If you want a challenge, try writing e-commerce product descriptions.
Within a typical 60 to 70 words, you must concisely
convey the benefits and selling points of your product
while including search engine keyphrases that engage your
target audience... all while working within the constraints of
your content management system (CMS).
How do the pros do it?
We understand that balance and organization are vital.
Using the following simple, seven-step process will help
you quickly master the art of e-commerce copywriting. Once
you do, you will then be able to generate enticing copy that
drives sales and boosts search engine positioning.
1. Get Familiar with the Target Audience
Amazingly, most people completely ignore their target customer
when writing product descriptions. However, the site
visitor is the key to shaping copy; the tone it takes and which
angle is used to communicate the benefits.
For example, if your target audience consists of gourmet
chocolate lovers, you will want to focus on the distinctiveness
of your products’ flavors, the quality of the ingredients
or perhaps the luxurious texture. But what if your target
audience consists of — in part or in whole — those seeking
Added ingredients in gourmet chocolates may cause
problems for those with celiac disease. These consumers are
regularly forced to stick with ordinary, plain chocolate
candies due to their condition. By doing a little research,
you will find that gluten-free items are some of the most
sought-after, up-and-coming grocery products. You will want
to make certain this segment of your gourmet site visitors
understands that you have products that meet their
Knowing your audience as a whole and understanding
each segment within that audience is imperative to creating
e-commerce copy that hits the mark every time.
2. List the Biggest Benefits
The steps in this process are progressive. So, while keeping
your target audience and its needs in mind, make a list of the
benefits that are most important to your customers. You may
want to include various segments in your list.
Continuing with the example above, let’s create a mini-list
for a boxed collection of international chocolates.
Gourmet Chocolate Lovers — Distinctive ingredients imported
from across the globe.
Health-Conscious — Organic ingredients, premium dark
chocolate, high-quality nuts.
Special Dietary Needs —Gluten-free. Other collections available
might include sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan and kosher.
All Customers — 100-percent pure ingredients; no artificial
colors, flavors or additives.
Gift-Givers — Attractive, boutique-style gift boxes wrapped
in a silk bow. Gift card included at no additional cost. A style(s)
appropriate for both personal and business gifting.
3. Predict the Future
Good copywriters look past the buying experience toward the
future. After the customer purchases this product, how will
his or her life be different or better? What will be the specific
end result of a purchase?
In the case of gourmet chocolates, the end result for those
purchasing for themselves might be breathing a sigh of satisfaction
as these divine confections melt in their mouths. For
gift-givers, the end result could be a positive impression on
the recipients (whether business or personal) with a truly distinctive
collection unlike any they have ever received.
Whatever the end result, it is important to give your site
visitors a glimpse into the future so they can see how purchasing
from your company will improve their lives.
4. Know the Limits of Your CMS
Content management systems (CMS) can be frustrating. Before
you set out to write product copy 150 words long with a
catchy headline, you will want to verify what can and cannot
be accomplished in your system. Some have limited room in
the copy field. Others force the headline by pulling information
from the product specifications. For example, the headline
on each product page might be automatically fed from the
title of the product.
Knowing what obstacles and limitations must be overcome
will make the process of writing copy much easier. A few common
areas to check include:
• Maximum word or character count in the product copy
• Additional fields below the fold (i.e. if you run out of space
in the product copy field, you can add a link for ‘more
information’ that drops the reader to a space further down
• Forced information (headlines that are automatically
inserted, product copy automatically fed to category
5. Incorporate Search Engine Keyphrases
Depending on your site design and your CMS, product descriptions
could conceivably be hundreds of words long. However,
you are most likely looking at around 60 – 80 words.
That doesn’t leave much room to incorporate keyphrases.
While longer Web pages benefit from the use of multiple
search terms, I recommend sticking to one keyphrase for short
product descriptions. Start with the framework of your page
including the title tag, description meta tag, file name, page
name in the navigational structure, breadcrumb trail, forced
page headline and other elements. Then move on to the content.
Use search phrases in:
• Headlines — If your headline is not forced by your CMS,
make a point to include your keyphrase; provided it doesn’t
detract from the message. It is usually very simple to incorporate
a keyphrase into a headline, but — if for some
reason it just doesn’t flow — leave it out.
• Product Image Captions — Too many e-commerce sites
simply shove “Product #12345” below graphics. Instead,
underneath the hero shot of your product enter a short,
keyword-rich sentence that briefly describes the item. This
assists your visitors with learning about your product and
gives a little nudge to your rankings.
• Product Copy — Even within 60 – 80 words you should be
able to comfortably include your best search term at least
two or perhaps three times. Read the text out loud. If it
sounds redundant, take out one instance of your keyphrase.
6. Write the Copy
It’s time to put all the pieces together. Start by reviewing the
previous five steps. We have our target customer base, benefits,
end results and keyphrase. Combine everything you have
to create a compelling product description that will capture
plenty of clicks.
While there are dozens of ways to write copy for any given
product, here is one version of sample copy for our gourmet
chocolate product. Our keyphrase is [gourmet chocolates].
Tour the World with International
Do a little culinary globetrotting with our collection of
gourmet chocolates. Only 100% pure ingredients from
across the globe are used. Organic Hawaiian coconut,
Australian macadamia nuts and other exceptional treats
blend with the richest dark cocoa from West Africa for
distinctive gourmet chocolates that truly indulge the
senses. This assortment of 16 truffles is gluten-free,
elegantly packaged for personal or business gifting,
and wrapped with a silk bow.
7. Tweak, Test & Track
Satisfied? You shouldn’t be. There is always room for improvement.
Change a word or two in the headline or alter the
focus to one particular segment of your audience. Gradually
make small tweaks to your product descriptions and test them
against the original version of the copy. Track your results in
order to gain the best conversion ratio possible. This is an alltoo-
often skipped step that — when done correctly — frequently
results in tremendous gains.
Once you understand the components of good product
copy, it’s easier than you think to put together descriptions that
garner more sales. Keep this simple outline handy and you
will quickly gain speed when writing high-converting e-commerce
About the Author: Karon Thackston is author of the forthcoming e-book, Wordtracker
Masterclass: Ecommerce Copywritiing, Proven Strategies
for Boosting Sales & Search Rankings, available in