Product descriptions that'll fill the cart!
Product copy has to attract the search engine. But once SEO has done its job, how do you get people to want the product? I mean, really want it so they feel they can’t live without it? Here are some techniques to build desire so customers fill that shopping basket.
Open with the pitch
Most product pages open with a short paragraph. It presents the most compelling features and the benefits these bring. That excites the customer's interest with what’s distinctive about your product. It gets their emotions involved.
Here’s an example:
“Fancy guest sheets, crisp cotton sheets, stylish sheets, snuggly sheets - we’ve got bedding for every glorious occasion. It’s time to hunker down…”
Source: Eve bedding
Let’s look at what techniques have achieved this:
Picture the product in the consumer’s life
Notice how ‘Fancy guest sheets’ and ‘snuggly sheets’ is are so evocative and immediate? They picture the consumer using the sheets, getting them out for guests or snuggling in themselves. That brings them closer to imagining ownership. That drives purchase.
This is one of the points made by Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman in his book, ‘How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market’ who ‘says that 95 percent of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind’.
Celebrate their world
Positivity sells. ‘bedding for every glorious occasion’ makes the consumer feel the product enriching their life. They don’t have to think about it.
Sound like a person not a corporation
Human vocabulary and idiom - ‘our’, ‘fancy’, ‘snuggly’, ‘hunker down’, ‘glorious’, ‘we’ve’ - it all involves the consumer. It’s like one person sharing an experience with another.
‘Fancy’, ‘We’ve got…’, ‘It’s time to…’ generates infectious enthusiasm.
Flip normal sentence structure
Without wishing to drag you back to primary school grammar lessons, this sentence is not like, ‘The cat (subject) sat (verb) on the mat (object). The order is actually object, object, object, object, (Fancy guest sheets, crisp cotton sheets, stylish sheets, snuggly sheets), ‘we’ve’ (subject), ‘got’ (verb), ‘bedding for…’ (object).
The beauty of this sentence structure is that it allows you to list all the alluring things you want to present before the boring ‘we’ve got’ bit. You immerse the reader in the product’s appealing features, showing it in their life. They can’t help but want it.
Reflect back the consumer’s situation
Here’s Eve bedding again:
choosing your bedding
Choosing the right bedding can be the difference between an okay night’s sleep and a great one. In fact, we think cocooning in fresh, comfy sheets is a feeling that’s hard to beat.
This opening expresses the consumer’s predicament, showing you understand them and getting a small ‘yes’ from them, agreeing with your insight. This builds trust. You share their viewpoint and probably someone they could do business.
Use the customer’s language
‘the difference between an okay night’s sleep and a great one’ is the sort of language consumers use to explain their needs. How do you know? It comes up again and again in customer feedback – see below.
Evoke the five senses
‘fresh, comfy…’ leaps off the page and stimulates your senses because it describes two senses – smell and touch. The more your copy describes physical things and sensations they generate, the better. Objects are easier to imagine. Sensations are easier to understand. Easier than abstract language.
Involve the consumer with ‘you’
‘whether you’re a linen lover or you’re all about…’, ‘will help you find your perfect…’
The more you use ‘you’, the more the product is about them. The more you use ‘we’, the more it sounds like you’re talking about the company. ‘You’ builds desire’; ‘we’ creates barriers.
Have a brand personality
The person writing this sounds like they’re interested in what you want – they’re attentive. They know their stuff and are insightful. And they’ve friendly and not too formal.
Welcome objections – then answer them with evidence
‘Worried that our bedding won’t stay soft and sumptuous for long? We test the durability of our sheets for 30,000 washes.’
Discover needs through product reviews
To do all the above you need to understand your customer. Most writers have a good sense of empathy – an intuitive insight into what people care about and why. But why risk being wrong? Complement your intuition by studying product reviews online for your product category.
Look for two things:
- What excites people (needs well met)?
- What frustrates people (needs frustrated)?
Here’s what keeps coming up in the reviews of bed mattresses:
What excites people:
- Gives you ‘a great night’s sleep’ / ‘awake refreshed’ / ‘less achy’
- Good for ‘stomach sleepers’/back sleepers/side sleepers
- Alleviate back pain due to mattress becoming misshapen over time
- No roll - when partner rolls over or gets up, you don’t feel it. ‘It always used to wake me’
- Goldilocks firmness: ‘Manage to be both soft and firm at the same time’
What frustrates people / what do they fear:
- A mattress won’t be comfortable after a few years – can’t rely on reviews as they are all of the new mattress
- Buying online, unable to try it out, and it turns out uncomfortable
- A foam mattress might be too hot
- Reliable delivery
Scan-readable product details
This blog’s about the style of product description writing not SEO or page elements. But here are other elements that should usually be on your product pages:
To get your SEO ranking high and to reassure consumers they have the product that fits their needs, you still need to product details. Things like:
Present these as a bullet points list. Choose the details that are important for your product type.
Other sections to consider on a product page:
- Social proof - reviews
- Offers (time limited work best)
- Newsletter signup
- Compelling USP / feature icons and subsections
- Cross-sell range or bestsellers
Sources and other useful blogs: