Are your product descriptions mind-numbingly dull?

Boredom - Bing Image Search Using Commercial Licensing filterA potential customer lands on your website and clicks through to a product you’re selling. You’ve followed the Enticing Product Description formula so they spend a few seconds skimming the content. (Remember, they wouldn’t have done this if you hadn’t followed that formula!) Still, there’s something lacking and they find themselves not being able to latch onto any part of the content.

Why?

Because it’s boring. It’s dull. It’s lacklustre. Pick whatever word you want. The explanation is simple. You haven’t given them a reason to read anything in greater depth.

What this probably means is that they’ll glance through one or two products before moving onto another website that reaches out to them via the copy; that acknowledges them and their needs; that touches them in some way, that gives them a reason to purchase or even to WANT to purchase your product.

If you’re in an industry that’s not exactly known for inspirational wording, you may find yourself still winning business. However, what happens when a game-changer competitor joins the scene? Or, what happens when one of your competitors reads this post and decides to take action? You’re going to start losing business. Plus, think of how much better you could be doing if you do write great product descriptions.

Don’t let a simple things like engaging content push your customers away. Give them something with a little more character and reach out to them on an emotional level they can connect to.

But I’m a B2B company – I have GOT to be bland!

Don’t think that just because you operate within the B2B realm you can get away with dull and lifeless copy. There’s really no excuse for anyone and companies like 3M are a good example of how to take a utilitarian AND enticing approach. Hubspot has come up with a few handy tips on ‘How even ‘boring’ industries can create interesting content’.

Making the copy count

Let’s get down to business. How do you write product descriptions that people actually want to read?

If I could pick just 5 things I believe are essential for writing punchy product descriptions they would be:

1. Focus on YOU, not we. That is, focus on the customer’s needs and desires, not on how great your product is, or how great your company is, or how great you are. Stew in that at home on your own.

2. Be concise. This is my favourite tip and a pet peeve when people don’t follow it. I hate wordy product descriptions. I hate long sentences filled with jargon. I hate ‘tech specs’ written into a prose format. Plus, it’s just NOT user friendly. If you’ve got to write about your product specs do it in a bullet list. Make it easy for the reader to scan your page. Most people won’t read the full product description anyway and you can’t force them to by using evasive tactics. Furthermore, if you’ve got a LOT of specs that you simply can’t leave out, make use of tabs (most electronics and computer companies to do this). This keeps your page from becoming cluttered and makes it a lot easier to find relevant information.

Kentico CMS tabs

3. Keep your audience in mind and…keep the 7 deadly sins in mind too. Start by understanding that no matter how great your product is, you are still marketing it by taking advantage of at least one of the 7 deadly sins (read Write to Sell by Andy Maslen if this notion is of particular interest to you).

  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Gluttony
  • Sloth
  • Envy
  • Pride
  • Wrath

Begin by understanding which of your customer’s weaknesses you are targeting. Are you selling cutting edge machinery? Chances are that the clients who will be purchasing the machinery from you have a certain reputation to uphold. So, you will be targeting their sense of pride. Make sure this comes across in the way you describe the product and in the FAB list (features, advantages and benefits).

4. Make good use of sub-headings. Sub-headings are so underrated it’s not funny. And bolded sub-headings even more so. There’s nothing quite as good as reading in chunk. It’s how the brain tends to process information in the first place, so it makes sense that you should write this way too. And if you’re going to use sub-headings, don’t be boring. Just because you can’t think of an alternative to ‘benefits include’, doesn’t mean you can’t hire someone else to do the thinking for you.

5. Get your readers to use their imagination. Help them see how they will use the product even before they’ve bought it. A good way to do this is to use videos. Asics, best known for selling running shoes, does this particularly well. However, product videos are becoming pretty standard. If you don’t use them, consider doing so. An even EASIER way to do this if videos are not up your street is to go the extra mile and give users an application for your product. Again, this is a good tactic whether you’re B2C or B2B. Take a look at the Starbucks website and more specifically at one of the product descriptions advertising Tazo tea. You can really get into imagining yourself with a cup of this stuff!

tazo tea

 

So, how can you tell whether or not you’re boring your customers?

If you’re bored they’re bored

Read the list below to see whether you match the criteria for being boring. If you do, don’t panic, just fix it.

The definitive ‘Are you Boring your Customers?’ checklist

  1. Does your own writing bore you? If you answer yes to that one, it’s boring. No question.
  2. No one buys the product – yes, this may mean there’s something else wrong but in general, with the right marketing/copy, anyone can sell anything. It goes back to that old saying ‘the packaging sells’. You’ve got to package your product with the right copy.
  3. You’re trying to be someone you’re not. If you’re trying to write in a style that just isn’t you, you’re probably not having much fun and you’re probably not getting the product across as well as you could be.
  4. You’re using a lot of jargon when you could be using simple words. Tip: where a simple word will do in place of jargon, use it!
  5. You’re taking yourself far too seriously. Even people looking for business products don’t want to be bored out of their mind while doing it. Chances are, if you’re being a stickler about things, you’re boring your users.
  6. You don’t rely on your pictures to get across some of the information. This could also mean you’re writing loads of content per product, which in itself is boring. Make sure your pictures and your copy share the product.
  7. You’re only talking about YOU or your COMPANY and not about the person looking to buy the product. Just about the worst thing you can do. Stop ‘we’ing on yourself.

Need any help?

If you’d like us to help you spice up your content, or if you’d like us to help you optimize your ecommerce website for better return on revenue invested, get in touch. Alternatively, take a look at our ecommerce services overview page.

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