Ecommerce Copywriting: 11 Product Descriptions Compared

A recent article on Get Elastic — The 4 Pillars of Ecommerce Copywriting — got me thinking about the '2nd pillar' mentioned in the article, writing to persuade.

How do different retailers approach writing persuasive copy for the a product that they all sell? Do they just use the manufacturer's product description followed by a bulleted list of specs, or do they tailor the copy in any way?

So I looked at how a number of online retailers wrote product overviews for Samsung's LN55C650 55" LCD television. Given the high pricepoint — around $1700 — I expected that the copy for this product would be pretty well crafted in order to draw the customer in and drive a buying decision.

Samsung LN55C650 55

Samsung LN55C650 55" LCD television

Here's how Samsung introduces the TV on its own website:

Stream movies, play games, view photos, and more while you watch your favorite shows on the Samsung LCD C650 TV. It’s all possible with web-connected Samsung Apps. With crisp details and bold colors, the brilliant 1080p picture quality is something you have to see to believe. And if action is your passion, you’ll never miss a piece of it with Auto Motion Plus™ 120Hz Clear Motion Rate. It reduces blur so every scene is full of sharp realism.

Looking at the online retailers, Amazon, Buy.com, OneCall.com, and Abt Electronics all share the same product description, apparently provided directly by the manufacturer:

The Samsung LCD 650 HDTV is a smooth operator: 120 Hz Clear Motion Rate technology allows you to see fast action with a smoothness that’s clearly ahead of the competition. The AllShare feature even allows you to sync up your entire household: A wired or wireless DLNA connection lets you stream your PC audio and video files to your HDTV using your remote. And Samsung's Touch of Color design combines texture and color that will complement any décor.

This product description doesn't compare well with the one on Samsung's own site. It manages to combine clichés — 'smooth operator,' 'clearly ahead of the competition' — with confusing jargon — really, what is a 'DLNA connection?'

BuyDig and Beach Camera carry an abbreviated version of the standard manufacturer product description used above. I'm not sure why as there is plenty of space on their product pages for a more detailed description:

A smooth operator, the LCD 650 series has 120Hz Clear Motion Rate technology, allowing you to see fast action with beautiful smoothness. The AllShare feature allows you to sync up your entire household, via a wired or wireless DLNA connection.

Sears and MacMall also share product descriptions:

Samsung's series 6 marks the first appearance of crystal design. Inspired by designs from the automotive and fashion industries, Samsung's molding process eliminates the need for glue or screws to construct the television cabinets. The result is an LCD HDTV with a clean, smooth finish infused with a hint of a translucent color. On the wall or off, these sets give the impression it is floating, with soft lines that complement any home decor. The company has taken care to harmonize the crystal design with Samsung's largest viewing and technological advancements, such as Ultra Clear Panel and 100Hz Motion Plus technology, providing the sharpest, smoothest pictures even when images are moving at top speeds.

It's interesting to see that this time the overview is much more focused on the physical design of the TV than on its technical capabilities. Perhaps Samsung provides different versions of its copy, focused on differing customer demographics? Or maybe it's just an older version.

CompUSA focuses much more heavily on technical jargon:

The Samsung LN55C650 55" Class LCD HDTV brings phenomenal viewing into your home with true 1080p resolution and a 150,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio! This HDTV also comes with a response time of 4ms and screen refresh rate of 120Hz to ensure every spectacular detail comes through clear, even when the action gets intense. With its four HDMI ports, connecting your external devices is no problem; you can even stream online content directly from your computer!

Dell gets a little carried away with hyperbole — 'powerful picture quality,' 'the breathtaking media experience' — and suffers from some initial grammatical challenges.

However, overall the description marries sales blurb and tech specs quite well, although it could do with some formatting improvements such as a paragraph break or two:

Enjoy the full brilliance of LCD TV with decor-enhancing style and value of the Samsung LN55C650. Witness the powerful picture quality, vivid colors and stunning clarity of Full HD 1080p resolution and catch every detail without blurring with the Auto Motion Plus 120Hz technology. It's hard not to get into the action with its HyperReal engine which enriches the sharpness and clarity of whatever you're watching. With Wide Color Enhancer and Ultra Clear Panel features this 55-inch LCD creates truly breathtaking images. And that's not limited to movies and programs; Internet@TV communicates with your PC and phone to let you access the web and mobile content on the big screen. Moreover, the Touch of Color™ design compliments its energy efficient working. Now, enjoy the breathtaking media experience with Samsung LN55C650.

Newegg really go to town with their product description, even throwing in a little humor — 'cutthroat solitaire!' The description is clearly aiming for a good balance between tech specs and readable English:

Samsung's 55" LCD HDTV offers top-of-the-line picture quality. The 150,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio provides the sharpest images. With four HDMI inputs, it connects to all of your high-definition digital equipment, and with your PC's analog RGB hookup, you have an ultra-large PC monitor at the same time. A screen this big means you can have an awesome game of cutthroat solitaire! Your DVD player, cameras, and your favorite game console will complete this outstanding entertainment system.

Keep up with what’s happening outside your home with just a touch of a button! With Samsung’s Touch of Color design, the TV is an elegant addition to any room. The built-in ATSC tuner brings in broadcast digital signals without a set-top box, so you have everything you need for a bright, gorgeous picture. It also supports 802.11 wireless technology, providing maximum convenience and flexibility.

Samsung LCD HDTVs bring every color to life, giving you a brilliant view of the world around you. With this fantastic Samsung LN55C650 55" LCD HDTV, you get an outstanding entertainment center for your home, designed for the way you live!

It's a good product overview that works hard to sell the product, takes the time to explain the technical jargon, and presents the content in a readable format.

Crutchfield lay out their product description fairly well using paragraphs and headings, and aim for a more plain-language/educational approach:

Blur reduction is extra important for large screens

Samsung's advanced blur reduction circuitry keeps the LN55C650's 55" screen looking crystal clear, even when the on-screen action picks up the pace. You can independently adjust 120Hz processing and "anti-judder" processing. Judder is the image stutter you sometimes see during long camera pans. It's an issue for film-based sources, but applying too much judder reduction can give movies a "video" look that some viewers don't care for. The ability to fine-tune motion processing ensures a smooth, natural picture with all your sources.

When you're connected to the Web, there's always something cool to watch

When you connect to your broadband Internet service you can use Samsung's built-in "widgets" to access a variety of free online sites, like YouTube®. And you'll love being able to stream titles from your Netflix® Instant Queue, and order on-demand movies from Blockbuster® and Vudu®. You can even use one of the TV's USB ports to plug in Samsung's wireless adapter for convenient media streaming over your wireless network.

Best Buy's overview is short, workmanlike and does little to sell the product:

Enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows and sporting events with this HDTV that features a Wide Color Enhancer that delivers brilliant color and clear, detailed images. The 120Hz Clear Motion Rate technology for crisp images during fast-action scenes.

TigerDirect takes the opposite approach to Best Buy and goes all-out with the marketing hype. Can a TV really be 'awe-inspiring?'

The Samsung LN55C650 55" Class LCD HDTV delivers a totally immersive experience. It's hard not to get into the action with the LN55C650 HyperReal engine which enriches the sharpness and clarity of whatever you're watching. Not settling for less than awe-inspiring, Samsung N55C650 combines 120hz technology, Wide Color Enhancer and Ultra Clear Panel to create truly breathtaking images. And that's not limited to movies and programs; Internet@TV communicates with your PC and phone to let you access the web and mobile content on the big screen.

Finally, Vann’s Electronics spends far more time touting the TV's internet capabilities than its ability to display a good picture. Again, in one long, dense, wordy paragraph:

When you're not enjoying Full HD viewing on the LN55C650's 1920 × 1080p LCD panel, you might consider dabbling in the internet. Combined with a rear-panel ethernet port and your pre-existing internet connection, Internet@TV widgets and Samsung Apps bring the web to your home theater. Check the weather at AccuWeather.com. Access you Netflix account. Tweet on Twitter. Listen to Pandora radio. And more! And using AllShare technology, you can convert the LN55C650 into a networking multimedia hub with wireless capability (separate wireless dongle required). Further, for enhanced viewing when watching fast-action sports and movies, look to the LN55C650's Clear Motion 120Hz technology. Finally, four HDMI inputs offer optimal HD system connectivity.

Obviously, there's a lot more information than just the overview on these product pages that ultimately leads to a customer buying decision.

However, the main product description is a key place to connect with the customer, especially those (i.e., the majority of people) who are less familiar with what all the many tech specs actually mean.

It's interesting to see the range of approaches taken to this one area of ecommerce copywriting, both in terms of the content and its presentation. I liked NewEgg's product description the most as they really took the time to explain and sell the product. How about you?

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Posted on: July 11, 2010 | No comments

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