The first rule of copywriting is the most important — your copy has to sell.
That’s why copywriters spend hours upon hours fine-tuning copy. It’s also the reason why taking shortcuts can end in disaster.
Does your copy not convert like you thought it would? Do you find yourself wondering, “What am I doing wrong? Should I even bother?”
Well, you’re in luck if that’s the case.
Even if you think your copy is flawless, you’re prone to these lethal blunders. No matter how good your writing is, you need to understand the fundamentals of copywriting if you want any sales.
This article will go over common mistakes that can lose you hundreds or even thousands of opportunities to increase your conversion rate. Not only that, but you’ll also learn what to fix, why, and how to turn a low conversion rate around.
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to write copy that can take your business to new heights and set yourself apart from the pack.
Your product or service may truly be the next big thing. Your specs may be way ahead of your competitors and your customer care may be outstanding. But none of that matters if your website visitors never read about it. Your landing page itself might actually be where you lose potential buyers.
There are many ways to optimize your landing page. But the main thing it should do is direct readers to your CTA. Remember: your landing page is not your homepage.
Once readers are on your landing page, it means they’re already interested in your product or service. This is not your homepage or your blog: it’s the page people land on before they take action. So, make it easy for them to respond to your CTA.
So don’t bombard them with the ins and outs of your product or service. Detailed schematics or intricate flowcharts should stay miles away from your landing page. Less is more here. Don’t even worry about detailing all the features of what you’re selling.
Instead, you want to get your visitors to complete a specific action, whether that’s signing up for your email list, getting their contact information, or buying a product.
Your job here is to confirm, not convince.
To make sure your landing page is simple and pain-free to navigate, try to cut the clutter, use fewer fields in your forms, and provide a clear button for them to press to finalize the deed.
If your visitors have to guess what to do next or there’s nothing there to continue their momentum, chances are they’ll leave. And you could lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Here's how you can optimize your landing page for better conversions.
The point of your CTA is to compel your readers to take action. But as you’ve seen above, if it’s not clear what you want them to do, they won’t do anything.
Or worse, they’ll leave.
The first step to fixing this is deciding what exactly you want your audience to do. Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Add their contact information? Purchase something?
All of the above, right?
Get specific on one action.
Again, don’t bombard your reader with more information, and don’t give them different choices to consider. Just give them something easy to do, and they will be more likely to do it.
Once you’ve narrowed that down, craft your CTA optimally and effectively. Here are some ideas:
The goal is to showcase the value that your reader wants for as little effort as possible. Fix your life by signing up for this newsletter. Revolutionize the way you think about your business with this free eBook.
Remember, you want to entice the reader to click that button. But “submit” or “next page” just won’t do it. If you’re not being clear or engaging, it could also mean losing out on potential interest, clients, and sales.
And don’t forget to be specific and sequential, too. Take a look at this: “Are you ready to improve your workplace productivity? Then join the Banana High Program!”
The call to action is joining the program, but it’s not specific. How does the reader join the program? Do they mail in a letter? Click a link? And are they even ready to take that full leap?
Your calls to action should direct the reader to a specific, concrete action. Instead of joining a program, instruct them to click a link.
And that link doesn’t necessarily have to be a full conversion right off the bat.
Your calls to action will have higher conversion rates if you have smaller asks. Instead of asking a reader to commit to a full product or program, ask them to sign up for a newsletter or download a free eBook.
Smaller asks give you more opportunities to wow your audience with your copy so that you can build up to that full conversion.
Learn how to write stronger CTAs with the help of this article.
Convincing people is not as easy as saying “Hey, do and think this.” It requires a lot more thought and consideration than that. That’s why copywriters dedicate a lot of time and effort to persuade, convince, and entice the reader to take an action.
This isn’t about scamming or manipulating someone. It’s about providing value to someone. Value only you can give.
To understand the value you provide to the reader, narrow down what problem you want to solve for them. How can you make their lives easier? What benefits can your product or service provide?
To communicate that, don’t just list off information like its facts, features, or specs. This is probably the most common pitfall for many copywriters. Features and specs don’t solve problems: they make the reader think about how they can use them to solve problems.
These things are important, to be sure. But you’re creating work for your reader and introducing an opportunity for them to lose your train of thought.
You create value by showcasing the solution. Humans are very reward-driven, and your copy can take advantage of that by showing the rewards of using your product or service.
In other words, create a narrative for your reader that shows that you truly understand who they are: their hopes, fears, and dreams. You know what problems they’re facing, which makes you an authority on how to help solve those problems.
Let’s say you’re selling bananas to busy entrepreneurs. Don’t just list off the vitamins or health benefits associated with bananas. Instead, craft a story about why they should eat bananas and how bananas directly benefit them.
For example: Being a CEO is stressful work. It’s exhausting to put in so much time and energy to grow your business day in and day out. A simple hack to get over this, though, is eating exactly ten bananas a day.
The various vitamins and health benefits of bananas will keep you strong and healthy, and can even help you relieve stress. Eating bananas will leave you recharged so you can crush whatever challenges you face and skyrocket your business to success.
Appealing, isn’t it? It’s direct, it’s specific, and it relates to what your target audience wants.
A simple list of features might also appeal to non-CEOs—say, someone dealing with leg cramps or an athlete who needs a quick boost of energy. But it won’t have the same persuasive weight as a description focused on solutions.
When we look for solutions, we tend to choose solutions that fit our specific problem, rather than cure-alls. A CEO may look at the nutrition facts for bananas but opt for Boardroom brand protein shakes instead. If you don’t target the CEO directly, they’re going to find a product or service that does.
This leads us to a discussion of another lethal copywriting mistake.
Learn about benefit-centric copywriting here.
If you don’t even know who your audience is, how are you going to provide value for them?
For example, someone who is single, living in the city with a six-figure job is not necessarily looking for the same things as a middle-class family of four in the suburbs. They both have different wants, needs, and priorities.
Even within that middle-class family of four, there are separate audiences: from granola munchers and BBQers to stay-at-home parents and double professionals.
Your job is to figure out what parameters define your target audience.
That’s why it’s important to do your research and create an ideal client portfolio. Some basic attributes to keep in mind:
And feel free to go deeper. Get as specific as you can.
Go beyond a client portfolio and create a client profile.
Unlike a client portfolio, where you list general information about your audience, a client profile creates a hypothetical person. This is a caricature of your ideal target audience.
For example, instead of focusing on middle-class women in their 20s, you instead create a profile for Jenny, a 24-year-old marketing director who attends yoga with her friends Sunday mornings as an excuse to get brunch after. She listens to ‘90s soft rock and loves reruns of old police procedurals.
Now, Jenny doesn’t actually exist. But when you’re keeping your target audience in mind while copywriting, thinking about Jenny rather than “middle-class women in their 20s” can give your copy an edge. It’s much easier—and more effective—to write to a specific audience than a general one.
This may seem a bit tedious. But the beauty of it is that you don’t have to appeal to everybody. No one size fits all. There’s a reason why custom and personalized creations are so valuable, right? You feel like they’re made for you.
That’s what you want your reader to feel.
Learn proper audience research with the help of this article.
Once you understand your audience’s priorities, you can communicate your value more effectively. Appealing to the right audience means being mindful of the tone and language you use and making sure it matches the audience.
And this is where your copy can run into some problems. As a marketer, you want to promise your reader the world. Your product or service is so good that its changed lives.
But your audience can’t take a grandiose claim like that at face value.
Likewise, you can’t convince them with words, phrases, and promises they’ve heard before.
As a general guideline, these are some rules to follow, no matter who your customer base is:
Likewise, in the quest to be real and down to earth, you might inadvertently end up undershooting your mark. It’s important to be truthful, but as a copywriter, you need to do this in a way that’s both interesting and enjoyable to read.
If you’re finding yourself needing to add a little flair to your copy, humor can be a great way to nudge your copy to your preferred level of “wow.”
Consider a simple bran cereal. It’s great: tons of fiber, whole grains for heart health, and it’s cheap! You know that fiber and heart health are important. Your audience knows that. But taking that angle in your copy might come across as a bit... dull.
Here’s where humor could come in. By using hyperbole, you construct a character, Bob, whose life is dull and lonely. But the fiber of the bran cereal gives his metabolism a jump start, and he stops feeling so miserable all the time. He ends up trying out a new hobby where he meets the love of his life.
Normally, extrapolations like these would be overshooting the mark, but humor creates a situation where you and your audience both acknowledge the absurdity along with the validity of the extrapolations.
Remember, it’s all about trust.
That trust is what builds a relationship, a reputation, and repeat customers. You do this by being careful with the language you use to communicate with them.
Be real, be genuine, and stay on target.
Your audience shouldn’t just have to take your word for it. After all, you’re trying to convince them of something: you’ve got a vested interest in them believing what you’re saying.
But what if they heard from someone just like them?
Testimonials do a great job in building trust because the words come right from the people your business has already helped. It’s like a glimpse into the future for your audience.
When your audience reads testimonials, they know that you’ve hand-selected the best ones. But they also know that these are genuine words from people just like them. They’re the best-case scenario.
In the end, testimonials add substance to back up the claims of your copy.
Another great way to back up your copy’s claims is by using trust badges.
When your audience follows through to the checkout page of the website, you want to reassure them that they’re making the right decision. Trust badges provide peace of mind to your audience that your checkout process is on the up-and-up.
This peace of mind with the process adds legitimacy to your copy. It’s just one more element that seems professional and feels right.
And most importantly, it all builds trust.
If the reader can’t trust you, how can you expect them to respond to your CTA?
Now that you know how much consideration is required to craft the perfect landing page and CTA, now it’s time to experiment. But that doesn’t just relate to the headlines, keywords, and forms within your copy.
Copy is dynamic.
Try to also test the colors, buttons, font size, and the other visual aspects on your page. Make columns, pop in quote blocks, or insert some of your copy into images.
Not all of these changes will work, but the important thing is that you’re experimenting.
If you’re only following the advice of others, you’re working off of slightly outdated and very generalized information. If you want your copy to truly pop and convert, then you’ll have to figure out what works best for your specific target audience.
Older audiences may enjoy larger font and highlighted key takeaways. Younger audiences may prefer image macros and bulleted lists.
You won’t know until you try.
Is your page eye-catching? Are you using high-quality images? Is your page visually appealing to the reader?
This may seem superficial, but these are important aspects to consider. If your page looks disorganized, unappealing, or outdated, it could make your readers lose interest fast and drive them to look at your sleeker and more sophisticated competitors.
The best way to experiment is to try AB Testing. Also known as “split testing.” Essentially, you create two versions of a page—an A page and a B page—and split your traffic to each 50/50. From there, you can see which page gets the most conversions or holds the reader’s attention the longest.
AB Testing is the scientific method in action. The changes don’t have to be dramatic: in fact, you should keep them straightforward. By focusing on one change at a time, you can evaluate if a particular strategy is working.
This methodological strategy gives you results you can apply to all your copy.
Let’s say you want to improve conversion rates on your homepage. For your A page, you leave it the same: this is your control. For your B page, you try a pop-up that takes the reader to the special offer at the bottom of the page.
The offer was always there, but with your B page, you’re experimenting and seeing if a pop-up is a way to go to get visitors to bite. You may discover that the pop-up actually turns your visitors off and they leave your site entirely—and very quickly.
So, you rule that pop-ups aren’t the way to go for your target audience and you can try again.
Over time, your copy will steadily improve because you’re always choosing the page that has the results that you’re shooting for.
If you’re following this guide, you’re preventing your copy from flopping. Still, there are always more things you could be doing to optimize your conversion rate and write world-class copy.
You could devote your entire life to improving your copywriting, and there wouldn’t be a minute that was wasted. That doesn’t mean you need to, though.
Knowing these blunders can help you avoid low conversion rates and making a bad impression. You may not be a professional copywriter, but there’s no reason you have to deal with those setbacks.
As you write more, you’ll learn that knowing what you shouldn’t do is as important as knowing what you should do.
Maybe you don’t have the time, though. If you’re looking to fast-track your copy to greatness, the best way to be sure you’re doing everything you can is by hiring a marketing consultant.
Even if your copy is already good, there are countless tools to add to your collection. A consultant can load you up with them quickly.
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