Good Descriptions Rate More Than Good Reviews

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Price still rules as an online purchase influencer, says a new survey, but basic brand assets should not be ignored in online product presentations.


Clear, concise, and pertinent product descriptions make online shoppers press the “Buy” button more often than do favorable reviews. In fact, only price topped persuasive product copy as a purchase influencer, according to a survey of 500 consumers conducted by Markettree for HookLogic.

Price remains king, with 84% of consumers designating it as one of the top three factors that cause them to buy. Sixty-three percent named product descriptions, and 49% listed reviews. Bringing up the rear were videos, named by only 12%. Fundamental brand assets like product names, images, and features, maintains HookLogic's survey report, are the bottom-of-the-funnel items most likely to turn browsers into buyers.

“The excruciating effort required to fine-tune the description of every SKU to the detail that's needed is a big opportunity for marketers,” says Elizabeth Jackson, CMO and EVP of corporate strategy at HookLogic, a search advertising firm that counts Walmart, Target, and Sears among its clients. “The Holy Grail in consumer product marketing had always been to get retail distribution. Having a product listed online was nice, but a secondary priority. That's changed. Now a product's presence online is as important, if not more important, than how it's presented in-store.”

Practical considerations often trump creative ones when packing purchase influence into product names and descriptions, notes Jackson. Recalling her tenure as CMO of Summer Infant, a baby product company, she learned that one of the most important baby bottle features to moms was that they be BPA-free. “We saw that competitors put ‘BPA-Free' in the product name, not just in the description,” she says. Summer Infant followed suit and sales grew.

Consistency of product descriptions across all Web touch points is crucial, the report admonishes, since shoppers browse an average of 2.7 websites during their trips. If a shopper finds a product feature listed on a manufacturer website missing from the listing on a retail website, she could mistakenly assume it's not the product she wants and move on to another outlet.

Purchase influencers can vary somewhat by product segment, however. Product descriptions and reviews are particularly influential in electronics and health and beauty, according to the survey. Product images are essential in online apparel listings, and ingredients rate high in baby products.

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