Quality copywriting can’t be overlooked if you want to convert website visitors into paying customers.
It’s not always easy, however, to grasp how to write effective and engaging copy that will keep your readers interested and stop them from rolling their eyes and running in the opposite direction.
To help you avoid mistakes that can crush your brand or cause you to miss out on opportunities to grow your business, here are seven of the most common—and cringe-worthy—copywriting mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.
Mistake #1: Overwhelming Your Visitors with Text
Nobody likes staring at a wall of text. Long blocks of copy can make visitors feel overwhelmed, causing them to click away without reading any of it.
Obviously, that’s not ideal.
Instead of rambling on down the page, break up your text with visuals like images and videos; this will make your content more digestible and interesting for your readers.
In the video below (click the play button to view), you can see the arrows calling out images, click-to-tweets, or videos breaking up the text as the reader scrolls down through the page.
Mistake #2: Writing in Jargon
Good website copy isn’t written in a language only an industry insider would understand. In fact, using too much jargon can be a huge turnoff for potential customers who are just trying to figure out what you do and why they should care.
Some industries are guilty of this more often than others. For example, the following industries tend to pile on the jargon trying to make the brand and the team members sound smart.
- Law firms
- Accounting and financial advising firms
- Technology firms (50% are amazing, 50% are jargon-filled messes)
The problem is, the target audience is never comprised of the same type of people who work at these types of companies. So, the jargon impresses no one and turns off pretty much everyone.
Keep your language simple but informative; this will help new readers understand what you do without sounding condescending or unprofessional. And feel free to have a little fun with it.
I love what Ahrefs does with their website copy. Check out this video scrolling through the SEO tool brands’ website. The language is informal but commands authority. It’s engaging, lighthearted, and makes you want to learn more and connect with the brand.
Mistake #3: Making It All About You
Your website should definitely talk about how great your business is—but don’t make it all about yourself. You’d be missing out on a wonderful opportunity by not playing up the value you offer, but you don’t want to do it at the expense of coming across arrogant.
Instead, focus on providing value to the reader by offering advice or helpful tips related to the product or service you offer.
This way, visitors will come away feeling like they’ve gained something from their visit—and not just been sold something.
It’s the whole “Show, don’t tell” concept from the film industry. Instead of coming right out and saying “Look at us, we’re the best,” play out a scenario that highlights how you understand the issues your audience faces, talk through a solution, give away some free advice, and build relationships.
This will earn you lasting connections with customers.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Target Audience
If you have trouble writing effective website copy, chances are it’s because you haven’t taken the time to get to know your target audience.
Before you start writing anything, ask yourself who your ideal customer is and what problems they might be facing that your product or service can solve for them.
Having this information in mind will help ensure that everything on your site resonates with the people who matter most—your customers.
To figure this out, you can do a number of things.
- Listen to what your ideal customers are talking about on social media.
- Host focus groups and ask key questions to uncover important insights.
- Send out surveys to your customers to get feedback.
- Review analytics and assess how customers use your products.
Once you’ve compiled a ton of info, turn that info into buyer personas. Then use those personas to inform the content you write to ensure it’s targeted to cause the real people those personas represent to take action.
Mistake #5: Using Clichés and Buzzwords
Nothing screams “lazy marketing” quite like overused buzzwords and clichés on a company website.
Avoid phrases like “cutting edge technology” or “revolutionary products” as much as possible; these words don’t actually mean anything anymore and won’t convince anyone of anything either.
Another one I see tossed around way too much (and incorrectly) is “innovation” or any version of that.
Innovation, in its true sense, means to truly create something new, find a vastly better way to do something, or otherwise introduce something that changes the world in a positive way.
It does not mean that your company is innovative because you offer online payments through an outside vendor when your competition down the road doesn’t.
That’s not innovative. It’s smart, and it’s a nice use of available technology, but it’s definitely not innovative.
If you use that word to describe the way you do things falsely, you’re guilty of the crime of improper use of buzzwords. This carries a 15-year sentence in bad copywriting jail.
Instead focus on specifics; tell people exactly why they should choose your product or service over someone else’s instead of relying on tired phrases that everyone has heard before. Use real words that truly define your value, and keep it simple.
Mistake #6: Not Proofreading Your Work
When it comes to web copy, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors aren’t just embarrassing—they can also hurt your credibility as a business owner.
Take some time after writing content for each page of your site to proofread what you’ve written; this will help ensure that everything looks professional and polished before it goes live on the web for everyone to see.
I mean, who doesn’t want a better “Amercia” right? Yep, that’s an ad misspelling the name of the country Mitt Romney was aiming to win the vote to run. Not a good look.
Even something as small as a misplaced apostrophe can give people a bad taste in their mouth about your brand. Lush dropped the ball on this one in the screenshot below from their 404 page.
Mistake #7: Not Updating Content Regularly
The internet moves fast; websites go stale quickly when their content isn’t regularly updated with fresh ideas and perspectives.
Take some time each month (or even each week!) to review all the pages on your site and see if there’s any new info that needs updating or if any old posts could use a refresh with new insights or ideas from recent trends in the industry.
This way, visitors will always have something new and interesting coming from your site; even if they’re returning customers.
Straighten Out Your Copywriting
Quality copywriting is key when it comes to converting website visitors into paying customers—but only if it’s done right.
Avoid making any of these seven common mistakes when writing web content for maximum engagement (and fewer eye rolls!).
If all else fails, hire an experienced copywriter who understands how best to present information online so that readers find it valuable enough to take action after consuming the copy on your website or any of your marketing messaging.
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