Common Mistakes That Can Kill Your Web Copy

By: Karon Thackston

by Karon Thackston © 2005 http://www.copywritingcourse.com

Sometimes learning what not to do is as important as learningwhat to do. Copywriting is no exception. I oftentimes see copythat is well written, but obviously created by an amateur. Howdo I know? One or more of the following five mistakes was madeand that killed the copy... dead.

Once you understand why these mistakes are, in fact, mistakes,you can easily avoid them. It isn't like they are complicatedconcepts. It just takes someone to bring them to your attentionso you can guard against them.

Pull up your site in a browser and follow along. See if you'vemade any of these mistakes on your site.

#1 - Writing Without Knowing Your Target Audience

This is, without a doubt, the biggest mistake of copywriting andthe #1 killer of conversions. Why? I'll answer with a question.

When you write a letter (or email), do you just start writingand decide afterwards who you're going to send the letter to? Ofcourse not! So why, then, do so many people just jump in andstart writing website copy without having a clue about who theyare writing to? It makes no sense to me.

How can people possibly communicate with their site visitors ifthey have no idea who they are, what they are looking for, theirpreferred communication style, what problems they face, how theyhope to use the product/service to solve those problems andcountless other information? Truth is, you can't.

Take knowing your target customers to the extreme. Find outeverything you can about them. Then combine all that info tocreate an imaginary person (or imaginary people) who fit theprofile of your target audience members. You can even name themif you want to. Then - with every sentence - write to thatperson (or persons).

#2 - Writing Without Knowing the Product/Service

Like it or not, you're a salesperson. That means you have toknow all the details of the product or service you're writingabout. How else can you convincingly convey the information toprospects who visit the site?

Ask your client for samples of products, use of the services oraccess to member areas of a site. Using or taking part in whatyour client is offering to his/her visitors will make a hugedifference in the quality and persuasiveness of your copy.Nothing comes across as well as copywriting that has beencreated from experience.

#3 - Writing About the Company Instead of To the Site Visitor

They don't care. Who? Your site visitors. They don't care aboutyour company. Rather than hear about how long you've been inbusiness and that you're the specialists in this, that or theother thing, they'd rather find out how your product/service canbenefit them.

If your home page starts with something like this, you're introuble: "ABC Company is the specialist in [insert industryhere] with over 20 years experience. We provide [fill in theblank] with our extensive knowledge and helpful service.Dedicated to providing the highest quality, we guarantee ourwork with a 100% money-back promise."

You're we-ing all over yourself! The customer has the money.Don't you think the copy should at least acknowledge him/her atsome point? Rather than using we, us and our so much, turn itaround.

Talk to your site visitors instead of about the company. Letthem know you understand their needs and have answers to theirproblems. Don't ignore them by talking only about yourself.

#4 - Outlining Features Instead of Benefits or End Results

Features are nice, but benefits and end results make the salebecause they clearly explain why the customer will be better offafter buying your product or using your service. One of thebiggest selling factors in copywriting is the ability to tellthe customer what he/she can do with a product or service.

Take a tip from the infomercials. They don't simply tell youthat a rotisserie cooker rotates as it cooks a chicken. No! Theytell you that this rotisserie cooker can bake a whole,marinated, Italian herb chicken that's juicy, moist andsucculent. That the seasonings slowly seep into the meat so youget bite after tender bite of flavorful chicken so good you'llbeg for more. Who cares that the thing has a pointed, metalprong that rotates a chicken while it cooks? You're buying itbecause it can deliver that wonderful whole, marinated, Italianherb chicken!

#5 - Neglecting the Medium

Does it make a difference as to where your copy appears online?Isn't all Web copy the same? The answers are "Yes" and "No."Landing pages are not the same as home pages, which are not thesame as catalog pages, which are not the same as sales letters,and so on and so on. Don't neglect to find out the differencesbetween these and the other types of Web copy. They all havespecial considerations that should be studied before you beginwriting.

Now you can add these five "don'ts" to your favorite copywritingchecklist. Avoiding these mistakes will give you a better shotat reaching your visitors on their level and converting theminto repeat customers.

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