Short-Form Sales And Product Descriptions
It’s been a while since I wrote a technical how-to guide for writers that really hits at the nuts-and-bolts of copywriting for the internet.
Seeing as I’ve been fielding a few questions about e-commerce recently, let’s revisit the topic of product descriptions.
I wrote about how to write product descriptions back in September 2016, which is pretty long ago now. This was back when I was in full freelance writing for whatever paid mode. I’d written a lot of product descriptions for a dropshipping guy over the course of that month.
A lot of the hang ups I have about dropshipping come from working with people who are in it for the quick buck and do very little to differentiate themselves. One of the big places people go wrong is that they copy-paste product descriptions, images and more from the manufacturer’s site and this is bad.
The guy who I worked with back then still has his store, and it’s still successful. That’s because he didn’t treat his store like a quick fifteen minute project. He hired a copywriter to write product descriptions. He also got said copywriter to write a custom about page and a home page that was pretty content heavy.
That was my involvement – he also did other stuff, like edit and watermark the images and strip away the product numbers from titles.
Hundreds of other stores didn’t do this, and their survival rate is low. This was back a couple of years ago, before Shopify made it even easier.
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Now you have plugins that just pull all the information, and it makes some folks very lazy.
Lazy doesn’t make money.
Let me show you why.
Why Most E-Commerce Product Descriptions Are Horrid
I went on AliExpress just two minutes ago. I clicked the first available product option and then clicked the first available option on the next page. That was “Women’s Clothing” and “Yoga Pants” respectively.
We got some yoga pants that sell for $25 or so. They have a cute pattern on them. If you ran a dropshipping store, you’d probably sell them for $50.
Look at this product description:
Now that obviously has you salivating at the thought of you (or your girlfriend) wearing those yoga pants, doesn’t it?
Let’s prove my point though, because AliExpress is its own thing. I copy/pasted that description into Google, and look at the first result I got:
Here’s an e-commerce store that marked those yoga pants up to $52, and they’re using exactly the same pictures and the same terrible description.
This is bad because your SEO is affected: you’ll look like you have duplicate content.
More importantly though, your store will not be successful because the product description is god-damned awful.
The crazy thing is that writing product descriptions is easy.
I will show you how in the next section.
How To Write Product Descriptions That Are Great
You have maybe a couple of hundred words at most. You need maybe a hundred at minimum to sell a product.
That’s just enough time to say who the product is for, why it’s a good product and why there’s a compelling reason for the person to buy it.
Woah… it’s almost like the above sentence is a guide in and of itself.
To break it down further:
Three sentences establishing the likely target market in terms of their wants.
Do you love the idea of keeping fit with yoga, but are worried about turning up for your first session and looking totally out-of-place?
That’s basically everyone, including me, and I’ve never even thought about yoga.
Then add a couple of sentences about why this product is awesome.
The material is designed to keep you cool why you work out so you’ll be able to go harder for longer, and as a BONUS you won’t have any embarrassing sweat patches by the end of the session!
Finish it up with a compelling call to action that’s time limited (This is dependent on product.)
We’re only stocking these for a limited amount of time. This is causing high demand, and we don’t know when we’ll get another stock delivery. Secure yours now.
Bonus points for something like the above because it’ll double as a reason for your immensely slow shipping time over the Chinese New Year.
But What About The Technical Details?
If you’re selling yoga pants, you need sizing info. Otherwise you’re selling to headache city. If you’re selling electronics or something like that, you’ll need technical specs.
Here’s where you need to put them:
After the description and after the buy button.
Preferably you need to have store software that allows multiple tabs so that people can click on the technical stuff and the shipping stuff after they’ve read your description but it’s hidden.
In any case, you want people to read, be compelled to buy and then worry about the details later.
That brings me to the last thing that people inevitably don’t do.
Understand, if you’re super-unknown entity selling stuff with a 30 day shipping time, you have to build some trust.
That means write about the process.
It might seem obvious to you, but there are people who need to be told, “Hit the add to cart button, go to the cart page, hit checkout and enter your details.”
Talk people through the process so that they know what to expect. This is the single best way to avoid customer service, complaints and scared customers thinking you’re a scam outfit trying to get their card details.
This is all straightforward.
If you print out this article and follow it to the letter, each product description will take you about five minutes to write maximum. This will pay off massively because there are so many lazy people who don’t do it.
Plus there are other benefits to writing product descriptions and other short form sales pieces. Whilst long-form is still the king of sales stuff, short-form has more carry over to writing ads, because you’re condensing your writing and persuasion skills into tight snippets of information.
Also, the concise nature lends itself to thinking of short-form sales more as arrangement of pieces than creative writing, so it’s a nice way to snap you out of trying to be a poet and a salesman.