So far in this four-part series you’ve learned why it’s important to spend time creating great listings, how to write IRRESISTIBLE titles, and how to create eye-catching cover photos. The fourth and final installment answers the following question: How do I write a great listing description?

Descriptions matter, but how much?

This is an interesting question. In the next thousand words I’m going to suggest you take some extra time to write a really good description of your item, but does it really make a difference?

Yes, it does.

I have an eBay store. One of the benefits of having a store is that eBay gives me a whole suite of metrics that aren’t available to sellers without a store subscription. One of those metrics is “Sales Conversion Rate.” This is a crucial metric that tells me how often people who click on my listings actually buy my items.

Sales Conversion Rate is calculated by counting the number of people that buy an item divided by the number of people that clicked on an item. See below:

sales_conversion_rate

When I first opened my eBay store, I had your typical, bad descriptions. As a result, my Sales Conversion Rate was poor — about 0.7%. This means that for every 1,000 people who clicked on one of my listings, I generated 7 sales. To get one sale, I needed to get 150 people to click!

Now, after using the tips below, I’ve nearly tripled my Sales Conversion Rate, which routinely sits around 2.0%. For every 1,000 people who click on my listings, I’m getting 20 sales, and on average I need just 50 people to click on a listing before someone buys it.

What does this mean?

Without changing either my pricing or the items I’m selling, I have TRIPLED my Sales Conversion Rate.

That’s sales three times faster, which means more items getting sold, more new inventory getting posted online, and more rapid growth.

And all I did was use these simple strategies.

1. Tell the buyer what they’re buying

I found two listings for Under Armour shoes. Which of these two descriptions do you think does a better job telling me what I’m buying?

This:

Size 13 Under Armour St. Patrick’s Day PE. I think I wore these shoes once for a few hours but it’s very hard to tell No flaws.

Or:

Under Armour Curry 2 Low Basketball Shoes
Color: Orange/Black
Size: Mens 12.5
Brand New in box

  • Designed for the game’s most unguardable player: Stephen Curry
  • Innovative UA SpeedForm technology upper molds to the foot for a precision fit, eliminating all distraction
  • Perforated engineering offers lightweight, durable breathability
  • External heel counter & midfoot shanks deliver locked-in stability through heel, arch & forefoot to provide support & eliminate sliding
  • High abrasion skin on the toe tip increases durability
  • Full-length Charged Cushioning midsole absorbs impact & converts it into a responsive burst to enhance first-step speed & change of direction
  • Multi-directional Organic Herringbone outsole offers maximum floor control & grip

I only ship within the US

I have 100% feedback so buy with confidence

There’s more good stuff going on in that second description than just an explanation of what the item is, but that seller highlighted some of the great features about the item (e.g., lightweight, durable, breathability) and told me what I would be buying.

2. Answer all of the buyer’s questions about the item…before they ask you!

I used to get annoyed when potential buyers would ask me questions.

  • “How wide is the shirt from pit-to-pit?”
  • “How long is the inseam on the shorts?”
  • “What kind of material is it made of?”

Every time I got a message I’d have to go to my closet, find the item, probably find my measuring tape, and then log into the app to answer the buyer’s question…and then usually they still didn’t buy!

But then I realized that these buyers weren’t annoying me — they were doing me a favor!

Every time I got a question from a buyer about an item, it was because I didn’t do a good job telling them what the item was. For every person that took the time to contact me, there were probably a bunch of people who just went on to the next listing. That’s potential lost sales and it was very stupid of me.

Listen to your buyers. When someone asks you a question, ask yourself, “Why didn’t I put that in the description?” Chances are, you should have.

3. Accurately inform the buyer about the item’s condition

OK, so you put NWOT or EUC in the title, or maybe you selected “excellent” or “good” when creating your listing. You told the buyer what the item’s condition is, right?

Wrong.

Make sure you use the listing description to address the item’s condition. Is it flawless with no tears, stains, fading, or blemishes? Say that! Is there a small spot where the stitching is a little loose? You’d better make note of it. If you take a picture of an imperfection, describe what the buyer is seeing in the picture. Make you listing a cohesive masterpiece with your images and description working in concert to paint the buyer a picture of exactly what they’re buying and why it’s the item for them.

If you’re selling from a pet-free and/or smoke-free home, say that, too!

4. Make the buyer feel comfortable making the purchase

I can’t stress how important trust is in a transaction. If you want someone to give you — a stranger — their money, you need to make them feel at peace with it. Use the description to assure them that they’re going to have a great experience.

At the bottom of each of my listings, I include the following:

Buy with Confidence!
100% authentic. Same or next day shipping. Item identical to pictures and description. Please message me with any questions. Mahalo for browsing!

I want the buyer to feel confident when purchasing my item, even to the point of telling them. I guarantee my item is authentic, I tell them that I’ll ship promptly, I reassure them that they’ll get the item I’ve described, I open myself up to help them should they have a question, and I toss in a little of the next tip…

5. Have some personality

You’re a person! Your buyer is a person. People have personalities. Show a little bit of yours. I’m not Hawaiian by blood, by birth, or really in any way (except I actually don’t mind poi) but I live in Honolulu and my items ship from a Honolulu address, so I play it up a little. I use “Aloha!” and “Mahalo!” whenever I can, and I feel it helps separate me (a little) from other sellers while also showing the buyer that I’m a real person.

6. User proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation

This ties back to number 4 about making the buyer feel comfortable. If you can’t be bothered to check your listing for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, how confident should a buyer be in your ability to professionally package and ship their item?

7. Be concise and direct

Studies have shown that people make up their minds very quickly. In fact, a Business Insider article suggests “you only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression.”

While that article is about personal interactions, the same principles apply in sales; I’ve even heard that the average shopper spends 7 seconds on your listing before moving on. In the time it’s taken you to read this two-sentence paragraph, your buyer has already decided whether you’re worth their time.

Be concise. Get to the point. And make sure you…

9. Have proper formatting

The dreaded wall of text. Nothing turns people away faster than line after line after line of words with no reprieve for the reader’s eyes.

Break up your text! For example,

  • You could say something about your item with a bullet point,
  • Then say something else about it here,
  • And who knows…maybe there’s a third thing!

If you’re posting an item on eBay, you can also use images to break up the monotony or experiment with different colors to highlight some of your most important points.

The bottom line

You can either blow through the description and get stuck with a 0.7% Sales Conversion Rate (like this guy probably will)…

Bad listing description

…or you can take a few extra minutes and put in the effort to make your description the best description you could possibly write.

Good listing description

Pro tip: Create a description template, save it to your phone or computer, and paste it into the description field for each of your listings. Updating with the proper measurements, item condition, and features will be a snap!
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Bryan

Thanks for reading! In my full-time job as a Business Analyst for a health system, I apply analytical rigor to everyday business questions. My goal at Debt Free Dawn is to bring some of that rigor to the business of online resale but to do so in a fun and understandable way. Please ask me anything as I love to chat with fellow flippers!