Copywriting refers to “text written for the purpose of marketing something.” With such a broad definition there’s bound to be major copywriting mistakes that appear in the industry. Here’s how to recognize and avoid some of them.
These texts can appear on billboards, in emails, sales pdfs, on websites, etc. What separates copy from other forms of writing is its sole purpose: to sell. This can mean selling a product, or selling an idea or point of view.
While copywriting is about getting someone to buy something, there’s no need to be pushy or overly sales-y. Instead you want to use copywriting techniques to tell a story and make people interested in what you’re trying to sell. Copywriting is an art, not a science.
Copywriting mistakes, or faux-pas, make all the difference between copywriting success and failure. Many copywriting mistakes exist that could cause your copy to be misunderstood or ignored. If you want to give yourself a high chance of succeeding as a copywriter, it’s important to become conscious of copywriting mistakes so they don’t happen in the first place.
If you’re writing marketing copy (and even if you’re not), there’s no excuse to make any of these mistakes:
1. Writing for yourself rather than others:
Let’s be honest: copywriting isn’t completely about writing copy that will actually sell your product or service and meet all of your business needs; it’s also about convincing your reader that what you’re writing is worth reading.
Avoid writing copy based on what makes you look good rather than how it will help the client. There are many copywriters who write copy only to show their skills rather than what will help their clients. This mistake shows a lack of integrity and can damage a copywriter’s reputation.
Also remember not to write directly to only one person. Some readers set out with a very specific goal in mind, but you need to appeal to a broader audience. When you write too specific copy it becomes difficult to understand for others, who are not the copy’s focus. Your copy needs clear enough writing that it appeals to all readers, no matter who is reading it. Avoid copy that only speaks to the client rather than copy that speaks to the target audience as well.
Side Note: Know Your Audience
Your audience may be comprised of teenagers or seniors, different genders, people from various backgrounds and cultures. It’s important to know who they are in order to create copy that appeals to them. When you know your audience, you’ll be able to write copy that speaks their language and creates a connection.
2. Lacks personality:
Copy engages readers and persuades them to take action, but it must also maintain an interested tone of voice so copy doesn’t come across as boring and uninspired. Good copywriters use conversational and engaging copy that makes readers feel like the writer is speaking directly to them.
To be effective, copywriters appeal to emotions because that inspires readers to take action. Strive to make people feel like you understand them, write to influence your readers. It’s important to write copy that makes readers feel that it has and will improve their lives in some way.
3. Ignoring SEO:
If copywriting is about copy that meets the business needs of a company, then it cannot be done without Search Engine Optimization.
Are copywriting and SEO compatible? This might seem like an odd question to ask, because copywriting is essentially writing copy for marketing purposes, and SEO is all about making your copy appealing to search engine algorithms—the two are definitely related. So what’s the problem?
The first thing to understand about SEO copywriting is that it’s not just about writing copy for search engine algorithms. It is about writing copy that appeals to readers as well. Write with a clear understanding of what the audience wants and needs. Copy can tap into emotions, and motivate readers to take action. Understanding this for marketing means readers convert into clients, buying your product or service.
In addition to understanding copywriting concepts and techniques, writers also need to understand how copy is used in SEO. This means understanding the concepts behind copy optimization, copy matching and copy points. To dig deeper into what goes into SEO, check out what the developers at Google have to say.
4. Using complicated words and jargon:
Copy should be easy on the eyes and use shorter sentences and words, correct grammar and punctuation, all the while taking advantage of white space. Remember to take advantage of headings, subheadings, and other visual techniques to make your copy easy and fun to read.
Avoid using fancy or complex words when simpler ones work just as well. Using words that are too complex, or that the intended audience might not know, is a copywriting mistake to avoid at all costs. When you do this you run the risk of alienating your audience. You want your copy to be understood by everyone. So, you’ll need to research your audience and choose the most simple and efficient verbiage to get your point across.
5. Failing to proofread:
Spelling and grammar errors undermine your credibility as a copywriter. You may think no one will notice, or if they do, they won’t judge you. But, they will. You are jeopardizing the copy’s chances to generate revenue when you publish copy with errors. Whether copy is published online or in print, it must be accurate. Anything less can make people question the quality of the product and service being offered.
Your copy may, and should, be subjected to several rounds of reviews and edits. You need to edit for accuracy and clarity, especially if it will be used as the voice of your or your client’s brand. It’s important to use your spell-checker, but do not rely on it completely. Spell-checkers have limitations. Always review copy for grammatical mistakes such as misplaced commas, misspelled words, badly structures sentences, and typographical errors.
While copywriting mistakes are bound to happen, you can take steps to avoid them by being aware before beginning to write. By doing so, writers set themselves up for success. Ensure your copy gets read, shared and clicked on by using these tips. If you’re a writer or business owner looking for more ways to improve your marketability check out our article on 5 Steps to Grow Your Brand and Increase Sales.