Is there an ideal product description length?

Ever wondered if there is an ideal product description length? Or if short e-commerce descriptions are better than long e-commerce descriptions? How long should product descriptions really be?

Types of product descriptions

A product description is the text that describes the item you are selling. And great product descriptions are written for real people.

They mention features and benefits, make it clear what problem they solve, and differentiate your product from the competition.

The most common types of e-commerce product descriptions include:

  • Short descriptions: These are descriptions that are hyper-focused on the key points and cover all the fundamentals. A basic description can be 3-4 sentences, 1 paragraph, or comprise of several bullet points only.
  • Long descriptions: These are more detailed descriptions that can reach up to 600 words. They may be split into several blocks of text or formatted as paragraphs with bullet point sections for highlights.
  • Enhanced content: You would find these types of descriptions on platforms like Amazon, for example, where it is called A+ content. These are much more customizable, rich in detail, and allow for more flexible product imagery.
Short descriptions vs long descriptions? There is no one-size-fits-all rule for product description length.
Image via Unsplash

Short Descriptions vs Long Descriptions: What Works Best?

Whether you’re running your own online shop or planning to take advantage of retail platforms, you’ve definitely thought about ways to optimize product descriptions to encourage sales.

You’ve also probably wondered, should you write short or long product descriptions? Is there such a thing as an ideal product description length?

The quick answer is, it depends.

Advantages of short product descriptions:

  • Customers have short attention spans – lengthy descriptions might be a turn off
  • It allows you to get straight to the meat-and-potatoes of your offer
  • You avoid waffling or distracting with irrelevant details
  • They’re easy to read and allow for skimming

Advantages of long product descriptions:

  • Customers need and want details to help them reach a decision
  • They allow you to be more complete in presenting your offer
  • They give you the chance to incorporate more keywords
  • You can create a more conducive customer experience

In short, there’s simply no one-size-fits-all rule as to how short or long online product descriptions should be.

You will just have to experiment with different product description lengths. Then analyze the data to determine your store’s ideal description length and format, i.e. what helps you convert more shoppers.

Make sure you have a clear baseline with which to make comparisons. You could, for example, look at previous years’ figures but don’t forget that other factors – like seasonal shopping trends, environmental factors, and so on – also impact sales.

Deciding Product Description Length

Unsure how long your product descriptions should be? Here are some factors to consider if you’re new to online selling and writing product descriptions.

1.    What are you selling?

The length of your product description partially depends on the type of product you are selling.

  • Is your product self-explanatory or an everyday item like a dish cloth or ballpoint pen? Then you really don’t need to write paragraphs of text about it.
  • Is your product high-tech, complex, innovative, or disruptive? Then you’ll probably need to be more generous with your descriptions.
  • Is your product expensive? The more expensive it is, the more justifying you’ll have to do.
  • Will it be a one-time payment or is it recurring like a subscription box service? If you’re offering something that needs a longer commitment, there’s more to address in your description.
  • Does your product require special care or maintenance?
When it comes to product description length, one of your considerations should be who you are selling to.
Image: Unsplash/Duy Pham

2.    Who are you selling to?

It’s really important to understand your audience.

Who are your customers? If you don’t have customers yet, who are you targeting?

With respect to your audience, you will want to look at things like:

  • Their Age: Younger shoppers might have less time, interest, or patience for lengthy descriptions. Older shoppers, on the other hand, might appreciate the extra information or details provided.
  • Their Location: Where are your customers located? If you’re serving customers around the world with English-language content, consider that long descriptions in what is a foreign language to them might be difficult to read, digest, and understand.
  • Devices Used: What are shoppers using to visit or make transactions on your website? Unlike on a PC, someone browsing with a mobile phone might find lengthy descriptions inconvenient as they take up a lot of space and need more scrolling.

3.    How much convincing do you have to do?

How much information do potential customers need in order to choose you and make the purchase?

Consider the following:

  • If your company and product are relatively unknown, you might need lengthier descriptions to tell a unique story, build trust, and convince shoppers to take action.
  • If your product is an experience product, like food or cosmetics products, you’ll need longer descriptions to ‘recreate’ – using words – the shopping experience one would have in a brick-and-mortar with your online store.
E-commerce product descriptions that will increase sales