Last updated 19/04/19
Running a business is tough.
But, generating a constant flow of qualified leads and closing them?
Failing to capture a prospect’s attention and develop a narrative that resonates with them can be hard-hitting on our sales funnel and dampen your results.
In this scenario, prospects are left feeling either uninspired by your brand or even worse indifferent towards it.
So, poorly written copy can directly affect your company’s ability to attract potential clients, make a great first impression, and spur them to take your desired action which can negatively hit your bottom line.
But don’t fret.
It’s completely avoidable once you know what you watch out for and plan accordingly
So, grab a drink ‘cos this one’s a biggie.
Ready? Awesome. without further ado, let’s dive right into the copywriting mistakes that are costing you business.
1. Getting started without a goal
If you’re serious about dodging copywriting errors that trip you up before you’ve had the chance to get started, then before you write a single line of copy stop and ask yourself:
‘What do I want this (blog post, newsletter, landing page, ad, page) to achieve?’.
Got it? great. Now ask yourself.
‘How will I know I’ve achieved it?’.
You need to crystal clear on your target before you move forward. So, is it a subscription to a newsletter to that you are after? Scheduling of an appointment? Or perhaps it’s a purchase? Find out and jot it down. You’ll need this info a little later.
Finally, take the time to query how your goal ties into what your prospects are looking for.
Whatever your goal is, it’s essential that you know the result you’re after and how this can be linked to what your target client needs to get the best results possible.
Goal setting will allow you to tailor your content to ensure its jam-packed with information that impresses the hell out of your prospects AND is delivered in a way that resonates with them.
Not only will this trigger the right emotions and compel them to take the action you want but will position you as a thought leader in your niche.
Also, an added bonus of being clear on your target outcome is that it prevents the goal, copy and Call-To-Action (CTA) from being misaligned with your messaging which can cause confusion and lead to lackluster engagement levels and click-through-rates.
Speaking of CTA’s, be sure to double check that yours directs your target audience to take a specific action.
Be clear and don’t leave anything to chance.
For instance, let’s say you own or work for an email automation company and would like to build your email list and intend to attract potential customers through a Facebook Ad, the breakdown would be as follows:-
CTA’s are a vital part of your copy so it’s important you nail it ASAP to avoid unnecessarily missing out on conversions. For more information on CTA mistakes to watch out for check out this awesome blog post – here.
2. Failing to Plan
OK, so admittedly this is quite similar to the first point but this is where the magic happens, so work with me…
Just like you were taught in school, most of your time should be spent planning your work than in the actual execution of it.
- Taking the time to gather data and references from credible sources
- Sifting through reviews of your product or similar products sold by your competitors to get the exact words and phrases used by your target audience to describe, and researching both sides of the argument so you can present a compelling case and add structure to your copy.
- Drafting multiple variants (within reason, of course) of your Ad, CTA, newsletter etc for A/B split testing
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, stop and do a classic mind dump.
Let it all out. Every idea, link, and keyword found during your research period on to paper.
Then use the AIDA framework (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Attention) to combine the features, benefits, emotional triggers and prospect’s language to craft a compelling story.
3. Not really knowing who your customers are
Trying to write copy and sell to prospects before you’ve taken the time to truly know and understand your customers is like introducing yourself a total stranger and asking for their hand in marriage all in the same breath.
It’s weird, awkward and best avoided unless you want to send everyone running for the hills in the opposite direction to you.
And you definitely don’t want that.
Just like in our personal lives, knowing what to say and when to say it becomes easier and more natural the more you get to know someone.
Better yet, as your relationship deepens you’re able to predict with more accuracy, how they will receive it. So, save yourself from any red-faced moments by not rushing your research.
‘But how can I effectively research my target clients?’ you may ask.
Well, you’ll need to do some old fashioned teamwork.
Gather all of the teams in your company (this will need input from every), dust off those client personas you made in your pre-launch phase, and get each team’s input.
That’s right! This task isn’t for the for your Sales and Marketing teams alone.
Your Legal and Customer Service teams can also provide useful insights into the qualities that your dream client (nightmare client hold).
For instance, your Legal team can dig through their records to unearth the types of clients more likely to butt heads with your house rules whilst the Customer Service team can shed light on the traits and background your happiest clients have.
Once everyone has provided their piece of the puzzle, edit your client persona using the actual client-based data you’ve gathered.
If you haven’t made any clients personas yet, that’s even better! You can use the following information to draft a good one.
To do this you’ll need to remove any hypothetical assumptions made and get yourself out there talking to prospective and current clients.
Create in-depth surveys using open-ended questions covering things such as their likes, dislikes, struggles, and aspiration will be needed to collect a robust amount of data.
Installing website usage software that analyses how prospects and customers interact with your site can also be very telling and useful for research. Then combine this with the data collected from each team in your business with
It can help uncover what catches their attention, where they stop or start scrolling and what section of your page they lose or regain interest.
More likely than not, may find that you have more than one type of client. Be sure to create a profile for each, so that you can use it to tailor content in line with their needs.
Remember your client personas are living documents. They should be regularly updated by all teams to ensure the content create remains relevant to your prospects.
4. Not communicating what is in it for the prospect
Fancy features and specifications are great, but they can’t beat emphasising the benefits of your product.
So, if you want to get more qualified leads and increase your sales you’ll need to do a phenomenal job in communicating how your product will change your potential client’s life for the better.
Going even further, your copy will have to make them question how they ever lived without it!
So, think about what you are really selling and ask how it’ll rock your target client’s world.
To give some context, let’s say you are promoting project management software.
What you’re actually selling is the peace of mind that comes from feeling in control of your day. and clarity of thought you have all of workflows and deadlines organised into one place.
Also, by significantly reducing their admin load with your amazing software, you’re giving your prospects the opportunity to get their time and ultimately – their lives back.
Time that can be spent with their loved ones or on hobbies that matter to them most.
You’re never just selling a product. You’re selling an outcome. A lifestyle.
You get the picture, now back to the science of writing awesome copy…
Consider that whilst product features explain the cold hard facts about your product, the magic lies in combining these facts with the benefits of the product and linking them to the wants of your prospect.
For instance, your awesome project management software will have the added bonus of making your prospect a Rockstar employee in front of their boss and investors.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why just hammering out the features like a 500gb memory capacity on the software don’t produce winning results.
The benefits that will make the prospect improve the prospects life have more power than simple features.
This is where storytelling really comes into play. Which leads me on to the next mistake often made…
5. Failing to tap into the power of storytelling
Telling an interesting story allows the customer to visualise their life with your product and convince themselves that they need to purchase it.
This is how in our daily lives we go from simply browsing through stores to making several impulsive purchases in the space of an hour (no shame here, we’ve all done it!).
We humans are funny folk.
We relish the opportunity to talk ourselves into buying things.
Just think about how many times you have been persuaded to buy something because you could not shift the perfect picture you had painted in your mind.
You imagined how it would fit into your life, make things better even if it was in a small way…
…All aided by the gentle nudge of some stellar copy of course.
Using the benefits of your product to tell a story, subtly injecting in its features and sprinkling in the prospect’s emotional triggers like fear, excitement, and self-esteem distract the prospect from your ongoing, not so sales-y, sales pitch.
This is your chance to shine, so make it interesting and show off your brand’s personality.
Not sure which stories will work? No problem, just ask your existing customers what attracted them to your brand.
Since they use your product they can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date insights that can serve as inspiration for how you position yourself to future prospects.
6. Not speaking your target audience’s language
Feeding in perfectly from my last point is this. To effectively sell to your target customer, you need to get into their frame of mind.
Doing this will enable you to communicate with them in a way that is natural to them.
So, when you are conducting research and surveys for your client personas, pay close attention to the types of phrases and words your current and potential clients use.
Take things a step further by hopping on to their social media pages and analysing their posts.
Notice any trends in the things they say or words they frequently use?
If so, note it down. These will all help appeal to them when it comes time write copy for your brand.
7. Enthusiasm overkill
I know. I know….You think your product is amazing! And should do.
BUT you must resist the temptation to go full assault on the use of adjectives and exaggeration when drafting copy.
When it comes to being enthusiastic about your product, there is a sweet spot.
Too much of it can make your brand come across a spammy and unauthentic whilst too little can have people questioning whether your company is run by robots and wonder whether they should pass it up.
So, to ensure you get the balance right, focus on making sure each sentence adds value to your product.
Any words that don’t contribute towards achieving your goals are occupying valuable selling space and must be snubbed out.
8. Dehumanising your brand with corporate speak
People like to know there are real people behind the glitzy websites and flawless social media pages.
Don’t believe me?
Think back to when you’ve had a problem that required assistance from a company. Which did you prefer?
(1) The automated customer service lines instructing you to key in various numbers only to be put through to yet another unhelpful automated message
(2) The customer hotlines manned by real people, spoke just like you and worked with you to resolve the problem.
Often the latter is the winner.
What about the awkward moment you enter into a conversation with someone and they begin using terms that you are unfamiliar with.
Your eyes glaze over as their voice mumbles and fades into the distance.
You’re politely nodding… but they’ve lost you.
You secretly hope they don’t ask you a question because you have no clue on what they are talking about and all you can think about is how you can make a swift exit.
These scenarios both represent what we don’t want to occur, that being the alienation potential clients by using words, terms, analogies and the like that they don’t use themselves or can’t relate to.
There’ll always be the temptation to hide behind ‘professionalism’ but don’t give into it.
This presents a great opportunity for you to use your brand’s tone of voice to communicate your values.
Show them you are human by engaging them in an interesting conversation. It will do wonders for your business.
9. Not tracking your progress
Keeping tabs on the results of your campaigns, blog posts, and web pages is key to copywriting success.
So, be sure to set up Google Analytics and install Google Tracking on all your website pages. This way you’ll be able to see where your traffic is coming from and the devices they use and content they respond well to.
Set events for actions like contact form submissions and CTA button hits to uncover which copy is performing well and why.
If carried out correctly the data gathered will be revealing enough for you to paint an accurate picture of the people you are targeting, specifically what resonates with them and what doesn’t.
Then you can make decisions based on what your audience wants instead what you think they want.
10. Headlines so boring, even your Granny wouldn’t read them
Harsh? Yes. But totally necessary.
And, most importantly, it got your attention, didn’t it?!
No one likes to be bored to tears, especially when shopping. What’s more, studies have shown that people rarely read past the headline. We have become official become a society of skim readers (so, lazy. Oh the shame!).
Think about it. When you type search terms into Google dozens of results appear, all vying for your attention.
And the competition is fierce.
I want you to succeed to so listen up because this is super important. If you don’t do anything else in this article, do this; make your heading is so enticing that potential customers overlook the competition’s content and click straight on to yours.
As the popular saying goes ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ so make it a good one.
Feeling the pressure? Relax. It’s going to be ok. Now is not the time to overdo it with outlandish vocabulary or grandiose statements, just make it impressive enough to induce a click.
Then, once they are on your site you can focus on winning them over with your well-researched, showstopping content.
Remember as we learned earlier when it comes down to it your copy should answer one key question ‘what is in it for the customer?’
Answer this in a well thought-out, interactive manner and you’ll be well on your way to securing those conversions and boosting your sales.
11. Refusing to level up
As with most things in life, you get better with practice. If you truly want to get better at writing whether its copy, blog posts or even whitepapers, you’ve got to put in the work. As a busy professional, you may already feel stretched for time and wonder how you can fit in.
Remember even 30 minutes of practice per day will help sharpen your arsenal of writing tools. If you really can’t find the time or have no interest in learning how to write copy, then hire a professional like me to get the job done for you.
Don’t make excuses.
If you want to have high converting copy on your website, email sequences and blog you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Whilst drafting copy certainly isn’t easy. It can be a fun and empowering experience. Especially as you see your metrics shoot up and your prospects engaging with your work. So, be sure to get out there writing and testing some killer copy!
And once your content is live, don’t leave it there to gather dust and expire.
It’s important to keep on updating and improving your existing content based on feedback, results from analytics, trends, and your own learnings. This’ll ensure you stay in the game and ahead of your competition.
When it comes down to it, to get results you need to craft copy that peaks your prospects curiosity, adds massive value to their lives and, intices them down your funnel rather than just distributing content you like to create.
In other words, sharing valuable information in an entertaining way builds connections with prospects and encourages them to act.
Now, get out there and make a difference in your prospects’ lives!
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