A product description bears a lot of responsibility. It has to clearly convey what the product is, connect features to benefits, rank the product in search results, build a story, and provide useful information to the shopper. Plus, it has to meet all the e-retailer’s requirements on top of that.
The product description can include introductory bullet points near the hero image and a few paragraphs below the fold about the product. That’s not a lot of material. And we’re talking about standard product descriptions, not enhanced content. With standard descriptions, you don’t get to format the page beyond making lists or putting information in a table.
A product description is like a digital salesperson. Would you feel confident buying from someone who didn’t explain the product well? Neither would most other shoppers—52% would be dissuaded from making a planned purchase by bad product descriptions (according to Episerver). This is our take on how to write product descriptions that sell, demonstrated by examples of successful product pages.
Basic rules for product page descriptions at major e-retailers
Product description requirements can vary slightly from platform to platform, but here are a few basic guidelines:
- Be truthful and clear: All e-retailers require brands to correctly portray items in the product description.
Watch out for off-limits words: Most platforms restrict you from using words like “sale” or “discount” in the product description. You also can’t put customer reviews, phone numbers, or web sites in your description.
- Use the correct HTML tags: Amazon only allows line breaks, but other platforms may allow HTML tags to indent text or make words bold. Always check requirements for each platform; don’t just copy and paste a description from one site to another.
- Stay within the limits: All e-retailers set character limits for product descriptions. Keep content on the shorter side, but write enough information for someone to learn about the product and make a decision. A good range is between 1,000 to 1,500 characters (which could be 150 to 400 words). That fits within limits from e-retailers like Amazon and Walmart.com.
- Use keywords: The right keywords can help drive traffic to your listing. Besides the brand and name of the product, keywords should target the category, differentiating features, compatibility, and use cases.
How brands leverage product descriptions
It’s time to get creative within the confines of a product description page. Let’s talk about four main techniques brands use to create good sales pages: bullet points, keywords, user guides, and storytelling.
Maximize bullet points with features and benefits
Using bullet points is a great way to convey information quickly. They are especially useful to have in the section of the page that shoppers see right away above the fold. Instead of seeing a block of text in a paragraph, customers can scan for the terms and features they are looking for.
Example A: Accoustic guitar starter kit on Amazon
This first example is Amazon’s Choice for the search term “acoustic guitar.” Obviously, having high sales, thousands of ratings, and Prime delivery helps. But let’s look at the bullets. Since Amazon doesn’t allow bold text, the listing anchors each bullet point with a feature phrase in all-caps.
The bullet point then goes on to tell the shopper what that feature means to them. For example, “carrying case included” means customers can take the show on the road and easily store and transport the guitar. Similarly, “ultimate starter kit” means it’s perfect for beginner guitarists and includes everything they need to get started.
Example B: ASUS gaming monitor on Newegg
This ASUS gaming monitor is listed on the tech e-tailer Newegg. It’s in the first line for “gaming monitor” and has an easy-to-read product page. When people are comparing tech items like this, the specs matter. Here, bullets list out the resolution, refresh rate, response time, inputs, and more features that are important to gamers.
Key Takeaways: Bullet points in a product description work well above the fold. Try to translate different features into the corresponding benefits customers care about for each bullet. Listing tech specs for electronics can be effective, as well.
Optimize keyword placement in the text
One of the most important parts of writing product descriptions that sell is using keywords and related terms in the right way. We’ve come a long way from the days of keyword stuffing and unreadable text, fortunately, and search algorithms are smarter than ever.
Write with keywords to tell the algorithm at the e-retailers what you’re selling and to show your target audience that you have what they are looking for. Unless you have a super recognizable brand that also doubles as a keyword, you’ll want to optimize your product description for the closest product category terms that fit plus some terms related to features. Here are two examples.
Example A: Aveeno baby sunscreen on Walmart.com
This Aveeno product description shows up in the first non-sponsored spot for “baby sunscreen” on Walmart.com. But first, notice that the words “baby” and “sunscreen” are separated in the title. The exact match keyword doesn’t show up until later on in the body.
If your listing has momentum from branding and sales, you don’t necessarily need to have the exact match keyword in the title. Search engines are smart, so it’s important to write descriptions with related terms, as well.
We’ve highlighted some related terms, including:
- Hypoallergenic baby sunscreen
- Sunscreen for babies
- Baby mineral sunscreen
- Sensitive skin
- Hypoallergenic sunscreen
Not only do these terms give a more complete picture of the product to shoppers and the search algorithm, but they can help the product rank for other search terms. In fact, this Aveeno baby sunscreen shows up on the first page for all of these terms. The product description should also perform well for other searches that are a combination of these terms or their synonyms.
Example B: LG waterproof bluetooth speaker on Argos.co.uk
This LG speaker is the first listing that comes up for “waterproof Bluetooth speaker” on Argos.co.uk. Notice again that the title contains each word but not as an exact match.
In the product description, LG uses a number of different terms that relate to the idea of a waterproof Bluetooth speaker:
- Portable Bluetooth speaker
- Party portable
- Pool party
The product description also talks about compatibility with different systems and lets shoppers know they can submerge the speaker in water. All of it is embedded in a story that sets the tone of a fun pool party.
Key takeaways: When it comes to keywords, it’s all about the balancing act. In your product descriptions, you should have a few exact match keywords in the body and also a number of related terms. Through researching and marketing your products, you should already be familiar with these. If you need more ideas, you can use other tools like Google Search Console or Google Trends to find search keywords.
Inform with a user guide or technical data
A user guide is a great tool to build customer confidence in your product. When you explain how to use your product in a simple way, people can imagine themselves using it. Plus, it can answer questions your customers may have before they ask them.
It’s also important to include technical information when you write product descriptions for electronics, appliances, and other complex items. E-retailers will often include comparison tables to make shopping easier, but your product won’t be featured (or clicked on) if the information is missing.
Example A: BaByliss curling iron on Amazon.co.uk
This BaByliss curling iron is Amazon’s Choice in its category. Instead of talking about technical features like temperature settings, power supply, or heat up time, the listing includes an informative user guide. The guide shows customers how to operate the tong and how to get different types of curls, which is helpful to a first-time buyer.
Example B: Blink Mini security camera on Amazon
This Blink Mini listing is a good illustration of using technical details. This information is included further down the page, and some of it also appears in a comparison chart. The table also includes links to the warranty, terms of service, and support.
Key takeaways: Informative guides and technical details build trust. If your product ships with a physical user guide, see if you can include any of that information on the e-retailer product page.
Inspire with brand storytelling and tone of voice
In many cases, people don’t just buy products based on technical details in product descriptions. Instead, there’s a deeper desire like having a new experience, spending more time with the kids, or making life easier. Product descriptions can tap into deeper desires through storytelling and take the experience beyond a transaction on an e-commerce site.
Example A: Barbie Olympic Skateboarding Doll on ToyUniverse.com.au
Barbie doesn’t just describe the toy’s outfit and accessories. Instead, it tells a story of how the doll can inspire children to dream big. Phrases like “She has been training hard for her events,” place the shopper in a narrative instead of transactional experience. Barbie does this well as a brand across its products.
Example B: Oculus Go VR headset on Amazon
This Oculus Go listing also speaks to shoppers on deeper levels than generic sales or technical information. Phrases like “personal theater” and “designed to be ready when you are” conjure images of pure entertainment on demand. The product description includes a number of technical features, but they are always grounded in the larger narrative.
Key takeaways: Through storytelling, brands can weave their core values into the product and create an impression on the shopper. When done well, almost any product can benefit from a storytelling element.
Crafting effective bullet points lets shoppers skim for key information, and the right use of keywords helps the product draw clicks from a range of searches. User guides build trust, and storytelling elevates the listing to another level. Just because a shopper clicked on a product page doesn’t mean they are going to buy. The good news is that, with the right techniques, brands can write product descriptions that sell.