Research shows that 87% of shoppers say that detailed product content is important to their overall purchase decision. Moreover, eCommerce sales are at an all-time high with consumers spending $861.12 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, a 44% increase from the previous year. You can’t afford to miss a piece of that pie with lackluster product descriptions.
A successful product description requires the right balance of storytelling, rich content and SEO awareness. Use the following guide (with real-life examples) to learn how to write product descriptions that will boost your sales.
How Important is a Product Description?
An eCommerce product description summarizes the features and uses of a product sold online. The main purpose of a product description is to give potential customers enough information to convince them to make a purchase.
How important are product descriptions to online shoppers? Very. Product descriptions are involved in purchasing decisions for 82 percent of U.S. mobile shoppers. That’s too many customers to ignore.Credit: eMarketer
Brilliant product descriptions that compel customers to buy require two things:
- Knowledge of what motivates them to buy
- Decent writing skills
Customer knowledge helps make the copy engaging and attractive by appealing to their motivating factors. And solid writing skills are a must to keep it brief, organized, and easy to read.
When you combine these two qualities, the result is a simple, short, benefit-packed, and engaging product description like this.Credit: Apple Store
Now, let’s find out how to write product descriptions like that.
Basic Elements of Product Descriptions
1. Include what it’s made of (aka materials)
Product description 101: Materials.
Tell me what the thing is made of, or in the case of a service business product, what it includes.
If I’m thinking about buying a shirt from you, I’d like to be sure that it’s made of cotton and not, say, bees.
If I’m thinking about buying a water bottle from you, I want to know that it doesn’t contain any BPA.
What’s it made of?
Make sure to note if your product is made locally, or from organic or fair-trade materials. This is an easy way to build trust in your products’ quality.
2. List detailed measurements and dimensions
Ever bought furniture, such as a sofa on Craigslist, and realized an hour later that it didn’t fit inside your house?
Oh, that was just me? Cool.
It wasn’t this bad.
The dimensions of your physical retail products need to be clearly stated, so your prospect knows whether your company’s horsehair anoraks will fit him.
If you’re selling clothing, it’s not enough to have “small, medium, large” options, because sizing is all over the board these days.
You’ll need to include the measurements for each part of the body that your clothing touches, covers, or wraps.
Better yet, link to an in-depth Sizing Guide like this one so measurement-inclined shoppers can buy your clothing confidently, and not get stuck in an uncomfortable situation.
3. Format like your reader is in a hurry
Formatting is just as important as the copy itself when it comes to product descriptions, because it’s what draws attention to (or away) from your description.
Let’s zip through some crucial formatting considerations: Photos, bullet points, paragraph breaks, buttons and mobile optimization.
Photos. Please invest in great photos. Please.
Not only is a picture worth 1,000 words, it could be worth 1,000 conversions.
So how can you make your products look fashion-magazine good without the fashion-mag editorial budget?
Your photos should be:
- Shot in bright, natural light
- High-resolution, so your readers can zoom in (Don’t be afraid of close-ups!)
- Taken from multiple different angles
If your product is small enough (eg. a pair of wireless headphones), take photos of someone actually using or holding it. Showing your product ON or NEAR a person helps make its dimensions apparent.
And, if your product is complicated, film a short video of it in use.
Use bolding, bullets and headers to make info scannable.
Just make things easy for your visitors, please.
- Selective bolding and headers draw your reader’s eyes where you want them most
- Bullets are an excellent way to group product specifications
- And presenting information in small chunks, offset by icons, can help improve comprehension and retention
Chunk information so it’s easier to process, like Fitbit does.
Don’t overlook your button copy opportunities.
Your buttons probably say something like “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now.” And that copy probably serves you just fine most of the time.
But if you’re a chronic overachiever (AKA ecommerce optimizer), try testing button copy that speaks to what your user will get, instead of the action they need to take.
Example: Instead of button copy that reads, “Download Your Conversion Optimization Ebook Now,” test a button that reads “101 Ways to Make More Sales Right Now.”
Don’t forget to test click-trigger copythat tells people exactly what’ll happen when they click that gorgeous “Buy” button of yours.
This should be a given: make sure you’ve got a great mobile UX.
If your ecommerce site isn’t mobile-optimized, you’re not going to win with customers. And you’re not going to win with Google.
Writing a Product Description to Grow Sales
Product descriptions play a huge part in generating sales. But what should they say? How long should they be? What format is best? How do I make them rank high in search engines? We suggest using the following template to ensure you are crafting the best product description.
1. Think about the who, what, where, when, why and how before writing.
Journalists utilize the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How method for getting across the facts of their stories, and following this process is the first step in crafting a compelling product description:
- Who is this product for? The target audience can be a gender (women or men), an age group (college kids, retirees), a lifestyle demographic (new mothers, car enthusiasts) or some other defined group of people.
- What are the product’s basic details? This includes attributes such as dimensions, materials, product features and functions.
- Where would someone use this product? Is it meant for indoor or outdoor use, for your car or your home?
- When should someone use the product? Is it meant to be used during a certain time of day, seasonally or for a specific type of occasion? Just as important is pointing out if a product can or should be used every day or year-round, as that will speak to its long-term value.
- Why is this product useful or better than its competitors? This can be anything from quality to value to features — really think about the benefits that will speak to customers. Also consider how images can complement your product copy.
- How does the product work? This may not be necessary for every product, but if you are selling anything with moving parts or electronics, it’s a must-have.
These questions are great to use as your product description template when you want to accurately describe your best items.
3. write a product descriptions that tell a story
As you write product descriptions, try to describe an experience, not just the product itself.
Focus on making the reader envision themselves using (and enjoying) your product.
If appropriate, go as far as describing a time or place.
For example, look at the description for the below Bumble and bumble hair product. There’s a tagline under the product name “Sweat fearlessly. Clean Instantly.” Immediately, you already understand what this product does. Then the description further explains how you feel post-workout with sweaty hair, and how it can combat that issue. The benefit icons are just the cherry on top! (More on benefits later…)
Product descriptions that tell a story are persuasive to potential customers, nudging them towards the “add to cart” button. The story doesn’t have to be all flowery language — it can also include informative details. In fact, consumers are 131% more likely to buy from a brand after they consume educational content .
Apple is the masterclass example of marrying storytelling with information within their product descriptions. Cameron Craig, who worked in PR for Apple, told the Harvard Business Review:
“Our mission was to tell the story of how our innovative products give customers the power to unleash their creativity and change the world.”
You can see just that in the product description of the latest MacBook Air. The copy immediately educates the reader on how this product will optimize their personal and professional lives. They also break down complex technological specs (like CPUs) and explain what that means for users in practice, i.e., you can complete more tasks and waste less battery.
3. Choose goals and KPIs to measure success of your product descriptions.
You need goals to measure the success of product descriptions.
“But this is going to take a long time,” you might be thinking, especially if you rely on product descriptions from your distributors or manufacturers. And you’re right, this isn’t a quick process. But, if you can commit to writing a dozen or so product descriptions a day using the formula above, you’ll begin to see a variety of benefits:
- An increase in conversion rate.
- A decrease in cart abandonment.
- A lower return rate.
- Fewer calls from shoppers.
- Improve organic search rankings.
Now let’s take a look at how eight real online stores sell more with product description perfection, with tidbits you can take from their expertise to increase your own conversions.
4. Use product descriptions that match your tone to your buyer persona
When you write a product description, you also want to consider your target customer so that you can speak directly to their buyer persona.
One way to accomplish this is by matching the tone of the product description to your ideal customer.
For instance, if your audience is millennial consumers and you’re selling a lifestyle product, you can inject humor and frivolity to catch their attention.
On the other hand, if you sell professional-level tech products targeted toward business buyers, you’ll want to keep the tone more serious and detailed.
The perfect example of tone is Dollar Shave Club, a brand that made a name for itself with irreverent humor. Notice how their product description reflects its overall brand voice (and matches the tone of their audience) with tongue-in-cheek jokes.
5. Don’t be afraid to boast.
Take the product description formula above one step further, like water polo retailer Kap7 ( and check out their amazing backstory). Is your product differentiated through a founder’s expertise? Is your product better because of years of testing? Is it hand-crafted?
Call that out!
Tell a better story in your short product description paragraph by including tidbits of detail that prove why your product is better than rest. Don’t be afraid to name drop, either.
Kap7’s product page
6. Include multiple high-quality images
Holding a product is vital to certain consumers. Even with the eCommerce boom from the pandemic, a recent surveyfound that 46% of people still prefer to shop in stores. And 33% say it’s because they want to see, touch, feel and try out items.Ecommerce brands can overcome this hurdle by including stellar product imagesfrom multiple angles.
You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional photographer to take product pictures (although if you have the budget, it can be worth it). High-res camera phones with portrait mode make it increasingly easier for eCommerce business owners to DIY product images.
When possible include images of the product in use, like someone wearing a piece of clothing, a customer using a tool — or even a screenshot of a digital product. These types of images help contextualize the product in action, which makes it seem more real and tangible.
Note how Thrive Market overcomes the issue of selling spices (becasue it’s essentially just a ground-up powder, it’s tough to really spotlight in an exciting way). But they still use pictures to their advantage, showing the packaging, so customers know what to expect. They also incorporate an image of a meal that uses the spice, helping to put the product into context.
How to Write “I Must Have That” Product Description Copy
Let’s talk about everybody’s favorite thing: words.
Great product description copy makes it impossible for the reader not to be enticed.
And to entice your reader, you’ve got to be enticed by your own product.
Fall in love with it. Use it in non-indicated ways. Indulge in the details.
1. Write for the person who would LOVE this
Chances are, if you’re selling high-performance sportswear, you know who your target market is.
It’s the same whether you’re selling organic baby blankets, lactose-free ice cream, entomologist-quality butterfly collection kits, etc.
No matter what type of content you’re writing, you’re writing for ONE person, not a horde of strangers.
Be clear about that in your copy. Speak to that one specific prospect’s frustration, pain, and desires — that is persuasive copy.
Opaqueness is a tantalizing promise when it comes to leggings.
When you use writing techniques for one person, that person feels like you understand them. So they click “Add to Cart.” And you get paid.
2. Paint a picture of how it feels to use your product
One shortcut to addressing your prospect’s deepest, darkest desires? Describe how it would look or feel for them to have your product in their hands, on their bodies, or in their mouths. Hit all the senses.
Luxury brands do a great job of painting a picture because they have to. When you’re selling a high-price luxury item, you’re not selling the item. You’re selling status, exclusivity, indulgence.
Straight from ONE SINGLE STURGEON to you and your beloved.
3. Keep your tone consistent with your brand
Continuing with the luxury brand theme: Kate Spade makes whimsical, highly conceptual purses that seem like a super-fun “why not?” purchase.
The product and the brand are known for being droll but sophisticated, and the product description for this bunny purse nails that tricky tone balance.
Feel like buying me this purse?
4. Make them feel something
If there’s one surefire way to get someone to buy, it’s appealing to emotions.
Emotional appeal has long been a tactic in marketing and advertising, way before those horrific vintage ads aimed at making women feel worthless and unattractive for being “overweight” started appearing. You know the ones.
I bet this ad hit a lot of women right in the feels, and not in a good way.
Buffer published a great post about the science of emotion in marketing, and which emotions spur the reader to take action (share, buy, refuse).
Emotions don’t always make sense. They’re not always practical. Which is why they can be helpful for convincing a prospect to buy something they might not need, practically speaking.
For example, I didn’t know I needed a Giant Carrot Body Pillow for Lonelinessuntil I read this Etsy product description.
5. Connect features with benefits
Features are what your product is or includes, like “64G memory card” or “Reinforced stitching.”
Benefits are what your product does for your buyer, like “Never worry about running out of room for your vacation photos,” or “Durably constructed, so you can wear them for years.”
Put this technique to use when you’re listing materials or construction, like Zappos:
Combine features (side zipper) with benefits (easy on and off).
6. Banish cliches and empty phrases
Hey, ACUVUE, just wondering: What exactly is “crisp vision”?
Is it the same as being able to see? Oh, it is? Then why didn’t you just say that?
If you find yourself defaulting to meaningless filler descriptors like “leading-edge,” “first-class,” or my very favorite nothing-phrase, “high quality,” take a step back from your laptop.
Figure out what you’re actually trying to say when you default to lazy cliches. Then just say that thing instead.
Common Mistakes in Product Description Writing
Watch out for these common mistakes in product descriptions to avoid losing sales.
1. A Lack of Benefits
Feature-focused product descriptions lack appeal for customers, so they’re not as engaging as they could be.
This example below mentions where the product was manufactured and mentions the name of the brand two times (hidden for privacy).
The result is a production description with very little value for customers. This text does the opposite of storytelling; the brand has a very low chance of grabbing attention and making customers imagine having the product.
2. “It’s All About Us”
This next product description example misses the mark by focusing too much on the company.
It mentions training people to work on all popular social media platforms. However, this is something that a potential customer expects from a company that does social media marketing. So, writing about it wastes space.
Don’t just tell your customers about employee training. Instead, talk about the goals you can help them reach.
3. Not “Selling” the Product
The fact that someone reads a product description doesn’t mean they’re considering a purchase. To make them pull the trigger, you need to be convincing.
This product description lacks “sales pitch.” Although the text has useful product details, it’s largely unappealing.
Product Description Writing: Final Thoughts
Product descriptions make sales because customers need them. To make your descriptions help you sell, follow the tips in this guide – they make writing clear, customer-focused, and compelling.
But don’t stop there! Make your eCommerce store even better with stunning product photography. The imagery is just as important as descriptions, so making proper investments in both is something that successful online stores should strive to prioritize.