Crap copy is a death sentence for a website. The point of copy—aka written information meant to portray an idea, emotion or message—is to sell your product or service. Unfortunately, too many websites send the wrong vibes when it comes to the content on their pages. Curious to know if you are giving your customers the proverbial bird by belittling, ignoring, overreaching or outright telling a lie through your copy? Before you hire a gaggle of marketing copywriters, which should be the second thing on your agenda, check out this list of copy caveats that will send your readers running.
Don’t Blag or Bluff
You are confused about which side of the ocean your audience is on. To blag or to bluff, either one means to wing it, but in British English and American English respectively. You should definitely not try to wing it if you want to use UK or US phrases so to attract a specific audience. There is also Australian English, New Zealand English, and Canadian English in case you were wondering. Do your research and look for slang phrases, spellings and exclusive words for a particular region so that you are culturally relevant in terminology.
There’s at least one in every crowd. You know, a person who sends spelling corrections into the local paper, the person who reads the signs on the road only in hopes of finding one that is grammatically incorrect. You are a grammar hound, which is essential for checking copy. However, to have advertising copy that will stick with readers you need to evoke an energy that will dig deep into the conscious of your readers. Use emotion, tell a story, portray a feeling and you’ll have copy that will keep readers’ interest.
About as far away from a grammar hound as you can get, your idea of writing involves texting and twittering. This leaves you with a total lack of understanding for language. As a result, your copy is as low key as it can be. Save yourself the trouble and hire a professional writer who has a knack for smacking text into submission.
Your copy is only focused on selling your product without taking into account what kind of needs your customer may have, such as ways to make their life easier. For instance, you might have a garden supply store. Rather than only producing product descriptions that list the dimensions, look for value added copy that includes alternative ways to use the products listed. Think outside the box. Provide your customers with a little extra information. Also, get out of your bubble and see what the competitors have to offer on their websites to inspire you.
You use too many words to get your point across. Keep it simple stupid. Cut out useless verbiage, such as “that,” and use contractions that mimic the real way people talk. Skip words you found in the thesaurus that you think will make your copy look more intelligent. These words only slow down the majority of readers who have no idea what you are talking about. Chances are slim that they’ll take the time to consult a dictionary when reading your advertising copy. Instead you’ll only be driving them to click on the red X of death.
Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.