Do you ever find yourself asking why your ads aren’t bringing in more sales, or why your web conversions are so low? If you’re targeting the right audience and the visual aspects of your brand are decent, it could be a problem with your messaging.
I work with a lot of clients on messaging strategy and copywriting. Over the years, I’ve seen the same missteps again and again across a wide spectrum of industries. Regardless of whom you’re writing for, if you can avoid these common copywriting mistakes, you’ll get more people reading… and buying.
Mistake #1: You don’t have a roadmap. Start a journey without a map, and what will happen? You’ll soon get yourself lost. Don’t trip up on the first step toward great marketing copy. Create a well-defined messaging strategy that will guide all your copywriting. An effective messaging strategy pinpoints your unique selling proposition and helps you stay focused on your key messages. Get off track and you’ll lose your way, and your reader’s interest.
Mistake #2: You’ve lost your voice. Or worse yet, you never had one. I’m talking about a brand personality. Who are you? What makes you different? Your messaging should reflect a distinct personality that attracts your ideal target customer. People are drawn to like-minded companies for reasons that go beyond product features; they bond with brands that give them a feeling of trust and compatibility. Figure out who your target customer is, then speak their language.
Mistake #3: You’re too focused on yourself. When people visit your website or come across your ad, they have one question in mind: “What’s in it for me?” If you don’t answer this question in a matter of seconds, they’re gone. Don’t start out talking about the features of your products or the history of your company. Focus on the benefits to your customer. Can you make their life better? Tell them how, and tell them quickly.
Mistake #4: You forgot what you learned in English class. Be honest: are you a decent writer? Nothing makes a prospect bounce from a website faster than a poorly written page, so take a moment to assess your writing before you go live with it. Bad grammar, misspellings, tense shifting, and overuse of acronyms (OMG!) are instant turnoffs and causes of confusion. Evaluate your writing and use resources to fix your mistakes. And if writing’s just not your thing, that’s OK. Better to use your time more efficiently by focusing on the things you are good at, and hire a copywriter or editor. The small investment will be worth it.
Mistake #5: You think too much about what you learned in English class. Maybe you’re the type who got all A’s in English. Congratulations! You’re just as much at risk of writing ineffective copy. Why? Because great marketing copy doesn’t follow the strict rules you learned in school. Its goal is to evoke an emotion, often by drawing on brand attitude, so it’s most effective when it simply feels right. And that means sometimes breaking the rules. Like this. Copy that’s too formal can make your brand quite blah, so learn to loosen up from time to time, and you’ll go from ho-hum to red-hot.
Mistake #6: You try too hard to impress. Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Many famous writers echo this sentiment and preach simplicity. Ask yourself if you’re trying to show off your smarts when you write. Most people don’t use big words and fancy lingo when they speak, and neither should your writing. Write like you have a prospect in front of you, and let the words come naturally.
Mistake #7: You don’t give ‘em a break. Most people scan a page before deciding if they want to commit to reading it. Are you putting up a wall, or inviting them in? If your web pages are filled with endless paragraphs, you may be turning away prospects in a matter of seconds. Too much copy simply looks like too much work to read. Say less if you can, and break up your copy into smaller chunks with subheads and visuals.
Mistake #8: You’re too vague. Do you have a legitimate claim to fame? Something that adds value to your customer’s life that you can express in real numbers? Don’t hold back. Concrete specifics are more compelling to potential buyers than vague claims and abstract words. Be specific, and you’ll be remembered when it’s time to buy.
Mistake #9: You don’t tell them what to do. So you’ve written some great copy. Now what? Do your prospects know the next step they should take to do business with you? Don’t expect people to know what to do with your information—include a call to action. Tell them to click, ask them to call, give them an incentive. Whatever it takes to get them to make the next move should be your next move.
Good luck, and happy writing! And, if you need help with your next copywriting project, feel free to give us a call.