Product copy: The unsung hero of the e-commerce world

  • 1
  • April 3, 2018
Jennifer Derrick

Jennifer Derrick

Content Writer

It’s an all-too familiar scenario: the mad rush to upload hundreds of new products to your e-commerce site. Once they’re all finally live, even more urgent tasks take over, and adding great product copy isn’t one of them.

Almost all good brands know that a product description is essential. When time’s not on your side, though, uploading the manufacturer’s stock description can seem like an easier alternative to writing one from scratch. There are multiple issues with this:

  • Other websites will have done the same thing, so now you have the same copy.
  • It can make your company look like it doesn’t know the product inside and out.
  • The manufacturer copy won’t match your tone of voice.

Neglecting product copy isn’t doing you any favours.

Customers want to know how the product is going to work when it becomes part of their lives, and a picture can’t always tell them that. Product copy is like a virtual shop assistant. It’s the online alternative to having a person helping you in store, so it needs to be highly persuasive.

What material is that chest of drawers made of? Why is your camera better than others? These are questions a picture can’t answer. Offer inspiring advice through your copy and you’ll leave customers thinking, ‘That was useful.’ This could make all the difference to them heading to your checkout rather than someone else’s.

You’ve probably got the gist: product descriptions are crucial. Not only for SEO purposes, but for setting you apart from the crowd.

We’ve looked at three brands who have perfected their craft in writing compelling content that converts. Here’s what you can learn from them.

Don’t just describe your products, sell your products

Secret Escapes is a pro at selling an experience. The site doesn’t just describe a holiday, it sells a holiday. How? By using sensory language. Look at this example, from a description of a holiday in Jamaica:

Secret Escapes holiday description

Secret Escapes use sensory words to help stir the imagination.

This description of a Jamaican treehouse resort is packed with adjectives that stir the senses. Words like ‘warm waters’, ‘lush tropical greenery’, and ‘icing-sugar sands’ are powerful because they allow the brain to conjure sights, sounds, and feelings. We can almost feel the warm waters and envision the lush tropical greenery.

It can be hard to imagine something that’s not right in front of you, especially a destination you’ve never visited. Sensory words help paint a clear picture of what an experience might be like.

There’s another key learning from Secret Escapes on this sample. Notice the ‘we like’ bullet points on the right-hand side? It pulls out key benefits, so they’re not lost by readers who are scanning the content quickly. Simple but effective.

Features and benefits explained

You can talk for England about how great your products are. But does that get the customer excited? Well, not necessarily. Not unless you talk about them in a way that’s meaningful.

For example, why might a customer enjoy a phone with an eight-megapixel camera? What’s in it for them? Technical specifications are just cryptic words and numbers if they’re not backed up with information that means something to the person reading it.

There are countless reasons why Apple has continued success in the smartphone market, and just one of them is that the marketing team at Apple are gurus at honing their product benefits into succinct sentences that make a lot of sense. They speak to non-techy people in the way they can understand, and we can all learn an awful lot.

iPhone X product description

Apple summarises the product benefits in a few simple sentences.

The above iPhone X copy is inspirational. Rather than just stating that both rear cameras have “optical image stabilisation” and “fast lenses” (which could go straight over someone’s head), they explain why that’s a good thing – all in one sentence. We learn these features allow for outstanding photos and videos, even in low light, and follow it with an image example, just to make sure you can fully understand the benefit. ‘OK, now I get it.’

Apple crafts product descriptions that satisfy the question: why? Better still, it does this using the fewest words possible. Formatting content in this way is all part of the ‘Apple experience’; it’s a lifestyle not just a brand.

Tailor your product description to the individual

Website templates aren’t exciting to everyone, but Squarespace makes them sound like they are. It’s tailored each of its product descriptions to who it thinks each template suits best. Take a look:
Squarespace product description

Squarespace knows its customers inside out.

Straight away you can see why the Montauk might be a useful template to someone who owns an independent business – it’s easy to set up and customise.

If we were to pull this product description apart, we’d quickly uncover Squarespace’s train of thought. It has identified which audience the Montauk template best suits: independent businesses.

What might independent businesses struggle with when it comes to web templates? Perhaps they’re good at what they’re doing or selling but they’re not tech-savvy, so they’ll need one that’s simple to set up. Easy, right? Analyse your customers in depth and you’ll find out how the benefits of your products fit their needs.

How do you do this? Simply get down a description of what your target customer looks like. What are they wearing? What kind of print or digital media do they read? How will your product make them feel happier or make their life easier? Understand your buyers and you’ll answer problems even they didn’t realise they had.

See, writing great product descriptions is worth the effort. Do it and show those competitors what you’re made of.

Contact us @Branded_3 on Twitter to let us know your writing tips, or get in touch with Branded3 to have us write your product descriptions for you.

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