6 Product Description Mistakes That Are Costing You Sales

by Emily Henry October 7th, 2021

There are so many things that you need to consider when you're putting together an online store. You need to get the customer onto your site, then you need to show them just why they should buy the product you have. Things like product photos are vital, but many sellers tend to make mistakes or neglect writing product descriptions. 

This is a real mistake, as your product description is more important than you know. There are lots of ways that your descriptions aren't up to snuff, so take a look at the most common product description mistakes that you're making right now on your ecommerce site. 

The Importance Of The Product Description

Your potential customers want to know as much about a product as they can before they go ahead and buy it. A product photo can show a lot, and if you add in multiple photos from different angles, then they'll get a lot of info from it. However, photos won't give your customer everything they need to know. 

For example, a customer may need to know whether the product takes batteries and if so what size and how many. They'll need to know specs like the size and exact dimensions, so they know if they can fit it into their home. There are all sorts of product features they need to know about before they make a purchasing decision.  

Apple iPhone 13 Specs

Source: Apple

If you're not adding in exact and well-written descriptions, then that's going to affect both sales and your return rates. A bad or missing description isn't going to tell the buyer what they need to know, so they may turn away from your site and aim to buy the product from competitors. If the description is incorrect or missing important info, then you'll see more customers looking for refunds, as they didn't get what they wanted. 

 As such, you can see why a great product description is so important. You need to be showing shoppers exactly what they're getting, so they can make an informed purchase. 

Spelling And Grammatical Mistakes

It's amazing how important good grammar and spelling are to a product description. You can still get across what your product is if there are a few mistakes, but if online shoppers spot these errors then it starts to damage the trust they have in the product. 

Why is that? While the spelling errors won't reflect on the product directly, they will reflect poorly on your ecommerce store. If there are errors in the text, that shows that you haven't taken the appropriate amount of care and attention with it. If that's the case, will you take the same amount of care with the product when you send it to them? 

Spelling Mistakes

Source: ImpactPlus

This is all about giving the best possible impression of your business, and the products you sell. Before posting a product description, always make sure you take the time to proofread it. If you aren't able to do it yourself, there are lots of online services that can handle proofreading for you. This will ensure you're creating good copy that instills trust in the product, and you as a business. 

Writing Stilted Text

As well as using proper grammar and spelling, you need to be able to write copy that flows well and is easy to read. For example, read the following description for a camera lens cover:

'Camera cover is made from ABS plastic. Protect the camera lens from grit, dust, and sand. Come with a microfiber cloth for cleaning.' 

This is incredibly stilted and doesn't flow naturally. It's hard to read, and so it's going to put a lot of readers off. Many retailers don't realize this, as they see that the description does have all the details that are needed to describe the product. 

Instead, you need a description that flows more naturally, like so: 

'This camera lens cover is designed to protect your lens from all kinds of debris, including dirt, dust, and sand. It's made from high-quality ABS plastic and has a unique adjustment feature to securely fit your lens. It also comes with a carrying case and a microfiber cloth, so you can always keep it clean.' 

This gives you all of the same info and selling points, but it's much more natural sounding. You might also want to cultivate a certain tone of voice for your product descriptions so that they have a similar flow. Again, if you're struggling to make your copy flow or need inspiration, you can hire a writing service online to help you with it. 

Using Manufacturer Provided Copy

When you're selling items from a third party, they'll often come with their own descriptions from the manufacturers. Many new ecommerce businesses make the mistake of copy-pasting the description from their site and using it on their own. They think it makes sense, as it's the same product and so the description has everything you need. 

However, this can actually hurt your product, rather than help you. This is because Google, and other search engines, will penalize you for having the exact same copy as another site. You'll rank lower in search results, and so fewer customers will even be able to find your listing. 

Writing unique copy helps your listing a lot, as it's the original text that will show up much higher in search rankings for the product itself. Ensure you're writing your own descriptions, rather than just using what's already there. 

Creating Walls Of Text

When visitors come to your product page, they need to be able to get all the details quickly. They'll decide whether to buy or not in the first few seconds as they read the page. Because of this, you need to make it easy for them to see what they need to know. 

Many store owners make the mistake of creating walls of text, which are unbroken paragraphs all about the product. This is a common mistake to make, as it's so easy to keep writing, adding in details that you think the potential buyers may want. In fact, it's off-putting to readers. 

Having that wall of text means it's much harder to find the info that they're looking for. Instead, you'll want to break up the description into short paragraphs so they can scan it and find the info that's most important to them. For example, take this post. As it's broken up into a numbered list, it's much easier to find just what you're looking for. 

Tushy Product Description

Source: Pixel Union

 Use the same principle in your descriptions. Adding in bullet points and headings will help a reader see what they're looking for, and make the decision to buy from you. 

Using Boilerplate Copy

What does this mean? 'Boilerplate' in this instance refers to using the same template for every product description on your site. It seems easy to you, as you can simply fill in the blanks and give your customers what they need. 

The problem is, this doesn't actually tell customers what they need to know. Every description has to be unique, as every product is unique. For example, if you sell gardening products and use the phrase 'This is perfect for those with smaller gardens', then it becomes meaningless.

Instead, you need to be creating new and unique product descriptions for your products that address customers' pain points.

Method Gel Handwash Product Description

Source: Shopify

You'll also want to incorporate your brand's tone. That does sound somewhat intimidating if you're new to selling online, and aren't sure how to describe each product. Keep in mind your buyer personas while you're creating them. If you're unable to do so yourself, you can hire a professional copywriter to help you create descriptions that appeal to your target audience. 

Focusing On Features Rather Than Benefits

Here's a problem that you didn't even know you had. When you created your description, you focused on talking about all the features that your product has. That makes sense, right? You need your customers to know all of the features of the product, so they can be fully informed before they buy. 

It makes sense in theory, but actually focusing on the features is a mistake. How so? Because when you're writing about the features, you're not focusing on the customer. 

When the customer is reading the description, they want to know the benefits of your product to them. A features-only description isn't going to be relatable to them. For example, take the following text: 

'This ladies ski jacket features a quilted design, five pockets, and removable hood.' 

REI Ski Jacket Product Description

Source: REI

It tells you what the product has, but it's very bare-bones.

Compare it to the following alternate text:

 'This ladies ski jacket has everything you need for a day on the slopes. The quilted design will keep you toasty warm, and with five pockets, you've got plenty of space to hold all your belongings. A hood can be attached too to protect you from snowfall.' 

As you can see, the second example shows off all the features, in a way that customers can see benefits them. Effective product descriptions make them much more likely to buy from the site and net you that sale. 

There are several mistakes you're making in your product descriptions without even knowing it. Use this guide to correct those mistakes, and polish those descriptions up so that they target your ideal customers. It's amazing what a difference good product descriptions will make to lead generation and conversion rates.


Emily Henry writes product descriptions for sites such as UKWritings and Academized. She's also an editor with OXEssays.com.

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