Who wrote the copy for your website and marketing campaigns? Was it a professional copywriter, a friend or you did it yourself? You see, many people who are just starting out in business don't take promotional and marketing copy serious. It's not just about having a talent or flair for writing. There are rules and specifics only an experienced and skilled professional would be familiar with.
Surprisingly, even larger companies still make a number of copywriting mistakes. Here are the 10 most common ones.
1. Using the wrong tone of voice
To communicate your message effectively you need to know your ideal client very well. Know who you are talking to. Know how they like being talked to and what they want to hear about.
You can't use formal and complicated language if your target market are 18 to 29 year-olds.
In some communities specific slang is appropriate and makes your brand more relatable. That's a key drive for customer conversion and loyalty.
2. Making unintentional grammar and spelling mistakes
Another common copywriting mistake is linked to the use of incorrect grammar and spelling. We are not talking about intentional errors made for emphasis or creative purposes. That's different and actually encouraged in some cases.
However, obvious mistakes like incorrect use of they're and their or there, swapping between American and British spelling and words, missed letters are all a sign of carelessness and low professionalism. Ultimately, it will reflect on how your customers perceive your business.
3. Being too generic in the information they give out
A golden rule of successful, converting copywriting is answering questions before they were asked.
Your customers should be convinced they need your product or service and this is not going to happen if you only give them generic information. It is boring and it doesn't make you stand out from the rest on the market.
Of course, to provide the answers to questions that haven't been asked yet you need to know your ideal client really well.
4. Lacking emotion
Evoking emotions is essential for a good copy.
Have you ever wondered why some posts get so much engagement and others don't? No, it's not just social media algorithms. Certain content makes people feel some kind of way. And it doesn't always have to be positive. Negative emotions are just as powerful and influence people to take action.
The top 5 emotions you should aim to evoke with your copy are: awe, amusement, anger, anxiety or excitement. You can learn more about content writing techniques in this 30-minute Emotional Marketing digital course.
5. Overstuffing the content with keywords
A big, big mistake many businesses unfortunately still make is using keywords too frequently in their copy. Years ago, this was a great way to cheat Google robots and put your web page at the top of search results for selected keywords and phrases. But ever since Google introduced the Panda and Penguin updates that became a terribly wrong strategy.
If you exceed 3% keyword density on any of your pages, you risk a penalty which will push you much further down the search results.
6. Sounding like everyone else
Anyone with a good understanding and knowledge of the language can write an informative text. Not everyone, however, can drive attention and provoke actions. That's practically the job of professional copywriter.
Sometimes less is more and sometimes less is just boring.
Following your competitors and analysing their behaviour, strategies and performance is a good idea. Copying them without bringing innovation is a business suicide.
You would be surprised how many new brands can't find the balance here.
7. Selling "things" instead of solutions
No one wants to buy stuff. People have problems and needs that need to be solved and satisfied. If your copy talks a lot about the features of a product, but doesn't explain how these features will benefit the customer, the chances are the product won't sell.
Same goes for services. Why should someone use your service? Is it going to save them time, money, efforts? Will it bring them closer to accomplishing a specific goal?
Again, circling back to knowing and understanding your target market, their problems and needs.
8. Writing copy that's too long
Long form content is different from a copy that's too long. Blog posts, videos over 3 minutes and podcasts are all considered long form content. But a blog post can be just 300 words and give you all the information you need.
A podcast may take an hour of your day, but it is engaging and leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction because you were able to do something else while listening to it.
Long copy, especially when intended for promotional purposes is almost always a mistake, no matter the type of audience. It needs to be punchy, to the point and engaging.
It's not just the word count that can break the game, but also the formatting. Long paragraphs are a thing of the past. Most people use their mobiles to consume all types of content. Frequently broken paragraphs are much easier to go through, especially on your phone's screen.
9. Failing the "Tweet" test
One of the best ways to judge whether your copy is concise and of good quality is to make it pass the Tweet test. Paste each of your sentences as a tweet. If it makes sense and provides value to the reader you've passed the test. Take it a step further and turn a paragraph into a thread.
Any sentence that's longer than 280 characters is too long for marketing.
10. Ignoring negative language
It's good to point out all the positives your product or service will bring to the consumer, but it's even better if you can show them the negatives of not getting it. This approach plays on people's emotions, their fears and insecurities. It sounds a little sinister, but marketing is not all moonlight and roses.
Successful campaigns are usually based on manipulation of the consumer's behaviour, interests and feelings.