In all the work of setting up your Shopify business, did product descriptions fall by the wayside?

Did you get a list of product specs from the manufacturer, and figure “that’s good enough”?

Or maybe you just wrote a quick sentence or two so you would have something there.

If so, you’re leaving money on the table.

When someone visits your Shopify store, they can’t experience the product for themselves. They’re relying on you to convey that experience to them. Product descriptions are your chance to do that.

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes, some shops that get it right and come up with a plan to improve your product descriptions.

Mistake #1: Copying descriptions from manufacturers

You’ve seen these descriptions. Big, bulleted lists of attributes - most of which aren’t even relevant to a potential customer.

If you are copy/pasting lists of attributes from the manufacturers, it will hurt your sales.

A list like this demonstrates two things.

  1. You aren’t invested in your products.
  2. You don’t have domain knowledge.

You and I know that your shop and your products are important to you. You wouldn’t have sacrificed all that time and energy if they weren’t. So let your customers see that too by writing descriptions that sell your products.

Mistake #2: Not giving customers enough info

If your visitors can’t find the information they’re looking for in your product description, they’re going to find it somewhere else. Once they’re off your site, the odds of them completing their purchase drop.

Keep your customers on your site by providing all the information they need to make their purchase decision.

Let’s look at how Greats does it

Heritage styling with a uniquely modern expression, the Knit Royale is available in three varsity-inspired colorways. Our most breathable shoe ever, we updated the Royale with a cutting-edge knit upper while retaining its vintage DNA with details like contrast heel tabs and other proprietary features.

Lightweight, comfortable, yet still true to form, the featherweight knit upper retains the shoe’s classic silhouette while minimizing bulk. Best of all, the durable, flexible knit cleans as easily as it wears. Beat it up, wear it in, then simply rinse it out with some soap and water. Just like that, your new favorite adventure shoe is back on track. Lightweight tech meets heavyweight style? Weave got a winner.

Greats does an excellent job anticipating visitor questions and weaving their answers into a well written product description. They offer reviews which give social proof and provide more information to prospective customers. The key to anticipating customer questions is to know your customer. What’s important to them? What do they need to know in order to buy? Talk to members of your target audience about your products, online or off. Make sure your product descriptions are written to help your customers choose you.

Mistake #3: Poor formatting

Most visitors read the bare minimum to get to the next step. If they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they will move on. So how do you give your customers the information they need to make the decision to buy?

Make your content scannable.

  • Use bullet points where it makes sense.
  • Use short, clear sentences.
  • Trim the fat.
  • Bold the important parts.

If you give your customers dense paragraphs, they’re not going to read them, and then you’re back to mistake #2, not answering your customer’s questions.

Island Creek Oysters uses an easy to scan list with bolded headings to make a longer description easy to read.

Island Creek Oysters

Note how this is different from the attribute list we talked about in Mistake #1. Everything here is relevant to the visitor and gives a great overview of the product.

Shopify offers an excellent product description editor. Make use of it to present your visitors with scannable descriptions.

Mistake #4: Focusing on the features, not the benefits

Think about the last time you bought something just for you.

You used basic information about the product to guide your purchasing decision, but it’s not why you bought it.

You were trying to achieve a benefit. Maybe you bought expensive sneakers to help you jump higher, or new shampoo to make your hair shinier and more attractive.

You were after a benefit, not a product.

When you write a product description, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What are they trying to achieve by buying from you? Then tell them how your product will get them there.

Take a look at Beard Brand.

Beard Brand

Have you ever wished your locks could look as luscious as they do after hanging out at the beach, year round? Well now they can. With the new men’s sea salt spray, you can recreate your favorite beach hair anytime, anywhere. This Tree Ranger blend will have you smelling like you just got done hiking through a Pacific Northwest forest.

Infused with kaolinite clay to mimic the grit of beach sand, our sea salt spray takes the standard waves and volume you get from salt water and adds a touch of extra texture and hold. Like sand in the ocean, the kaolinite clay will separate and settle at the bottom of the bottle - give it a shake and spray generously on mid-lengths and ends, then style and air or blow dry for natural looking tousled beach waves.

Sure, the best way to get that textured hair might be to soak up some sun in the sand and ocean. But if you can’t hit the surf, then reach for the Beardbrand - it’s a day at the beach in a bottle.

Beard Brand is writing a clever product description that leads with the benefit, gives detailed product information and then returns to the benefit. What are your customers trying to accomplish, and how is your product going to get them there? Sell the benefit of the product rather than the features.

Mistake #5: Not showing your personality

A lot of product descriptions are boring. They don’t have to be.

Do you know what your shop has that the big guys like Amazon and Walmart don’t? You!

Are you funny? Can you tell a good story? Are you a confident authority on your products? There’s something about you that makes you uniquely suited to sell your products. Use it.

Take a look at the Whiskey River Soap Co.

Whiskey River Soap Co.

Smells just like your beard. Ah, hipsters. An almost completely passé concept at this point. But if we made a normcore soap, would it have to dress like Jerry Seinfeld? We swore off mom jeans back in the 80s. Soap for Hipsters is not for the hipster poser, btw. The rich scents of coffee, bacon and craft beer will waft from the bubbly lather and make you … well, hungry is our guess.

Coffee, bacon and craft beer scented Net Weight: 6 oz. Note: Because all of our soaps are handmade, no two bars are identical.

When I found Whiskey River Soap Co I browsed through all their products. I told people about it. I bookmarked the site so I can come back later and buy stuff.

If you’re not excited about your products, don’t expect your customers to be either.

Let your personality, voice and expertise come through in your product descriptions. Make an effort to sound like a real human being. The more your customers like and trust you, the more willing they will be to buy and spread the word.

How to prove it

Reworking all of your descriptions is a lot of work, and you might not be sure about investing the time.

So take a baby step.

Spend some time and write one really great product description for your favorite product.

Set up an A/B test. You can do it manually, or you can use NeatAB’s free trial to make it easy.

Feature that product on your homepage or drive traffic directly to the product page from an ad campaign.

Measure your results. How many add to carts and sales do you get for your new, improved description versus the old one? Again, NeatAB will measure this for you and do all the statistical calculations.

Chances are, if you’ve taken the time to write a solid, customer-focused description, you’re going to see an improvement.

If this article was helpful, please, follow me on Medium, comment below, or shoot me an email. Now get writing!