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What Content Writers can learn from SkyMall

There are few things more fun and more entertaining on a plane, than reading SkyMall. Sure, it’s interesting to see what types of products people are coming up with to “make lives easier“. Who doesn’t love it? But, have you ever read the descriptions? In the span of no more than a paragraph or two, nearly each product description fills the need of reader/user, and there’s a lot product description writers can learn from SkyMall.

Sky Mall Descriptions

Product Descriptions are Content Too

Content. A topic that continues to resurface frequently in last nine months. In the Panda era of Google, it is quite possibly one of the single most important aspects on the website. And, while SEOs know it’s a key area to shape up, most product and service descriptions on majority of websites are the same as they ever were: bland, weak, repackaged and general.

No one is taking the time to create unique product and service descriptions.

The argument of, “but we have hundreds and thousands of products,“ just doesn’t hold water anymore. The fact of the matter is you can’t afford not to create better, more unique product and service descriptions. Beyond helping your cause with Panda, it helps with intriguing, engaging, and explaining the need to users. Products on SkyMall are not unlike site product descriptions. In fact, SkyMall products have it worse, because they are all jockeying for attention, and the only user-intent is that they picked up the magazine.


Breaking Down a SkyMall Description

SkyMall does a fantastic job of making every product in the magazine seem special and unique. Most of all, they do a great job making every product seem necessary to fill the void. Even if it is a remote controlled car that squirts water. So, let’s breakdown a product from the SkyMall catalog to give us a guide as how to write great, unique, and necessary product and service descriptions.


Example Product Description

Temple and Eye Massager This electronic massager soothes pressure points around your temples, forehead, and eyes, relieving sinus pressure and alleviating headaches without the use of medication. Ideal for those who work on a computer or read for extended periods [“¦] The remote control allows you to quickly customize the intensity and type of vibration massage, [“¦] set the timer for five, 10, or 15 minutes of constant massage. The massager’s integrated speaker plays soothing nature sounds that encourage relaxation.


Things SkyMall Does Well

  • Short, sweet, and succinct product title
  • Opening statement lets the user know what the product does
  • The next lets user know who it’s ideal for and what it’s ideal for
  • Then quickly rolls into ease of use statements and benefits
  • Finally, ends with a value statement and how your life will improve with the product

And, this product did all of that in under 100 words. Of course, there are things that could be improved; however, it meets the qualifications for a great product description: unique, fully describes the product function and who it can benefit, and adds value/life-improvement statement. This isn’t solely for B2C services and products either. B2B services and products can use this too. Sure, the products aren’t as sexy. And, yeah, they’re downright utilitarian.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t dress them up. It doesn’t mean that you should be answering those questions for your users. In the end, all your product and service descriptions need to be answering the Who, What, How, and Why you need it. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. SkyMall products can answer those questions in 100-130 words. Can your product and service descriptions do the same?



  1. MattG November 9, 2011

    Great post, Anthony. What do you think about sites which try to incentivise existing customers to add content to deep product pages? I see more companies doing that post-panda, but wonder if the result will be lots of unconvincing, poorly-edited copy cluttering their sites.

  2. Rachel April 10, 2013

    What a great idea. I always read through the SkyMall and never thought to look to them for product description inspiration. I will totally be bringing home my next complimentary copy for a refresher.

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