Copywriting, like most things in the digital marketing world, you can do it on your own. A good rule for life though, and also marketing is: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Copy plays a way bigger role than you think. You might think no one really cares about your ‘About Us’ page – but that page could mean the difference between a bounce and a conversion.
There’s a bunch of Dos and Don’ts in copywriting — and content marketing too. These are the five that bother us the most.
Fancy pants language
I’m a writer so you know I love words. I love a big, juicy word placed in the most perfect of contexts that it fits so snugly like the patty nestled in your favourite burger. I love a big, fancy word just on its own. A word so fancy you say it aloud and feel accomplished in the delivery of said word. But, these words are rare. Am I stoked when the perfect opportunity arises to throw the word plethora out there? You bet. Do I randomly inject long, fancy words into everyday conversations for no good reason? Nah.
And that’s okay. It’d be unnatural, it’d muddy up a point I was trying to make, or it would jar the person I’m talking with. They’d lose sight of the point.
Big, fancy words are more of a rarity in day to day life; you won’t see them on bus ads, you won’t read them in the newspaper, and honestly, you shouldn’t be reading them in web copy. They’re pretty, they can be eloquent but they rarely add much to your copy or content and very rarely do they actually fit well or make sense. They also alienate the reader. You’re trying to sell something to someone, so talk how they talk.
Yeah, buzzwords are the worst. Buzzwords and industry jargon don’t belong in copy. When people are seeking your services it’s generally because they don’t work in your industry and they need your expertise. Buzzwords and jargon rarely add anything to your copy. In fact, if you’re lucky, your customer might open up a new tab, Google what that word means, and then come back. But I promise you, people aren’t that patient. You need to get your point across — confusing them will just send them somewhere else. They’re seeking knowledge only you have… help them out geez.
Sad content design
Real, quality content is crucial to any well-performing website. Just as important though, is the content design. Content design can refer to lots of different and interesting ways of displaying content, like interactive graphics or little quizzes that react to your answers. But what I’m talking about specifically here, is how your content or copy is displayed on the page. Large blocks of text on a white web page can honestly look so sad.
First up, it looks like a deserted town where the copy was the only one brave enough to stay. But more to the point, not even the nerdiest of us feel inclined to stick around and read that much copy on a product or brand we’ve only just heard of. Seriously, I’m a writer, it’s my job to read. Even I have closed so many tabs because I’ve seen a wall of text and thought, “stuff that.” Use smaller paragraphs with high quality photos, use columns that relate to clearly defined subtopics, or even use bullet points — just please no huge walls of text.
Using the words wrong
Okay, maybe not using them wrong. But, crazily overusing words or using words that everyone else is overusing. In 2018, the most overused word was solution — we didn’t have services anymore, we had solutions. To be fair, it’s a nice premise — but it was way overused. Right now, eCommerce is going crazy for ‘Frenzy’. Three emails I received today contained “frenzy” in the subject line. What makes it a frenzy? Why? Anyway.
Then, you have copy where the sentences all start with the same word. This becomes so irritating and so quickly. Overused words can also become crazy frustrating, is ‘great’ the only word to describe to your product? While we’re on overused words… don’t fill your copy up with adjectives either. It makes the reader stumble and besides, it isn’t Year 10 English and you’re not trying to reach a word limit.
Making it all about you
This is a biggie and it’s going to sound a little harsh. But, your customers and the people who want to buy from you don’t care about you. They don’t care about your trade qualification or your degree, they don’t care where you went to school. They don’t care what year the company was launched in. They really don’t care that your family’s been doing this for generations. I cannot stress this enough — that they do not care. People care about themselves. When they’re on your website, they’re looking for a product… for themselves. So, when they’re weighing up whether they should buy from you or your competitor, they’re weighing up who’ll help them more.
Make your copy benefits-based. Benefit-first even. You can tell them you’re an experienced electrician but saying, “I’m an electrician with 10 years industry experience” doesn’t sell. Saying, “You can rest easy knowing I’ll show up on time, leave the area tidy, and get the job done quickly” absolutely does. Address the things you know your customer is worried about and explain why you’re so good.