To start off this discussion, it’s probably important to understand what copy and copywriting really are, as there still seems to be some confusion between it and writing.
Shirley Polykoff – one of the great advertising minds of the XX century and pioneer advertising woman – has probably said it best – “Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer”.
So essentially, in copywriting, you just need to use written words – a text – to persuade people you don’t know, to do whatever you want them to do – like contact your company, submit an information request form, subscribe to your mailing list, or (yes, please!) make a purchase. But how does one do that, exactly?
Well, basically you just need to present a compelling argument that convinces them that whatever it is you’ll give them – be it a product, service, newsletter, information, etc – is worth much more than what they need to give you in return – whether that is money, a phone number, e-mail address, or even their time. But, simple as it may be, copywriting can obviously go wrong.
In what websites are concerned, there are quite a few mistakes most website owners fall into when preparing their copy. And from where we stand, these are the top 5:
- Not doing a keyword research to back your copy
So you have a business and, obviously, no one knows better than you the keywords associated to it. Having a profound knowledge of your products or services, it’s simple for you to ‘attach’ the right word or words to each one of them, right? But do you really know how users actually search for what you sell? Google does, and if you ask him, he’ll tell you!
Do a proper keyword research and you may be surprised, as users often employ terms (search queries) that are not the ones we would expect them to use. Write your copy using the best and most promising keywords found (don’t forget that a keyword is not just one word these days, but rather a few words put together in a sentence of a sort – keyphrase) and Google will be able to match your content to what your potential customers (or the existing ones that may be browsing the web to see ‘what’s out there’) are looking for exactly.
- Ignoring user or search intent
This one goes hand in hand with the previous one. User or search intent will tell you what a person is looking to get when he or she types something in Google. We are not all after the same thing when we search for a certain product or service online. For instance, we may just want information on said item, being nowhere near buying it; whereas you may already have all the info we’re still looking for (or don’t need it at all), and are ready to make that purchase; and the guy having a quick coffee at the counter is actually just looking for a specific website. In the previous example, our search intent is clearly informational, yours is transactional, and the guy at the counter’s is navigational, regardless of the fact that we are all googling the same product or service.
If you’re writing a sales copy using beautiful keyphrases that have an informational intent, you may get more traffic to you website, but not the kind you want, as this one will come with high bounce rates and no sales whatsoever. So, look at the keywords (keyphrases) in your keyword research and check the user intent behind each one, in order to use the ones that will really work in your favour on your copy.
We’ve talked about user intent and search intent before, so have a look at that article if you want more in-depth knowledge on this matter.
- Presenting the business owner perspective rather than the users’
OK, this is a tricky one, for even though we understand how hard it is for a business owner to forget everything he knows and put himself in his user’s shoes, your copy can’t be about you. The user, and his perspective, is what is really important if you want to ‘convince him’, ‘make him happy’ and, ultimately, sell. Rather than creating content that is written only from your (the business’) point of view – why your service is amazing, how technically advanced your products are, what a truly interesting read your blog post is, and so on – write keeping their (the users’) perspective in mind. Cut down on the “I” or “we” in your copy, and tell your users which of their problems your products or services will solve, or what they will take out from reading your blog post that can be used directly in their life. (How are we doing so far?!)
- Not testing different options
The same rules don’t apply to everyone. What works for your friend’s website, for his users, his products or services, may not necessarily be what works for yours. Once again, it’s all about the users, and that’s why god invented A/B testing, that digital marketers love so much! For example, you may have already heard that long sales copy will not be read, as the users these days want lots of good images, little text, their needs answered, and ‘solutions’ served on a silver plate as soon as they enter a website. But even though this is the ‘general rule’ is it ‘the truth’ for your users? What bores other people may well compel your customers.
And now that we’ve made you wonder, why not go and check the websites that rank on Google’s first results page for your favourite keyword. If you find that most of them have 1,000+ words copy, you might need to rethink how you’re writing. But guess what, to know for sure you can test it! In example we’ve given you, you just need to produce two copies: a shorter one that follows the general rule, and a longer one. Do an A/B test on your website using them, and your users will tell you how they want you to talk to them in order to increase conversions. And this applies to virtually everything on a website, not just copy!
- Selling just your products or services
As strange as this may sound, selling just your products or services on your copy is not enough. Unless you have one of those items that only you and five other people in the whole world produce or offer, chances are that there are quite a few businesses on the internet selling what you sell. To distance yourself from them, and beat them to the sale, your copy needs to sell something much better than ‘just’ your product or service – sell a better life, an inspiration, a one of a kind experience. And that may come in many forms – you can help users become healthier, more creative, save time, make more money, be happier…
When writing your copy, focus on the benefits of your products or services but in a way that fulfils your users’ goals, and resolves the problems they have or want to avoid. For example, your restaurant service is fast, so you avoid delays; you build websites in WordPress, so you avoid customers the hassle of having to call someone whenever they want to change something in it; all the trainers and monitors at your gym have additional physical therapy training, so they avoid customers to get injured during the training sessions. Your users’ lives will be better by buying what you’re offering, and that unique experience and advantage is what you need to sell them in your copy.
And that’s it. These are, in our opinion, the top 5 copywriting mistakes you must avoid when producing copy for your website, as they will cost you conversions, and therefore sales and money.
However, and if we may, there’s one last ‘copywriting mistake’ that we’d like to add to the previous list and that, contrary to what you may think, may actually save you money and increase your profits in the long run – not hiring a copywriter to produce your website copy.
Sure, you can write (most people can!) and no one knows your business better than you (makes sense since you own it!). Nevertheless, consider this: firstly writing is not copywriting, and secondly you don’t have the emotional detachment needed to be effective in your writing.
Plus, a good copywriter is a trained professional and that’s why, whenever we have problems with the plumbing at the office, we never fix it ourselves, but rather call a good plumber (and just stick to writing and digital marketing instead!).