Using storytelling to write product descriptions that sell

Gone are the days when you showed a picture of a box to your online customer and you got the sale or gave a list of features and they happily clicked the buy now button.

The boom in e-commerce raised the bar on what product descriptions need to deliver. There’s so much more choice available to customers buying online that we need to go further to convince them that your product is the right one for them. 

Remember, you’re selling to real people. 

And don’t be mistaken for thinking that this is only for your own products. If you resell products from other manufacturers or companies, reusing their product descriptions just won’t cut it these days! 

Stories sell. People make decisions based on emotions so, use your product descriptions to tell a story. 

“The average person spends 30% of their time daydreaming. This means that your customers are rarely listening. The only tool known to man that stops people from daydreaming is story. If you want customers to stop tuning out and start leaning in, filter your message through story.” Donald Miller.  

Bring your customer into the experience of using your product and start to build a tribe of loyal fans who come back as repeat customers. Using storytelling. 

And here’s how to get going with storytelling.

Know who your customers are

You only have a few seconds to convince your customer that this product/page is right for them. Knowing your audience means you know what’s important to them and what they need to see to stay on the page, scroll down and add to the cart.  

If you’re selling organic face serum and your customers are focused on sustainability and results, tell them right up at the top of the page how you tick the sustainability boxes and show them the product is a best seller or gets 4.75 out of 5 stars from reviews. 

Now they’ve crossed off the two most important boxes on their decision-making checklist, they can justify scrolling down the page and get more information on your products. 

The only way you get your own copy of your customer's decision-making checklist is to get inside their heads! 

Create a list of features, problems and solutions that are important to your customer. Pick the top 2 and make sure you address them at the top of your product page.  

Focus on the benefits - the emotional benefits - the ‘so what’

We’re often really good at giving the facts about our products. 
How big are they, what does it (or doesn’t it) contain, where were they sourced.

Facts are more persuasive when combined with emotions. 

Our emotions guide our decision making, whether strongly or weakly. But they’re there. We’re buying something to solve a problem and that problem is making us experience an emotion. 

Acknowledging emotions with compassion and authenticity can be an important part of establishing trust and authority with our customers. Read this blog to find out more about talking about problems with compassion.

Your product solves a problem. 
Tell them the problem it solves. And make it clear about what this enables them to do.

Here’s an example. 
You sell certified gluten-free flour. The problem this solves for your clients is that they can buy a range of gluten-free flours that haven’t been contaminated with gluten. Ok. Fair enough. But, what does this enable them to do? It helps them relax, knowing the flour they’re buying has not been contaminated. They can eat with confidence knowing they won’t get a reaction. 

Isn’t that a more compelling product description?!

Keep it focused - don’t waffle

Often you don’t get a lot of room for your product description. This makes it even more important to focus on what your customers want to know about. Emotional and factual is what helps them make the decision to buy now. 

By knowing your customer’s decision-making checklist and linking the checklist with emotions and problem solving, you’re getting a really clear idea of what needs to be included in your product description. Focus on this and don’t go off on a tangent!

Write and edit, edit, edit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a short product description should be without humour, compassion, empathy or personality. 

  • Read each sentence. It should have only one point to make. 
  • Split long sentences into shorter ones. 
  • Make sure you’re not repeating yourself by saying the same thing in two different ways.

Know what words to use

Product descriptions are a great way for you to reinforce your brand voice. 

One of the mistakes many e-commerce businesses make is reusing product descriptions from companies that they’re reselling. Instead of reinforcing your brand voice, you’re using theirs! This creates a disconnect between tone of voice and experience on different pages that your customer will pick up on. 

You can bring your brand personality to life by 
  • Writing as you speak
  • Injecting your personality
  • Reinforcing talking points or catchphrases for your business

Go back through your reviews and reviews you’ve read on Amazon. Use the words and phrases you’ve heard repeatedly throughout those reviews. 

When your customer reads those actual words they’ll think “it’s like you’re in my head!”

Use these words to create a story that acknowledges what your customers want to achieve. 

Reinforce the story using the visuals

The product photographs you use on your product page are a fantastic way to reinforce your product story. 

Yes, by all means, use a picture of the packet or product - after all, your customer wants to know what they’ll actually be getting. 

But it’s the pictures of your product being used or in situ that really reinforce your story.

People want the cookie, not the baking mix! So, show them the cookie!

Ingredients to your product description story

Here’s a quick running list of how to start creating your product story. Answer these questions. 

  • What is the transformation your product helps your customer achieve?
  • Tie the emotional benefits of using your product to the factual benefits
  • What does it help your customer to avoid? 
  • Why should they trust your product (reviews, testimonials)
  • How can they buy the product?

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