The 12 Copywriting Sins that Ultimately Matter
Browse the web and you will find countless content pieces on Copywriting sins.
And even a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts like here.
But from the biggest picture:
Whether it is your first day as a Copywriter, or
You have 45+ years experience…
These are the 12 Copywriting Sins that Ultimately Matter!
1. Your Fail to Do Adequate Research
Top of this list for good reason.
And one of 3 golden keys to success in Copywriting discussed in this blog post.
Research is fundamental to Copywriting success and you can learn about the process here (coming soon) if interested.
It is the ‘art’ of dissecting key information (usually from around the web) and crafting it into a compelling message for your target audience.
Fail to do it comprehensively and your results will suffer.
Because you cannot simply rely on:
– Other people’s authority, and
– Blind luck
When crafting ‘winning copy.’
And you cannot overcome all objections (Sin 11) before gathering information during the research phase.
Cayuse sum up the importance of research best in this resource that states without research in society:
Our ‘demands’ would go completely unanswered
Our lives would be completely ‘different’, and
Our understanding would be ‘lacking’ to move forward in life.
And in Copywriting that is:
Better understanding how users speak
What they want, and
What they need.
So go away now and do your research like a Good Copywriter!
2. Your Fail to Make the Content Scannable
Users scan first before reading.
It is proven.
Nielson Norman Group found this in research and the summary (as they found) is that your target audience:
Pick out individual ‘words and ‘sentences.’
The Code Academy goes in-depth (read more here) to describe how users scan web pages using the “F’ Pattern.
And the summary (as they found) is that your target audience will not read much of your web page.
Therefore, as a Copywriter you must ensure you ‘break’ up your content as much as possible into:
Short Paragraphs of 2-3 lines (with plenty of spacing)
And with human attentions spans constantly decreasing…
Whether it is:
Mobile phone distractions
The baby constantly crying, or
Time is a ‘precious’ commodity which makes the need for…
Content scannabity huge!
3. You Fail to Get to the Point Fast
Make your point and fast without wasting words.
One of the keys to this (as explained by the Fast Company in this resource) is
Not to overexplain.
Because even though your goal is to be comprehensive remember…
Too much information can = information overload and a poor outcome.
And besides words remember you have:
Various multimedia options (a great word substitute that adds enormous value).
And (finally) that does not mean you should not…
Inject personality into your copy!
Just do so in a way that ‘adds value’ without necessarily ‘adding words.’
Doing this is an ‘art’ (as discussed here that Copywriting is 80% Art) that is easily learnt with:
· Practice, and
4. You Fail to Build Momentum
No ‘momentum’ in your copy = no ‘engagement’ and ultimately…
A poor desired outcome from your target audience.
Because no Copywriter when they hit ‘publish’ wants a user to:
Lose interest, and hit the dreaded
‘Back button’ on their browser to return to Google and find a…
Better resource and solution to their problem!
Beth Barrett here even goes so far as to say that ‘momentum’ is the:
The magical hidden benefit of great copywriting.
And this ‘momentum’ goes beyond how you build words into your copy.
Because as Beth says (again here) even when:
– Nobody in the organisation can agree on the web copy (hurdle 1)
– Nobody in the organisation is supplying the web copy (hurdle 2), and
– The content supplied by the organisation just plain sucks (hurdle 3)…
Great Copywriters will still show up on time and get to work to…
Keep the ‘momentum’ of any project flowing and deliver winning results.
5. You Fail to Write in Plain English
You need to ‘appeal’ to the total reach of your target audience for best results with any Copywriting task.
And to do that you it is best to avoid:
Technical terms, and even
Being too clever (as tempting as it is!).
The great Zig Ziglar once said:
“A good life is when you assume nothing” (read full quote here).
And ultimately that should be your exact takeaway when it comes to:
Crafting winning copy that will reach all your target audience from beginner to intermediate to advanced.
The main key to writing in plain English is to resist the temptation to write purely on ‘instinct.’
Because even though ‘instinct’ is a golden key to success discussed in this blog post you absolutely must:
Take a deep breath, and
Think before writing!
That is the #1 key to writing in plain English but if you are looking for more great tips be sure to check out this resource by the Plain English Campaign.
6. You Fail to Write for Your Target Audience
Marketing week reports here that half of online campaigns fail to reach their target audience.
And when it comes to Copywriting:
Rushed, or just
Copywriting research is usually to blame.
But then there is SEO!
Because unfortunately some Copywriters get so caught up in SEO that they:
Fail to write for humans first and search engines second (absolute key).
And as a result, the outcome = poorly perceived content (by the target market).
Neil Patel details how to write content for people in this amazing guide.
But ultimately as Grin concludes in this resource it is only when you reach your target audience as a Copywriter that you can:
Grow businesses, and
Drive more leads / customers / sales.
7. You Fail by Hard Selling Too Much
And Inc.com goes one step further by stating: Why the ‘Hard Sell’ Should Die a Slow Death.
Whilst as a Copywriter your big-picture goals are:
You simply cannot achieve these results at ‘every’ opportunity.
Instead you must focus on ‘engaging’ your target audience first and then building:
Authority with them to ultimately…
Educate and inform them before any form of action can be taken.
Very first step in the marketing funnel (more on how that works here), and
Critical to eventually acquire customers.
And it is this approach that builds better brands.
8. You Fail by Not Linking to Other Great Resources
The web is a ‘social’ place.
One where you can easily ‘network’ with other webmasters to:
Improve your content by linking to their ‘resource.’
Remember your ‘resource’ (as definitive as you want it to be) is not the only resource.
So do not be afraid to ‘link out’ but only do so if it will:
‘Benefit’ the user and add ‘overall value’ to the content piece.
Google’s John Mueller sums this up perfectly in this resource by Search Engine Journal by answering the question:
If linking out is good for SEO?
And here is his response (again detailed here by Search Engine Journal):
“Linking out to other websites is a great way to provide value to your users. Often times, links help users to find out more, to check out your sources and to better understand how your content is relevant to the questions they have.”
And his failure to directly answer the question and mention the word ‘SEO’ in his response says it all…
Because as a Copywriter you must always put your users first and SEO second.
And it is ultimately ‘value’ to the user that matters.
9. You Fail Appealing to People’s Emotions
Facts are facts.
People act on ‘emotion’ first and ‘logic’ second.
Psychology Today states here that the left side of your brain tells us to act logically, while our right fights dramatically to follow the heart.
And Big Think sums up things brilliantly in this resource by saying:
“Even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.”
Therefore, as a Copywriter you must do your research (Copywriting Sin 1) as a starting point.
Rather than just:
Writing with emotion, and hoping to
Evoke it with your target audience…
You should understand psychological triggers that cause all human beings to act.
And this is brilliantly detailed by Neil Patel in this resource.
Because once you understand the ‘psychological triggers’ behind emotion you can write winning copy that hits…
Home runs every time!
10. You Fail to Focus on Benefits
May sound harsh but it is the truth in Copywriting.
Because as a Copywriter focusing on ‘benefits’ is 101 to better copywriting.
You are ultimately judged by ‘results’ and you must deliver ‘results’ in terms of:
Well Laid out
Easy to understand benefits…
That encourage your target audience to take some sort of action ‘now’ or in the ‘future.’
Sarah Klongerbo (9 Clouds) point out 3 great tricks here for writing about benefits that are:
1. Start with an Action Verb
2. Say “You” as Often as Possible
3. Try the “So What?” Test.
11. You Fail to Overcome All Objections
You cannot leave anything ‘on the table’ as a Copywriter when it comes to objections.
Because the difference between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ is simply:
Knocking down every objection!
And that is brilliantly summarised by Copyblogger in this resource that also includes ‘simple’ tips to overcome all objections.
And as we detailed in this blog post the result of having to solve more problems (and overcoming objections) is a big reason why:
Longer content is quickly becoming king (read 3 plain English reasons why it is here).
But how do you overcome all objections?
Focus on ‘value.’
Because when you have ‘value’ engrained within your brain as a Copywriter you will:
‘Get to the point faster’ (Copywriting Sin 3)
‘Create serious momentum’ (Copywriting Sin 4), and then
‘Overcome all objections’ far easier.
And if you are looking for specific big-picture steps on creating ‘value’ be sure to check out these 5 steps by Inc.com here.
12. You Fail by Not Proofreading
Last on our list our 12 Copywriting Sins but not least important!
In fact, it is so critical to Copywriting success that it is the topic of another blog post which you can read here (coming soon).
A ‘comprehensive’ proofread is a must to:
Add power to your content piece (read more about that here), and to
Drastically improve your writing (more on that here).
Because ultimately nothing discredits your ‘expertise’ as an author more than content pieces with ‘errors.’
So whatever you do (going forward as a Copywriter)…
‘Enjoy the moment’ when you finish a content piece as a Copywriter but always:
Never ‘switch off’ mentally until after your comprehensive proofread.
Because unfortunately as a Copywriter we are judged off the ‘published result’ and:
‘One mistake’ is all it takes for your work to stink.
The 12 Copywriting Sins that Ultimately Matter Wrap Up
“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.”
Because as a Copywriter (on all levels from newbie to pro):
There are ‘countless’ mistakes you can make.
But it is your ability to respond to these mistakes that count.
And overcoming these 12 Copywriting mistakes (sins) are…
From the biggest-picture (without sweating the small stuff)……
What will propel you to Ultimate Copywriting Success!
Over to You…
Do you believe these are the 12 Ultimate Copywriting Sins That Matter? Or would you like to remove or add some?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.
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