Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Today we are going to discuss 15 copywriting mistakes that are killing your conversions and what you can do instead.
Writing quality copy that converts, demonstrates value, and hooks customers require equal parts talent, research, skill, and patience. Not to mention time.
When you’ve spent hours staring at a sentence or an entire project, it can be difficult to spot the mistakes that may be killing your conversions. When words have lost all meaning, how can you tell if what you have is pure gold or as bland as unsweetened porridge?
Take A Look At Our List Of 15 Copywriting Mistakes!
1. Failing To Understand The Customer
The first rule of copywriting should be “get to know your audience.” Because no matter how well you write, if you miss the point and talk to the completely wrong type of person, it simply won’t work.
Before you put a single word to paper, spend as much time as possible getting to know the people you are writing for, what their pain points are, what language they speak, and what they are looking for in a solution.
Case in point: ShopSolarKits nailed customer analysis and research. They understand that the complexity of the item is the main conversion obstacle.
That’s why they offer lifetime support and quick free quotes, as their copy clearly demonstrates. It’s minimal, to the point, and wastes no time and space going into details that customers don’t even want to read.
2. Failing To Describe The Product
Have you ever come across a company website and had no idea what the business actually did after reading the entire homepage?
This often happens in complex industries, including SaaS, where the copywriters simply fail to communicate what the product is and who can benefit from it. Instead, they assume that people arrive on the website in possession of knowledge about the brand and use complex words that tell the uninitiated nothing whatsoever.
What to do instead: take a look at Vetter and how well they have encapsulated their product’s purpose and benefits. You know it’s an employee suggestion box, you know it’s easy to use, and you know it will boost engagement and save you money.
They then go on to provide further conversion-boosting facts about the product, all the while detailing why it works and what it does.
3. Focusing On Features, Not Benefits
Benefits-based marketing works much better than features-oriented tactics, as it’s more appealing to the customer. No one really cares about what the product is — they want to know what it does and if it will fit their needs.
True, you can’t get away from describing some of the product features, especially when you are describing an actual object. It’s much easier to focus on the benefits when you are talking about a piece of software.
However, Huckberry is living proof that you can integrate benefits-based copywriting into your product descriptions. They tell you what a product is made of, but they also emphasize the benefits of wearing it: soft out of the box, a lifetime of weather resistance, warm and unique.
4. Bland CTAs
Copywriters often rush their CTAs, as they just happen to be one of the last things you tend to write, and they are super straightforward.
However, a bland CTA will get fewer conversions than a creative one. By using action words or words that describe your product even better or by making the lead feel like a part of a special group, you can increase click-through rates significantly.
Let’s look at Career Sidekick and its awesome CTA solutions. Their main one is super-targeted and exceptionally well-crafted: “create my resume.” It tells you exactly what the results of the action will be, and the use of the possessive pronoun makes the action more personal.
The rest of their CTAs are just as creative: “get prepared” and “find out” are much more dynamic than the usual “click here” or “read more” alternatives.
5. Lack Of Voice
Good copywriting has a clear and distinct voice. It’s tailored to the brand’s values and goals, it speaks in a language and tones the audience prefers, and it is uniform across the brand’s online and offline presence.
A lack of voice won’t kill you, but it will lower your chances of being memorable and distinctive. You want your leads to recognizing the brand as soon as they come across it anywhere. And you want them to be able to relate to it.
BarkBox is a great example of a brand that has nailed its voice. They speak to dog owners (as they can’t really speak to the dogs themselves), but they write as if they were speaking to their pets. They are laid back, lighthearted, and straightforward. And they certainly speak pooch.
6. Robot Voice
On a similar note, you definitely don’t want to adopt a robot voice. You know, the one where the brand sounds soulless. Even though they are using all the right phrases, they feel like a puzzle that hasn’t been put together correctly.
Inject as much humanity into your writing as you can. You want to sound relatable and caring. You want to demonstrate to your audience who you really are. Don’t try to write in a voice that does not match the brand’s ethos just because that’s what the competition is doing. It will sound too jarring.
Here’s an example of some of the best copywriting currently available on the web. Velocity Partners are wonderfully human, witty, and interesting. They really know what they’re doing. Their website is never boring (I just spent 15 minutes reading it, as a matter of fact), and if they can produce similar results for their clients, they have truly struck gold.
7. Being Too Vague
It can be difficult to write copy, especially for a service-based business, that clearly describes what the offer is. If you tailor your packages to each individual client, knowing what you are selling is a challenge.
Don’t make the mistake of sounding too vague, though. While you may not be able to promise concrete results, aim to describe what clients can expect or provide case studies and examples of what you’ve already achieved.
Take a look at Articulate Marketing. They operate in a somewhat vague industry, where every campaign and project are different, but they’ve done a great job of describing what they can do and who they’ve been doing it for. While they make no promises they may not be able to keep, they convey their expertise and demonstrate quite a fair amount of credibility.
8. Too Much Information
On the other hand, you also don’t want to make the mistake of giving your leads too much information. The longer your page, the sooner people will give up on reading it. You can’t ask them to digest insane amounts of facts. They have no interest in that.
Instead, you should limit yourself to a policy of “need to know only.” What is it your audience needs to know before they can make a purchasing decision?
Be careful to limit the information you share on your homepage. If need be, interested leads can browse further (make sure the website navigation is well thought-out and super clear!) and read more on other pages.
First Round is a great example of this minimalist but effective approach. Their homepage answers all the questions a lead may have, without overwhelming them. The copy on this page alone is enough for you to make a decision and get in touch with them if their offer is of interest.
Similarly, you also don’t want to ramble on and go off on a tangent that has no other purpose than to stuff your page full of keywords or just words, in general, to make it longer.
If your copy can be short and sweet, then cut out the superfluous and stick to that. There is no rule that says you have to make a homepage a specific number of words long. Yes, longer content does tend to rank better, but that applies to blog posts, not necessarily landing pages.
Here’s a website that’s done a great job of keeping things simple and to the point. Vivion tells you what they sell and why you can trust them and then immediately lets you browse their stock.
There is literally no need for anything else. If you are one of their buyers, you don’t need to be talked into a sale. You know what you need — all you need to make sure of is the quality of the product.
10. Use Of Jargon
The excessive use of jargon can quickly alienate those members of your target audience who don’t understand it. The human psyche is a strange thing, and being made to feel inadequate or inferior will quickly send a lead packing.
Don’t make the mistake of believing jargon showcases your expertise. You can demonstrate it just as well by showing proof of work or describing your successes in terms everyone can understand.
Only use jargon if your target audience is comprised of experts alone and you are 100% sure all of them understand you.
Here’s a simple example: Death Wish Coffee could have described their product in terms that are much more difficult to understand. Instead, they use terms that are still industry-specific but that we can all grasp, even if we are not baristas ourselves.
11. Lack Of Emotion
Emotional marketing is known to work like a charm. Just think of the John Lewis Christmas adverts: we love them and happily cry over them every year.
A lack of emotion in your marketing can thus quickly tank your conversion rates. The same goes for believing you need to elicit some powerful and ground-shifting emotions from your audience.
You don’t need to aim to make people cry or laugh out loud. The emotion can be a simple one. A smile, a cozy feeling, a feeling of calm. As long as there is some sort of emotional association with your brand, people will remember it.
Take a look at how Method describes its products. The descriptions are so evocative you can practically smell the woods and glaciers they are talking about. And while the motions they spark are not overpowering, they certainly help you associate something positive with the product and the brand.
12. Failing To Prove Your Point
Copywriting is more than putting words together to make a point. It’s also about proving a point.
Imagine you write a compelling landing page filled with all kinds of promises of success. What happens if you offer no proof that your claims are genuine? In the worst-case scenario, your audience will consider you a fraud. Or they will, at the very least, be hesitant to trust you.
For every claim you make, you need to be able to offer proof. Someone has to have achieved similar results with your product or service; otherwise, you’re better off making no claims at all.
Take a quick look at Mailchimp’s disclaimers. They have cleverly placed them at the bottom of the page and used them to explain what they mean by “4X more orders,” among other claims. Some of their leads may not even care about the proof, but those who do will be satisfied, and the brand’s reputation will grow.
13. Prioritizing SEO
While SEO should play an important role in your copywriting endeavors, you should never let keyword research or a writing tool dictate what you put on the page.
Whatever software you use, be it Jasper or ChatGPT, or Surfer SEO, make sure you are still the one in charge of making the key decisions as to what the copy looks like and what the messaging is. Above all else, make sure you write for humans, not search engines.
Take a look at this blog post from Trello. They could have optimized it to death. Instead, they’ve written a fantastic post on toxic productivity, explained the concept, and given the advice to overcome it and recognize it. They’ve kept it human-centric. And they rank at the top spot for the keyword.
14. Focusing On The Sale
Even if you work as what is commonly called a “sales-focused copywriter,” you should never focus on overtly making a sale with your writing. The sale should be a natural result of the quality of your words. You should never badger or try to convince people to convert. You should inspire them to do so.
The tips we’ve outlined above should have given you a fair idea of what kind of writing is inspirational as opposed to sales-oriented: clear, benefits-focused, with a unique voice and purpose.
Our final example that proves this point is RXBar, which has proven that you can sell insane amounts of a product simply by listing its ingredients on the packaging.
They’re a LinkedIn copywriting and marketing sensation, and they never try to convince you that you need to buy their product. They prove it.
15. Forgetting To Proofread
Finally, let us just point out the obvious: proofread your work. Please.
Ideally, you will read your writing rested, having given yourself a day or two away from it. If you keep staring at the thing for hours, you won’t be able to spot any spelling or grammar mistakes (and trust me, not even Grammarly catches everything).
Are you making any of these 15 copywriting mistakes? Or have you spotted them in someone else’s writing? Take a look at your latest work with a fresh set of eyes and make sure you are ticking all the right boxes for conversion optimization.
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