6 Smart Ways to Optimize Your Product Listings

Fifteen seconds.

That’s about how long you get to grab a shopper’s attention. In many e-commerce verticals, it’s even less than that.

That’s why optimizing your product listings is so critically important. You have to spend your time making the listing as good as it can be because your website visitors won’t give you their time (or money) if you haven’t.

These six ways to optimize your product listings will help shoppers find your store, trust your brand, and ultimately make a purchase from you — and not a competitor.  

1. Encourage reviews

Asking for reviews might seem like a no-brainer. But think beyond the post-purchase “please review this product” email. A good place to start is to make the review process as easy as it can be. Eliminate any unnecessary form fields, like a headline. Enable star ratings or thumbs-up/down voting that don’t require written comments. Show “verified purchaser” badges to inspire confidence in the reviews. Give reviewers the option to add photos and video.

Product reviews don’t even all need to be post-purchase. John Frigo, digital marketing lead at MySupplementStore said, “We’ve implemented checkout comments where people can state the reason for their selecting a particular item, which helps other customers who may be thinking about buying that item.”

2. Create original product descriptions

If you’re using the manufacturer’s product descriptions, the duplicate content won’t help you rank in the search engines. Instead, create original product descriptions that reinforce your brand voice and strategically integrate search keywords. For instance, if your store emphasizes craftsmanship, your product descriptions can go into detail about how each product is created.

Experiment with bullet points vs. more narrative descriptions. Aim to answer the most common questions and overcome frequent objections in the description. Don’t simply list features, but illustrate how those features will come in handy in real-world scenarios.

You can split test different tones of voice, description lengths, and order of text to see what resonates best with shoppers.

3. Offer multiple purchase options

Too often, sellers only think about what’s good for themselves, rather than what’s good for the buyer. Even if your margins are better on one marketplace, you might lose a sale altogether if you don’t offer it on another. Andrew Maffettone, Marketing and Operations Director at Seller’s Choice, said “we have started to add ‘Purchase on Amazon’ buttons, or any other marketplaces. This way, if customers are on the fence about purchasing, they may be more inclined to shop on their favorite marketplace. We pixel the buttons and send them retargeting ads based on the buttons they’ve clicked on so we can send them advertisements to our products on the marketplaces they prefer as well.”

For more expensive products, you might also consider offering flexible payment plans. Bob Ellis, who runs Bavarian Clockworks, said that adding PayPal Credit has improved his sales. “Rather than having to pay one large lump sum, customers have the option to pay for a product they purchased over an extended period of time.” Best of all, he doesn’t have to manage payments, as PayPal takes care of it for him.

4. Inspire confidence in your store

“Online shoppers are skeptical and need reassurance. Reducing the risk of purchasing is often the fastest way to increase conversion rates and drive sales,” consultant Tim Parkin said. To overcome their objections, your store needs to look credible and safe. Use trust indicators and social proof to make your shoppers feel like they’re not alone. “Showing how many other people have an item in their cart or have viewed the item in the last 24 hours can drive people to take action,” Parkin said.

Offering product guarantees and easy returns are also good strategies to build buyer confidence. James Feldstein, president of Audio Den, includes his store’s return policy on each product page. “This helps remove any hesitation at the point of purchase, so customers know they are able to return unused products for a full refund,” he said.

5. Maximize your visual impact

Your product photography might be the most important element on the page. After all, it’s the closest customers can come to experiencing your product before buying it. Vary your product images by showing multiple angles of the product by itself as well as offering in-use lifestyle images. (If you’re shooting the photos yourself, check out these practical product photography tips from a professional.)

Think of your product photos as mini-ads. Overlay text on your photos to point out important product features and attributes. For products with multiple elements, show the component parts included in the purchase so shoppers understand what they are buying. Create videos and product demonstrations that bring the product to life.

6. Optimize your optimization

When implementing any of these tips, quantify the before and after results. See what moves the needle. One way to do this is through live A/B tests that split your traffic between your existing listing (the control) and a new variation of that listing. From there, you can analyze engagement in the form of clicks, time on site, purchases, and other key metrics.

The problem with live tests, however, is that they can be cumbersome. In order to gather enough data to make informed decisions, your website has to have quite a bit of traffic to test. If you’re using ads on Amazon, Google, or Facebook to drive this traffic, this effort can become expensive. Split testing also takes quite a bit of time, and often results are murky.

For a faster, less expensive, and more definitive alternative, try running polls on PickFu. E-commerce sellers use PickFu to test brand names, featured images, product descriptions, and UI layouts. In mere minutes, you can see polling results from 50 to 500 people, who not only vote on your ideas but also provide a written comment explaining their reasons. For advanced polling, you can create a custom audience for your poll that looks more like your customer base. For instance, you can poll people based on their gender, income, Amazon Prime membership, and many other demographic and behavioral traits.

Optimizing your product listings is critical to staying competitive. If your listings fail to inspire confidence, maximize visuals, or describe the product in a compelling way, shoppers will browse and buy elsewhere.

As you implement optimization changes, be sure to track the effect of each iteration. You can do this through live split tests on your website and marketplace listings, or you can test outside of your store using PickFu polling.

Product listing optimization is a continual process, but it doesn’t have to be grueling. Optimize your optimization tactics and you’ll stay ahead of the pack.

Meet the Author: Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu is the Director of Marketing at PickFu, an instant polling service that e-commerce sellers use to optimize product listings. With PickFu, online stores can quickly test product photos, description copy, and UI layouts with shoppers who reflect their target demographic, including Amazon Prime members, those within a certain income bracket, or people based on traits such as homeownership, marital status, or exercise habits.

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