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Common Mistakes That Can Kill Your Web Copy

By Author: Philip Allen
Total Articles: 37

Sometimes learning what not to do is as important as learning what to do. Copywriting is no exception. I oftentimes see copy that is well written, but obviously created by an amateur. How do I know? One or more of the following five mistakes was made and that killed the copy... dead.
Once you understand why these mistakes are, in fact, mistakes, you can easily avoid them. It isn't like they are complicated concepts. It just takes someone to bring them to your attention so you can guard against them.
Pull up your site in a browser and follow along. See if you've made any of these mistakes on your site.
#1 - Writing Without Knowing Your Target Audience
This is, without a doubt, the biggest mistake of copywriting and the #1 killer of conversions. Why? I'll answer with a question.
When you write a letter (or email), do you just start writing and decide afterwards who you're going to send the letter to? Of course not! So why, then, do so many people just jump in and start writing website copy without having a clue about who they are writing to? It makes no sense to me.
How can people possibly communicate with their site visitors if they have no idea who they are, what they are looking for, their preferred communication style, what problems they face, how they hope to use the product/service to solve those problems and countless other information? Truth is, you can't.
Take knowing your target customers to the extreme. Find out everything you can about them. Then combine all that info to create an imaginary person (or imaginary people) who fit the profile of your target audience members. You can even name them if you want to. Then - with every sentence - write to that person (or persons).
#2 - Writing Without Knowing the Product/Service
Like it or not, you're a salesperson. That means you have to know all the details of the product or service you're writing about. How else can you convincingly convey the information to prospects who visit the site?
Ask your client for samples of products, use of the services or access to member areas of a site. Using or taking part in what your client is offering to his/her visitors will make a huge difference in the quality and persuasiveness of your copy. Nothing comes across as well as copywriting that has been created from experience.
#3 - Writing About the Company Instead of To the Site Visitor
They don't care. Who? Your site visitors. They don't care about your company. Rather than hear about how long you've been in business and that you're the specialists in this, that or the other thing, they'd rather find out how your product/service can benefit them.
If your home page starts with something like this, you're in trouble: "ABC Company is the specialist in [insert industry here] with over 20 years experience. We provide [fill in the blank] with our extensive knowledge and helpful service. Dedicated to providing the highest quality, we guarantee our work with a 100% money-back promise."
You're we-ing all over yourself! The customer has the money. Don't you think the copy should at least acknowledge him/her at some point? Rather than using we, us and our so much, turn it around.
Talk to your site visitors instead of about the company. Let them know you understand their needs and have answers to their problems. Don't ignore them by talking only about yourself.
#4 - Outlining Features Instead of Benefits or End Results
Features are nice, but benefits and end results make the sale because they clearly explain why the customer will be better off after buying your product or using your service. One of the biggest selling factors in copywriting is the ability to tell the customer what he/she can do with a product or service.
Take a tip from the infomercials. They don't simply tell you that a rotisserie cooker rotates as it cooks a chicken. No! They tell you that this rotisserie cooker can bake a whole, marinated, Italian herb chicken that's juicy, moist and succulent. That the seasonings slowly seep into the meat so you get bite after tender bite of flavorful chicken so good you'll beg for more. Who cares that the thing has a pointed, metal prong that rotates a chicken while it cooks? You're buying it because it can deliver that wonderful whole, marinated, Italian herb chicken!
#5 - Neglecting the Medium
Does it make a difference as to where your copy appears online? Isn't all Web copy the same? The answers are "Yes" and "No." Landing pages are not the same as home pages, which are not the same as catalog pages, which are not the same as sales letters, and so on and so on. Don't neglect to find out the differences between these and the other types of Web copy. They all have special considerations that should be studied before you begin writing.
Now you can add these five "don'ts" to your favorite copywriting checklist. Avoiding these mistakes will give you a better shot at reaching your visitors on their level and converting them into repeat customers.

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