How To Spot Bad Copy (And How To Learn From It)
Copy is critical to a great landing page, breathing life into the brand and clarifying the message. However, visiting a webpage with bad copy is like having a blocked nose- all of a sudden, that rush of fresh intrigue is difficult and disappointing, and you wonder why you never appreciated all of those times you read smooth, engaging copy.
Copy is so fundamental that even the slightest tweaks make a huge difference to your conversions, and there are huge benefits for your brand if you can get it right- but, what about the businesses who get it wrong? Plenty of businesses owners out there are suffering with bad copy, and they might not even know why their businesses are performing so badly. If you’re trying to find new ways to boost your business, but you aren’t sure where to start, read through these lessons we’ve learnt about shocking copy and see if any of your businesses web pages look familiar- it could be time for a copy refresher.
1. There’s No Story To Unravel
This is when your viewer starts feeling how ‘salesy’ you are- you’re talking at them, in a factual, monotonous manner, rather than a more natural feeling dialogue. Use your copywriting as an opportunity to tell a compelling story, to interact with your viewer, and to contribute to the overall feel of your brand. You can use this time to identify a problem or desire that your reader might have, then to naturally guide them to your solution- they’ll feel more inclined to listen to your proposals if it feels like genuine advice, instead of dull lecture.
2. It’s Copy, Not Creative Writing Class
While adjectives can be fantastic for describing your product or service, don’t be fooled into thinking every sentence needs to be peppered with them. There’ll be a natural time and place for descriptive words, but if you’re trying to cram too many onto the page, your copy will sound full of fireworks, but empty of the true message. Instead, focus on creating your clear message through the copy, and ensuring there are enough powerful adjectives to compliment that.
3. Excessive Copy, And Running Sentences
You may know your business inside and out, and have written your copy to be full of great insights, but this can also be a detrimental. If you’ve developed long, wordy, content, you might end up losing the reader’s interest before you can wind up that paragraph-long sentence, and they’ll leave your website out of boredom or bewilderment. This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep to a word count. After all, if you work in a highly specialised field, and you would require 1000 words of copy to succinctly deliver your message, then you should at least implement split testing to see how your audience would respond to the long content. Word count aside, keep your points concise and structured, and separate points for your reader to digest easily, or else risk losing your online traffic.
4. Writing For Themselves (Not The Audience)
This is often a mistake which business owners will make, when they’re their own copywriter; they write from their perspective, and cover points which they think are important. However, the business owner is forgetting that he is not in his target audience, and their wants and needs may differ to his. This is where it can be critical to hire a copywriter, as they’ll understand the message and the needs of the audience better from a more objective standpoint. Identify your target audience, and base your copy around them. What do they already know about your business, and what do they need to know? How would they like to hear it? What are their desires, or the problems which you can solve?
5. Senseless Structuring
You can write all the fabulous copy in the world, but if your web page is formatted in a dull or confusing way, then you might as well have written it in another language. Ensure that your copy allows a smooth transition between paragraphs, and break up the text with headings, bullet points or lists, bold lettering, and other types of format to rest your reader’s eye.
6. Plenty Of Copy On A Desolate Page
Copy is important, yes, but not exclusively. Pictures and visual content are fun and engaging, and can supplement the copy with graphics and illustrations of what you’re describing. These pictures and graphics should be carefully chosen, to ensure they’re of the highest quality, appealing to the eye, and cohesive with the copy. Always ensure that you’re using images which you are legally entitled to reproduce- whether you purchased them, or took them yourself, or received express permission. Copyright laws might come knocking.
7. Lifting Copy From Other Sites
There are some webpages out there which will try and use the same copy, and plagiarise whole chunks of content. Unless you want to be penalised by search engines, and to damage your digital reputation, we strongly recommend writing your own, unique copy. After all, this is your chance to spread your message- why waste it spreading someone else’s?
8. Poor Grammar
Unless there’s some kind of creative effect at play, most website’s won’t intentionally use poor grammar- they simply don’t know that it’s there. Always proofread your copy, and find a second set of eyes to help you do the same to make sure you haven’t overlooked any simple mistakes. It happens extremely often, even to experienced copywriters, but the important step is to sift these out before your readers question your intelligence. You can also use online grammar checking tools, or the options available in your chosen word processor.
9. No Last Port Of Call
There are many stages of copy, from the planning to publishing, but there is one which you cannot afford to miss out (although some businesses don’t seem to mind). Editing and proofreading is hugely important, and this is where your lump of coal can turn into a diamond. Ensure you have a great team who can assess your copy, and help you to make any necessary changes or improvements. They might offer critiques, which you need to apply readily. To ignore this step might allow all of the above blunders to go unnoticed, and you could end up being a great example of bad copy.
There are countless web pages, with great products or services to match their good intentions, that are suffering in traffic and conversions, all because their of their copy. Some of them might not even realise the extent of their losses until they begin to revisit their copy, and start noticing a difference! Utilise a focussed approach to a clear delivery of your message, and use the above points to guide you on your copywriting goals. If you could use a hand, call the team at Dilate. Dilate Digital is a Perth based digital marketing agency, with services from SEO consulting and Adwords management, to copywriting and graphic design.