Recently, I had a website copy client say “I know nothing about copywriting. I mean, literally nothing. My website is probably going to be painful for you to read.”
And I got so excited.
Here’s the thing: everyone loves a good before and after. But I’m one of those people who watches time lapse videos of people power washing their dirt-caked driveways for fun. A good before and after is one of my all-time favorite things. That’s why today we’re talking about how to turn not-so-smart copy into laser-focused messaging that works as hard as you do.
The Most Common Copywriting Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
MISTAKE #1: Too many CTAs.
Clear copy is like a gentle, guiding hand. It should guide your reader to do one simple thing. Before you start writing, decide what the goal of each page is. Is it to get your reader to sign up for a consultation call with you? Or download your lead magnet to join your email list? Or is it to encourage them to read the next blog post, or check out your services page?
Whatever it is – the goal of each page should be clear. And the way you make that goal clear is with consistent, prominent Call To Action buttons that help them say “yes” the moment they’re ready. This is especially true for specifically-focused pages like landing pages and sales pages. Choose one action you want them to take, and include more than one button that allows them to do so.
So if the pages on your website are trying to get clients to check out your program, read more about you, AND sign up for your email list right off the bat? Simplify.
How to write better copy: Pick ONE action you want your user to take and do a benefits deep-dive.
MISTAKE #2: Complicating the microcopy.
Listen: I’m all for personalizing your buttons. Studies show that specific, original copy can result in more clicks and, in turn, more conversions.
But the caveat here is that the copy on the buttons HAS to clearly say what you want the user to do. For example: a button that says “Check out my services” may get more clicks than a button that says “Learn more.” But a button that says “Serv’s Up, M”Dude!” ? Not so much.
If your buttons are cutesy instead of clear, they will get less clicks. (I’m talking to you, pun queen!). It might seem clever, but if you try to reinvent the wheel by making it a square, it’s gonna be hard to keep the ball rolling.
How to write better copy: Be specific. Research shows “Learn More” consistently does better than clever alternatives. Legendary copywriter Jay Abraham once said, “Sometimes the best copy to sell a horse is ‘Horse for Sale.” Simple works.
MISTAKE #3: Writing about yourself in third person.
Madison is a freelance website copywriter whose pet peeve is when entrepreneurs and solo-business owners use the third person to describe their businesses in an attempt to “sound more professional.”
Please, don’t do this. You wouldn’t talk like this if you were introducing yourself to someone over the phone, so don’t do it when you’re introducing yourself on your website. You are a person talking to people, and the best way to build trust with your audience is through building transparency, authenticity, and credibility. Most of the time, it’s pretty obvious you’re a one-person gig writing about yourself. Not to mention, third-person bios are skimmed more and read less than first-person stories about your business journey. Make me a promise and save the third-person until you actually have a third person writing about you. There’s nothing bad about being a one-man band!
How to write better copy: Speak directly to your readers. Personal is a good thing!
MISTAKE #4: Starting with design, then adding the copy.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Copy dictates design. All my favorite designers agree, and that’s all the confirmation I need! I’m not saying you have to hire a copywriter, but have the words for your website written out before you finalize your design plans. If your homepage is beautiful but doesn’t say anything about the services you offer, it’s not going to convert – period.
How to write better copy: Plan the messaging breakdown first (this goes for web, email, ads, and print!)
MISTAKE #5: Burying the lead.
It’s the golden rule, but it warrants repeating. Put the most important info in the header and the subtitle, or if it’s in a paragraph, in bold. I should be able to tell the purpose of your copy within three seconds of opening the website page or email.
How to write better copy: Lead with the good stuff. You’d be surprised how many people skip this step!
And there you have it: the most common copywriting mistakes and how to fix them! Which of these will you be fixing on your own website? Let me know in the comments! (Bonus points if you send me your favorite, most satistying before and after video. Ready…GO.)