It’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks we’ll be saying farewell to 2013 and hello to 2014. I don’t know about you but during December I look back on the year and process lessons learned as well as the failures and successes.
That said, I thought I’d share some of the top website copywriting mistakes I saw in 2013. If any of these apply to you, then you have a brand new year coming up to improve your web copy. Most of these are easy fixes. But one will require you to think through your offering and get to the heart of why it should matter to your customer.
Mistake #1 – No Headline
It continues to surprise me how often I land on a business’ home page and it has no headline. This is the equivalent of a book having a blank cover. Or a conference speaker taking the podium and diving into her presentation without an introduction.
Your reader wants to have an idea of a business page’s purpose. When there is no headline, it leads to confusion. The visitor then has to study the page to see if she can guess its message.
To repeat a sales maxim: a confused mind never buys.
Headlines give copy a hook for its hat. The headline is something that is meant to capture the attention of the reader. The headline should have a promise of a benefit in it. People aren’t going to read anything unless there is a clear benefit for them to do so. It must appeal to their self-interest. If not, they move on.
Take a look at your headlines to see if they can be improved. You can check out my “Headline Deep Dive” series to learn more.
Mistake #2 – Bland Copy
Ever run into “That Guy” at a party? You know the one. All he does is talk about himself. It’s the “Me Me Me Show.” Boring, right?
The same holds true for a web page that only talks about its business.
Another consequence of bland copy is that you look like everyone else. Many times, I’ve visited several of my client’s competitors’ websites and found most of them sounding exactly alike. All you had to do was switch out the logo for another competitor’s and it was almost the same site.
In order to avoid publishing bland copy, you need to be clear with your differentiators. What makes you different from the competition? What do you offer that is unique and rare?
To find the answers to those questions will take some digging. Many companies were so eager to market their business that they never developed their differentiators. Saying that you produce “Widget A” and it’s the best in the world doesn’t impress a visitor who is looking for “Widget A.”
They’re wondering why they should buy your “Widget A” instead of your competitor’s.
Use descriptive phrases and verbs. Many websites have the equivalent of this sentence:
XYZ Company is the premier source for brand strategy.
The culprit is the word “is.” It’s passive and unremarkable.
Verbs can punch up your copy and enliven it. Consider instead:
XYZ Company drives brand strategy.
XYZ Company designs powerful brand strategy.
XYZ Company combines innovation and expertise to create superior brand strategy solutions.
Verbs will force you to be more creative with your copy and reveal the benefits for your prospects.
The more specific you can get, the better. Do that and use “you” more often in your copy to change it from bland to captivating.
Mistake #3 No WIIFM
The WIIFM question is “What’s in it for me?”
Visitors don’t really care about your business. They only care about themselves. So when they land on a page that talks on and on about their product but has no obvious benefit for them, they move on.
Be specific when talking about your benefits. For instance, don’t just say that someone will save money with your product or service, say how much they can save.
Don’t just say that an app will make life easier for your customer, give them specific examples of how their life will be improved.
The more you talk about your visitor, including copy that speaks directly to them, the more you’ll improve your conversion rates.
Make 2014 your year by improving your web copy. And if you need ideas, sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter, Morning Copy.We love to create persuasive copy that will reach your target audience.