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Writing Effective Description Content for your eBay Listing

This is the second post I’ve written about writing effective eBay descriptions, the first, “10 Tips for making eBay item descriptions sell better” focussed on what your page should look like and how to best present the information. This section will focus on the content of your item descriptions and how to optimize them for getting that sale.

The item description is your main opportunity to let potential buyers know everything they need to convince them that your item is the right choice for them.

I always start with a heading that matches the item title in your listing as it creates a continuation from where they last read. Under this, I give a general description in a short paragraph, and it is here where I will begin to use persuasive adjectives to describe features of the item for example, ‘this is a beautiful necklace,’ or ‘a stunning handbag.’
What you must not do, however, is go over the top in your description. A few adjectives, dropped in here or there are fine, but bombarding your reader with a list of superlatives in every phrase can have the opposite effect, making you sound like you are desperate to sell and making your sales pitch unbelievable. Also, what you can’t do is use description which is inaccurate or does not match your product. ‘This is a fantastic empty ink cartridge,’ just doesn’t make sense?

Honesty, as I keep saying, is highly important in your listing. It’s not just that you are being fair to your customers, but it prevents a whole range of aftersales issues. When purchasers give feedback they are asked to give you a mark out of 5 for the accuracy of your description and if you have a low score here, future customers may stay away from you. Negative feedback can also ensue, as can disputes, returns and requests for return of payments. It’s just not worth ruining your eBay reputation.

For that reason, state the condition of your item accurately, e.g.: ‘This watch is in excellent condition for a used item, there are no signs of scratching and it is in perfect working order. However, the strap shows some signs of wear and there is the occasional scratch on the surface of the box.’ or ‘the CD has a few minor surface marks, but no serious scratches. It plays flawlessly.’

If you look at the descriptions, you will see how I’ve counter-balanced the bad points with a good point. What I’ve also done is used understated adjectives for the bad points, ‘a few minor surface marks,’ ‘some signs of wear,’ and ‘the occasional scratch’ whilst using stronger adjectives for the good points, ‘excellent condition,’ ‘perfect working order,’ ‘plays flawlessly.’

I’m not misleading my customers here because, the descriptions of the flaws are accurate, but the language used helps to ease any concerns they have whilst reinforcing the good points.

If it is fitting for the type of item you are selling, you can also finish this paragraph with a one liner stating how the product might be useful to them. ‘An ideal gift for Father’s Day,’ ‘perfect for that summer party.’

A fter the general description I always have a section with the heading, ‘Features’. Under the heading I have a list of bullet points, with short descriptions of various features of the item. These include, size, shape, colour, weight, dimensions, materials, age, etc. I list these in importance of how I think they will appeal to the customer, with the most important first. As before, I occasionally fit in, where appropriate, an adjective. Here’s a list of features for a used watch.

Features:

  • Attractive Round Black Face with Logo to Front
  • 4cm Diameter Stainless Steel Casing
  • Chunky Black Leather Wrist Strap
  • Sapphire Glass
  • Date Display
  • Tachometer Function
  • Hour and Minute Indexes
  • Water Resistant to 10ATM
  • Complete with original box and instructions
  • Used but still under warranty

Finally, I always finish with a short paragraph doing the following things: I thank the customer for looking, I ask them to contact me if they have any questions and I use the built in link on eBay so that they can check out my other items.

The next article in this section will deal with writing style – not what you write, but the way that you write it!

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Other resources and information

5 Minute eBay Descriptions That Sell