Wondering why your copy just won’t convert? Here are the 5 most common copywriting faux pas that’ll put your sales on pause…
We have all been there…
You spend hours writing what you think is a genius piece of copy only to have it fall flat. I’ve been writing copy for 10 years, and that doesn’t mean that everything I write turns to gold. I still sometimes miss the mark, but that’s the great thing about copywriting. The market gives you irrefutable feedback and the results are quantifiable.
Either your audience is buying or they’re not.
And what an awesome opportunity to learn and grow, right? (See, copywriters are so good at re-frames).
So listen. If your copy sucks, all you gotta do is try something new and wait for the results. And not many creative mediums allow for this sort of objective and immediate feedback…
And, truly, the only way for you to become a great copywriter is through pushing through this cycle again, and again, and again. And here’s a little secret, the best copywriters in the world have written more terrible copy than anyone! And that is why they’re the best. They’ve learned through experience and gauging results, time and time again.
And that’s the difference between just a writer and a copywriter. Write. Results. Repeat. And the same goes for you content writers – sure while your purpose, direction and goal are different than copywriters, you’re still able to gather market feedback and quantify results based on engagement, SEO rankings or virality.
So you wanna know the secret to write good copy? 1. Write bad copy and step 2. Fix it.
You have to start somewhere and your first few goes are definitely going to be basic. So you might as well get this outta the way so you can more quickly step into your genius copywriting self. Ok?
And that’s what I’m here for – to help you start and succeed with copywriting! I release a new copywriting tutorial every single week so be sure to hit subscribe on my YouTube Channel then make sure to hit that little bell icon to be notified of when my next video tutorial goes live!
But in this post, I’m going to be sharing the 5 biggest mistakes you might be making as a copywriter. Hopefully this will give you a leg up so you can start strong and avoid the missteps that I learned along the way…
Mistake #1. You’re Afraid To Polarize
I can’t tell you enough how many times I’ve heard my clients or students say, “But Alex, my product or service can help anyone! I don’t want to alienate anyone in my copy…”
To which I say. “That’s nice. But if no one’s buying your product or service, then you’re not helping anyone. So.”
The truth of the matter is: you need to polarize your audience. Why? Because polarity = popularity.
If you try to help everyone you will help no one.
So for reals people, for a second, can we just get over the fact that your product is amazing and life changing and probably CAN actually help everyone, because really, that should be a given! I’m hoping that the REASON you’re looking to write better copy is because you have something to sell that IS amazing and WILL help people…
But if that’s all you needed to write in your sales copy than you wouldn’t be here, would you?
So remember, you should be spending LESS time talking about WHAT your product is and more time talking about WHO and WHY it can help.
Your audience will always ask “So what? Who cares? And what’s in it for me?”
I know, rude right?
But, the quicker you answer these questions, the higher your conversions will be!
And part of figuring out WHO your audience is, is figuring out who your audience isn’t.
Ask yourself, who might disagree with me? The more polarity you create, the more your ideal audience is going to rally behind you and the more trust you’ll actually create.
Leaders have strong convictions and aren’t afraid to voice them. So be authentically and unapologetically YOU.
Now, I’m not saying you should sit down and ask yourself “hmmm who shall I offend today?” But don’t be afraid of causing some controversy and conversation. As they say, the well-behaved never make history!
Mistake #2. You Talk About Features Not Benefits
One of the most powerful things you can learn as a marketer and copywriter is the difference between features and benefits.
So here’s a quick distinction:
A feature is something that your product has or is. It is planned, built, and executed in order to directly solve a common problem. In sales copy, features are factual statements about what your product or service is, and they are NOT what entice your customers to buy.
Benefits, on the other hand, are why someone is purchasing your product. In sales copy, benefits describe the outcome that a user will (hopefully) experience by using your product or service. They are RESULTS expressed through desired emotions and answer the question “What’s in it for me?”
So let me give you some examples of how to turn your features into benefits.
Feature: Batteries Included.
Benefit: Ready to use! No disappointed child on Christmas morning.
Feature: A complete list of 5 minute core exercises.
Benefit: Get that tummy bikini ready in just 5 minutes a day just in time for your vacation.
Ok now let me hear from you! Comment below with a feature or benefit of your product or service. And brownie points for whoever has the juiciest benefit!
Mistake number 3. You Don’t Think Mobile-First
In a recent study I read, in 2019 up to 80% of all web traffic will be mobile! And every single year that number goes up and up and up and up. Now, to give you some perspective, in 2010, only 20% of internet consumption came from mobile devices.
The data also shows that bounce rates are significantly higher on mobile devices than desktop computers, which means mobile users are more likely to land on a webpage, and then GTFO. And that’s likely because so many businesses are still not following the trends and optimizing their copy and websites for mobile first. So don’t let that be you.
Assume the majority of users will be reading your copy on a small screen with big thumbs! So test shorter headlines, larger font, use words like “tap” instead of “click” and make your copy easy to follow and flow on a small single column mobile device…
ALWAYS test to see how your copy looks on mobile first before you start sending traffic.
Mistake #4. You Get Too Fancy
Listen Linda. You’re smart. You use big words, you love wit and innuendo, and you expect your reader remember what you said 2 seconds ago…
But here’s the thing… they don’t.
The average American reads at the 7th-grade level. So, if you’re writing something that a pre-teen would find kind of confusing or difficult to read, your copy is too complex.
Our brains are lazy and we love cognitive fluency. Which means, the easier something is to understand, the more likely we are to actually believe it.
So while YOU might feel all smart using big and fancy words, as it turns out, the more complex your copy, the less intelligent you actually seem. As the old saying goes: “If you can’t explain it simply, you just don’t understand it well enough.”
The goal of copywriting is to hook your prospects attention and carefully guide them through the message until they take that desired call to action. So really, the goal of every single sentence is to get your prospect to read the next sentence. And as soon as you use a complex word, or unnecessary fluff or unrecognized idioms, you break your connection with the reader and they’re gone.
Studies have also shown that your brain will forget information at a shocking speed if there is no repetition. Which is why you need to add a lot of redundancy in your copywriting by restating important benefits and calls to action. This also helps those “scanners” – you know those people who read through copy and just read headlines and a few bits at a time – If you repeat yourself they’ll get the message too.
Now this goes for design as well. Never let the design of a webpage guide the copy that you write.
The visuals should always support the message. And not the other way around. As they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words, so an image that properly supports your message will only help you improve conversions. Pictures and design should help you tell your story better, so as you’re writing… Really think about the way your message will best be visually represented with imagery that will actually support your message, and not distract from it.
So, whatever you do, don’t start gettin’ fancy with the design and then try to plug in copy after the fact.
Mistake #5. You Don’t Say “Because”
Marketing 101 y’all, you need to include a “reason why” in your marketing, ESPECIALLY for the things your audience might not like or understand, like why you’re limiting a sale or why you have a “no refund policy”.
In the 1970’s, Harvard prof Ellen Ladner conducted a study where her researchers approached people using copying machines and asked if they could cut in line.
When they asked “Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 60% of people said yes. Not bad.
When they changed their request to “Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” A whopping 94% of people said yes.
But here’s the best part, they found that giving any reason at all to cut in line, no matter how ridiculous, worked just as well.
So when they asked “Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?” 93% of people still said yes.
Now of course there are some limits to this phenomenon, according to the study “…because an elephant is after me” didn’t quite cut it.
But it still shows the power of using BECAUSE in marketing.
Why am I offering a discount? Because…
Why is the discount available for only 24 hours? Because…
Why do I not offer refunds? Because…
You get the idea.
Using the B word frequently in your marketing, no matter how simple or obvious the explanation may seem… Your copy will convert better, I promise.
Alright!! There she be. The 5 biggest copywriting mistakes that could be cutting your conversions in half.
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Please leave a comment below if you found this post helpful!
And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel where I upload a new copywriting tutorial every week.
I’ll see you next week! Until then, I’m Alex. Ciao for now.
You’re so welcome!