Avoid Describing Your Item
Of course, in many cases, it is necessary to provide clear descriptions for an item. If you are selling machinery or tools of some kind, for example, customers need to read some specifications. But many online shops make the mistake of thinking that writing compelling product descriptions means… well, just writing a description – and nothing else. This is a commonly made mistake by a wide variety of industries that manage their ecommerce website design system.
By simply describing the product to your customer, you fail to address the customer at all. You are merely describing the thing that they are seeing. Doing this detaches both the customer and your brand from the product. The key is to create a broader narrative around a product that the customer can easily insert themselves into. Use “You” when talking about the product. Going beyond a simple description in this way casts your product, and your brand, in a different light.
Use the “So What?” Test
When it comes to product descriptions, communicating directly to the customer’s needs is the most important thing, which is why, as already affirmed, simply describing your product just does not suffice. In similar fashion, blankly stating the sheer brilliance of your products is not enough to draw the customer in. Every retailer, big or small, waxes lyrical about having “fantastic” products, or the “best” quality. This fact alone, whether it is true or not, is not enough to interest the customer because they see the same message on every website they look at.
So, as you write product descriptions, a good way of avoiding this error is through running the “So What?” test. If one of your sentences, when read by a customer, could be responded to with a “So What?” then you have fallen into the trap. To truly appeal to the customer, you must spell out, unequivocally and passionately, why this product will benefit the customer. It is not enough to assume that the customer will arrive at that conclusion by themselves. People want to save time and money. They want something that clearly makes their life better. Your descriptions need to emphatically outline to the customer why this product will do exactly that.
Communicate in Simple Language
This rule may not apply if you run a particularly niche ecommerce website design system with specialised products, but on the whole, simplicity is key when it comes to writing descriptions. Sadly, we live in dangerously populist times, and while it is not worth exploring the dark political consequences of this phenomenon, it does underline the basic fact that people respond positively to simple, unambiguous language that rouses them to action.
On another level, writing something in its simplest possible terms is very hard to do. As Mark Twain once said, “I would have written you a shorter story if I’d had more time.” The same notion applies to product descriptions. The simpler, clearer and more concise they are, the better. All of the most successful slogans – Nike’s “Just Do It”, or Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness”, for instance – are monuments to simplicity. Keep this in mind before you try to write an essay that outlines every single feature and benefit of your product.
Consequently, using big fancy words should be avoided as well. Your coffee may well be “unctuous”, and your new clothing line probably is “quintessentially bohemian”. I’m sure you are dying to tell people about how “dexterous” your range of tools are. But when customers are reading and see words like these it causes unnecessary confusion, and they are likely to click away from your website.
Maintain a Consistent Tone
As mentioned previously when talking about product images, consistency across all products is absolutely vital. Even one pixel out of place can be damaging, and the same goes for when you are writing descriptions for your products. A lack of consistency in tone, length and style of writing will confuse the user and come across as unprofessional. Sticking to a certain way of writing and maintaining that across the board seems simple enough, but it can be easy to slip up.
One way of staying on course is by having an extremely clear understanding of the tone of your brand. Do you give off an exclusive tone, or are you more homely and conversational? The essence of your brand ought to underpin the nature of your writing. If your tone is not cohesive and believable, customers will not engage as closely with your line of products. Many brands, for example, write every description in entirely lower case, or have a narrative format for each description. Whatever it is, find your brand’s particular niche and standardise it across all aspects of your shop.
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