Product Page Writing Basics

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Chances are if you're reading this, you're in the business of selling something - be it a product, a service or yourself (keep your mind out of the gutter, thank you). And if you're selling something past the year 2002, you probably have a website. That website is like a train, taking visitors on a trip from point A (not ready to do business with you) to point B (ready to do business with you).

The last stop on that train ride for most small businesses is usually your product page. As such, the copy on your product pages can either be the last gentle nudge a potential customer needs to take a leap, or it can throw a big, ugly and slightly rusted wrench into that plan. Let’s take a look at some of the principles of great product page writing so the latter never happens.

Write with your ideal customer in mind

Knowing your ideal customer is something that’s different for every business. Some business owners will know exactly who that is before they open their doors, and some will take time to key in on who exactly that is. Once you know who that is, you know who you should be writing for.

When writing for your ideal customer, speak to them in their language. Ask yourself a few questions: What’s important to them? How do they talk? How do they like being talked to?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to approach writing for the product page as if it was a conversation with your customer. Using the tone of voice that matches them, the kind of words they themselves would use, and answering the questions they themselves would have when making a purchase decision.

For example, I’m in the middle of a project writing copy for a sporting goods company. At first, it may seem like a simple decision to tailor my language to appeal to a younger audience who will use the equipment. However, the client knows that the majority of purchasers of their product are school corporations, parks and recreation departments and similar organizations where the decision makers are less likely to be swayed by that style of writing.

Stress the benefits, not the features

Your product is made of X material, weighs Y pounds and was manufactured in state Z. That’s a lot of information and I’m sure someone out there appreciates it. The problem is, 99% of people don’t. They want to know the answer to one question: what’s in it for them? If it’s made of X material, does that mean I don’t have to worry about it getting wet? If it’s Y pounds, is that light enough for me to carry in one hand or in my bag? If it’s made in state Z am I supporting local people? All the bells and whistles of your product or service mean jack if people don’t know how to ring those bells or blow those whistles.

A good rule of thumb is to stick to verbs when writing your product copy and avoid adjectives. Sticking to that mindset will help you stay on target for focusing on the impact your product will have on your customers.

Avoid the fluff

"Fluff" is a problem I often see in product pages. It’s those filler words, sentences or phrases that tend to get thrown into product descriptions that really mean nothing. For example, I’m currently working with a client whose product page contains the sentence “[Product Name] is designed to meet and exceed your expectations for a [product].” Excuse my 90’s-ism, but no duh – every product is designed to meet a customer’s expectation. Your product page should be giving me information I don’t already have, or else I wouldn't bother reading it in the first place.

Frequently the reason I hear for fluff being inserted is to pad out the length of a page. If you’re having trouble writing a minimum of 300 words about your product, it may seem like you don’t have confidence in that product. To solve that problem, try thinking in terms of the previous two principles – if you were coming to the page from the position of a new customer, what questions would you want answered and what problems would you want solved? Getting into that mindset will not only help you meet that precious word count, but give your page the kind of information that drives sales.

Still having trouble getting a good amount of copy on your product page? It happens. Sometimes there’s only so much you can say about a product. Still, we want to avoid the fluff. In those cases, try to group multiple products onto a single space and leverage your other photo and copy assets to more effectively occupy your webspace. You can also accomplish this by “fishtailing” your copy, segueing back into information about your company, the broader product line, your mission, and more.

These are some of the biggest and most general guidelines for writing terrific product page copy. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand to wave or magic sentence you can write that will drive sales from your website. Good old fashioned upfront communication about your product or service will help.

Taylor Daine is a content marketing strategist for Roundpeg in Indianapolis.

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