Published on December 22, 2013 How much info do you need in your descriptions?
How much detail do you need in your online shop’s product descriptions?
So you’ve got a great looking website, you’ve worked out your source of competitive advantage against your competitors, you’ve developed the right branding and overall store marketing approach. You’ve set up the right category structure and worked out what search phrases customers will use to find your products. When they get to the product page, how do you get them to click the add to cart button?
If someone has made it to the product description page, they are seeking more information about your product, but how much detail do they need? A balance is required, because too much information could overwhelm your potential buyer, and too little will leave them looking for more. Getting the balance right can make the difference between an add-to-cart click or the search for those products elsewhere.
How much information will a customer need?
The amount of information a customer will need about your products will depend on:
- The level of complexity of a product – which determines the level of involvement customers will have in the buying process before making a decision
- The emotional connection that customers will make with this product when buying it. That is, whether customers think more or feel more in making a buying decision
Complex products will require more information to convince a customer that they solve their need before they will commit to buying them. This is typical of electronics products like cameras and TVs, computers, fashion items where things like fabric, sizing and colour are important parts of the buying decision.
For high information products, customers may shop around to find the product or mix of products that best suit their specific requirement. Conversely, products that are very similar or well known in the marketplace or products that are repeat-purchased may require much less information for customers to be sure that they need it. These customers will be looking for things like brand, service and reputation rather than specifics about the product itself.
Advertising Agency Foot, Cone, and Belding represented the thinking/feeling and involvement dimensions in a grid which has become known in advertising as the FCB matrix.
Source: Foot, Cone and Belding Matrix
The amount of emotional connection a customer makes with the product in using it also makes a big difference to what customers may expect to see on your product page. For example, if you are buying knick nacks or novelty items, or everyday products like match sticks the level of personal investment in the product by a customer is little so the level of detail will be lower. In those cases, focus your description on why to buy the item from you, rather than why to buy the item. Cover the basics, but focus on what makes you different.
This is shown below where an application of the Foote, Cone and Belding matrix can be applied to writing product descriptions:
If your product however is a high involvement one that will require customer research before a customer makes a decision, put all of the details that they need. Use the features definitions in the admin of your product page to define common things that describe your product (like technical specifications and brand) which can then be used in your product filters. Put details into your product descriptions so that people know exactly what they are buying and that it will meed their need. The more complex your product, the more detail you will need.
For products that have a high emotional involvement, put the highest quality photos into your listings that you have and let them do the work. Have less technical detail so your listings are less overwhelming and sell your brand, sell your service, sell the benefits of the product to the customer so they want to buy it from you.
Take your own business considerations into account
As with any marketing tool, you must always take your own business situation into account as there is no “one size fits all” approach in online marketing that can work with any business. This is one tool to help you think about how you can write your product descriptions, but always get to know your customers, how they think and what they want as no two products or two industries and competitive landscapes are always the same and what works for one company may not for another. Use this as a tool, but not your only tool – look at what other websites selling the same products as you are doing and how successful they are as well.
This said, using classic advertising theory in your website product descriptions can help your products and descriptions be more relevant to your customers, and more likely to convert browsers into buyers as not all products and product descriptions are created equal.