A common misconception among creatives – especially in the handmade goods space – is that high quality images accompanied by a description of a product’s features are enough to sell products online.
But if that were true, Google wouldn’t deliver 3,550,000 results when you search on the phrase, “why isn’t my stuff selling on Etsy?”
Whether you sell on Etsy, Artfire, Big Cartel, or your own e-commerce site or blog, if you’re getting a decent amount of traffic to your site but making too few sales, turning up the volume on your product descriptions is one way to help convert more browsers into buyers.
Buying Decisions Are Emotional
The key to writing product descriptions that sell is to remember that people buy based on emotion and justify purchases based on logic.
Think about chocolate cake. If people acted rationally, they wouldn’t buy it – sugar is bad for you, it’s not nutritious, and it makes you fat – it’s nothing but empty, unhealthy calories.
But chocolate cake is a multi-million dollar industry because it makes you feel good. And once you’ve ordered a big fat slice of it, you can justify that decision based on a few logical facts, such as, “I worked out and ate a clean, healthy diet all week, so this won’t hurt,” or “I lost 5 pounds this month, this is my reward.”
What you want to do when writing product descriptions is create an emotional experience for your buyers that’s in line with the way they want to feel when wearing/using/consuming your products – because a dry as dust list of dimensions and specifications isn’t going to help you make sales.
How to Create an Emotional Experience for Your Buyers
When writing any kind of copy for your online empire, there a variety of emotions you can potentially tap into – curiosity, benevolence, pride, vanity, love, and trust, among others. This will depend on the intersection of your customers’ needs and wants and how your products fulfill them. This isn’t about manipulation, it’s about offering them something they already have a desire for.
There’s no one exact “right” way to write a product description, but here’s a 3-step process I often use:
- Know the ideal customer and determine her core buying emotion
- List the product’s features; transform features into benefits
- Create a verbal picture that helps the buyer envision what it would be like to own the product
Step 1: The first rule of effective copywriting is to know your customer.
Everything flows from this. You really want to get inside their heads and figure out the deeper emotional benefit they’re seeking as a result of buying your product. What is the core desire you’re tapping into with what you sell?
With one-of-a-kind jewelry it could be your customer’s desire to feel unique and special, and therefore validated as the quirky individual she is. With knitwear for infants, it could be that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from your customer knowing how safe and warm her baby is in the wintry weather, all while looking too adorable for words.
One way to uncover your ideal customer’s core buying emotion is through use of the “so what?” technique. This handy little copywriting exercise helps you figure out the deeper emotional benefit your customer is searching for.
Let’s take the knitwear for babies example above. Let’s say you’re selling to Moms of infants, and your products are made with baby-friendly yarn. That’s a feature, so you ask yourself, “so what?” The answer: The yarn I use is safer for babies. That’s a surface benefit. So again you ask, “so what?” Because it’s non-toxic, it won’t irritate baby’s skin, meaning they won’t get fussy and cry. “So what?” Because it’s comforting to their skin, they are happy, and if they’re happy, Mom is happy. Choosing a product made with baby-friendly yarn proves Mom loves her baby and wants what’s best for her, and that makes her a really great parent.
Bingo! Mom can feel good knowing she’s a thoughtful, caring parent – that’s a core emotional benefit.
Step 2: Transform features into benefits.
The goal is to connect with your potential buyers on an emotional level, and you do that by selling benefits, not features.
Features are things your product is or contains – such as its specifications and dimensions. Benefits are what the product does, the result it produces – as in the example above, the feeling that comes from wearing a one-of-a-kind piece of handmade jewelry or swaddling your infant in babylicious knitwear.
So make a list of your product’s features, then transform them into benefits. You’ll include the features in your description as well, both to embed your keywords and to satisfy your buyer’s need to justify the purchase.
Let’s use the knitwear for babies example to demonstrate, and let’s assume we’re talking about a baby cardigan with matching hat for a little girl. And let’s say the customer is a doting Mom who loves to deck her baby out in super-cute outfits, but also wants only the best non-toxic materials next to her baby’s skin (remember our core buying emotion – our customer is a good parent who derives satisfaction from doing what’s best for her baby). She also never shops department stores because she’s interested in baby clothes that are one-of-a-kind – just like her child.
Here’s a typical example of a product description that focuses solely on features: Handmade, one-of-a-kind cardigan and matching hat for baby girl. Made with baby-friendly yarn. All orders are 100% customizable. Large selection of colors. Sizes: newborn to 6 months.
That’s a lackluster description with no emotion-inducing benefits to compel interest from potential buyers.
Here’s how we could turn those features into benefits: Handmade, one-of-a-kind matching hat and cardigan set (feature) especially for your little princess, keeps her warm and toasty on those cold winter days (benefit). All orders are 100% customizable (feature). You choose the pattern and colors (feature) that accentuate your adorable little one’s unique personality so she’ll stay cuddled in comfort (benefit), befitting the stylish and sparkly little snowflake she is (benefit). Made with baby-friendly yarn (feature), swaddles your child in the safest, softest materials (feature) for a happy, healthy and stylish baby (benefit).
Step 3: Paint a verbal picture of how your product will enhance your customer’s life and how they will feel owning it.
This is where it all comes together. You’ve figured out the ideal customer for your product and you’ve determined her core buying emotion. You know your products features, and you’ve transformed them into benefits. Now you want to add some creativity by painting a picture for your customer of how owning your product will make them feel. This is where you’ll make that all important emotional connection.
Bespoke Baby: One-of-a-Kind Organic Knitwear Made Especially for Your Little Princess
When it comes to looking oh-so-adorable, your precious little one has it covered. Every sweet outfit elicits oohs and aahs every time you leave the house. Compliments on your knack for finding the most fetching and unique baby clothes around? You’re used to that. (The fact that you’ve never shopped at Babies “R” Us and rarely step foot inside your neighborhood mall might have something to do with that.)
What your admirers might not know? Every piece you buy is made from 100% organic baby-friendly yarn, so your baby is always snuggled into the safest, healthiest haven possible. So while she’s radiating cuteness, she’s also nourished and protected. And what could be more important than that?
- Handmade, one-of-a-kind matching hat and cardigan set, customizable and made to order for your sweet little bundle of joy, keeps her warm and toasty on those cold winter days.
- You choose the pattern and colors that accentuate your adorable little one’s unique personality so she’ll stay cuddled in comfort, befitting the stylish and sparkly little snowflake she is.
- Made with 100% organic baby-friendly yarn, swaddles your child in the softest and safest materials possible for a happy, healthy and stylish baby.
Yes, that’s a long product description, but you can whittle it down to size for the online platform you’re posting on. Tip: Use the entire description on your own site, and simply the headline and facts-to-benefit bullet points on third-party sites you post on, changing it up a little so you’re not duplicating content.
Remember, this isn’t the only “formula” for writing winning product descriptions – you can also include information about your inspiration and your creative process, why you use the materials you use, and any other interesting facts you think will entice buyers. The bottom line is to convey how your products enhance your customers’ lives by demonstrating the emotional benefits of owning them.