If you’ve ever finished the copywriting on a sales page or a website, first of all, you deserve a pat on the back. That stuff isn’t easy.
It takes real effort, concentration and diligence to craft compelling copy around your offer. But before you pour yourself a cold one, have a quick look through your list and make sure these common copywriting mistakes haven’t sneakily crept into your writing.
1. There isn’t an offer
Dan Kennedy is a strong advocate of making an offer in every single piece of communication you send out to your audience. This might feel uncomfortable to you, but you’d be surprised at where you can include offers that don’t feel like sales-overkill. The key is keeping the offer relevant to your copy. Just finished a cracking About page for your website? Don’t forget to give them a link and a reason to check out your services. If they like the look of you and your company, they’re probably going to be interested in what you do.
2. The offer isn’t clear
A common problem with sales pages is not making the offer clear. If your customer doesn’t know pretty quickly what it is you’re selling she’s going to get frustrated and leave. Tip: get someone who fits your target market to review your sales page and ask them if they know what you’re selling.
3. The offer isn’t easy to accept
Do you have explicit instructions telling your reader what they need to do to accept your offer? Do they click / call / email / sign up for a trial? Make sure it’s clear, and don’t be shy about repeating this message so there’s no confusion.
4. The headline isn’t targeted
Does your headline make it clear who your product is for and why they should be interested? If not, try the headline shaker maker.
5. There are still some questions to answer
What does your customer need to know to buy, register or sign up for your offer? An easy way to miss sales is to leave readers with unanswered questions. Does your customer need to know how to use the product, or how long it takes to see results, or whether it’s suitable for their skill level? Think about questions you get when people are enquiring about your product and make sure you answer them in your copy.
6. It’s not clear who it’s for
Tell your reader who this is for and be as specific as possible. For example, don’t just say ‘educational institutions’, break it down and show them what this means exactly: universities, colleges, language schools etc. Don’t assume they’ll know they fit within an umbrella term. the more specific you are, the stronger your copy.
7. The benefits aren’t credible
Benefits are great, but your customer has heard ‘find new clients’ ‘master social media’ ‘get fit and healthy’ before. For tips on writing credible benefits, click here.
8. It focuses on the wrong benefits
Make sure the benefits you list are things your audience REALLY wants. If you teach a fitness class you might think people are going because they want great health and extra energy, but it might be that they really just want to look good in a bikini. Know your customer and what they want.
9. The problem isn’t big enough
Even though your customer is already suffering from a problem, don’t think it’s not worth agitating that problem in your copy. Take time to write about the pain and frustrations they have. It doesn’t just increase the value of your solution, it builds your credibility by proving you understand what they’re going through.
10. The language doesn’t match the audience
Choosing the wrong tone of voice in your marketing creates distance between you and your customer. Think about your language. How would you alter your copy if you were having dinner with grandma or drinking with sailors?
11. No testimonials
What someone else says about you is more valuable than what you say about yourself. Make sure you’re doing your best when it comes to including testimonials.
12. Metaphors are taken too far
Years ago I was once asked to re write a sales page as the client wasn’t happy with her previous copywriter. The sales page began:
Don’t you wish life was like an inverted slippery slide? Swishing and swooshing with ease.
It’s stayed with me because I haven’t a clue what that means, but it was used to try and communicate that after using my clients product, life would be easier. Metaphors are useful communication tools, but can be tricky to master. There is a great article here about using metaphors or similes in copywriting.
13. No proof behind the promise
If you want to stop your customers rolling their eyes at your promise with a “oh yeah, I’ve heard that before.” Use the Promise, Process, Proof technique to win them over.
14. Sticking to just the facts
Just telling your customer what you have for them isn’t enough. Buying is an emotional process, so ask yourself if someone reads your copy are you giving them reasons to feel excited? Confident? Inspired? Motivated? Or are you just giving them the facts?
15. It doesn’t paint a picture
If your product or service is new to your target market, make it easy for them to imagine what it looks like in their life. If you’re selling software, don’t just tell your reader that they can use the software to do X, Y and Z. Walk them through it: For example:
“Simply log in to your password protected dashboard and you’ll be able to run productivity reports for each employee that you can export to excel or as a pdf…”
16. Doesn’t work for scanners
Is your content one heavy block of text? Break it up into smaller paragraphs and use eye-catching subheadings that outline the benefits. If someone skims through the copy, do they still have an idea of why they should be interested in your product? That’s what you’re aiming for.
17. Doesn’t explain what’s new or different
If you’ve got competition, you need to be able to explain what makes you so different. Struggle with the idea of USPs? Then read this.
18. Awkward pricing
It’s the part a lot of writers feel uncomfortable with. How do you introduce the idea of the price? Here are 3 quick ways to help.
19. No reassurance or risk-reversal
Customers have to feel confident and happy when they make a purchase. As a result, most companies use a guarantee to make it even easier to say yes to the sale. Read this for tips on writing an online guarantee.
20. A one-legged call to action
If you simply tell your reader what to do next, you’re writing a one-legged call to action, which, just like a stool, isn’t as sturdy as a 3 legged call-to-action, which goes like this:
- Tell them why they should take action
- Tell them what to do
- Tell them what happens next
“To discover how bloggers like you have signed book-deals with publishing companies, click here to register and we’ll send you the report within 2 minutes direct to your inbox.”
So, there you go, 20 quick things to check next time you finish up a piece of awesome copywriting.
What do you think? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!