Anybody can weave up killer copy, right?
Sure, anyone can slap together a blog post or write a social media post.
But that’s far from what a true copywriter can do.
You might even hook your reader with an attention-jabbing title, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you’re not careful, you could be making big mistakes that might chase visitors away.
A professional copywriter knows how to tailor content to engage readers and accomplish business goals.
Fortunately or unfortunately, copywriting is and will remain critical for marketing in the foreseeable future.
And it’s hard to write copy that brings results.
Even the experts mess up at times and end up hurting conversions and clients.
And it gets much easier when you know which mistakes to avoid while writing copy.
Read on to learn which pitfalls to avoid while tailoring out your precious copy:
(1) Not Writing To Your Target Audience
If your copy isn’t cut out for the audience, you might as well not write at all.
Remember – your copy doesn’t need to convince people your business is awesome. It needs to convince them to take action.
At times, people target entirely wrong people.
And your copy won’t resonate if your focus is on the wrong aspect.
So, always research your audience or get it done by someone.
Make sure you do ENOUGH research to have a picture of the person.
Because, if this fails, so does everything else.
(2) Not Writing Attention-Grabbing Headlines
Grabbing attention is hard. Keeping it is harder.
You can garner attention by creating headlines that make people stop and read as it points out their problem. And that’s what a headline is for.
Think about it:
If your headline doesn’t grab your reader’s attention right away, it doesn’t matter if you have the best content in the world later on because nobody is going to read it.
Simply put, a subpar headline can punch your business in the nuts.
Here are some quickies on writing quality headlines:
- Keep it short and concise, usually under 62 characters
- Use tasteful adjectives, such as ‘guaranteed,’ ‘surefire’
- Use trigger words, such as, ‘how,’ ‘what,’ ‘why’
- Use numbers to promise solid takeaways
- Ask a question in the headline
(3) Focusing On Features, Not Benefits
This here is one of the most common and repeated copywriting mistakes:
Focusing on features instead of benefits.
Remember, people only care about what’s in it for them. And a great way of answering that is stressing on benefits, not technical features.
Make sure you hit the genuine, ultimate benefits and not ‘fake benefits.’ Now, what are fake benefits?
As famed copywriter Clayton Makepeace states:
“When talking about features vs. benefits, a lot of people use the example that you’re not selling the drill; you’re really selling the hole in the wall. But that hole in the wall isn’t the ultimate benefit.”
Ultimate benefits resonate emotionally. So the ultimate benefit, in this case, would be:
You can safely hang your masterpiece painting on the wall so your friends and family can see and enjoy it.
Such emotional copy keeps your reader engaged and makes them take action.
No, we’re not comparing long copy with short copy.
We’re talking about rambling.
Write as much as you need to compel the reader, but not more than that.
Ever came across a salesperson who won’t shut up? While they have sold the product, they keep on babbling rather than closing the deal, causing you to lose interest.
The same applies to copywriting. Ramble and your audience would escape before you can say ‘Cute cats.’
(5) Not Testing Long Copy
Lots of people think long copy won’t be read. If you’ve ever written 1,000 words of copy, you may have come across this complaint.
Beware of this advice.
What bores the reviewer may compel the prospect.
Long copy CAN and DOES work incredibly well if done right.
However, when writing long copy, always be to-the-point.
Be smart with every word, and sometimes, the copy would convert far better. Especially when your product/service idea is complex, or the commitment is vast.
When Crazy Egg was under Conversion Rate Experts, they tested almost 20x larger than the default one.
The result: The longer copy beat the original one by 30%.
Why does longer copy work so well? Because:
Longer copy lets you add more detail about your product/service, making the buying decision easier for customers.
Longer copy lets you tell more, which squeezes out more emotional responses from the reader.
Longer copy allows you to stash testimonials to showcase the proof of satisfied customers. This works well if you have a pricey product.
(6) Weak Or The Absence Of CTAs
The goal of your copy is to improve conversions. And for closing the deal of the point you’ve made, you need a bold call to action.
Yes, your copy should be geared towards hooking your readers. And it’s the CTA that makes them take action.
Surprisingly, a ton of web pages doesn’t have a CTA. Look, you’ve already worked hard to get your readers through your copy; let them know what their next step should be.
Offer them a contact form, phone number, newsletter signup so they know what’s next. Going wrong here can bleed your prospects.
A weak CTA is alarming as well. Use a CTA to re-focus the benefits a prospect receives by taking action.
Step away from the generic “Sign Up Now” and “Click Here” and embrace “Click Here to Get Instant Access” and “Get Your Free Trial.”
Capturing your prospect’s attention is the first step of quality copywriting. That said, the bigger challenge is not alienating your readers before buying.
(7) Not Showing Enough Authority
Why should readers believe and hire you?
Let’s be honest. Web visitors are prone to doubt your claims, to hesitate to trust you, and to turn away to go elsewhere.
You can’t just assume that people will blindly trust your coaching to ramp up their marketing. Or your eBook would teach them how to communicate confidently.
Readers make decisions on solid proofs. And they’ve made enough silly decisions already.
Thus, you have to offer external proof to back up your claims.
External proof elements are offered by experts and other consumers. Reviews, ratings, test results, social share count, press coverage are a few examples of such proof. In terms of service providers, testimonials probably are the most common external proof.
Make sure your testimonials are persuasive and advocate your claims.
(8) Not Stomping On The Right Pain Points
Pain points are crucial for effective copy. But as aforementioned, if you don’t understand your audience, you aren’t aware of their pain points.
Remember, you approached your business with a solution for solving an existing problem. However, to sell it using your copy, you must be extremely clear why prospects should buy.
Meaning that you must hit the right pain points.
For instance, companies can charge $15 for a natural, aluminum-free deodorant to health-conscious people. However, this product’s backstory isn’t really impressive, it has stained clothes, hasn’t lasted, and left a sticky remainder after using.
The copy given below hits all of such pain points alongside considering the health-conscious angle first:
(9) Starting Your Copy With Your Product
In most cases, starting your copy by talking about your product is a critical mistake. Simply because people couldn’t care less about what you invented.
However, the scenario changes completely when you state how the product will benefit them. Because people are interested in themselves.
So forget talking about your service or product for the first few paragraphs, or perhaps even the first few pages. Delve into what your readers care about the most.
As Harry Browne states in his book The Secret of Selling Anything:
“Most sales are lost because the salesman presented his product before he knew what motivated his prospect.”
You have to get between the conversations going inside your prospect’s head. He may be thinking about hundreds of potential solutions, but not your product or service.
He may be thinking about a precise problem that he needs to be solved, a goal that needs to be achieved, or even worrying about greater problems affecting him directly.
Simply put, you have to state anything that gets your prospect’s attention, anything that pulls him into the copy.
Once you’ve drummed up attention and interest, focus on your product or service by telling them how it’d benefit them.
(10) Not Being Conversational
When you write copy, it should sound as if you were talking face-to-face with your reader.
Meaning that your copy should reflect the way you talk.
Don’t use a high-school term paper’ tone because that’s downright boring and confusing.
Such an academic writing mindset is poisonous when it comes to copywriting.
If you’re finding it too hard to write naturally, get yourself speech-to-text software. That should help you write sales pages that sound coming out of someone’s mouth.
(11) Not Hitting The Emotional Buttons
Although you should always aim to include straight facts in your copy, that simply is not enough. Why? Because people are spending time on your page to get a problem solved, which will make their lives easier or would save them time.
Ultimately, buying is an emotional decision, and your copy should take advantage of that.
“Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert.
Interested in incorporating more emotions in your article? Here’s an extensive guide to help you with just that: https://neilpatel.com/blog/incorporate-psychology-emotions-copywriting/
(12) Slapping Too Many Benefits Together
So now you know your audience cares more about the product’s benefit and not the so-called features.
But don’t take this information the wrong way. Don’t go on a 30-day trip creating an endless list of benefits that’d make one think you’re writing a novel.
Understand this fact:
When your list of benefits is too long, it tends to bore your audience. And a lot of excellent copy failed to close sales only because of having too many benefits.
So, what should you cut back on benefits then?
Yes, but there’s a catch here. You have to focus on the benefits that matter the most and create your copy around that.
This way, you can easily make your copy interesting to read alongside showcasing your product as an excellent solution for your audience.
(13) Not Having An Exact Goal
Copy without any aim is a great recipe for failure. Even if you aren’t going to write much, your copy’s end goal should be planned out. For instance, buying something, sharing something, or simply signing up for a newsletter.
Set a goal for every copy. For example, if you’re copywriting for a sign-up form, focus on one thing and one thing only: Netting as many qualified leads as you can to fill up your form and sign up for your newsletter or service.
Stick with the goal. Your copy should persuade users to take one action and one action only. So make sure that your copy helps you achieve that.
(14) Writing To A Group Of People, Not One Person
Your copy will resonate only if you write solely for a persona.
You are a business owner. Know your target audience. Get specific because writing to one person, with one idea and one offer, is the backbone of any copy.
Think about it:
You land on a site and feel like someone is talking exactly about you: a copywriter who wants to better their chops and get more clients. When the writer would address you that way, you most definitely will resonate, right? Your attention would be hauled out.
Or would you relate if he/she talks to your 40-year-old dad doing a 9 to 5 for a living?
You get my point.
Simply put, you have to ask questions that leave your readers saying:
“How did he know that’s exactly how I feel?”
(15) Not Talking About The Gains
No, we’re going down the path of benefits again.
Let’s say you see 2 deals. One offering 50% off, another 50% extra free.
What would your pick be?
You should always tell them what they’re getting for free, rather than that it’s going to save them time.
Focus on the gains, and you’d see your conversions rising.
(16) Not Giving Reasons
In the late 70s, psychologists Langer, Blank, and Chanowitz experimented on how people respond to language.
They went to people who have photocopying machines and measured the effectiveness of various ways of asking whether they could cut in the line.
When they asked for cutting in line without a cause, only 60% was allowed.
When they stated why cutting in the line was important, the number skyrocketed to over 90%.
Summarizing this research in Harvard Magazine, Cara Feinberg stated that the reasons contributed highly to make a difference.
The bottom line?
Back up your every statement because that’s going to impact people’s decisions.
(18) Not Being Concise
No matter what medium you’re writing for, the best way to go about it is using the least words. That strongly applies to the web.
Because let’s admit this: large blocks of codes chase people away. Well… comparatively.
Would you love reading the following image?
People scan through content online, and you have to tailor the content, so it gets read.
Jakob Nielsen’s 2008 eye-tracking study discovered that less than 20% of the text is literally read on the average webpage.
Another test by Nielsen revealed that concise and scannable copy generated 124% better usability.
One like takeaway?
Eliminate redundant words and dig out an easier, simpler, or better way of saying something.
(19) Not Making Your Copy Scannable
If scanability seems worthless to you, you’d have a hard time writing copy that’d engage people.
Agreed, some visitors go through every single word of your site.
But if you keep bombarding your reader with acres of text on the go, they’d most certainly click away.
So, how do you go about fixing it?
- Pick the right font size (make it big enough to read)
- Write chunky paragraphs
- Be wise with lists and bullet points
(20) Not Using The Gun-to-head Writing Mindset
Famed copywriter John Carlton was broke when he started copywriting. He had no income source, money left only for one more month, and one last tank of gas in his beaten-up car. Not so pretty, is it?
But rather than panicking in his situation, he states feeling frighteningly calm.
Because he had to craft successful ads or starve.
So he treated each ad as a matter of life or death. He imagined himself forced at gunpoint whenever he wrote.
So, how does one write when there’s no choice but to craft copy that makes prospects act?
The simple answer is: you don’t take risks.
You swear by proven methods, meaning you use proven headlines, structures, and devices. Relate this to copywriting. It means using proven headlines, topics, and content types for the maximum output.
So imagine that gun forced onto your head, and write.
It does wonders.
(21) Not Squeezing The Most Out Of ‘You’
‘You’ is a powerful word that can transform your conversion rates.
The fact is: your readers couldn’t care less about you, your interests, your likes. That said, they very deeply care about what THEY like, want, and find interesting.
Keep relating everything back to your readers by using the word ‘you’ because it’s all about your reader and not you.
(22) Not Telling Stories
Humans are not ideally set up to understand the logic. They are ideally set up to understand stories- Roger C. Shank.
Stories evoke feelings and pack you with emotion. At times, they make you explode with excitement or bombard you with sadness. Thanks to their incredible impact, they’re a famous tool amongst copywriters.
Recent research by journalist Rob Walker was conducted to test the impact of stories and how they can pack value to anything.
He hired a team of writers to create emotionally exciting stories about unwanted, cheap thrift products and placed the items on eBay with the story as the description.
They sold $128 worth of unwanted thrift products for more than $3000. That’s an increase of over 2,700%.
Incorporating stories in your blog posts evoke emotions from your readers and sympathizes to make them relate. You can also implant ideas and information into readers’ heads much more firmly.
(23) Not Using Action Verbs
Here’s a priceless quote from famed copywriter John Carlton:
“Adjectives are just fluff and air. Like tossing flowers out of your ad to get your prospect’s attention. Action verbs are like snarling bulldogs. Who races out of your ad, grab the reader and drag him back in, kicking and screaming.”
Lots of writers you fluffy adjectives to power up their copy, while the solution is deploying action verbs that force the reader into imagining the text.
Look at these 2 sentences and see which reads better:
“He quickly walked away from the big, scary power plant.”
“He dashed away from the monstrous power plant.”
Can you see the difference?
The first sentence is mundane and harder to read.
The 2nd one makes the situation much more alive.
If incorporating more power into your copy seems hard, do a Google search about ‘power words’ and start including them in your writing.
(24) No Risk-reversing Guarantees
Buying anything involves a certain amount of risk. Especially when your products are intangible.
A guarantee is an awesome way of reversing that risk and preventing your prospects from thinking of being ‘taken.’
Let’s say you want to buy a car. You’ve searched the internet and found 2 sellers near your city.
The first seller wants $2200, take it or leave it, no guarantees. If you don’t like the car after buying it, then tough luck.
The second seller wants $2500. But says he’d fill your tank with fuel, let you test the car for a week before making a decision. If you don’t like it, you can just bring it back, and you owe him nothing.
You’d definitely go for the 2nd option, right?
Because there’s no pressure on you, and the seller will take care of the potential risks.
So there’s no reason for you to not try the car out.
That’s exactly how you want your prospects to feel.
From the article, you can already tell I didn’t drill down into the methods much.
That’s because I want you to find this as a list of mistakes and not an in-depth how-to.
So what’s your next step?
Pick one tip at a time, and go all in.
Google, learn, practice. Repeat.
With that out of the way, do you know of mistakes that are serving as impediments to killer conversions?
If so, let me know in the comments, and I’d get back to you right away.