Laying the Foundation for your E-Commerce Store Empire
AKA…What You Must Understand About Writing Product Descriptions to Be Successful Online
One of the biggest conversion-killing mistakes I see store owners make is lazily copying and pasting their product descriptions straight from their suppliers with little or no thought for how to persuade visitors to buy.
No one wants to read a load of boring facts about the product that don’t let the customer see themselves owning and using the product.
Who really cares if your widget is 2.5 inches in diameter?
Probably no one.
You see, that’s not copywriting.
Here’s 7 ways for you to analyze your product descriptions and see if they live up to the copywriting creed of success.
#1 Revealing the Benefits About Your Product:
It’s important to know what IS copywriting and what it IS NOT.
Your customer doesn’t give a hoot about facts. They want to “feel” what it would be like to own your product and feel reassured that they won’t regret their decision to buy.
Don’t get me wrong, for some products, it’s more than enough to write a couple of simple paragraphs and people will still buy. Things like T-shirts or hoodies sell themselves as long as you have high-quality images to do the selling for you.
The copy is there simply to answer questions about material and print quality and sizing information.
But when you’re selling more expensive or complex products you need to think about salesmanship more deeply. You need to think about joining the conversation that’s going on in your customers’ heads and answering every conceivable question and objection they might have.
#2 Write In A Relaxed And Conversational Style
One more thing that’s important when you’re writing: Picture someone you know that fits the profile of your ideal customer and write as if you’re talking only to them.
Never use a long, fancy-pants word when a short, simple one will do, i.e. ‘complimentary’ instead of ‘free’.
Even if you’re selling business-to-business it’s still people that buy from you.
Unless you’ve already made it completely obvious elsewhere on the page, repeat your “reasons to buy from us“, i.e. all of the things they need to believe in order to buy from you.
#3 Telling a Story About Your Product
What if you’re unsure about how to make your product sound different or interesting?
A powerful persuasion technique is to “romance the stone”.
Let me explain why this works so well… we’ve all been programmed to respond to stories since we were toddlers, so this is where you tell a compelling story about how your product was invented, discovered, is grown or is painstakingly produced.
Not only will it capture your readers’ imaginations but it also builds credibility.
#4 Backup All Your Claims With Unquestionable Proof.
Is it too good to be true?
Let’s face it, a lot of product descriptions fall down on credibility; the prospect simply doesn’t believe the seller’s claims.
It’s one thing to claim that your widget is the best, fastest, lightest, strongest on the market. Ok, but exactly how is that the case?
Give me some numbers and facts behind your claims.
“But I thought you said customers only care about benefits?”
They do. But if you promise them the moon and back, they’re going to smell bullshit.
You need to weave rock-solid evidence into everything you claim.
If you don’t have any proof of your own, this can be borrowed by referencing quotes that other experts have said about your type of product.
#5 Reverse The Risk With A Bold Guarantee
Let me lay it out for you.
You’re in the business of giving guarantees whether you know it or not.
With all the consumer protection rules that exist, you already offer a guarantee.
You just might not say it.
The fact is, the more risk you remove from the prospects’ shoulders and place onto yours, the more you will sell.
So, make your guarantee as audacious as you possibly can.
Of course, as the business owner, this probably makes you cringe as you will naturally assume that you’ll be scammed by all your customers and your returns rate will go through the roof.
And that’s why most marketers don’t do this, in fact, your competitors will have no idea how you can afford to do this.
But the reality is, the longer the period that you allow for returns, the less likely the prospect will be to remember to return it.
This is why 365-day (or longer) guarantees work so well to increase sales.
#6 Make It Alive
There’s another easy to use method that boosts sales like crazy.
With increased internet speeds and a wider variety of free video production tools, video is becoming more and more prevalent in product marketing.
A product video to support your sales copy works really well too and can even be a replacement for long-form copy if it covers all of the main sales arguments.
#7 Tell Them What To Do Next
How do you bring your pitch to a close? The answer is simple.
All you do is summarize the benefits and present the offer(s) followed by your call-to-action.
Also, to overcome price objections, you may need to, trivialize the price by comparing the cost to a daily cup of coffee or to the cost of buying all of the ingredients/components separately etc.
BONUS: A 3-Step, Foolproof Formula for Selling Anything, to Anyone, in Any Industry
Now for the kicker that may surprise you:
No matter what you’re selling and to whom, there’s a simple 3-step formula to any sales message that works like gangbusters…
Identify and call-out your prospects pain or problem. So if you’re selling e-readers, for example, you might open with “Fed up juggling a flashlight in one hand and trying to keep a book open in the other?”
Agitate the problem. Continuing with our e-reader example, you might describe how they’re constantly dropping the torch and their book when they go to turn a page.
And how their partner complains while they’re trying to sleep because they keep fumbling with the flashlight and it lights up the bedroom like a damn searchlight spotting an enemy aircraft.
This leads to the couple bickering…
You get the idea.
Present your solution: This is where you tell them how your cleverly backlit e-reader gives off enough light even for people with failing eyesight to read at night without disturbing their partner.
Trudog is a great example of this approach and I talk you through it here:
Here’s the structure that’s worked for our stores:
- A Benefit-Laden Headline That Grabs Their Attention & Makes Them Want to Read More
- A series of 5 – 7 bullet points (These should summarize the main benefits of the product)
- …and of reading further
- Use the silent ‘which means’ trick to make sure you’re stating the ultimate emotional benefit (instead of just a list of features).
- Bold any key phrases or benefits to help when people skim readers.
- It helps to approach writing them in the same way you’d use to write a compelling headline.
Make the first sentence short and use it to ‘pay-off’ the headline. (Put it in bold too.) Then use the “inverted pyramid” principle, so the first paragraph contains an overview of the key points. Reveal the juiciest bits now, before the prospect loses interest.
So what’s next? (That was a transitional link.)
Now, we’re into the main body copy and this is where you put all of the detail. And at this point, they’re more committed to reading what you have to say. You have their attention, but you still need to keep hold of it.
A good way to do this is by dimensionalizing your product benefits using word pictures like ‘razor-sharp’. This way the reader paints a vivid picture in their minds and sees themselves owning and using your product.
Write recklessly and edit ruthlessly. Ruthlessly, make every single word earn its place on the page.
The truth is your product descriptions should be at least 200 words. But don’t be afraid to use more if you have lots of benefits to talk about.
You can’t be too long but you can be too boring. So keep it relevant and about the reader, not about you.
Using subheads to announce (and sell) what’s in each section. Using sub-heads also breaks up the monotony and appeals to skim readers on longer descriptions.
But What Do I Do First?
When I’m testing lots of products in a quick succession to see what sticks, I’ll invest some time in writing a decent, original product description that will do the job.
And then, if the product takes off, I’ll go back and put in the time to write a more considered description that leverages all of the copywriting principles that I know will make sales skyrocket.
This way, if the product doesn’t get traction, I haven’t wasted too much time carefully crafting a persuasive sales message.
OK, so there you have it, now go do this stuff 😉.
But you may be saying, “…this all sounds great, but how do I do this for MY products?!”
In part 2 of this article, we’ll get deeper into how to inject storytelling and personality into YOUR products with TONS of example product description ‘archetypes’, stay tuned!