Notebook and Pen

The Top 10 Copy Mistakes You're Probably Making

October 2020

What's up, small business owners?

 

If you’re like me, you like to get the job done right… and that often means doing it yourself. I get it — your business is your baby. It can be really hard to hand it off to someone else, even if only to babysit for a few small projects. 

 

If the thought of folding a copywriter into your team is enough to make your anxiety spike, don’t worry. You can write your own copy for your brand’s emails, sales pages, website, social media platforms, ads, and more… but you also have to know what you’re doing. Bad copy means bad business: fewer open and click rates, fewer conversions, fewer sales, fewer profits… you see where I’m going here? 

 

So, if you’ve already rolled up your sleeves and now you’re staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen — look no further! I’ve got the Top 10 Copy Mistakes listed right here, so you know what rules not to break as you sally forth. 

Mistake #1: YOUR BENEFIT ISN’T OBVIOUS

When you hear us copywriters yelling, “Lead with the benefit!” into the void, there’s a good reason. This might be the most important rule of them all, so we’re starting out with a bang. Your “benefit to consumer” is the simple answer to: “What’s in it for me? Why should I buy?” If your new razor has 7 blades, your benefit is not actually those 7 blades. The benefit is a closer shave… which makes you feel more confident, presentable, and sexy… which makes you feel better about yourself. Yes, folks — the benefit of a little, plastic razor should be as big as “become a more confident human being”. Zoom out and tell your clients exactly what they stand to gain from working with you. 

 

Mistake #2: YOU’RE NOT TALKING TO YOUR PEOPLE

If your target audience for your copy is too general — or simply not your ideal clientele at all — your writing is falling on deaf ears, no matter how witty your sentences are. Spend some time doing some serious brainstorming about who your target audience really is. How old are they? Where do they shop? Why would they use your services or product? Do they know about you already? You can get as creative as you want, but mostly you’ve got to specify, specify, specify. Then, write to them like you’re writing to a friend. 

 

Mistake #3: YOUR CTA IS VAGUE OR COMPLEX

If you don’t end your copy with a strong, clear, obvious, singular next step, your reader simply won’t take any step. Tell your clients precisely what you want them to do, and you’d be surprised how often they’ll follow suit. 

 

Mistake #4: YOUR COPY SOUNDS LIKE… COPY

We’ve all been there: you open your inbox to find 30 unread junk emails and you unthinkingly click “delete all”. No one likes to be pushed or prodded when it comes to sales lingo, so keep the “marketing speak” to a minimum. Save the gimmicks for something else, and write from the heart. 

Mistake #5: IT’S TOO HARD TO READ 

I’ll keep it simple — if your target audience can’t understand what you’ve written, there’s no way they’ll take action. Keep it clear and easy to understand. 

Mistake #6: YOUR AUDIENCE DOESN’T TRUST YOU

If you don’t establish a connection with your reader quickly, your writing can come off as impersonal and pushy. Share a personal anecdote. Let them know your purpose, or why you started your business in the first place. What life events brought you to this moment, and why does that experience uniquely equip you to solve your consumers’ problems? Building trust can come with freebies — I love a bonus, gift, lead magnet, or webinar! — but it can also be as simple as sharing your expertise and establishing your authority in your subject of choice. 

Mistake #7: YOU’RE NOT MANAGING EXPECTATIONS 

Human beings are predicable creatures: we like to know the rules. Stand in line and wait your turn? Sure. Buckle up your seatbelt? Done. Righty-tighty and Lefty-loosy? Duh! While those “rules” might seem obvious, they’re only well-known because they’re well-advertised as phrases we’ve heard since childhood. If you can use your copy to set up expectations — and then follow through with those guidelines — your audience will trust you, love you, and buy from you. This can be as simple as clicking a “sign up here” button… and being immediately taken to a “sign up” page. Connect the little dots, and the big picture will fall into place. 

 

Mistake #8: YOU’RE INCONSISTENT 

Consistency is the key to copywriting. Tone, writing quality, and the timing of social media posts and email funnels should be dependable and predictable. We like the brands that we know, and we only “know” those companies because they’ve spoken to us in the same voice for years. Don’t give your brand multiple personalities, and don’t wait 5 months between blog or Instagram posts. Consistency is next to godliness. 

 

Mistake #9: YOUR READERS ARE BORED

If your headlines and email previews are just “blah”, you’ve set yourself up for a steep uphill climb to sales and profits. While your writing can't be gimmicky, it still has to be exciting, engaging, informative, authentic, honest, and compelling. Make it fun to read, and your audience might actually forget they’re reading copy! 

 

Mistake #10: IT’S JUST TOO LONG

This one is tough. Some social media platforms make it easy for you — they only give you 40 characters with which to express yourself, your benefit, and your call to action. But how do you know when enough is enough in an email? A newsletter? A landing page? A webinar? This one comes with practice, but for now — less is more. Short sentences and lean paragraphs are your friend. The human eye loves “white space”, so be sure there’s plenty of air around your text for your reader’s eye to take a break between your witticisms. 

 

 

Whew! I hope these basics are a helpful guide as you jump into the world of copywriting and content marketing. If just reading this gives you a headache, you might want to consider consulting with a copywriter. (Not a shameless plug — you can call me OR anyone else in your circle!) We are a small but mighty resource for your business since, as you can see, there’s a LOT more to sales writing than fancy words and slapping “LIMITED TIME ONLY” buttons all over your website. 

 

But, if you do decide to go it alone, YOU GOT THIS.

 

You know your business better than anyone, and now that you have the basic rules to follow, you’re on your way to success! Grab your coffee, your blue-light glasses, and this Top 10 list and don’t forget to hit “spellcheck” and “save” — and I’ll see you on the other side!