Picture yourself at a party. An attractive stranger walks over to say hello.
"Tell me about yourself," they say.
"I weigh 145 pounds, stand 5 foot 6 inches, wear size 9 shoes and have a low resting heart rate," you say.
In a face-to-face social situation, it's obvious that you don't list your vital statistics upon shaking hands. How you introduce yourself will have a direct impact on whether that conversation with a new prospect goes anywhere.
But, judging from the way many vendors write product descriptions – often starting with measurements and materials – they're forgetting that an online marketplace is also a social situation. Product descriptions are typically a browser's first contact with the vendor after clicking on an attractive product image.
The product is the "face" that brings the browser into the shop, so don't leave it with nothing charming or intelligent to say. All it takes is a sentence or two to introduce your product with style.
Here are 10 tips on improving your product descriptions, with examples from vendors who lead by example.
1. Show your enthusiasm: Do you have so much fun making this product that you wake up at 5 a.m. to get started? If you're excited about it, we'll get excited about it. Note, though, that you can convey excitement with words, rather than using ALL CAPS AND TONS OF HAPPY FACES AND EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!
"It's lesson time for these two little bunnies. I wonder what she's teaching them?" writes The Little Chickadee about this silhouette print, playing up its fun, quirky, mysterious side.
2. Tell me something I don't know. Starting a description with, "This is a stunning painting/necklace/photograph/mug/scarf" is redundant. If the browser has clicked the image, they probably already like it and recognize it. Tell people something they don't know, like that you started making the item as therapy after your latest breakup, or that you got inspired by a trip to Turkey, or that you were eating turkey when this great idea popped into your head.
"My kids love to get little notes from me in their lunch boxes, so I decided to write them a note that will last a bit longer," writes Sam Hirst of Inklore.
"This pillow slip is inspired by the song that I sang for my little guy when he was much smaller than he is now, but he still adds that same brightness to my days." Awwww. I'm sold.
3. Tell me the story, in a nutshell. When vendors do tell the story behind a product, it's sometimes a long, rambling account. We don't need the play-by-play (better to save it for a blog post), just a few sentences of explanation can reveal lots of personality. Your description should be concise and scannable, and it's great to make use of visual cues like bullets.
"I snapped the original picture of the high street in Chester, England while desperately searching for candy," writes In Love and War. "Worry not, I found what I was seeking!"
4. What problem does the product solve? Many handmade objects fall into the accessory, rather than necessity category of purchases. So, underlining the various practical applications of your product will help sell it. You can go beyond saying that it's a great gift, for example, by mentioning the kind of person or occasion it's best suited to.
5. Appeal to the senses and emotions. Since browsers can't pick up and hold the product, show them its sensory delights. How does the item feel? What does it smell like? Are the colors energizing or relaxing? How will it make its new owner feel when they look at or use it? This will tell the browser a lot more than a list of materials.
"I know I'm not suppose to say this, but I love the design of this bag, and I wish I was a good enough poet to describe the luxurious feel of the felt," reads the description for FuzzyLogicFelt's canteen bag. Jeez, now I want to feel it, too!
6. Use delicious words: Don't be afraid to call the color mango instead of orange, chocolate instead of brown. The senses, remember?
"Made with love on Grizzly Mountain!" writes Jo at Good Dirt Jewelry. "The cheery blue glaze of this earthenware ceramic pendant and earrings set makes me think of spring skies in Oregon!" Love her spirit and the local detail.
7. Connect with your buyer. If you have a sense of the kind of person your product will appeal to, paint them a picture of how it will fit into and improve their life. Are they a university student? Perhaps your product is great for them because it works in a small dorm room. Are they a mom? Tell them how the product will help occupy the kids the next time they're stuck in the doctor's office or at a restaurant.
8. Use testimonials. If you've recieved great client feedback about the product, show it off. Your clients may use your product in ways you haven't thought of, or have their own special take on it. Quoting their compliments in your descriptions is a great marketing idea.
9. Demonstrate improvements. It's great to respond to customer buying patterns and feedback: if you have a popular product, chances are you'll decide to make more of it. But it's even better to show people how you have responded to their feedback. Here's a great example from RouDesigns:
"Our best selling item just got even better!" reads RouDesign's description for this simple vase. "This is a new rendition of our BEST SELLING mini vases! It is also whiter and smoother, better designed, with a 1 inch opening." Super way to show that this product already has a solid track record.
10. Now, the vital statistics. Yes, get the exact size, weight, materials, and care instructions into the description. But, you can always get creative with this information, too. Describe the size of the product in a way that helps browsers visualize its proportions and function. Remember the Smurfs? They are "three apples" tall. What about your product? Is it pocket-size? Does it fit in a purse or glove compartment?
How do you jazz up your product descriptions? Do you think product descriptions can help seal the deal?
Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com