The Absolute Don'ts of Product Descriptions

data-sf-ec-immutable="">Nearly 70 percent of Americans shop online regularly, according to Mintel’s 2015 online shopping report. The statistic reveals an important truth for participants in online marketplaces: People shop online, and they do it a lot. Consumers do it so much, in fact, that people now shop more online than they do in stores. As a result, product display and marketing require a totally new approach, one appropriate for the digital shopping experience.

That's why product descriptions are essential marketing tools, more vital to drive your sales than the product labels shoppers find in brick-and-mortar stores. They are your new fitting rooms. They are your ace salespeople. Retailers who are just beginning to feel out the world of digital sales should be careful not to make some common mistakes that fail to account for the uniqueness of the digital marketplace and the savvy nature of the online consumer.

Don’t Over-Brand

A company’s brand is everything. A shoe is a shoe unless it is a Nike, Puma or Adidas, which, by their very names, elevate their appeal to a broader reach of consumers. But here's a little-known fact: Branding alone won't sell your goods. A survey found that only 5 percent of brands would be truly missed by U.S. consumers were they to disappear completely. When drafting your product descriptions and catalog presence, don't consume yourself with branding at the expense of touting the quality of your goods and the distinctive nature that gives it a competitive advantage.

Don't Hide Your Socially-Conscious Side

In an interview with Yale Insights, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, said flatly, “Sustainability is the reason we’re in business.” In a study from Cone Communications, 84 percent of consumers said they would make personal sacrifices during a purchase if it meant addressing social and environmental issues. Unfortunately, 81 percent said the biggest barrier to not purchasing more socially conscious products was availability. If yours is an ethical company, tell your customers in the product descriptions.

Don't Rehash Old Descriptions

Like anything online, product descriptions are subject to the discretion of search engine algorithms. Search engines use a complicated formula to decide what tops the list of search results based on the words on a web page. Currently, search engines favor websites with unique, high-quality content. That’s the number one reason to skip using the generic manufacturer’s description of a product. Why? Because everyone else online is going to be using that description. If you focus on making your descriptions search engine-friendly, you stand out online.

Don't Use Big Paragraphs

Technical products often require explanation. But online shoppers often skim product descriptions and won't have the time or patience to read a dense paragraph. Instead, use features, and break up your information into short bullet points that are easy for consumers to understand.

Don't Forget the Images

Online shopping lacks the tangible experience of a product. People in the market for new shoes, and who won't buy just because they are Nikes or Pumas, can't feel their weight or the tug of the rubber when they're shopping on a website. Replicating those sensations online is currently impossible, so photos and text have to provide as much information and appeal as possible. Strive for crisp, clear product photos and compelling descriptions.

If you are trying to recreate the in-store shopping experience online, ask yourself what appeals to you when you walk into a shop. A brick-and-mortar establishment tries to make its entrance inviting and positions its products so they look appealing. Using smart language, striking images and a good sales pitch, you can get your online shoppers to take a chance on your product.

This blog post was written by Sanjeev CJ Teku, founder of Catsy.

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