Product Names are Key to E-Commerce Sellers
Has anyone ever told you that you “look like” your name?
There’s a fancy term for it: nominative determinism, or literally, “name-driven outcome.”
When it comes to e-commerce, your product’s name will influence its branding, marketing, and ultimately, sales. So how should you name your products?
Know your audiences
When e-commerce sellers think about product listing optimization, too often they only think about the search engines. They ignore their customers — the actual human beings who will buy the products they sell.
There’s no doubt that the search engines are crucial. Ranking is the key to visibility. But remember that the search engines take into account the signals from your human customers: how frequently they click on your listing, how long they stay on the page, and how often they buy. Therefore, you need to optimize your listings for two audiences: the search engines and real people.
Each audience wants something different in a product name:
- Search engines look for keywords and straightforward descriptors of what your product is or does.
- People prefer names that are memorable, easy to pronounce, and catchy. If you’re lucky enough to have them talk about your product or recommend it to their friends, your product name is how they’ll do it.
Therefore, your page title should combine a memorable product name with some target keyword descriptors.
What should you consider when you name your products?
Come up with a long list of potential names. Don’t edit yourself at first; include every and any idea you can think of. Then, start to separate the promising names from the pack, using the following guidelines:
- Length: In general, a shorter name is better. Shorter names are easier for people to remember. Shorter names integrate more naturally into everyday speech. Plus, you’ll run into character limits just about everywhere: PPC ads, page titles, email subject lines, social media, and on and on.
- Messaging: Ask yourself, does my name say something positive about the product? Does it convey what the product is, who it’s for, what value it will add, or how it will make you feel? Are there any negative associations?
- Misspellings: Product names are often intentionally misspelled, especially so that you can claim trademarks and domain names. However, you don’t want your misspelling to seem accidental or be off-putting. For example, using a z instead of an s to pluralize a word might be okay if your product is crayons, but not if it’s something that you want to be taken seriously, like a back brace.
- Pronounceability: Hard-to-pronounce names may help you stand out, but they may also alienate your customers. If your name includes a lesser-known word or a word from a foreign language, think about whether this is appropriate for your brand.
- Longevity: Is this a name that will endure, or is it okay to follow trends? Trends might include slang terms or current naming conventions such as ending your name in -ly or -io.
Make sure to test your product names
Gather feedback on names you’re considering. It’s okay to start with your family and friends, but it’s most important to ask your target customer, as they are the ones that you need to appeal to the most.
One fast and effective way to test product names is PickFu. Using PickFu, you can poll hundreds of people instantly. You’ll discover how they react to your product names and see what associations surface. Poll respondents will vote on their favorite option and submit a written comment explaining their choice. These respondents can be specifically targeted to match your ideal customer using demographic and behavioral traits such as age, gender, Amazon Prime membership, exercise habits, pets, cooking habits, and more.
Here’s a recent example. An entrepreneur was launching a clothing brand selling funny t-shirts for bachelorette parties. Using PickFu, the seller polled 50 women to see which name they preferred: Rad Bride or Lushes Ready. In under an hour, the results showed a decisive preference for Rad Bride.
Poll respondents were confused by Lushes Ready, offering comments like
- “I have no idea what Lushes Ready is supposed to mean”
- “The ‘Lushes Ready’ makes no sense to me.”
- “Lushes Ready doesn’t even make sense…”
In addition, even when respondents understood Option B’s association with alcohol, they showed a negative reaction:
- “I really don’t think that all bachelorette parties need to be all about drinking and being lushes.”
- [Option B] leaves a lot of people out, because a lot of people don’t drink that much.”
- “Lushes could be offensive to some people who don’t drink.”
Also, remember that point about pronounce-ability?
- “Lushes Ready just doesn’t flow and is hard to say.”
- “Lushes Ready is a mouthful.”
- “[Rad Bride] is simpler to say.”
Finally, the comments showed that the respondents didn’t just negatively react to Option B. They felt a positive reaction to Option A:
- “Rad Bride is cute!”
- “Rad Bride is full of personality.”
- “Rad means cool and fun. Rad Bride would then represent something that is cool and related to a bride/bachelorette party.”
- “I actually smiled when I read this name. It made me think about how fun the party will be.”
Remember, search engines aren’t your only audience
Keyword tools simply can’t give you the insights that asking an audience of potential customers can. Human motivations are more mysterious that comparing click-through rates and raw numbers.
By asking people what they think of your product names, you can uncover blind spots you might not have known you had. Common themes emerge as respondents answer in similar ways. They’ll give you a sense of whether you’re headed in the right direction or whether you should try something new. After all, search engines don’t buy your product. Real people do.
Your product’s name is a critical element to your branding and marketing. Names can evoke feelings, desires, or images that may be positive or negative. By surveying potential names, you can uncover what tone the name sets in a customer’s mind. Optimizing product names in this way will contribute to your product’s ultimate success.