Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
As a freelance copywriter, I’ve worked on several projects where I was hired to clean up the mess left by the last copywriter. For one reason or another, the copy they wrote wasn’t working, and of course, the client wasn’t happy with it.
Most times, this happened because the client tried to save money on hiring a copywriter. They hired the cheapest copywriter they could find, and as a result, they got what they paid for.
When cleaning up the mess left by rookie copywriters, I’ve noticed there are 3 common mistakes they tend to make.
- Rookie Mistake #1: Focusing on the wrong benefits—My good friends over at The Write Blog, wrote a post a while back titled “Don’t sell the car. Sell the Nissan.” The title sums it up perfectly. You need to write copy that focuses on the benefits specific to your products and services. It’s all about identifying your unique selling point. Like Wintress says in her post, you wouldn’t sell a car by telling the reader that “it’s a faster way to get around town than riding a bicycle.” Instead, you would probably focus on the miles per gallon the vehicle gets and the unique features specific to the vehicle (and more importantly, the benefits of said features).
- Rookie Mistake #2: Not asking the reader to take action—At the end of the day, the success of the copy depends on whether or not the reader takes action. All copy has a purpose. It could be to close the sale on the spot or to get an email address to gather leads. Identify the purpose of your copy, and ask the reader to take the action you desire. If you don’t ask for an action, your readers will never snap out of their passivity.
- Rookie Mistake #3: Using too much fluff—I’ve seen some copywriters make a living out of saying nothing at all. Oh, they write a lot of words, but they aren’t actually saying anything. Their copy is nothing more than a bunch of fluff that takes up space but never gets results. Here’s a tip. Print out your copy, and cross out non-essential content that doesn’t add to your main message. Just be careful not to go overboard as you don’t want to strip the personality and conversational tone from your copy.
Which rookie copywriting mistakes would you add to this list? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
Sunday, January 18th, 2009
Here’s the situation—your site is optimized, and it’s bringing in quality traffic. You know your product is better than your competitors, but you still aren’t getting the sales you want. It’s a situation that comes up daily, and 9 times out of 10, the problem can be traced directly to the copy. See, if your copy doesn’t connect with your readers, it doesn’t matter how many people come to your page or how great your company is. You simply won’t convert them.
So, do you want to take the next step to create copy that inspires your readers to take action? Here are a few mistakes you need to eliminate from your website content.
- Lose the Word Count- It’s a pet peeve of mine, and it all stems from the rise of SEO. It’s the word count. Everyone feels the need to hit the “magic” 500 word count for optimization purposes. In reality, the message of the page could be delivered in about 250 words, but because of our need to please the search engines, we stretch out the copy to double that length. As a result, the copy is bulky, it doesn’t flow properly, and it doesn’t connect with the readers. Always focus on your user first, then worry about Google.
- Stop Measuring Keyword Density- Again, SEO getting in the way of great copy. Keyword density is a ridiculous concept that people still continue to drag up as if it’s important. News flash—there isn’t a sweet spot for keyword density that will instantly grab you top rankings in Google. The search engines are too smart to be manipulated by such a silly metric. Stop worrying about keyword density, and start focusing on writing natural copy that reads easily.
- It’s not Me, It’s You- We get it. You’re proud of your company, and you want your visitors to know how great you are. There’s just one problem. They don’t care. It’s not about you; it’s about them. Instead of saying “we” over and over, you should be focusing on “you.” What’s in it for your reader? How will they benefit? How will you make their lives better? Those are the questions you should be answering in your copy.
- Don’t be Clever for No Reason- Let me first say that I don’t have a problem with clever copywriting. That is, if it serves a purpose. The problem is most so-called “clever” copy that I see is nothing more than self-satisfying garbage that doesn’t resonate with the target audience. Instead of writing for yourself and for other copywriters, try writing for your actual audience. If you think they crave clever copy, then by all means, go for it. But if it doesn’t serve the ultimate purpose (conversions), then ditch the “look at me, I’m so witty” copy.
- How’s the Hook?- You only have a few seconds to grab your reader’s attention. That’s why you better have a hook that lures them in and demands they stay. Take a look at your copy to see if it instantly cuts to your reader’s problem. Don’t waste time with fluffy, pointless intros. Get to the point or your reader will be gone within seconds.
- Testimonials are Gold- Sometimes, your copy doesn’t connect because your readers just don’t believe in you. That’s fine, it can be fixed. Testimonials are a great way to connect with readers and to earn their trust. Just make sure your testimonials are real and don’t read like they were taken from your marketing copy. By including insight from your past satisfied clients, your visitors will feel more comfortable doing business with you.
- Get a Personality- Walking the fine line between being personable and maintaining professionalism can be challenging. However, it’s a walk you need to make. Stiff, boring, professional speak simply doesn’t connect with most readers. Remember, the Internet is a social platform. Inject your personality into your copy. It’s what separates you from the competition, and it gives your readers something to connect to. People connect with people. It’s that simple.
So, are you ready to erase these mistakes from your website copy? Once you do, your website will start to truly connect with its visitors.