If you’ve ever Googled “how to write product descriptions,” you’ve likely come across the following suggestions: focus on benefits, use power words, give detailed product information, add product details…
Don’t get me wrong, these are useful recommendations. But they won’t help you find the perfect approach to writing high-converting product descriptions for your online store.
Why? Because (1) tips like the above don’t offer copywriting angles that you can model for your e-commerce site; and (2) they assume that consumers are driven by logic.
So, with that in mind, I want to show you how to write product descriptions, the right way, using my favorite e-commerce brands as inspiration.
How to Write Product Descriptions
1. Evoke Positive Emotions (Lush)
One trap many e-commerce marketers fall into when writing product descriptions is focusing too much on their products. Naturally, you want to highlight a product’s best features and position it as a leader in its category.
But consumers are not only driven by reason. With the exception of commodities, we always buy with our emotions and only use logic to justify our purchases.
For a moment, try stepping away from your products and their features. Look at the big picture and write about the positive feelings they evoke, instead.
You might think that online shops differ a lot from physical stores because consumers don’t have the possibility to see, touch, and smell your products. (And you’re right for the most part.)
With well-written product descriptions, you can help your visitors visualize the use of your products and associate them with positive emotions.
Lush is one brand that makes the most of their product descriptions to evoke positive emotions in the potential buyers’ minds. Take a look at one of their product pages:
How would you describe a bath bomb?
You can say that it cleans well, smells amazing, or has natural ingredients…
…Or you could describe the emotions customers will experience when they use it.
Notice how Lush subtly explains the ingredients and their benefits through emotions and short paragraphs. This way, they paint a more vivid picture for their visitors and help trigger the “Yes, I want this!” moment in the readers’ mind.
Luckily, you don’t only have to sell personal care products to use this approach. Bean Box is another example from a completely different industry.
While writing product descriptions for coffee, you would naturally want to talk about the flavor and strength.
But Bean Box frames their products around the positive feelings they evoke:
The company compares the use of their product with similar emotions that will make their readers feel good.
Bean Box speaks to the feeling of being a child and initiates a conversation in the readers’ mind by asking “Do you remember?” (After all, nothing evokes strong positive emotions like childhood nostalgia.)
They also share a backstory of the product that complements the above.
You don’t have to write a page-long story and fill it with feel-goodie words. Be honest and let the reader imagine what it feels like to use your products.
2. Speak to Status (Beauty Bay)
While consumers don’t always make rational buying decisions, some purchases are driven by the motive to obtain a certain status.
In other words, consumers aspire to reach a certain status and hope to realize that through the consumption of certain products—intentionally or unintentionally.
Speaking to status will often trigger the feeling of greed or evoke a sense of exclusivity in consumers’ minds, which will make your products more desired.
This doesn’t mean that you need to sell luxury items or products that openly display a status. It’s all about speaking to consumers’ desire to have the best.
One approach is including strong statements that trigger greed in your product descriptions, such as “You must have this” or “Don’t settle for anything less than the best.”
Beauty Bay is a brand that uses this angle in many of their product descriptions:
The company doesn’t simply say “This product is the best,” but rather invites you into the conversation by saying “You never have to settle for anything less than the best.”
Beauty Bay also uses idols, such as goddesses, that their customers can aspire to be, as in this example:
In this product description, they don’t claim that you will look bronzed and highlighted, but you will rather be a golden goddess. They know that the latter is much stronger than the former because it speaks to the reader’s desire to achieve that status.
These comparisons work well because they’re easy-to-understand and almost anyone can relate to them. That’s why Charlotte Tilbury uses a “Hollywood-like” comparison in their product descriptions:
Speaking to status can mean different things for different brands. If you’re selling men’s clothing, try promising your customers to be “the best-dressed man in the room.” Conversely, if you own a party supply store, your products can be the requirement your customers need to throw the party-of-the-year.
Try to find a status your potential customers are aspiring to and position your products as a gateway to reach that status.
3. Address Common Fears (Bellroy)
It’s not only positive emotions that can drive consumers to make a purchase. Oftentimes, we will do more to avoid pain that we will to gain pleasure.
Finding out the common fears among your potential customers and triggering them to your advantage can help you convert more visitors on your product pages.
If you’re not sure about where to start, take an upside-down approach in your product descriptions. First, think about the problems your products are solving and then describe life without your products. Then, agitate those fears and as a final step, ease your visitors’ minds by offering your products as the solution.
This is an effective strategy almost any e-commerce brand can use. Plus, it’s a clever way to explain complex or high-end products. Take this product description example from Bellroy:
If you’re somewhat a frequent traveler, I’m sure you can relate to this scenario and maybe even feel the tension as you read this product description.
Bellroy (1) wants you to imagine this uncomfortable situation, (2) agitates your fear of losing important documents, and finally, (3) comforts you with their products.
Because we all want to be free and far from our fears, big or small.
4. Free Your Customers from Pain (Birchbox)
Going hand-in-hand with Strategy 3 above, we all have a natural desire to avoid pain.
If you promise to free your customers from pain or help prevent unwanted situations with your products, you’ll trigger their need to stay away from pain and increase their likelihood to buy from you. To make this angle work, then, you should help the reader imagine a painful or unwanted situation in your product overview.
This way, you’ll place a question mark in the reader’s mind, even if they don’t have that particular problem at this moment. You can then offer your products as a solution to eliminate or prevent all existing and future pain points. After, your visitors can buy from you to prevent any unwanted situation so that they can be free from pain.
Take a look at this example by Birchbox:
This product promises to rescue you from pain by preventing certain skin issues. Naturally, Birchbox wants you to imagine how annoying it is to go through those problems.
They help you relate to the problem by saying “It can be maddening…,” and position the product as the solution with the second part that implies “this is the product you need to avoid that situation.”
Birchbox uses this angle in many of their product descriptions. And they do it by finding common pain points among their customers and agreeing with them in their product copy.
If you choose this angle, you can go beyond Birchbox’s approach and tell stories. For example, you could describe a typical day in the life of your ideal buyer where something unwanted happens and where you free them from pain. Finding the right angle takes time, but it’s worth sitting on until you discover the right messaging.
5. Incorporate Humor (Firebox)
We all like brands that can put a smile on our faces. Writing humorous product descriptions doesn’t only help you convert more visitors into customers. It also helps you create a more sympathetic brand and build closer relationships with your customers.
Granted, it’s not easy to make people smile, especially if you’re in a not-so-funny industry. But even if your brand voice is closer to the serious side of the scale, you can still add a fun twist to your product descriptions and stand out among your competitors.
Using a humorous angle in your product descriptions doesn’t mean that you have to write jokes for each product page. You can easily incorporate humor in a subtle way to make your brand more approachable and likable.
If your products are already fun by nature, like Firebox, you have a good place to start:
Not every brand can pull off writing long product descriptions that their visitors would want to read. But Firebox does a great job by mixing humor with the backstory of their products:
The company knows that if you land on this product page, you’ll probably ask yourself “Why on earth would I need this?” That’s why they describe a scene you can relate to and explain why you need this product. You become more likely to buy the product and hold a favorable image of the Firebox brand.
You don’t have to sell witty products or write long funny stories to use this angle. This strategy works for any other e-commerce business, as long as it’s in line with your brand voice.
Take a look at this product description by Barkshop:
You don’t need to crack readers up in your product descriptions. After all, they should still serve the purpose of selling more. Add a little humor to your product descriptions where you see fit and don’t force it just for the sake of using it.
6. Handle Possible Objections (Beardbrand)
If you’re running an e-commerce store, you certainly know the strengths and weaknesses of your products. It’s a given that not all of your site visitors will convert to customers. And chances are, you know some of the reasons that make people unsure about buying your products. Maybe it’s your pricing, delivery and return options, or consumers’ quality concerns.
If you find out the potential obstacles to buying among your prospects, you can incorporate them into your product descriptions and answer your visitors’ doubts before they have a chance to object to you.
Read your product descriptions out loud and think about the points your visitors might have objections. Then, include your answers in your product descriptions beforehand. This angle works especially well if you’re selling higher-end products that your prospects might have second thoughts about spending money on.
Beardbrand knows that some of their visitors will be hesitant to pay a higher price for a brush that is pricier than usual…
…That’s why they overcome possible objections about the product by openly raising an objection and handling it themselves:
Beardbrand directly asks “What makes boar’s hair better than synthetic brushes?” in the description, knowing that visitors might have the same objection. They give an answer right away to justify the product’s price tag and handle your objections by giving you a helpful explanation.
If you need some hints to apply this angle in your descriptions, look through your product reviews and find what your customers are objecting to.
7. Describe Your Buyer Persona (Away)
Some products need more open and detailed product descriptions, especially if you’re offering several different options that your customers can choose from.
That’s when you can be more direct and clearly state who your products are for. Even if you have one or more buyer personas for your business, chances are, each one of your products speaks to different types of people.
Add a line in your product descriptions and write down who that product is perfect for: For beginner skiers? For people who love discovering new makeup? For those who can’t easily wake up in the morning? This way, a potential customer can more easily relate to your products and make a faster buying decision.
Away is a brand that often uses this angle on their product pages.
Since the company has different product options within the same product line, they help their visitors easily understand if this item is the right choice for them or not.
They achieve this by adding a few words that start with “ideal for those…”
Away describes the ideal buyers of their different products so that you know which option is the best for you.
They’re helpful to visitors, plus, they guide them to better decisions.
Dollar Shave Club takes a similar approach, but they describe the ideal buyer in a small, separate section:
The company makes it easier to understand if this product is for you even before you read the rest of the description. If you’re going to use this angle, make sure you suggest alternatives with product recommendations so that you can increase your visitors’ chances of finding what they’re looking for.
If you’re having trouble writing high-converting product descriptions or if you feel like there’s room for improvement, give these seven angles a chance.
Combine different approaches and start with the ones that fit your brand’s tone of voice best.
All the examples above come from different industries, so you can borrow them as you wish and easily apply to your online store.
Which angle will you try first? Have you seen any other good approaches? Leave a comment below.