There’s a lot of debate about the difference surrounding copywriting vs. content writing. Though both seem like twins, they aren’t; more like cousins. Copywriting is a way of getting through to your customer, having a conversation of sorts, and persuading them to act on your message.
It could be purchasing your product, submitting an email, or requesting for a demo. On the flipside, content writing is more generic; it has information and point of views expressed in the form of blogs, general content, and web content.
However, just like any other aspect of communication that demands writing, there are going to be pitfalls along the way. You want to make sure you iron out the bumpy areas to deliver pristine copywriting material to keep your audience hooked.
So, you have been copywriting for years, how can you mess up, eh? Get this; everybody makes mistakes. The smart thing to do would be to accept it and work your way forward. Be mindful of the mistakes that you’re probably making and don’t realize it:
1. Not doing detailed research
How much do you know about the topic you’re going to cover – Enough? None? You don’t want to toggle between enough and none; make sure you have done an exhaustive research. Leave no stone unturned, learn everything there is to know about what you’re writing.
Research is the bedrock to writing a great copy. It tells you what your audience craves – their tastes, likes and dislikes, what’s trending in the industry, and everything that can help you churn out a well-endowed copywriting article.
What’s more? Research is the key ingredient that alerts you about your competition, and how you can beat them at their game. It also gives you facts and figures that you can use to your advantage, so your customer believes you.
Here’s the winning tip: Spend twice as much researching, and you’re on your way to success; take the short route, and you’re going to be snubbed sooner or later.
2. Don’t bushwhack the first headline you think of
Never pounce at the first headline that crosses your mind, though it might be the one you would ultimately use. But there’s a fair chance that your first attempt is likely to be a whole load of nothing.
The smart thing to do would be to write down about 10 to 12 most suitable headlines aligned to your sales pitch. Weigh them on a scale of 1 to 10, and choose the one that nails your vision without giving away the juicy details. Once you’ve laid the bait, you wait for the fish to bite.
You don’t have to break your head over the headline and then follow through with the copy; it works just as fine the other way. Some writers are known to finish the entire copy, and then come up with the most fitting headlines; I’m one of them. It’s just a matter of finding your space.
3. Don’t write more than you need to
It’s pretty awesome to whisk out extraordinary headlines and copy, but resist the urge to overdo it, right to the point where your pitch sounds unrealistic, maybe even bizarre. Why? It just sounds deceptive, plain and simple.
Be enthusiastic about your copy, but don’t hype it; there’s just a fine line that separates the two. You definitely want to have a lot of enthusiasm, not deception.
4. Don’t patronize your services from the get-go
Yes, you’re passionate about your products and services, but you don’t have to start going head over heels patronizing it. You must understand that people are not interested in your product unless you lead them to it.
Talk about what motivated you to come up with the product/service, rather than blatantly laying down all your cards upfront.
There are a thousand and one things running through your reader’s mind – could be household banter, work pressure, could be anything. They might be looking for something to identify with, you need to give them that. Hold your audience’s interest; haul them in with catchy headlines, subheadings – the works.
Once you have your audience’s attention, focus on your products and services, and how it will benefit your audience.
5. Stay away from the “Yes, Your Highness” tone
Your customer might not be in front of you at the moment, but you got to write believing that you’re face-to-face with them. You just have one chance to win them over.
Write the way you speak. But of course, mind your manners; you don’t want to get on the wrong foot that could cost you heavy.
What you learned in grad school still holds good, but when you’re pitching for business, it’s best to leave the Queen’s language aside.
6. Writing for a group rather than an individual
When you get down to writing, you got to picture yourself facing one person and not a group of people. Imagine a heart-to-heart with someone – that’s the tone you want to be pally with. It’s what we call the “conversational” tone because it’s pretty much what it is – having a conversation. The only difference is that you’re writing instead of talking.
7. Writing generic jargon instead of being specific
Get this, if you’re going to spit out generalization in your copy, nobody’s even remotely interested; you got to hit it where it hurts with specific details.
Don’t use ambiguous figures, like many, some, a lot, few; instead use actual numbers. Specifics justify your content making it believable, realistic, and easy on the eyes.
8. All say, no do
Make your promises count by delivering what you preach; it’s convenient to go off course and rant empty words.
Easier said than done – you got to break away from that belief and show legitimate proof of action. Something on the lines of facts and figures, and testimonials from real people.
A few good examples would be:
- Expert advice
- Scientific research and results
- Pie charts (or just about any kind of chart with hard core specifics)
- Graphic representation (graphs)
- Awards and recognition
9. Passing off yesterday’s news as today’s headlines
Hear, hear! If you believe using the same testimonials over and over again for your product promotion is going to bring you good fortune, think again.
If your service made its debut in 2008, and you’re going with the same testimonials from back then, nobody is going to bat an eyelid over it. Furthermore, people are going to lose trust and begin to wonder if your product actually sells.
Abstain from general testimonials that harp on something like, “Their products are great. I would definitely recommend it.”
There are no specifics to this testimonial. It doesn’t say how the product helped them get results, neither does it state any facts or figures. In fact, this testimonial could have been fabricated. Keep miles away from vague, outdated, and sketchy information.
10. Not including a risk reversal options
You’re familiar with terms like, “If you aren’t satisfied with the results, just return it within 30 days, and we’ll refund your money.”
“Get in touch with us in the event of a leak or tear, and we’ll replace it for you absolutely FREE.”
These are some of the risk reversal options that businesses include to assure exemplary services for customer delight. It’s a way of giving something in return should your customer decide to take you up at your offer.
Also, it’s a smart, thought-through way of minimizing risks for a “Yes!” from a prospective buyer.
11. Extremely Off-Course Call to Action
Just like you are running against time, so are your customers. They don’t have the time or the patience to make sense of an extremely twisted Call to Action. The mantra would be to keep it short, simple, and straightforward.
Call to Action is urging customers to buy your product or services – it’s as simple as that.
Some also have a different approach by asking to submit a request for more information.
However, don’t ever expect them to “Like” you on Facebook and buy your product at the very same time.
If you need the customer to buy your product, give options – Gold, Silver, Platinum tiers.
Give them variables to respond – Call, Email, or Fax.
This is a smart move to encourage sales prospects. Your customer is not just thinking if they should buy your products or not, they are also thinking which one to buy, and how to respond.
12. Not doing the litmus test
As a copywriter, your job doesn’t end with writing the copy and hoping that it works. Your copy might be perfect, or it might not be the best one.
There’s no telling that if you sales copy does justice to your business unless you have test it out with the real world.
The ideal thing to do would be to make two versions of the copy – different headlines, subheadings, information, Call to Action, and all that matters.
It’s a given that one version of the sales copy will outwit the other, but it might not be the one that you were rooting for! That’s precisely why you need to work with at least two or three, and take the time and effort to see one works best.
The market is constantly changing, new products and services are constantly on the rise. Your customers don’t think alike; they need variety and credible options they can trust.
Testing your copy is doable. It’s simple. There are tools designed to help you, like Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely.
It’s a wrap!
Writing is easy, and so is copywriting. You just need to do your bit of extensive groundwork. Strategize your write-up in such a way that customers can’t resist what they see. Simple, sublime, professional, out-of-the-box approach works fantastic.
Connect with your customers. Make them believe you. Sound credible. Most importantly, listen to what they have to say.