5 Telltale Signs Your Copywriting Needs Work (And How To Fix It To Drive More Conversions & Sales)

You can read all the how-to guides you want, but nothing beats trying and failing until you’ve made it.

  • Ever put hours into your copy only to make no sales?
  • Does that mean it was a waste of time?
  • That you should pack it up, never write again? 

No. Before you hang up your keyboard forever, let me assure you: it happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. You just need a refresher and some practice. Practice, practice, practice. 

The mistakes in your copy can point to how you can improve. Here are five signs your copywriting needs work and improvement. We’ll go over what they mean and how to fix any mistakes. Once you’re aware of the problem, you’re halfway down the road to fixing it.


Sign Your Copywriting Needs Improvement #1: High Bounce Rates

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

Some things are bouncier than others. A tennis ball will bounce longer than, say, a banana. From this analysis, you want your website to be like a banana. Even better, you want your website to be like a banana dipped in hot fudge: something that doesn’t bounce but sticks.

The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and then leave. In other words, anyone who doesn’t click on other parts of the website. Sites like Google Analytics and make it easier to locate the stats on your bounce rate. These sites also reveal other factors that reveal how effective your copy is.

So what does a high bounce rate mean? It means that your copy isn’t getting a visitor’s attention. The copy isn’t sticky enough, isn’t compelling enough. So, how do you fix this? 

A high bounce rate means that you may have got their initial attention, but you’re not following through. You’ve spent all the time and effort to get through to them, but if they leave your page after two seconds of reading? That’s a wasted opportunity.

Be stickier, in other words, by using a copywriting hook. Write something flashy that’ll catch someone’s attention and pull them into your website. Then go beyond being flashy and get into your viewer’s head to see what makes them tick.


Sign Your Copywriting Needs Improvement #2: Nobody Reads Far Enough

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

What if someone gets hooked and tags along but gives up halfway through the copy? There’s a famous saying in advertising that only twenty percent of people read past the headline. It’s important to have a great hook, but you have to keep their interest after that.

Your copy can’t only be flashy; it has to be engaging. Sure, you can start by saying that the new complexion cream saved your marriage. The thing is, people will get bored if you drop the ball after that grand statement. 

What keeps your audience engaged? Make it a story. Tell them about a plain Jane, wallflower type of woman. She’s tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching all the pretty girls flirt and enjoy themselves. She might have crow’s feet,  stretch marks, or a tiny blemish on her upper lip that no one notices except her.

On one hand, this is a story that everyone can relate to. The thing is, people have heard it a thousand times. Try adding a twist by making it a man who’s overlooked, or any other ways you can think of to turn the trope on its head.

As kids, we loved watching TV shows or reading the next installment of our favorite series. As adults, we still love stories. Human beings have told stories for thousands of years, since the dawn of civilization. It’s what connects us as people and gives everyone a sense of shared history. 

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

What makes readers care?

To make your story engaging, you start with conflict. Jim’s wife is getting tired of looking at his blackheads, and he refuses to take care of his skin. He thinks it’s not masculine to care about his appearance. He also watches football too much and won’t talk about his feelings.

It might be hard to draw the connection between an unhappy marriage and skin problems. Keep at it despite that fact. Once you start thinking about it, a story emerges. Make sure not to get too outlandish, or you’ll lose your audience. Find a familiar theme, add a twist, but don’t stray too far from the original story that everyone finds so relatable. 

Do you see how you can get going once you’ve built an outstanding story? People become invested in good stories, and a great one will carry your audience to your product.

Learn more on how to make your readers care with better copywriting here.


Sign Your Copywriting Needs Improvement #3: Too Many Questions About Your Offer

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

What if someone sticks around and explores your website but still has questions? If you’re lucky, they might contact you to ask. But most people will bounce and never return to your site.

You did a good job on word crafting a hook and a story, but you might have missed the core of your project. In the middle of crafting something compelling, it’s important to remember why you’re writing. 

What is your product? What does it do? Why should someone care? Make sure that all your decisions in copywriting account for these things. 

Let’s get back to Jim. Your intended audience has read and heard about his marital woes. One problem. You didn't draw the connection between your banana complexion cream and its benefit. What’s so great about it? How does it fix his marriage?

Explain to your audience that the lotion contains 100% organic banana extract. Tell how the flavonoids bring toxins to the surface and force them out. 

If you don’t think technical details will convince them, talk about how good it feels to clean your face. Emphasize that the scent doesn’t interfere with their masculine aura like other complexion creams. Give it a name that won’t make your male audience feel threatened. Think about the way “Dude Wipes” rebranded flushable wipes and made it okay for men to buy them.

Learn how to build credibility in your copy here.


Sign Your Copywriting Needs Improvement #4: The Reader Is Bored

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

They’ve read your pitch, but they aren’t sold on it. There could be many reasons you haven’t convinced them, but let’s focus on a few obvious ones. You’d find the audience’s reaction through testing before you publish the copy.

Confusing — The reader doesn’t see the connection between the complexion cream and the benefits. They might not know what a flavonoid is, or they don’t understand why Jim’s wife cares so much about his blackheads.

Boring — Assuming the reader is still with you, they might be thinking, “What’s in it for me? Why should I care?” They might be single. They don't care as much about looking good for women. They have acne and blackheads, but they don’t see the benefit of using your product. You should have a target audience. But there’s room to include other pain points if your product seems too generic.

Unbelievable —  They don’t believe that taking care of their skin will solve their problems. They think you’re telling a tall tale. You haven’t convinced them why a man should care about his pores and try to look better for the opposite sex.

After testing your audience, you should know what’s effective copy and what’s not. Remove the details that other people don’t care about. You may think it’s compelling, but you find out that it’s not working, and it’s a distraction from the main point.

You may have too much detail, or you could have too little. In this case, you would need to be more specific about what benefits your product offers. It might be obvious to you, but others need help to see the connection between features and benefits.

Off-topic —  Sometimes, we get carried away with our value proposition and drift away from our main point. This is dangerous because if what we’re saying isn’t relevant to the reader, we risk losing their attention.

Our headline about saving Jim’s marriage may hook their initial interest. The connection between healthy skin and marriage problems could be tenuous. The details about your product might distract from why the point of your copy.

Jim’s rough skin is a surface issue masking the deeper problems in his marriage. He lacks sensitivity.  Be careful about going on too much about the psychology of a good marriage. Your audience might stop reading if they aren’t interested in marriage or their own feelings.

One way to discover whether someone is reading your entire copy is to use a heat map. A heat map tracks the cursor on their screen to see which parts capture the audience’s attention. It’ll show you not only where their cursor goes but how far down they scroll to read the rest of your copy.

Redundant information — The term “mansplaining” is circulating the Internet. It describes the phenomenon where men overexplain things to women. This comes across as condescending and sexist. The same principle applies to other situations.

For instance, you could explain eczema to a dermatologist. You might sound insulting if your advertisement doesn't target the general public.

Here's a storytelling guide to help you connect better with your prospects.


Sign Your Copywriting Needs Improvement #5: The Call To Action Is Unclear

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

It takes more than getting your audience to read your entire copy to convince them to take action. Sometimes your CTA is unclear. Do you want them to buy your product, ask for more information, or click on a link?

Motivation — Are there too many steps to complete the task you want them to perform? The more steps, the more copy you need to motivate your audience to follow through.

Ability — Is the reader able to do what you want them to do? Going to a local store or ordering your banana lotion off the Internet is easy. Buying them from a department store could be trickier if the one you’re selling at isn’t local. 

Triggers — Certain phrases are more likely to convince readers. 

  • Free trial
  • Shipping offers
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Payment Plans

Also, use short demonstration videos, webinars, or e-books to supplement your argument. Use different modes of media to cover all your bases.

Here's how you can write stronger CTAs for better conversions.


But Wait, There’s More.

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

If you’re anything like most writers, you may have read our list and see yourself in many of these common problems. Don’t get discouraged. Recognizing the problem brings you halfway to identifying a solution. I have some great ideas for how you can tighten up your copy and make it more effective.


How To Fix Your Copy #1: Work On Your Headlines

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

It could take at least a dozen rewrites to write the perfect headline. Try focusing on the following techniques to get it right.

  • Get straight to the point — Cleaner Skin Makes his Face more Kissable
  • Intriguing — The Secret Jim’s Wife had That Rocked Their Marriage to the Core
  • Brand new — New Solution for Razor Burn
  • Big build-up — You’ve Been Suffering From Parched Skin For So Long...Now Your Prayers Have Been Answered
  • Storytelling — Jim’s Marriage Was in Trouble Before He Got in Touch With His Sensitive Side

Try using stronger words to grab the reader’s attention more. For instance, using the word “parched” is more evocative than saying “dry.” You can picture the way his skin looked before and how disgusted his wife felt. Then you offer your bold solution.


How To Fix Your Copy #2: Harp On Fears And Desires

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

Psychology shows us that people find motivation in two things when you break them down. They're repulsed by their fears and drawn by their desires. 

  • Self-improvement — Everyone wants to be fitter, healthier, and better in every way. Weight loss supplements and bodybuilding programs take advantage of those desires. This also works with academic programs to improve their intellect and competency.
  • Fear of loss — Show that something is at stake. The customer has to protect what they already have in their life. For example, life insurance advertisements address a desire to protect family. Other types of insurance cover financial loss, as well.
  • Love and affection — Whether they admit it or not, everyone wants to feel loved and accepted. That expensive facial, that flashy car… all the things we use to draw people to us and make them care about us.
  • Pleasure and comfort — Convenient items that make them feel happy. Comfort food, fuzzy blankets, or anything that brings pleasure and a feeling of safety.
  • Avoidance of pain — Could be pain-relieving medications or preventative measures. It also includes avoiding the pain of rejection. Things like bad breath, spotted skin, or anything that drives people away.
  • Prestige and status — This is a good trick if you build a brand reputation that people want to affiliate with. Mercedes Benz, Gucci, Versace... anything that shows the world that they have money and good taste.

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

How To Fix Your Copy #3: Address Objections

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

  • Price — Either your product is too expensive, or your product isn’t expensive enough. Convincing a hopeful groom to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring seems crass. The thing is, it works. 

You can also compare your product to other products to give perspective. That Amazon Prime account might be $144. The thing is, it breaks down to $12 a month. That’s much cheaper than paying to ship the packages people order to their homes.

Sometimes the price seems so low that the audience will think it’s too good to be true. You’ll need to convince them they can have value without sacrificing quality.

  • Timing — Your audience is waiting before making that big buy — a car, a couch, a washing machine. They’re waiting for their next promotion or for that mysterious rich relative to die. There may be a recession and they’re worried about losing their job. Or they had a baby and they worry they can’t afford that product.

Make the buying process as simple as possible. Offer low-interest installment plans. Tell them that now is the best time to buy what they need, and they’ll follow through.

  • Trust — Social proof is vital for newer brands and products. Use customer reviews, comments, social media posts, or an appeal to experts’ authority. These elements will give your copy credibility.
  • Complacency — They may be waiting for their next purchase because they have an old one that works fine. Convince them that “good enough” isn’t enough. Their old washing machine is still good... but you still have to stick around to add the fabric softener in the middle of the cycle. Your new washing machine’s compartments cut this step and free you up to take care of other chores.


How To Fix Your Copy #4: Improve Structure And Form

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

Most people won’t even try to read a dense wall of text these days. Good copy means making it easy on the eyes. Short paragraphs, subheadings, and bullet points break your copy into short bits of information. These short bits are much more suitable for today’s audience.

Photos, diagrams, and illustrations also break up the text and make it easier to read. It gives your brain time to rest a bit before reading the rest of it. Done well, these breaks will also support your argument.

There are as many formulas for writing copy as there are businesses to promote. Some of the common ones are:

  • AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. — Banana lotion from outer space. How does it work? We want smooth skin, too. Buy now and get 25% more at no additional cost.
  • 4 Cs - Clear, Compelling, Concise, and Credible. Is it clear? Do we understand that the banana lotion cures or alleviates dry skin? Is it compelling? Does it make your audience want to buy it? Is it concise — does it avoid repeating itself and using redundant words? Is it credible? Have you provided enough evidence to draw the connection between their problem and your solution?
  • Problem, Agitate, Solution — Start with a problem and then detail how difficult it is. Invite them to feel the pain and know that you understand, too. Then provide your solution and how good you’ll feel after using it.  

It’s much simpler to write if you know what you’re going to write ahead of time. A formula gives your copy the foundation it needs to explain the benefits of the features.


Fix Your Mistakes And Reap The Rewards

5 telltale signs your copywriting needs work (and how to fix it to drive more conversions & sales)

Negative feedback doesn’t spell the end of the world. Instead, it can be the beginning of sharpening your copy to perfection. All it takes is recentering yourself on the point of copywriting as well as your creativity. 

Every mistake is a potential lesson. So, learn from the extensive experience of other copywriters. Do your research, test your audience, and you’ll be able to produce effective copy. You’ll look back on your beginnings and see how far you’ve come since then. 

Prospects want to buy your product, click your link, or do whatever it takes to get closer to your CTA. The thing is, they don’t know it yet. It’s your job to help them discover it.


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About Daniel Doan

Daniel is a proven Neuro-Response copywriter with over a decade of expertise bridging the gap between what your company wants to say and what your customers actually want to read.

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