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How to fix these six common copywriting mistakes that can kill your sales

By Alexandra Gavril - May 2, 2019

You spend hours writing what you think is an amazing piece of copy. Then you hit ‘publish’ but nothing’s happening. Although you get plenty of visitors, they’re just not buying from you.

Wondering why? It’s possible you’re making some common copywriting mistakes that are costing you sales.

Let’s look at six of them and explore how you can fix them and turn your website into a money-making machine.

1. You write for robots, not people

If you’re more concerned with your search engine rank than with your message, you’re doing it wrong.

This is not to say that you should ignore search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices for your website and content. Not at all since we often recommend in our blog posts that you optimise your content to increase its visibility in the search engine results and make it easier for your prospects to find your business online.

The problem is when you focus too heavily on SEO and forget that a human will ultimately be reading your copy. And if what they find is a page filled with repetitive keywords and little value, don’t be surprised if they don’t feel compelled to buy from you.

How to fix it

Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media, wrote in a post that “if you want people to find you, you have to speak to search engines. But if you want them to stay, you have to speak to people.

In other words, it’s about striking a balance. You should never sacrifice your message for your rank. Instead, focus on getting prospects to your website using proper SEO practices and then use targeted, valuable, engaging copy to motivate them to hit that “buy now” button.

Want to learn how to write search engine optimised copy that makes sense for humans too? Start by reading this post on where (and how) to use keywords to properly optimise your content for search engines and take our free course on SEO to learn everything you need to know on the topic.

2. You focus on the product instead of the problem it solves

As a business owner, you probably know an awful lot about your business, products and services. In fact, you might know too much about it.

You know all the features, the technical bits and under-the-hood details that make your products work. And you think that your prospects want to know all about those details.

The truth is they don’t.

People don’t care about the features of a product. What they care about is how your product can help solve their problem.

How to fix it

You see, you’re never selling what you think you’re selling. Sephora doesn’t sell makeup, they sell beauty. Jimmy Choo doesn’t sell shoes, it sells confidence. Trello doesn’t sell time-management software, it sells more freedom to do what you love.

So if you’re telling prospects that your fitness tracker has three programmable buttons, that won’t entice anyone to buy it. But if you tell them how the tracker can help them to lose weight, get fit, and feel amazing and much more confident when they look in the mirror, that’ll get them to buy it.

Bottom line: stop focusing on the product and stop selling its features. Instead, focus on the problem is solves or on who your customer will become – socially, personally, professionally, spiritually – after using your product or service.

3. You get too fancy

If you often use big, fancy words in your copy, thinking that’ll impress your visitors so much that they’ll immediately buy from you, stop.

In fact, that may be what’s driving them away.

Your visitors don’t know your jargon. They’re not in your industry. They’re not looking to be impressed. All they’re looking for is information and a solution to their problem.

So when you use fancy words or jargon, you’re not only making your copy confusing or difficult to read and understand. You’re also making your visitors feel dumb because they can’t understand what you’re saying. That’s bad for the success rate of your website.

How to fix it

Your audience shouldn’t need to have your level of education or industry expertise to be able to understand what you’re selling. So stop trying to impress them and instead, use simple words that everyone can understand.

Think about this way: the goal of every single sentence you write is to get your prospect to read the next sentence. But when you use a complex word or jargon, you simply break the connection with the reader and they’re gone.

However, when your copy is simple and easy to read and understand, your visitors are more likely to believe that you’re saying and take that next step and buy from you.

4. You don’t write for scanners

It doesn’t matter if you have the best, most compelling copy on the web if it’s trapped within a huge, dense block of text. Your visitors won’t read it.

Why? Because people don’t read on the web. They scan.

According to Jakob Nielsen, the ‘Guru of Usable Web Pages’, “on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.”

So people read only about one in five words on any web page. That includes yours.

How to fix it

Write for scanners. How? By structuring and formatting your copy so that readers can quickly get as much valuable information as possible.

This means:

  • Using descriptive, clear and sticky headers and subheaders to break up your copy.
  • Adding bullet points to make your content easy to skim and get visitors’ attention to what’s most important for them to read.
  • Using short paragraphs that are easy to read and understand instead of long ones that they’ll simply ignore.

These are just a few things you can do to get your message across to people who don’t read.

5. You sound like a salesperson

You know what happens when your copy comes across as too ‘salesy’ or pushy? Your visitors become suspicious. They feel like all you want is their money and don’t care about their needs or about helping them to solve their problems.

Here’s an example:

There are so many claims, guarantees, superlatives on this page that it’s impossible to not be suspicious.

How to fix it

Forget ‘salesy’ copy. Write persuasively instead. This means using simple, conversational language to sell visitors on the value of buying your product or service.

Here’s what we mean:

And here’s another good example from Udemy:

This is persuasive copy because it explains the real value they’ll get from the product or service. The reason it works is because it’s disarming and makes users feel safe, thus more likely to buy.

6. Your call to action is missing

You’ve invested so much time and resources into attracting prospects to your site and getting them through your copy. But if you don’t tell them what to do next, you’ll simply lose them to your competitors.

How to fix it

Make sure you have a call to action (CTA) on every page on your site. Make it visible and compelling so your prospects know what their next step should be. Reemphasise the benefits your prospects get by moving forward.

Here’s a good example from Trello:

Want more tips and examples? Read our post to learn more about calls to action, their vital role in helping your site to turn visitors into customers, as well as how to create powerful CTAs to entice more visitors to take the action you want them to take.

Wrapping up

Here’s a little secret: even the best copywriters in the world have made these mistakes at least once. And that’s why they’re the best. Because they’ve learned through experience.

You can do the same. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Just make sure you fix them as quickly as possible so you don’t lose any more business.