The Importance of Unique, Informative and Effective Product Copy

Product descriptions are starting to get their due respect.  Recent surveys from Shotfarm and Salsify reveal that product descriptions have a high ranking effect on a number of critical consumer attributes such as brand trust, shopping cart abandonment and returns.  Helen Laggat at BizReport says “Survey respondents said product descriptions ranked first in regards to their decision to make a purchase, higher than reviews (second place) and price (third place).”  It makes sense, if you are shopping online and see a product with a poor description, your trust in the brand immediately degrades.

From the perspective of the retailer, maintaining top quality, unique product descriptions across thousands/millions of products is heavy lifting.   It’s not correct to lump images and text into the definition of product description.  For the purpose of this article, product description means the text.  One common approach for textual product descriptions is to use the manufactures’ provided copy, however, this often comes with a penalty.   Search algorithms recognizing duplicate text on multiple sites will downgrade the ranking of those sites which impacts inbound traffic.

So the publishing burden falls on the retailer and this is where Phrasetech, a new startup is focusing.  Phrasetech has developed a patent pending technology that can generate natural language for product descriptions at scale.  Hundreds or thousands of versions can be created for each description to allow for multivariate testing.  This approach tackles the challenges from multiple angles.  First, having product descriptions generated in your own voice produces unique language native to your site, which increases SEO, and can translate into a 5-10% lift of inbound traffic.

Second, taking an automated approach greatly shortens the time it takes to set a new product live on site. The Phrasetech engine produces the product copy in seconds while giving the retailer full control over the quality, voice and selected specific wording. Lastly, the cost savings for machine generated copy can be significant ranging from 30-50% less compared to having product descriptions created manually.

Aside from the above benefits quite possibly the most impactful upside of generating copy that can be optimized is the marketing aspect and downstream revenue lift.  Sara Berg from Shotfarm posted: “The survey found that the impact of poor product content on digital sales is most readily apparent in three areas: Returns, Shopping Cart Abandonment, and Brand Trust.  The quality of product data impacts all facets of the online retail business, which can be further seen in the infographic below about the impact of poor product content.”  Many retailers provide fact-based text with little marketing copy to enhance the description.

In fact, many retailers do the very minimum when it comes to copy, often listing basic specifications along with visual images.  This would be like salespeople who are running the floor of a brick and mortar shop addressing all the customers who walk through the front door in the same exact manner.  Of course, this is not the best method to engage customers in the physical world and the same principle also applies for product pages.  Phrasetech generates dynamic product marketing oriented copy that considers important factors such as location, season, category, brand, referral source and other relevant attributes.

Phrasetech will generate tens of thousands of potential marketing messages for each and every product and optimize between them to provide the best performing message.  As a result, conversion to “add to cart” rates can be 5%-20% better using dynamic marketing messages.  As Sara Berg reports, richer product descriptions better inform the buyers, so they can be more sure when making a purchase.  This has a direct benefit to the number of returns that come back from purchases made with little or poor product descriptions.

The Phrasetech mission is to breathe life and intelligence into product descriptions.  Think data-driven text being optimized for the outcomes retailers decide on.  As consumer trust and loyalty becomes increasingly harder to earn and retain it only makes sense that one of the most important parts of your brand voice, the actual product copy is anything but static.


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