Product Descriptions & the case for Natural Language Generation

How do you differentiate your product or service in the ecommerce sector? Differentiating your brand within a crowded market sector where your competitors are selling the same products and services is difficult and requires an understanding of how to position your offering through the right digital marketing tactics to suit your audience.


But it’s the product pages that need perhaps the most focus in offering something different to the market, something that will drive a point of differentiation and exploit a gap within the sector. Similarities are in abundance when it comes to product page layouts, price-points and customer service options across different competitor websites but one area that can become a unique selling point is your product descriptions.

The problem with product descriptions

A quick browse across a number of different retail sectors shows a lack of diversity within product descriptions and there are three key reasons for this:

  • Many retailers rely on the standard product description provided by the manufacturer or supplier of the product, deeming this as suitable for their website product description.
  • There is a lack of resource to invest in creating bespoke, tailored product descriptions. Many Ecommerce retailers regard product descriptions as just another template that needs to be populated with some relevant blurb about the on page product. They don’t invest in educating their workforce on the benefit of the product description and the call to action it can offer
  • Siloed operations – Not joining up with the digital marketing team in optimising the product descriptions to suit the online audience. Here is a great article on really making best use of your product descriptions in learning to understand to write for your online audience


Introducing Arria Natural Language Generation (NLG)

Natural Language Generation (NLG) is a software technology that takes structured data and turns it into meaningful text.  This isn’t just another repackaging of mail merge. NLG uses artificial intelligence and data analytics techniques to reason about the data, draw inferences and determine what’s important. It then uses sophisticated computational linguistics techniques to translate those findings into rich narrative text that looks just like it has been written by a person.

NLG technology offers a solution to better enable the rich information that the internet provides us with about individual user behaviour and characteristics means we have all the data we need to tailor product descriptions very specifically to their audiences.

It’s simply not feasible to have that tailoring done by a human author, but this is the bread and butter for NLG.  The technology can easily use user profile data to construct product descriptions that are individually tailored. For example,  if my browsing history indicates I am likely to care about a particular product feature more than you are, then that feature can be highlighted in the description I see, whereas it might not even be present in the product description you see.

And once the requisite business rules for using this data to produce the descriptions are incorporated into the software, it’s infinitely scalable, producing descriptions on demand, 24/7, with no human intervention.


NLG Transforms Raw Data into Meaningful Narrative

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Integrating NLG technology as a component to power your product descriptions provides that level of differentiation within the market place and a route to automate and assist your content by fine-tuning it to capture your digital audience.

Below are some key factors to consider in determining how to utilise NLG with insights to power your product descriptions:

  • Social Media insights – Social media listening provides you with real-time feedback on what the digital audience is discussing and sharing around the product and service. This can be used as feedback to create bespoke content in textual descriptions.
  • Customer Personas – Creating customer personas helps brings to life who your existing customers are and what their motivations are. Persona creation also helps to get buy-in across your organisation in helping to paint a picture and bring to life your customer profiles.
  • Competitor analysis – Compile a database of your competitors, how their product descriptions are created, types of content used and length of product descriptions. This should provide you with a Gaps and Opportunities list on how you can add a point of difference within your sector.
  • Create your own identity – Your product descriptions are a great way to add a level of personality to your online offering – a great example of how this can be done is gadget retailer ( who operate in the competitive gifts and gadget sector. They clearly have a thorough understanding of their audience and have reflected this in their descriptions with a sense of humour and fun.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Plays an important tactic in driving visibility of your content in search engines and incremental traffic to your desktop or mobile site from potential customers. Integrating your product descriptions by making them relevant and unique provides a great call to action from your content within the search engines.

A key problem with utilising standard product descriptions provided by the manufacturer or supplier of your products is that they result in duplicate content being displayed.  This has a negative impact for your product pages in terms of search engine visibility so it’s important to ensure your product description pages are unique in comparison to other websites selling the same products.

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