Think about the last time you read something that you found utterly boring. Did you read it through to the end? Probably not. Did it convince you to take action? That’s likely a no. Well, you’re not the only one.
You’ve seen them before. The uninspired, heinously dull product descriptions that tell you only what a product is, but not why it matters to you. I don’t like them, and I am certain your prospective customers don’t either. Uninspired, unfocused product descriptions fail to sell products, and if your product description fails to sell, your store, in turn, will also fail.
Sounds dire, huh?
Well, it is – your company’s success depends on you selling your products. Product descriptions have to take the place of the silver-tongued salesperson you want whispering in the ear of each of your prospective customers. Product descriptions have to sell on their own. To get to a point where you can replace that plaid-blazer-wearing-car-salesman with a product description, you have to first know who you’re selling to and how they benefit from your product.
Know Who You’re Talking To
The personal preferences that drive prospective customers to buy or not buy is what differentiates prospective customers from buying customers. Your business and your products work in a similar way – they are focused on solving a particular problem for a certain set of people that have specific preferences. Understanding and focusing on those preferences is how you can start to build powerful product descriptions that speak directly to your ideal customer’s needs, wants, and desires.
I know you know your product, so...
I’m sure you know your product inside and out. You can tell me all about it with your hands tied behind your back. But, can you tell me why your customers buy your product? Well, because it’s the best, right? Right..? Well, of course it is.
Really, though, your customers buy your product because it solves a problem for them, and they feel that it benefits them in ways that exceed how much the product costs. . How you communicate these benefits are instrumental in selling to your prospective customers.
This leaves us with the question of how to learn what customers value, and what these elusive product benefits are for them. Luckily, the answer is simple: talk to your customers and they’ll tell you. Okay, I’ll say it. Wow. That was simple.
Not so fast, though. There’s more to it.
Listen to What Your Customer’s Have to Say
Listening, ugh? Really?
Yes. You have to listen.
You can reach out to your customers in a number of ways. In this case, I’d suggest running an open-ended survey. It’s simple to setup, and cheap, considering what you get out of it.
What you really want is to have your customers verbalize what they use your products for, and what they get out of using your products. This will allow you to kill multiple birds with one stone. (Note: No birds were harmed in the writing of this article.)
You’ll be able to identify the benefits your customers get from your products. You’ll also be able to learn how your product is being used, and in which contexts.. And you’ll be able to understand the language your customers use to describe your product. These seemingly small but very important bits of information will be key in helping you craft product descriptions that sell.
You now have almost all the fixin’s for a delightful product description. You should mirror the feedback your customers provided when writing.When crafting your description:
- Use your customer's natural language to describe the product
- Tell your prospective customers that the product gives them the benefits they’ve told you they care about, or say that they’re getting from your product
- Frame the description within the context your customers told you they use it in
Clearly displaying the benefits of your product is of paramount importance. Use bullet points to give a quick, scannable view of the benefits to encourage those who are already on the verge of buying.
In addition, craft a persuasive story to accompany this breakdown, to help compel r those who are not as far along in the purchasing process to buy. Since we already know that your prospective customers want to use your product in a specific context, take them there with your product description. Tell them a beautiful story about what life could be like with your product as part of it.
Avoid using superlatives – anything that is “easy”, “fast”, or “the best” is meant only for the likes of Hamburger Helper and Olympians. Superlatives don’t come across as sincere, and usually end up sounding like they’ve been thrown in last-minute to suffice for the lack of thought put into the description itself.
Using these tactics to frame your product descriptions in the way that your customers would want to see your product will allow you to speak directly to their specific preferences, and will demonstrate that you understand them and care about their interests. When people feel understood, they’re more inclined to trust what they’re seeing.
Put Your Customer in the Front Seat
Okay, it’s time to talk about emotions.
Memories. Misty water colored memories…
No. No, not those kind of emotions.
Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winning economist. Funny thing, though. He’s actually not formally an economist by trade. Rather he’s a psychologist. For the entirety of his career he’s been trying to debunk the keystone of modern-day economics, which is, simply put, the thought that all people are rational thinkers. In his book, "Thinking Fast and Slow”, he proved that people are not actually inherently rational. He demonstrated that most of the time, people act irrationally, but actually do think that they’re acting rationally, and feel that they are making decisions based on solid reasoning..
Your customers are people. People are inherently irrational. This irrationality can and often does infiltrate and influence shopping decisions. People buy things that they can easily imagine in their lives, things that somehow leave them better off than before they bought the thing. Writing product descriptions that place your prospective customer in the context in which they will be using your product will elicit an emotional response that will surely inspire them to skip merrily along the path to purchase.
The Luxury of Interaction
Apple. Yes, I’m going to talk about Apple for a brief moment. All of you Apple fan-boys (and girls) can now go change your underwear before you continue reading. (Long pause...)
When you go into an Apple Store, you’ll notice that all of the laptop (MacBook, MacBook Pro, etc.) displays are angled at about 70 degree angle. The store specialists do this on purpose. Most people can’t see the screen when it’s positioned at that angle. They need to reach out and touch the computer to adjust the screen, and in doing so, they begin to feel more of a sense of ownership over the thing that they’re touching and moving. This interaction gets them one step closer to buying the machine.
Unfortunately, eCommerce stores don’t have the luxury of tangibility, so we have to make up for it in other ways.
Remember that lovely story we created for your customers? The one where they’re so much happier and better off from having your product as a part of their lives? That was great. Yet, there are ways to make this even more effective.
Complement this description with contextual imagery. These photos can support your traditional studio-style product photographs, or act as stand-alones. An easy way to add contextual imagery to your product page is to use an Instagram plugin that shows customer-uploaded photos of people using your product in the wild. These will help your prospective customers place themselves in the moment of ownership, getting them one step closer to purchasing.
Psychologist Stephen Palmer conducted a study where he traveled the world and had people draw their interpretation of a coffee cup. For the most part, people drew coffee cups from an angled perspective that was slightly above the cup (or mug!). Palmer dubbed this the canonical perspective. People tend to imagine objects in the context that they would normally use them. In this case, the coffee cup is angled in a way one would see it when it was sitting on a table.
The way your studio-style photographs of your product are set up can also impact the way a customer perceives it. You can use this to your advantage and angle your photographs in a way that directly resonates with the way your prospective customers imagine your product. If your product is most commonly used while sitting on a table, have pictures of it taken at the angle one sees a table at when standing. If your product normally hangs from the ceiling, photograph it as if one was viewing it when standing. And so on. Use these simple perception tricks to your advantage, and help your customers engage with your products in the most physical way possible while on your product page. Allow them to imagine themselves using your product in the context where it will be used.
Your prospective customers don’t care about features, they care about benefits. They want to see themselves as a better version of themselves with your products in their lives, so with your 300 word product description, you have to put them in the front seat and let them drive.
Thanks for reading!
- Scott Pandel // Founder of Space Suit Consulting