Product photography can only do so much. Since online shoppers can’t actually touch or interact with the product, it falls on you to describe it to them. Product descriptions aren’t just fact sheets — they’re a way to persuade, entice, and ultimately close a sale, but only if you know what you’re doing.
Writing product descriptions isn’t easy, especially without prior writing experience. Luckily, there are a few hard-and-fast rules you can follow to take your ecommerce copywriting to the next level. First, we’ll go over a product description template with the specific sections you need, and then we’ll cover 3 expert tips to get you started.
Product Description Template: What Sections You Need
A good product description can be divided into five main sections — six sections if you include the call-to-action, but some online stores have CTAs built-in, so we’ll ignore those for this list. Let’s take a look at what those sections are and how to optimize them for more sales.
1. Product Title/Headline
Although your product title is just a few words, those are some of the most important words on your entire product page. Essentially, a product title has two separate jobs:
- tell the shopper what they need to know
- use SEO keywords to show up in the right search results
For the shoppers, you want to include some of the details. While each online store is different, a basic formula that generally applies to most product titles is:
Brand + Product Name + Variants (color, material, flavor, etc.) + Size (fit or dimensions)
Some products benefit from additional information, such as the model number for high-end electronics, or the quantity number for product bundling.
Following the formula above will usually hit all your major SEO keywords, but you can add in some extras if you have room. Just don’t fill your product title with SEO keywords (keyword stuffing) — that will scare off customers. Keep them at a minimum in your title and save the more difficult keywords for your description text.
2. Descriptive Paragraph
It’s good to have a solid paragraph that gives an overview of your product. The purpose of this section is to explain what your product can do and — more importantly — how it can improve the lives of people who buy it. Ideally, it should fall between 500 – 600 words so it doesn’t overwhelm shoppers.
This paragraph should present the product from an appealing angle that shows off why it’s worth buying. You want to establish the value of your product both early and often. For example, you might mention how the product brings a family closer together, or how it saves time compared to competing products.
If you can, set the scene for your shopper. Use imagery to paint a picture of how your product can help them. Be sure to answer some of their questions at the same time: when they can use the product, how it will make them feel, and how it will improve their life.
You also want to lay out the necessary product information, such as when/how it’s used, the main features, and what sets it apart from other products. It’s also helpful to mention everything included in the package, like extra accessories.
3. Bulleted List of Features & Benefits
Why does nearly every successful product listing in ecommerce have a bulleted list of its main features and benefits? This format makes it easier for shoppers to scan if they know precisely what they’re looking for.
In terms of product descriptions, a feature is a trait of the product or something it does, while a benefit is how the product directly improves the user’s life. For example, a feature that automatically cleans the product has the benefit that saves time for the owner. A good product description will list both features and benefits.
4. Additional Information
Some products, but not all, require more than the basic information. This section could include technical specs, fitting/sizing guides, usage guidelines, or special maintenance instructions like cleaning or repair advice.
You can also use this section to elaborate on certain features, for example, you could talk about how the material you use is eco-friendly and why.
5. Reviews/Social Proof
In 2020, 87% of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchasing decision. That makes product reviews just as beneficial to sellers as the customers themselves.
Reviews and ratings are a great way to alleviate buying hesitation and assuage fears, as long as the reviews are positive. You can also go the extra mile and include a social media gallery of posts with the products — this not only shows the product in action but also speaks to how much previous customers enjoy their purchase.
3 Tips for Writing Product Descriptions
When you’re ready to “wow” your customers with great descriptions, use some of these best practices and watch the sales roll in.
Use “Power Words”
A lot of writing skill comes down to word choice, and for marketing and sales writing, some words are better than others. Writers call the most effective and persuasive words, “power words.”
While there’s an abundance of “power word” lists, sales writing beginners should start out with these five:
Try your best to work them into your product descriptions naturally, in particular your titles and headers.
Keep It Short and Sweet
As influential English professor William Strunk Jr. once wrote, “brevity is the byproduct of vigor.” Your writing should always be concise while still communicating everything you need to say. Strunk himself strongly advocated “omitting needless words” so that your writing is as potent and efficient as can be.
For product descriptions, trim all the fat you can, down to individual words. This not only makes for better writing in general, but it also makes it easier for shoppers to scan for information they need.
Include SEO Keywords
Aside from prospective customers, your other main audience is search engine algorithms. Try to include all your main keywords in your product descriptions to increase the page’s chances of showing up in search results.
And since, there’s more room to use in product descriptions, try to incorporate long-tail keywords as well as short-tail. Long-tail keywords, including questions and spoken phrases, are more popular with people using voice assistants to conduct their searches for them.
As with all SEO, try to work in your keywords organically. If you try to force them, or if you use them too excessively, it will distract your readers from the core message.
Practice Makes Perfect
You’re a retailer first and a writer second — don’t expect your first product descriptions to be Shakespearean! Writing is a whole other skill that takes some getting used to, let alone sales writing in particular.
Don’t feel pressured to create a perfect product description right away. Do your best for now, and come back in a few weeks or months to revise and improve it, as well as update any technical information and SEO keywords.
If you’re using Ecomdash, you can use our multichannel listing tool to update multiple product descriptions from different sites at the same time, all in one go. That saves you the hassle of going through each channel’s product descriptions and updating them manually.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published July 2016 and was updated in November 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.