We all use words all the time. Most of us write something on paper or on screen several times a day. Does that make us all writers though? How many common copywriting mistakes feature in your notes or emails…?!
Just because we can all write, can doesn’t mean our words communicate effectively. And in business, the right communication translates directly to clients and sales. Express those words badly, however, and you’re faced with a completely different scenario – little or no business caused by common copywriting mistakes.
Read on to discover our list of the most common copywriting mistakes. If any of them ring true for your business, it may well be time to bring in the professionals!
1. Put the web and the design first
One of the most common copywriting mistakes comes when you give priority to your website and design over the words. While a professionally developed site with a design that appeals to your clients is important, don’t forget about words.
A mixture of rich description copy and strong calls to action are vital for creating effective website copy.
If your objective is lead generation or newsletter sign-ups, for example, your email communications are imperative. You need to be able to create carefully crafted emails for different stages of the sales funnel and for ongoing nurture marketing. The words in those emails need to convince the reader to want to find out more and to buy your product or service.
The solution? A professional copywriter focuses most on the words that do your selling.
2. Ignore your audience
For any communication to work, the right person needs to be listening. Or more to the point, you need to writing for the audience that is listening.
There’s no point telling a story if it doesn’t interest the audience. All too often business owners who write their own words forget who they’re writing for - their target audience. Craft words that are music to your prospective clients’ ears and your sales process kicks into action straightaway.
The solution? A professional copywriter knows your buyer persona and writes what they want to read.
3. Champion features over of benefits
Perhaps one of the biggest copywriting mistakes is when the text on a website or brochure merely lists what a product or service does. This list of features might be long, but potential clients often aren’t interested. They (only) want to know what the product or service does for them. How does it make their life easier, happier, cheaper?
The solution? Professional copywriting turns features into benefits.
4. Talk about yourself
You might have an amazing backstory. Or your business may have a fascinating history. But it’s only part of your brand story. Writing too much about yourself could well be the easiest way to turn a hot lead stone cold. Your clients are only interested in what’s in it for them. Yep, it’s those benefits again.
So find ways to tell your story in way that demonstrates benefits to your target customer.
The solution? A professional copywriter knows that this is not about you.
5. Forget the SEO
Potential clients aren’t your only readers; search engines also read your words. And read them carefully too so you need to bear in mind the Google’s algorithm (and Bing, maybe). Failing to factor search engine optimisation (SEO) or your keyword strategy into your website content wastes a lot of valuable time.
The solution? A professional copywriter writes for your clients and Google.
6. Endless copy
When you’re writing it’s easy to get carried away and write long sentences that take up a lot of space in an article but that don’t actually tell the client anything they want to hear and so the client loses interest and clicks away to find something they do want to read.
See what we mean?
Did you actually read that whole sentence?
It wasn’t a sentence; it was a paragraph without any breaks!
Long-winded copy, long paragraphs and sentences that go on for miles are common copywriting mistakes. Three writing fails that do nothing to help your business. Keep your sentences short.
Two top tips:
> break up your copy with paragraphs of different lengths
> use subtitles to steer skim readers and provide a gist
The real solution? A professional copywriter thinks short, sweet, succinct. A bit like the 6-word story: For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. (attributed to Hemingway).
7. Forget about the font
Along with too much waffle, another easy writing mistake is to choose the wrong font. Words in fancy font or a wacky colour might make a design statement, but they’re difficult to read. The same applies to spaces between words and lines – not enough and even the most engaged clients are starting to struggle.
The solution? A professional copywriter knows that a reader who can’t read something won’t read something. Easy on the eye, always.
8. Use the wrong words
Your choice of words is also important if you want to engage your readers to have them follow your call to action.
Examples of the wrong words and phrases to avoid:
Clichés – part of our colloquial language is can hard to stop them seeping into conversational copy. But best to avoid them like the plague.
Hifalutin expressions – going for the big words when plain English will do. A frequent example we see is companies opting for ‘utilise’ instead of ‘use’.
Jargon – whether it’s legal speak, ‘corporatese’ or techy stuff, jargon does nothing for your copy because your clients don’t understand what you’re saying. Avoid this copywriting mistake by going for good old plain English.
Overused words – like luxury, market leader and innovative are so bandied around they have little meaning. Or the superfluous ones such as good and really that add zero to a sentence.
Tautology - probably one of our favourite grammatical terms, it’s when two similar words are used together to express the same point. We spot its application everywhere. Saying that some had an ‘over zealous’ reaction to something is possibly the most common example.
The solution? A professional copywriter chooses just the right words to do the talking for you!
9. Skip editing
How would you feel if the first person to come across your typos, uber-long sentences and exhaustive information is a potential customer? No wonder they didn’t spend long on the page (we’ll talk about dwell time, another time).
The solution? A professional copywriter compiles a draft. The draft becomes the real thing. There’s quite likely another pair of eyes laid across it - maybe yours - but at least a night’s sleep. We don’t click ‘publish’ until we’ve read and re-read the piece.
10. Mess up the grammar
Remember that infamous panda with a gun in the pub that “Eats, shoots and leaves”? A misplaced comma or apostrophe, or confusion over there/their/there is all too easy to make. But these common copywriting mistakes not just look bad; they could cause serious misunderstandings.
The solution? Leave the grammar to the professionals and get on with doing what you’re good at.
11. Do it yourself
And finally, the last and perhaps the biggest error you make in copywriting is doing the writing yourself. As with all skilful work within a company – think graphic design, sales, accounts, web development, customer services… it’s best left to the professionals.
Bottom line? Copywriting is never as easy as you think and to avoid this long list of common copywriting mistakes you need a proper copywriter. Get in touch to find out how we can take care of all your words and make them start working for you as they should be. https://coconutpr.com/about/