July 11, 2019
An effective product description can be the difference between closing a sale and losing one. With purposeful product descriptions written for a specific audience, in a consistent voice, it’s possible to convert a casual browser into a happy, loyal, lifelong customer.
Although many online shoppers arguably make their buying decisions based on product photos, well-written content plays a vital role in creating a successful digital listing. Product descriptions complete an expectation and fill in details about an item when photography alone can't illustrate it. Written content can call out specific benefits, sizes and technical specifications. It can tell a story about a product, describe the associated lifestyle, or even aid shoppers in visualizing how to assemble or use it day-to-day.
When you educate consumers on key product benefits, values, and solutions, it has the potential to build customer trust and increase overall satisfaction. Following these best practice guidelines for great product descriptions. Turn browsers into buyers:
With so many shoppers online it may seem like “no two customers are alike” however, the people who shop a brand, at the very least, share a love of the company or its products. Writing for a brands’ audience requires a comprehensive understanding of that brand’s typical buyer.
Start by creating a buyer persona -- an archetype with key characteristics describing a typical customer. Note their relationship with the brand and common behaviors. Personas help writers empathize with real customers and understand which aspects of a brand they value most. With knowledge of who is the customer, is, writers can craft content that really resonates.
Here are a few key questions to consider when writing for a target audience or buyer persona:
Online shoppers typically look at several products on a website to compare them before deciding which one to purchase. The voice and tone of product copy can affect shoppers perceptions of individual products and even the brand as a whole.
With a clear tone and voice defined, brands can create editorial guidelines for all its writers to follow. A group of distributed writers can, then, carry tone and voice throughout a site seamlessly -- whether for 1 SKU or millions. Consistency of tone and voice in product descriptions makes is easier to compare items and customers report better having a better overall shopping experience.
Regardless of the products a site sells, descriptions should always sound natural and conversational. Avoid strings of buzzwords and unstructured lists of attributes. Instead, ensure descriptions always include complete thoughts and expressive syntax.
Online shoppers need detailed product information to feel comfortable buying so it’s essential to include facts specific to similar groups of products. For example, size charts and care instructions are key for apparel products, technical specs for electronics, and allergens for cosmetics or skincare. Regardless of product category, always convey a sense of value to shoppers.
If there are notable features, benefits or goodwill aspects of a product, find a way to highlight these brand exclusives. Aspects like cruelty-free ingredients, donations to charity or an on-shore manufacturing process can make customers feel good about buying something they need or love from a company that shares their value system.
Features commonly explain what a product does, while benefits reveal how products improve the buyer's life or society as a whole. For example, “How does a product reduce a pain point for customers?” If skin cream is fragrance-free, the benefit is reduced allergies. A solar-powered watch means customers can avoid buying new batteries. Identify which benefit ties to a feature and voilà, a well-crafted product description ready for consumption.
Online shoppers often know exactly what product they're looking for when they enter search terms on Google, or speak their search to a favorite voice assistance like Alexa. Having targeted content can help increase the chances a product page shows up in results.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a simple but effective way to attract new traffic, increase traffic and potentially revenue. Take the time to do industry-specific and customer research. Learn the product-specific keywords tied to product categories and products.
In-line with SEO best practices, include keywords in your:
Enlist SEO and marketing experts to ensure efforts are implemented correctly, and watch the traffic increase.
The average online shopper has a relatively short attention span. On average, a mere 16% of web users take the time to read new content word-by-word. That means scannable content is essentially make-or-break when it comes to capturing future customers.
Scannable copy allows a shopper to find what he or she is looking for without sifting through long paragraphs. Product descriptions should always be simple to read and even simpler to scan for key data.
Include bullet points to outline specifications and keep paragraphs short and sweet to improve comprehension.
A profitable product description should include essential features, convincing benefits, and an emotional appeal. Since emotions influence buyer behavior, product descriptions are an ideal place to focus on eliciting emotion.
Product storytelling serves to fill in any gaps for the user and add value to the product's key feature. For example, you may choose to highlight the rich history of a material used in creating your product, such as specially-dyed linen or locally-sourced ingredient.
This type of writing allows potential buyers to connect with a product, visualize its cultivation or creation, and even imagine it as a part of their life. Set the scene in this way to help users envision products in a way specifications and features can’t.
Captivating product descriptions require research, testing, and a touch of editorial panache. Be sure to factor them into your comprehensive content strategy to increase sales and strengthen a brand. If you are looking to create or modernize your content strategy, reach out to Object Edge to learn more about how we can collaborate together on digital product content.
Kelly Rader, CUA and VP of Digital Experience
Digital pioneer with 20+ years of experience bringing innovative digital products and services to market successfully for many industries and within a variety of challenging environments ranging from start-up to Fortune 100 companies. Effective in gaining organizational alignment on strategy and delivering creative solutions that solve real business problems.
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