I believe online stores focus too much on technology, too much on traffic generation, and even too much on site conversion optimization, and forget that it’s still all about the product. Everything else is just a tool. Below I’ll share what I believe to be the 4 biggest mistakes made on the product pages of today’s online retailers.

1) Too much imagination is required

All too many product pages require their customer’s to have a good imagination. For example, product images convey the product alone with a white background. Not exactly awe-inspiring. Online shopping can be devoid of context when product images aren’t show in use. Lifestyle and contextual images help create mental ownership by giving specific examples of use.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to get this type of photography on your site. But as I recently shared my experience C28′s lifestyle images, it can be earth-shatterly effective.

Don’t require your customer to have a good imagination. Paint a picture for them. How will it look in context, in their hands, in use?

2) Too much feature-talk

Here’s where our friend the curse of knowledge sneaks up again. The more you know about your products, the harder it will be to describe them to a newbie. If your descriptions are written from the perspective of an expert user, you’re probably throwing around terms that don’t make sense to the novice.

A great many products have failed due to feature-speak. Who even remembers Creative’s 5GB mp3 player? But we do remember the first Apple Ipod. While Creative beat Apple to the market, Apple pushed the benefit (“1,000 songs in your pocket”) vs. the feature (“5GB mp3 player”). It’s obvious which approach won out.

Remember that features are meaningless unless the benefit is understood. Don’t assume customers understand the benefits of your product’s features.

3) Lack of a Backstory

Every product has a story, but it’s rarely told. Why was the product made? Was it inspired by a tragedy or light bulb moment in the inventor’s life? Think of the last time you told someone about a product you’re passionate about. There’s a good chance you started with the backstory.

It’s the same reason we love hearing about how stars became famous. It’s the journey that makes them interesting and worth repeating. It gives the product meaning and purpose, and makes you feel like you’re buying more than just an “it”, you’re entering into the story.

If you don’t know the product’s story, talk to those who developed it. Convey any information you can to the customer to help create a meaningful back-story.

4) Focus on Logical vs. Emotional Selling Points

Too often we expect our buyers to be purely logical. One example is product reviews. A typical product review is written in a rather objective way, with the reviewer pointing out specific features they liked/disliked. But what if you asked your customers for stories instead? Instead a “review this item” why not “tell us a story of how you enjoyed this item”.  So a review on a fishing reel changes from “it’s a good, solid reel with a smooth drag” to “I spent a whole day at the Lake and caught 5 bigmouths with it.”

Though we all like to think we’re logical buyers, the truth is it’s usually an emotional appeal that hooks us.

Sometimes the easiest fixes are the low tech ones. The suggestions above won’t require hours of a programming, just some serious thought about your products. Let me know what you think. What techniques have you used on your product pages?