E-commerce websites live and die by their product descriptions.
Shoppers have become so used to seeing great content from great brands that they are hypersensitive to quality.
Product descriptions are under extreme scrutiny with shoppers because they are at the end of the sales funnel: people are reading to buy.
This means you not only need high-quality product content but content that speaks to your audience and convinces them to take profitable action.
In this article, we’ll share the biggest product description mistakes that kill sales. Avoid them to create product descriptions that sell!
Mistake 1: Bad grammar and typos (your content isn’t professionally written)
People are used to reading great product content from great brands.
Do you think the likes of Nike and Apple make grammar mistakes?
Mistakes happen, but they are unforgivable in sales copy.
If you want to sell products online, you have to sound professional.
Quite simply, your product descriptions have to be perfect.
Here’s what the numbers say about bad grammar and conversion rates:
- We helped a global e-commerce customer increase conversion rates across three products by an average of 70% by fixing the grammar
- We split-tested 10 adverts in Google Ads. 5 had typos, 5 were corrected. The ads with no typos had an 80% higher CTR (click-through-rate)
- In a study, Website Planet found that typos on landing pages increased bounce rates (the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing one page) by 85%.
How to fix bad grammar and typos
You’ll need to proofread your content properly to catch errors.
We recommend two steps to proofread your content:
The best way to proofread content is to listen to it. We use Microsoft Word.
To do this, copy and paste your content into Microsoft Word. Select ‘Review’ from the tabs and you will see the option to ‘Read Aloud’.
If you use Mac Pages: Choose Edit > Speech > Start Speaking.
If you use Google Docs: Choose Tools > Accessibility Settings > Turn on Screen Reader Support > OK > Accessibility > Speak.
Grammarly is a free content editor that catches hidden grammar errors, like commonly confused words and sentences that could be simpler.
We recommend using Grammarly even when your document editor says everything is okay – it is a genuinely good tool for writing better content.
Mistake 2: Not making content scannable (you make important information hard to find)
Here’s a fun fact: your customers don’t read walls of text.
What they do is ‘scan’ your product description and pick up on keywords.
This behaviour is known as ‘scanning’.
We know people scan content on new web pages thanks to research performed by Jakob Nielsen. Jakob found that 79% of people scan a new web page and only 16% read it word-for-word!
You can make this behaviour easier for your customers by making your content ‘scannable’.
Here’s how to make your content scannable:
- Cover all main features in the first few lines
- Bold keywords
- Use single sentences
- If you use paragraphs, keep them to 2-3 lines max
- Use bullet points
- Use feature boxes to separate different content sections
Read our article 10 ways to make your content scannable for more ideas.
Mistake 3: Not giving enough information (you miss important details and give the bare minimum)
We recently bought three new workstation desks for our office.
We narrowed our selection down to two websites:
- Website 1 was an established, reputable furniture retailer with a £400 desk
- Website 2 was a new retailer with only a few reviews. They had an £800 desk
Both desks had the same dimensions, were made from the same materials, and visually were very similar.
So, we went for the more expensive option and paid twice as much.
Why? The devil was in the details.
Website 2 told us the height and width of the desk opening for a chair to slot in. One of our writers is in a wheelchair. Website 2 helped us make an informed decision. Website 1 didn’t provide all the information we needed to buy.
We’d bet good money this situation is common across all sectors of e-commerce and that websites that provide more information get more sales.
The moral of the story is you need to anticipate and answer all of your customer’s questions if you want them to buy from you.
Information is valuable. Information = sales.
Mistake 4: Writing for the wrong audience (your content isn’t tuned for your target customer)
Most of the time, our assumptions about our customers are wrong.
This leads to product descriptions that alienate and turn customers away.
Instead of assuming who and what your audience is, you should use research-based buyer personas to understand your customers on a deeper level.
In a study we conducted in 2019, we found product descriptions that use buyer personas are 70% more likely to generate a sale.
In this study, we created two product pages for the same product and purchased 250 visitors for each with Google Ads. One description was written for the customer, the other was generic. The one written for the customer sold 70% more often.
Buyer personas are the key to relevant product descriptions
Buyer personas are research-based descriptions of your customers.
They take time to create but enable you to produce relevant, specialised content.
Here’s what a buyer persona costs of:
- Basic demographic information:
- Behavioural drivers. These are your customer’s goals and desires for finding the products/services you offer. What problems do they want to solve? What solutions are they looking for? Is this a luxury or necessity purchase?
- Shopping mindset. This is the emotion behind your customer looking for the products/services you offer. Are they frustrated? Are they looking for the thrill of a bargain? Do they want to improve themselves?
HubSpot’s guide to creating buyer personas will help you take this activity further.
Mistake 5: Copying and pasting manufacturer content (your content is the same as everyone else’s)
Copying and pasting manufacturer descriptions is lazy.
The only acceptable reason to do it is if you need to launch fast.
Even then, it really should be avoided. It’s better to launch a little later!
Here are 4 reasons why copying and pasting manufacturer content is bad:
- It’s bad for SEO (we know because Google says so)
- Customers will see the same content they find everywhere else – this will dilute your authority and trustworthiness
- The content won’t match your brand’s tone of voice – this is important in sales copy because it creates brand consistency
- You will give yourself more work editing descriptions in the future. It is easier to create unique product content in the first place.
Unique product descriptions are necessary for every product, and you should aim to produce better content than your competitors.
Mistake 6: Using buzzwords, cliches, quotes and other fillers that mean nothing (you are wasting your customer’s time with useless content)
Online shoppers respond to facts and benefits.
If you want your product pages to sell, you need to do these things:
- Bullet list the product’s benefits
- Put the value proposition in the first sentence
- Sell the benefits, not the features
- Use 2-3 headings to separate sections
- Write concisely
- Aim for 250-400 words (depending on the product)
Here’s everything you should avoid when creating product content:
- Unsubstantiated claims
Avoid anything you wouldn’t write on your CV. Keep things professional.
The exception to this rule is if you cater for a very specific audience that responds to these things, like book clubs where author quotes are popular. In these cases, write in a way that your audience will understand and connect with.
Avoid these 6 mistakes to create product descriptions that sell!
Let’s recap on the biggest product description mistakes:
- Mistake #1 – Bad grammar and typos
- Mistake #2 – Making it hard to find information
- Mistake #3 – Not giving enough information
- Mistake #4 – Writing for the wrong audience
- Mistake #5 – Copying and pasting manufacturer content
- Mistake #6 – Using buzzwords, cliches and other fillers that mean nothing
If you avoid these mistakes, your product content will be better than most of your competitor’s.
However, your aim should be to create the best product content in your industry.
The quality of your product descriptions has a measurable impact on conversion rates, bounce rates and sales. It also impacts brand authority, trust and reputation.
If you want to grow and thrive, investing in great product content is something your business needs to do. Your future success depends on it.
Oh, one more thing…
Writing sales winning, conversion-rate boosting product descriptions is something we offer as a service.
If you have an e-commerce store and want your product content to sell off the page, message us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat about your project. You will pay between £80 and £100 per 1,000-words with us.