How To Write Better Product Descriptions

Better product descriptions are absolutely essential when you’re selling anything online (as well as from a paper brochure or catalogue for that matter).

So OK, your website or brochure might have beautiful pictures or illustrations. But in this situation it’s NOT true that a picture paints a thousand words unfortunately.

The fact that your reader can’t actually pick up and hold the product is the biggest obstacle to making a sale. And it’s up to your copy to bridge that gap.

Here are some tips to help you write better product descriptions:

* Do your own market research

Here’s one way of doing that. Take the product home. Hand it to your partner, or kids. Watch what they do with it. If their questions include (as is often the case) ‘What is it?’, ‘What is it for?’ or ‘What does it do?’ then that should give you some great ideas for good copy.

* Pick out and prioritise features

Start by making a list of the key features of your product. Not only what can it do, but what’s really clever about it – especially anything new.

Now prioritise them. As many products have lots of features it might be difficult to cover them all. So put them in order of importance, writing more about the best features.

Tip. Try to ensure  you present your features in order of importance to your potential customer.

* Push the benefits

As all marketers know, at the end of the day, benefits, not cold factual descriptions, are what sell products. The old ‘sell the sizzle not the steak’ concept as even more relevant in online selling as it ever was in offline selling.

So as with features, make a list of the benefits your product offers and prioritise them. Again, it’s essential those benefits which you think will most appeal to prospective customers are prioritised.

If you think benefits are more important than features then write about benefits first, there’s no hard and fast rule here.

* Paint a picture

The most effective, best selling product descriptions are those which help the reader visualise themselves using the product. Whether it is driving that car, or using that coffee machine.

Ask yourself, does your copy put the reader in the position of feeling, holding, using, tasting that product? Have you mentioned that twisty back road through the hills on the way home? Have you pointed out the aromatic kiss of the perfectly creamy crema?

* Keep it clear and simple

Although there are exceptions, such as with any technical, product descriptions should be as clear and simple as possible. Don’t overload them with jargon, or facts and figures – just keep to the features and benefits.

It’s often a better idea just to include just a few carefully selected facts and figures in your main copy. Then reserve the bulk of them to a sidebar or footnote.

* Ways to improve the layout

One mistake when writing descriptions (or any copywriting for that matter) is to overlook how your copy will look on the screen (or printed page). A little bit of thought here can make it easier to read and flow better.

Bullet points, checklists and tick boxes are a good technique here (but don’t over use them). Charts and tables are another technique. You can also sideline some of your copy into a sidebar or call out box.

* Lastly, testimonials

Testimonials from satisfied customers really can be the icing on the cake when it comes to product descriptions.

Don’t be afraid to solicit testimonials from your past customers, use them liberally and update them from time to time. In some cases you can even base your product description around them.

Mark Hempshell is a copywriter and content marketer. You can find more useful articles on copywriting and content marketing, or contacts for hiring Mark, here: