#copywriting #writingheadlines #copywritingforbeginners #copywritingmistakes
7 Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid
Copywriting is undoubtedly one of the most vital skills one can possess in the business world. Not only is it useful for crafting sales letters, which is what people typically think of when they hear the word “copywriting”, but it is also invaluable for crafting emails for email marketing, for writing effective calls to action on websites, blogs, and social media, and many other uses.
The trouble is that a lot of newbie copywriters (and even seasoned veterans) seem to make the same few mistakes over and over, and these mistakes can absolutely destroy otherwise effective copy.
In this report, we’re going to take a look at the 7 most common copywriting mistakes, and how you can avoid making these disastrous mistakes in your own copy.
Once you learn these big mistakes and how to avoid them, you’ll be on your way to crafting the most effective sales copy you’ve ever written!
Hint: Most mistakes center around the lack of value. We’ll discuss this more in just a minute.
So let’s get started.
Value in Copywriting
The first thing we absolutely must discuss is value. Value is the one thing you must constantly focus on in your sales copy if you want to be truly successful at the craft.
Value is what you are ultimately trying to offer your customers. Not necessarily monetary value, but some sort of benefit. The thing is, you know the value of your product. After all, you probably created it. At the very least, if it’s your primary product, you should know it inside and out. (If you don’t, you’d better learn it, and FAST!)
But your potential customers don’t know your product’s value. It’s up to your copy to constantly let them know the value of your product.
You’ll soon learn how failing to concentrate on value is involved in several of the big mistakes, and how you can be sure you’re demonstrating value during every step of the copywriting process.
Remember, from start to finish, you must concentrate on what your product can do for the reader.
Mistake #1 – Lack of Value in the Headline
Everyone who knows anything at all about copywriting knows that the headline is absolutely the most important part of your sales copy. Get the headline wrong, and you’ll lose 75-80% of your traffic right off the bat. (Yes, that’s a real statistic. About 5 times as many people read a sales letter’s headline as read the body!)
Your headline should tell someone exactly what the product can do for them right off the bat. It should not, contrary to popular opinion, pose a question – at least not without a corresponding answer included in the headline itself. Rather, it should tell someone exactly what they will get right off the bat.
BAD – What Would You Do If Someone Broke Into Your House?
GOOD – Get Our Free Report And Learn How To Stop A Burglar Dead In His Tracks!
BAD – Do You Want To Lose Weight Quickly?
GOOD – Lose 10 Pounds In 10 Days With Our Breakthrough System!
These headlines (the GOOD headlines) let people immediately know what results they can expect upon use of the product. There’s no question posed that makes the reader think, which can result in the reader leaving.
Instead, there’s a clear, definitive result posed that lets a reader know whether or not the product is what they are looking for.
Not only that but these headlines get a user to keep reading out of curiosity. Now that they know what they can achieve, they want to know more about how they can achieve it.
Ultimately, the job of the headline is to get people to read the rest of the copy (or at least skip right to the call-to-action where they can take that desired action.) If your headline successfully does its job of conveying value.
Mistake #2 – Focusing on “Action Words” in the Call-to-Action
Many copywriters have read about the importance of using “action words” to get people to take a desired action, such as buying a product, adding an item to their shopping cart, or subscribing to an email newsletter. And using those words is a good idea in some areas of your copy.
However, too many people have taken the “action word” thing too far and are using them in their calls-to-action as their primary focus. Remember, we’re focusing on value. We want to let people know what they can GET at every step of the process in our copy. So instead of focusing on action words, focus on value words.
Value words let people know they can GET something. In fact, GET is one of the most powerful value words there is!
Instead of saying “Click Here” say “Get Your Report Now”. Instead of saying “Join Now” say “Get Free Access Now”.
By focusing on your value words, you will find your conversions increase significantly, and more people will respond to your copy in the way you want them to than if you use those oft-touted “action words”.
Mistake #3 – Not Knowing Your Audience
A lot of people are certain they know their market inside and out. They’re so sure, in fact, that they do little to no research and instead write copy based on what they believe their audience thinks and feels. The trouble is… what if you do this and you’re wrong?
Market research is vital. There’s a reason why mega corporations spend huge amounts of their marketing budgets on research. They do all types of research, including uncovering their market demographics and focus groups that test individual products.
You need to know your market inside and out not only to make sure you’re writing the right stuff, but to make sure you’re NOT writing the WRONG stuff.
Think of it this way. Let’s say your market happens to be mostly females, but you erroneously believe it is mostly males. You write your copy specifically to target men, and you throw a minor joke about “make sure your wife doesn’t know you’re buying this!” If your market is mostly women, they’ve probably just been insulted and also feel like your product isn’t for them since it’s obviously targeting men.
Never assume to know your audience. Make sure you know it!
Mistake #4 – Bland Copy That Is Hard To Read
I’m not talking about boring copy here, although that would certainly be a big mistake. I’m talking about copy that is nothing but a bunch of monochromatic words bunched up together on a page.
If you’ve ever read sales copy like this, you’ll understand how hard it is on the eyes, and how frustrating it is to try to read a solid wall of text with little to nothing to break it up.
Make sure you are making your copy look as interesting as possible by adding interesting elements to the text. Use elements such as bold, color, underline, italics, etc.
Bullets are a great way to break up large chunks of text into parts that are
easier to digest:
- Use bullets to list various features
- Use bullets to list benefits
- Use bullets to make important text stand out
Don’t forget that you can also use bold, underlines, etc. to make text stand
out within those bullet points.
Mistake #5 – Useless Images
Images are incredibly useful in copy when they are highly targeted to the topic and make sense. However, if you use random images simply because they were all you could find that would fit with your topic, you’re actually hurting your sales copy more than you’re helping it.
Disjointed images only serve to confuse potential customers. They see an image and wonder, “What does this mean?” Just because you understand how a particular image fits in with your message doesn’t mean your reader will.
Imagine, for a moment, that you see this image:
Do you immediately recognize what this image is supposed to symbolize? Would it help you better understand a piece of copy, or would it simply distract you while you try to figure out what in the heck its supposed to say?
I mean, this could mean anything, right? It could be about blogging, it could be about email marketing, or it could be about online education… you just can’t tell without a bit of thought. Even then, are you sure? Maybe you’d just ignore it… skip right over it. Even then, that would mean the image was pretty much useless, wouldn’t it?
Yes, images do help convey messages. But only if those images are easy to recognize in concept and truly support the message you’re trying to convey. Simply inserting images for the sake of having those all-important images in your copy is not helpful.
Be sure that the images you use help convey your message. Make sure those images are immediately recognizable, and that almost everyone you encounter would immediately understand what that image was meant to say.
Mistake #6 – Using Too Many (Or Too Few) Words
Everyone seems to think that longer copy is always better, but in many cases longer copy can absolutely kill conversions.
I’m not sure where the trend started – the belief that longer copy is always better than shorter. Maybe it started because all those copywriters who charge per page tend to craft longer copy to justify their inflated prices or make more per client. Who knows?
Sometimes longer copy works. Some products take more copy to sell than others. A product that costs $1,997 is probably going to take a lot more convincing than a product that costs $19.97. (Although that isn’t always the case!)
You probably don’t need 30 pages of copy to sell a $0.99 eBook, and you probably need more than a half page to sell a $1,997 video course with coaching. But that many not always be true. Some markets respond better to one type of copy than another, and some products need more copy than others.
This brings us to our 7th and final mistake…
Mistake #7 – Failing to Test
Testing is one of the most important elements of copywriting. In fact, it could be said that testing is even more important than the headline, because if you don’t test, how can you even be certain your headline is up to par?
You can use split-testing software to make your testing easier, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you have a decent amount of traffic, you can test one version, and then test a second version manually and compare results. Split-testing just makes the process a lot easier to track and allows you to test more versions and track results accurately.
Remember, you’ll need a fairly large sample size to really ensure an accurate test. At a bare minimum, you shouldn’t make a decision regarding your copy until at least 1,000 people have viewed each version. Any smaller sample size would likely result in inaccurate results, and even this small a sample size could lead to some inaccuracies. Still, it’s better than not testing at all!
Test various elements such as your headline, call-to-action, graphics, and bullet points. Even your guarantee should be tested. Once you’ve hit a conversion ratio you’re happy with, you could stop testing, but you never know when you might exceed your goals with one small tweak!
Copywriting isn’t as cut-and-dry as you might think. The fact is, there are a lot of mistakes one can make when creating any type of copy, and these little mistakes could mean BIG losses in terms of profit or conversions.
It’s actually incredibly easy to make these killer mistakes, because so many people have read misleading or incorrect information, or they’ve misunderstood the information they’ve read.
When you’re crafting any kind of copy, the primary thing you need to remember is that you must concentrate on value. Everything you say should point to the value of your product or service. Not on what you want the reader to do. Not on what you think they want to hear. Not on what someone else has told you to say. But on the immediate value the reader will receive when they take the action you want them to take.
Remember to use words like GET in your copy. This immediately conveys value, because it reminds them they will GET something if they take the desired action.
Value, value, value. Concentrate on this, and your sales copy will shine, leading to increased conversions and ultimately increased profits.
About Author: Andrea Fiore
I’m a single mom with two young children, living in Los Angeles. I’ve been in various fields of copywriting for over a decade. And I have to say — I love it. I’ve gone from writing copy for restaurants in New York City, to writing online copy for a number of ecommerce sites selling nationally, to doing SEO copywriting for professional and product-selling sites. I’ve worked with many affiliate marketers on website copy and email copy. I’ve done ad copy for national or local magazine ad campaigns. Over the years I’ve developed more and more skills and more resources. Every copywriting project is challenge in psychology and artful communication that is persuasive. I like these challenges.