In a digital battlefield of competition, it’s never been more important to be prepared for the fight.
Your online presence needs to be strong and perfected. You could have the best offering out there, but if people can’t find it, don’t understand it or just don’t like it, they’ll quickly be put off.
So what can you do to draw people in? Here are 7 common mistakes you can avoid to make sure your web copy is top notch, and that you’re getting the biggest return on the time you spend writing.
1. Your headline is boring and not clickable
Before your customer even thinks about what your article or webpage is saying, they will spot one thing: your headline.
Whether they’re on your website already, or browsing Google looking for their best option, you need to lead them to the correct page with an eye-catching, interesting-sounding headline.
You must stop them in their tracks, otherwise you’re going to find that they scroll past your site and head to one of your competitors.
So how do you get it right?
Keep it short and sweet: most headlines are somewhere between 5 and 12 words.
Deliver on your promise: people are becoming savvy to clickbait, so hook them in, but make sure it’s relevant.
Write it last: it’s fine to have a working title, but definitely revisit it and rewrite it once your article is finished.
2. You don’t know your audience
You can’t please everyone in one fell swoop. Think about who is likely to be reading your article, and how you can engage them to turn reading into actions. Who is your target market? Who are you trying to reach? What are their challenges?
Most companies have already worked this out somewhere down the line, but it’s often not carried over into your web copy.
Instead of making your copy specific to these people, you’re writing for every Tom, Dick and Harry, in the hope that someone will be interested in your company.
Put yourself in their shoes and read through your article again; is it relevant and specific or is it too generic? There’s only one right answer.
3. You’re making it all about you
Obviously you want your customers to understand why you are the company for them; that’s a given. But nobody likes boasting.
Customers just want to know what you can do for them. Rather than focusing on how great your business is, focus on how great your business is for them.
There’s one way to measure how you’re doing: look through your website copy, and count the times you use the word ‘you’. Then compare it to how many times you say ‘we’ or ‘our’.
As an exercise, check out other sites or online businesses in your niche (Exchange is one way to find an online business for sale if you don’t want to fall down a rabbit hole of just googling random words). See how many times these sites use ‘selfish’ words or customer-focused words. How successful are these businesses? Once you start looking out for this, you’ll notice it everywhere.
Aim to be more customer-centric with your copy. Instead of writing about the function or achievements of your business, look at how you can write about the benefits for the customer.
4. You’re not being user friendly
The more specialised your market, the more acronyms, jargon and complicated language you’re likely to know.
There will be readers out there who understand the jargon and will be impressed, but the majority of people will be looking for something that they understand.
It’s not just limited to industry jargon though. You need to make sure that you’re not writing obtusely: it shouldn’t be a challenge for your audience to work out what you’re saying.
Most won’t read from top to bottom — they’ll scan the page looking for the information they need. If they can’t find it, they won’t stick around to look for it.
To work out the readability of your copy online: you should aim for a score of 65 on the Flesch Kincaid scale for most business writing. You can find free tests online, or look into Readable, which offers more functionality for a small monthly fee.
5. You’re chasing that word count
We’ve all been there, but there’s no point in padding out your content. Your readers won’t appreciate it, your website won’t look slick and you’ll just put a lot of effort in for little return.
If you’re struggling to hit your word count, there are a few things you could try:
Get someone to cast an eye over your copy. If you’ve planned to hit 1500 words and you’re struggling, you might be missing key information
Reconsider your word count. Is your topic too narrow? If you’re struggling for something to say, it’s possible that you’re not including enough detail
Is this topic something that needs writing about? We’re all working hard to come up with fresh ideas, but sometimes, your idea just doesn’t fit
6. You’re forcing your keywords in
There’s no denying the importance of SEO — the easier it is for a search engine to find you, the easier it is for customers to find you!
Your keywords are extremely important, but organically written, natural content is far far better.
If your sentences don’t make sense, or if words are there for the sake of it, you’re writing for the search engine, not your customer.
Keep a list of your keywords in front of you as you write. That way, you’ll be able to tell exactly where your words fit, and weave them in to your copy naturally.
7. You’re neglecting the proofreading stage
It’s usually the last stage, but it gets neglected. You can be the best writer in the world and still make mistakes.
Casting your eye back over your writing will help you to pick up on small mistakes that could have a big impact on how your customers view your business.
Nobody is consciously looking for mistakes, but they will definitely notice them — and that reflects badly on you.
There are several ways you can double-check your work. Look it over yourself, or ask a colleague to look it over. If you need help with proofreading strategies, you can find what to look for here.
Alternatively, invest in proofing software. Grammarly is a great programme that offers both free and advanced paid options.
It might feel like there’s a lot to remember, and if you’re not a copywriter, you might feel like you’re swimming against the current, but use our 7 tips and tricks for your next project and you’ll avoid making the same mistakes your competitors are.
Write a great piece of content that your readers will love and you’ll start to see more engagement across your online platforms.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer with a passion for helping store owners make their ecommerce businesses success. For all the latest on ecommerce, marketing, and design, check out her blog, Victoria Ecommerce.