet points, images, and titles. Here are some more tips for formatting your product descriptions:
- Be sure to use plenty of white space
- Use short paragraphs of 1-2 sentences (especially because they might read it on mobile, where anything longer than this looks like a wall of text)
- Keep sentences short and simple (this makes your text easy to read)
- Don’t use jargon-y or overly complex words (unless your target market is cool with it)
So how do you know what words you should and shouldn’t use? Easy...
In order to write great product descriptions, you need to know your customers like the back of your hand. We’re talking…
- Their pain points and frustrations
- What they value in life, and what they’re willing to spend their hard-earned cash on
- Even their innermost desires and fears!
- And the words they use to describe these pains, frustrations, fears and values
There are a couple of ways you can get to know your customers better - such as getting them to do surveys and trawling the forums or websites they hang out on.
First, let’s talk about surveys.
Here’s the smartest and most productive way to conduct surveys: set up your email campaign such that it triggers a link to your survey upon someone making a purchase.
So your previous email flow might have looked something like:
Purchase confirmation email > “Item sent out” email > Post-purchase email.
Image from NextBook.co.
If you don’t already have a post-purchase email in your campaign, now’s a good time to set this up. Thank your customers for their purchase, attach FAQs and other relevant information, and don’t forget to link to your survey.
If you already have a post-purchase email, even better. All you need to do is tweak it slightly and add your survey link to the email!
...these are great too, but the key here is to choose ONE specific call-to-action, so you customers don’t get distracted. If your priority is getting more survey responses, then don’t include other links for them to review your product, or check out other products.
I recommend doing surveys for a short period of time (one or two weeks) every quarter, then switching back to product upsells or reviews (since reviews provide much-needed social proof). That way you stay in the loop, while also maximizing sales.
Okay, let’s move on to trawling forums and other websites!
Here’s what you do: make a list of the forums and websites that your ideal customer would visit, then check them out for yourself.
I like to google “[keyword] + forum” (for example, “cars + forum” without the quotes) or check out aggregators like AllTop.
There are two things you should pay attention to.
First, the topics that come up, and second, the tone of the commenters.
Let’s say I have an eCommerce store selling car accessories and I’m looking at this car forum.
There’s a thread about wireless parking sensors, which is pretty interesting to me.
If I’m not already selling these on my shop, I might look into bringing them in.
If I am currently selling these, I might use the contents of this thread to influence my product description.
This is a goldmine of information! Notice the underlined phrases. Based on this information, I might write a description like this…
“Looking for a wireless smart parking sensor that’s easy to install?
Then this is the sensor for you!
Even if you’re not much for wiring anything, you can install this sensor in no time. It’s not extremely complicated or expensive like the competition.
In fact, if you’re buying or recently bought a used car, you can install this yourself or have the dealership install it for you! It’s that easy!”
See what I mean? You can literally use your audience’s phrasing word-for-word to easily optimize your product descriptions for conversions. It’s like this product was made for them!
Now, I’ll have to do more research to make sure this is how my target audience feels (see that more people have used similar wording), but assuming that’s the case, I know that my product description should be emphasizing the product’s ease of usage and installation.
Pretty cool, huh?
On top of looking at the topics in these forums and websites, you should also pay attention to the way the commenters “speak.”
If they use formal language, then do the same; avoid slang and colloquial terms.
If they constantly reference certain phrases and terms, then pepper your product descriptions with these.
At the end of the day, you want your product descriptions to resonate with your target audience!
4. Keep SEO in mind
This point is all about using product descriptions to maximize your search rankings.
(Which, by the way, can be a MASSIVE growth channel for your store. So don’t neglect it).
The first thing you should do? Come up with a primary keyword for your product page. You should use this keyword consistently (but naturally!) throughout your product description.
If I’m putting up a product page for a hoodie, for example, my primary keyword might be:
- Unisex hoodie
- Cotton hoodie
- Unisex cotton hoodie
Or anything along those lines.
A general rule of thumb: the more specific your keywords are, the easier it is to rank for them. But if your keyword is too specific, it’ll bring you less traffic (because less people are searching for the term).
Once you’ve identified your primary keyword, it’s time to generate your LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords.
The term “LSI keywords” might sound fancy, but this just refers to secondary, related keywords.
Here’s a simple way of generating LSI keywords:
Take your primary keyword, and plug it into LSIgraph.com.
Then take your pick from the list of LSI keywords that it gives you! Use common sense to determine which ones to add and which to skip. If it doesn't make sense, don’t use it.
One last thing about product description SEO:
Make sure you’re using your keywords (both primary and LSI) naturally. You’re aiming for quality over quantity!
Here’s a negative example:
This unisex cotton hoodie is a heavy cotton sweatshirt and a 100% cotton white hoodie which is made locally. If you’re looking for a 100 percent cotton pullover hoodie or 100 cotton sweatshirts made in usa, you’ve come to the right place. Shop our 100 cotton crewneck sweatshirts today.
Would you buy this cotton hoodie? I sure wouldn’t.
For more information about product description SEO, check out our on-page SEO for eCommerce guide.
5. Paint a picture in your customer’s minds
We already talked about this, but I wanted to give some more info. and an example.
When you’re writing product descriptions, generic words such as “nice” and “good” simply don’t cut it.
Instead, use descriptive and emotion-laden words and phrases to tell a story, and get your customer’s buy-in.
Need some inspiration? Here’s how ThinkGeek advertises their Stake Grilling Multi Tool:
“Be the star of the cookout with the Stake Grilling Multi Tool. This all-in-one BBQ tool transforms from spatula to fork to tongs and back again. Flip burgers, grip chicken legs, and spike sausages without breaking a sweat.”
Can’t you just picture yourself being all suave with this grilling tool, and impressing all your friends?
“The handles can be locked together in a quick motion, enabling you to flip the nearest burger before it's too late. And possibly the coolest feature, stab a hot dog with the fork and then slide the fork back into Stake, pushing the dog on to the nearest bun with NO HANDS, MA!”
Bottom line: the more vivid your product description is, the better. Try to answer questions your customers may have before they have to ask them!
6. Split test your descriptions
Split testing your products is called A/B testing, and it’s a crucial task for conversion optimization. This might sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple...
It just means showing two different versions of your product description to different groups of your customers in order to see which converts better.
Image from Medium.com.
Let’s say you want to A/B test the product description of your best-selling item.
Basically, you set up two versions of the same product page, each with a different product description. We’ll call these Variant A and Variant B respectively.
When people visit this particular product page, 50% of them will get directed to Variant A, and the other 50% will see Variant B.
To do this easily, you’ll need an app, like the Neat A/B Testing Shopify app.
That’s all there is to it!
If you ask me, A/B testing is downright addictive.
There are just so many possibilities. You can test the length of your product description, the tone you use, the formatting… the sky’s really the limit here.
One important thing to note:
Make sure you only test ONE variable at a time
For example: if you want to test the length of your product description, your copy in Variants A and B should only differ in their lengths - everything else should stay the same.
That way you won’t be confused about which variable contributed to your higher conversion rate!
7. Leave no stone unturned
When writing product descriptions for your online store, make sure you pack them with all the relevant details. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Sizing information
- Quantity, and
Here’s why this is so important:
The more information available on your product page, the easier it is for your customer to make their purchase decision.
Don’t worry about your description getting too length or wordy… you can always organize it into expandable sections like you see in the example below:
Plus, longer product descriptions are actually better for SEO. Win-win!
8. Finally, spell check!
When it’s 2am, you’ve just had your third cup of coffee, and you’re still hard at work banging out those product descriptions, you tend to make a typo or two.
It happens to the best of us… so always run your product descriptions through spell check before you hit “publish”!
Cool beans - you’ve now mastered the theory behind writing product descriptions that sell.
Before you go ahead and start cranking out those descriptions, though, check out these 10 product description examples for some inspiration!
1. Bath and Body Works
Bath and Body Works has a way with words - that much is obvious.
Here’s what we like about their product descriptions: they use their descriptions to differentiate themselves from their competitors…
“Made using the highest concentration of fragrance oils, an exclusive blend of soy-based wax and wicks that won't burn out, our candles melt consistently & evenly, radiating enough fragrance to fill an entire room.”
It’s hard to find a candle that burns evenly, let alone one that fills the entire room. Those are quite big shoes to fill, but by their 4.8 star rating, we don’t doubt that they fill them well.
Note: Bath and Body Works uses just the right amount of white space in their product descriptions. Take note!
With this product description, I love how Sperry includes what would pair well with their product. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to upsell!
Also, this sentence alone makes consumers want to purchase these shoes even more:
“But metallic rawhide laces take them from ordinary to show stopping.”
Nearly everyone wants their outfit to be “show stopping.” Sold!
3. Endangered Species Chocolate
Okay, I might be a bit biased here, but who doesn’t love chocolate?
Succumbing to a guilty pleasure aside, I thought it was pretty smart of Endangered Species Chocolate to mention that their profits go to funding wildlife protection programs in the product description.
If you have a similar scheme, don’t just feature it on your “About Us” page.
Use it in your product description as well - this makes your copy more compelling!
4. Manitobah Mukluks
Manitobah Mukluks’s product description doesn’t just, well, describe the product.
It also showcases the story behind its products, and its connection to Indigenous communities. You actually get to learn about what each and every groove carved into the sole of this shoe symbolizes.
You know how consumers today crave authenticity? Well, Manitobah Mukluk’s definitely nailed it in this respect.
5. Best Made Co
Right off the bat, Best Made Co gets my attention by saying that they have a “real fetish” for cast iron.
Next, they tell me that they’ve “amassed and sold hundreds of rare and restored cast iron pieces” over the years.
This essentially translates into: don’t worry, we’ve been doing this for a long time, and we know our stuff.
Then they name-drop brands (“the pre-seasoned surface stacks up to your best Wagner or Griswold”) - which gives them even more legitimacy.
Convinced? I certainly am.
There are a gazillion motivational poster brands on the market, but this particular one caught my eye.
Without the personal anecdote about the Holstee founders, the product description would’ve fallen flat on its face.
I mean, “display these words of inspiration as a daily reminder to live your dream” isn’t the worst thing to say about a motivational poster, but it’s also fairly generic.
By including that anecdote about their journey, though, the guys behind Holstee made their copy that much more impactful and memorable.
Moral of the story?
Don’t hesitate to feature personal stories or anecdotes in your product descriptions - It works!
The devil is in the details, and I love how Belroy walks its customers through its production process on its product page.
“Tanned in The Netherlands, these European leathers are the cornerstone of the range. Where possible, leather pieces have been left to sweep or wrap through the product, rather than cut and stitched.”
Read the above sentences, and tell me what words pop into your mind.
For me, it’s “artisanal”, “premium”, and “quality.”
If you’re selling an expensive product, that’s how you use your product page to convince your customers to pay!
8. Anorak Online
With its product description, Anorak Online cleverly takes a jab at your pain point (We know how horrid it is when your sleeping bag feels like a straight jacket)...
...and then offers some balm (so we’ve made sure our badger sleeping bags are super soft, 100% cotton and wide enough for the most fidgety of feet).
It’s a simple format to follow (agitation followed by relief), but it’s insanely effective.
9. Triumph & Disaster
We talked about this previously, but here’s the number one rule of marketing: tailor your content to your customer. This product description by Triumph & Disaster is a fantastic example.
If you’re still shaving the old-school way (sans an electric razor), you’re probably the type of guy who’s a little more traditional. Perhaps you’re a bit of an old soul.
Triumph & Disaster knows that, which is why they talk about how their Old-Fashioned Shave Cream “evokes a sense of tradition and nostalgia befitting a gentleman's morning ritual”.
10. Foot Cardigan
Finally, using humor in your product description is also a good way to stand out.
You’d think that it would be hard to inject humour into a product description about socks, but Foot Cardigan nails it with this line: 75% combed cotton, 22% polyester, 3% elastane, 100% incredible (but not edible).
Nudges the customer a bit closer to hitting “checkout”, don’t you think?
If writing product descriptions isn’t your cup of tea, or if you import high quantities of products into your store, you could always outsource the work.
One way of doing this?
Using this super cool product description generator tool: kopigin (like "copy genie", get it?)
Here’s how it works:
First, search through kopigin's database to find your product. The items on kopigin are all sorted according to category, which makes locating a specific product easy.
Next, set the product attributes. Basically, you’re giving kopigin more information about the size, colour, fabric, and weight of your product.
The third step is where the magic happens. Click "Generate," and kopigin will come up with a product description based on your input.
What happens if you don’t like the product description, or you simply want to shop around? Easy - just regenerate the same product description over and over again until you’re satisfied.
Once you’re happy with your product description, you can save it to your online catalog. Then export this catalog to your own system in a CSV, HTML, XML, MS or Excel file.
One last thing: unfortunately, kopigin isn’t available to eCommerce merchants using platforms other than Shopify.
If you are using other platforms, don’t sweat it. There are other ways to outsource your product description writing, such as hiring a freelancer.
In the next section, I’ll teach you how to do that.
The first step to hiring a freelancer to write your product descriptions?
Writing a kickass job ad and attracting an awesome pool of candidates to choose from.
In your job ad, don’t forget to include:
- How the project is structured (Is this a once-off thing or a recurring thing?)
- How much work there is to be done (10 product descriptions per week? 20? Or 50?)
- Your expectations with regards to availability (Do you need your freelancer to be available to chat via Skype or Slack during working hours? Or do you just want to check in with them once or twice per week?)
- A concrete timeline, if you have one (“I’m hoping to hire by the end of the week and have my freelancer submit X product descriptions in two weeks’ time.”)
- Links and references (link to your existing website so that freelancers can get a better sense of your brand’s voice; alternatively, you can also provide links to product descriptions - from other brands - that you like)
- Specifications for deliverables (Do you want your product descriptions sent to you in a Microsoft Word document file, or shared in a Google Doc?)
On top of that, many entrepreneurs also like to include a random question or two (eg: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?) in their job ad.
This screens out all the folks who mass-apply to jobs on Upwork (which is a freelancer platform that we’ll talk about in a bit). If they send in a proposal which doesn’t answer your question, you can be sure that they didn’t read your job ad thoroughly!
Now that you know the basics of writing a job ad, let’s talk about where to post your ad.
There are plenty of freelancer platforms out there, but you’ll probably experience the best luck with Upwork.
Simply create a (free!) account, post your ad, and sit back and wait for the proposals to stream in. You can also search through the database of freelancers and “invite” individuals to apply for your job.
There’s also Fiverr, which works a little differently. Instead of posting your job ad and getting proposals sent in, you look through the different “packages” these freelancers offer, and decide which you want to purchase.
Regardless of whether you use Upwork or Fiverr, you’ll have to shortlist a few candidates whom you want to work with.
One important tip: look at the reviews that these freelancers have gotten from past employers. This will give you a sense of their capabilities and work ethic.
If you’ve found a writer that sounds promising, ask them to send you a few references that you can talk to.
This might sound like a bit of a chore, but trust me - it’s an awesome way to learn more about the freelancer, and get some insights about whether they’d be a good fit.
Last but not least, I also like to conduct a paid test among my top three candidates.
Basically: instead of jumping straight in and hiring one freelancer, split your job among your top candidates. Freelancer A writes 20 product descriptions, and the same goes for freelancers B and C. This helps you assess your freelancers’ capabilities more accurately.
Once the initial job is over, pick the freelancer who did the best to continue working with long-term!
How much does it cost to outsource product description writing?
At this point, you might be thinking…
That’s great and all, but will outsourcing product description writing bankrupt me and ruin my business?
The answer is: nope, not at all!
Here’s the great thing about Upwork and Fiverr: there are tons of freelancers who sell their services at affordable prices.
It’s pretty easy to find freelancers who charge between $10 to $30 per hour and come highly rated by their previous clients.
Here’s a product description format you can try out for yourself:
[A few sentences selling the product. Use descriptive wording, storytelling, and/or personal examples here. This is your chance to capture their attention and get them to read the rest of the description.]
- Bullet points about the key takeaways
- Talk about the materials, size, quality, and benefits
- Don’t be afraid to really make it sound glamorous!
[Another few sentences wrapping up the product. Who is it for? Why should I buy it? What makes you better?]
[Customer testimonials/reviews of the product. Bonus points if you have user-generated photos of customers actually using the product!]
And that’s all there is to it! Copy-paste the above template so you know how to write effective product descriptions that appeal to your target customer, share your products benefits, and sell your value propositions.
A final word on product descriptions
Most eCommerce store owners I know hate writing product descriptions.
They tell me: Bill, I’m not a writer. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m just not cut out for this!
But here’s the reality of it:
If you want to increase your conversion rates and get more sales, you have two options.
Either get good at writing product descriptions that convert, or hire an amazing freelancer who can do the job for you.
Simple as that!
Don’t forget: your product description sits on your product page (aka the final point in the conversion funnel).
If you want to become a top Shopify store, mastering copy writing is a must.
So put on your thinking cap and start writing!
If you liked this article, please take a second to share it with your entrepreneur friends!
Want to learn more? Check out these related resources:
- How to optimize your eCommerce website for max conversions. Learn more about conversion optimization and why it matters.
- On-page SEO for eCommerce: How to optimize your online store. This guide will help you better understand search engines and how to rank your store on Google.