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More benefit, less feature: writing great product descriptions
It’s been a little while since I’ve busted out my trusty magnifying glass and put a piece of the eCommerce landscape under the spotlight. If you’ve been along for the ride so far, you know I’ve already analysed banners, mega menus, and product detail pages. Today I’m at it again, this time doing my best Sherlock impression while talking product descriptions.
Warning: I’m armed with examples and dangerous!
There is no one alive who is youer than you
I find there’s very little in life that can’t be expressed more delighfully by Dr Seuss.
Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), it is vital you consider who you’re writing for. Ask yourself who your ideal buyer is. What pains do they have that your products solve? Why are they here in the first place? Are they more likely to be in the awareness phase or purchase phase of the buying cycle?
If you’re not sure what your ideal buyer looks like, or you’re at the start of identifying your buyer personas, I found this blog a good launch pad to get you asking the right questions.
The first rule of Fight Club
Seriously. Don’t waste energy and space telling people what they’re buying. Chances are if they’re looking at the product, they already know a fair bit about it. Instead, tell people why they’re buying it. How your particular product will solve their problem. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned solution-oriented selling, and let’s be honest; it won’t be the last either. Long story short: don’t give users an endless list of features, give them some real-world benefits they can relate to.
I’ve mentioned Amazon’s Kindle descriptions before. Let’s take a look at their latest bundle deal description. There’s a hidden gem in there I perked up at... Let’s see if you notice it too.
Here’s the technical information they had to work with:
- Non-backlit screen
- Matte screen
- 4GB inbuilt storage
- 161 grams
- 167 ppi
- Long battery Life
- Bundle of Kindle, cover, and charger
And here’s their description:
- Includes the latest Kindle 6" E-Reader with Special Offers ($79.99), Amazon Cover for Kindle ($29.99), and Amazon 5W Power Adapter ($19.99)
- Easy on your eyes-touchscreen display reads like real paper
- No screen glare, even in bright sunlight, unlike tablets
- Single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours
- Get lost in your story with no alerts or notifications
- Holds thousands of books-choose from new releases and bestsellers, or from over a million titles at $2.99 or less
- Try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days-includes over 1 million titles
Did you catch the point that had me saying “huh, that’s clever”?
The Kindle is a lifestyle product. Potential buyers could easily use the Kindle phone app (or any other e-reader app for that matter). So rather than trying to compete with themselves, Amazon position the Kindle as being an escape; a way to get away from the noise. Why would you want your reading interrupted by an email? When combined with the benefits of being easy on the eyes, it makes perfect sense to buy a Kindle rather than try to read your book on say your phone or iPad.
Don’t compete with Marienbad My Love
A little trivia for you: Marienbad My Love is the world’s longest novel at over 17 million words.
People, as a whole, are time poor. They generally won’t read every word in a sentence, let alone every word in a massive block of text. Make sure your product descriptions are easy to scan and understand at a glance. Use tools like white space and bullet points to get your point across without asking your customers to read a novella.
If you do have a lot of information that may only be useful to a subset of your buyers, consider options like tabbed descriptions to break out the high-level need-to-know information from the detail. This is a great way to showcase the exciting benefits of your products, while still having those factual specs accessible.
Ok, I’m showing my 90’s streak with that subheading, but it’s as to-the-point as your descriptions need to be. Avoid phrases that don’t add any value to your buyer. Filler phrases like “superior quality” are useless. Of course it’s quality – and even if it’s not, you’re not going to say that, are you? If you find yourself writing something purely so there’s content and not because it enhances the user’s experience, then it’s time to step away from the keyboard for a few minutes and try again later.
If you’re struggling for ways to make your content engaging, try considering the overall story you’re telling your ideal buyer. How does your next point tie into that story? Is there a better, more engaging way, you can say the same thing?
So now that I’ve potentially suggested a complete overhaul of your product descriptions, where do you start? To quote my very favourite piece of literature, “begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop”. Or, to be slightly less obscure, try starting with high-value products - remembering that high-value to your business doesn’t necessarily mean high cost. It could be products that will be getting a lot of exposure in the coming weeks, or the products your staff get the most questions about. Start where your efforts will have the most impact, and work backwards.
Cite or die!