There are two interesting phrases that come to mind when we talk about Copywriting and how good it needs to be. Both come from David Ogilvy.
- “It’s not creative unless it sells”
- “The consumer isn’t a moron, she’s your wife”
Keep these two phrases in front of you while writing and it becomes clear on how you need to stop using convoluted language, mindless chatter and wrong CTAs (Call to Actions) in your copy.
Content marketing is at an all-time high with millions of blogs being published every day. It has made a wordsmith of almost every marketer. And there lies the problem. We are in the busy rat race of content, writing as much fancy copy as possible that can attract reader attention. In the bargain, the art of writing quality copy is diminishing. Let’s have a look at 5 things we can remove from our copy to make it better with replacements that aren’t jarring to the reader.
1. Going fancy with adjectives and adverbs
“The most daringly adventurous scene in the movie is the thrilling ride on the fast-moving locomotive where the two dare-devil heroes make an unbelievable jump over a great chasm”.
Let’s not count the adjectives there. There is a chance you’ll forget the beginning of the sentence by the time you get to the end of it.
“An innovative solution to the great problem of multiplying your profits while keeping expenses low”
We’ve all read the word ‘innovative’ before numerous times only to end up wondering what’s new about the solution in the article that hasn’t been said a million times before.
We shouldn’t dismiss adjectives and adverbs entirely. They work well in creating bait headlines that draw the reader in. But the incorrect or unclear use of it ruins the copy. Can the problem be described as ‘great’ or is there a better word for it? Is the solution truly innovative or are you just adding it to the title for the sake of it?
What to do with adjectives and adverbs
- Add an adjective only if it is adding meaning to the sentence. Else remove it.
‘Fiery Chasm’ would make more sense than ‘great chasm’
- Remove ‘very’. Instead, use a better adjective.
For example, replace ‘very happy’ with ‘joyful’ or ‘very big’ with ‘gigantic’, ‘very bad’ with terrible or very smelly with ‘stinky’.
- Replace generic descriptors with industry-specific descriptors
Instead of ‘high-quality shirts’, you can say ‘stain-proof shirts’ or instead of ‘top-notch mascara’, you can say ‘no smudge mascara’.
2. Selling features and not benefits
Image Source: helpscout
We all would like to write the saga of how cool our product is and all the things it can do. But your customer is here asking a different question – ‘What can it do for me specifically?’ If you over-do the ‘I’m the best’ routine in your copy, it’s likely that your consumer won’t find an answer to their question and go elsewhere.
Count the ‘we’ against the ‘your’ in your copy. ‘Your’ should definitely get more weight. It allows the whole story narration from a customer perspective and gets you both better ranking and engagement.
“Our toys come with anti-break feature and are also created with soft rounded edges. Our toys are the best’
Those are the features. Here are the benefits:
“No matter how much your child tugs and throws, this toy is designed with well-rounded edges so that it doesn’t break or hurt your child. These toys are perfect for toddlers who have just started exploring the world around them”
The second copy would appeal more to a parent as it is talking to them about their child’s safety as a benefit of toy’s features. Saying ‘Our toys are the best’ doesn’t add anything to the copy. Instead mentioning who the toy is a way to let parents know the product-target audience fit.
3. A confusing Call To Action (CTA)
A CTA is the most important part of your copy. It gives direct instruction to the reader on what to do next once they have assimilated the information on the page. Do they order the product, give you their contact information or sign up for your newsletter. If you don’t tell them exactly what to do, they’ll meander around the website and drop off.
Have you seen a button called ‘Submit’?
How does it feel when you are about to click it?
Is someone asking you to Submit? Does it sound domineering, legal or impersonal?
Instead of the cliched ‘Click here’ or ‘Buy now’, you can try the ‘Download White paper’ or ‘Try the Demo’ button.
Here too, a personalized button addressing the user directly works better. ‘Get My Free Whitepaper’, or ‘I want this’ or ‘See my results” can get a better click rate than generic buttons.
Adding too many CTAs on the page too can be a downer as people won’t be able to make up their mind and go for the least risky option.
If you have ‘Read more’, ‘Get Started Now’ and ‘Download my white paper’ on the same page, the user is more likely to click on the ‘Read more’ button as it isn’t cornering them to take action but escape with a click.
Pro tip: Add a meaningful description of a few words under the Call to Action button which can prod users to make up their mind.
Here are some examples:
“30-Day Money Back Guarantee. No questions asked”
“Get 40% discount on your first order”
“Get your free site audit report in 5 minutes”
4. Avoid ambiguity
We’ve all landed on some web pages and bounced off completely confused on what you are doing there. Some of the best examples of such web pages are the “Make millions online with this one sure shot strategy” or “Lose 5 kilos every week with this foolproof strategy”.
There is nothing else on the webpage other than more adjectives about the amazing product/service. Instead, there is more jargon, testimonials (that sound more fake than genuine).
Some people who come in the ‘eternally hopeful’ and lazy category are quick to fall into such traps only to realize that the completely free herbal product trial comes with a $37 price tag.
Unless you want to sound like a snake-oil pedaller, it is best to have given detailed descriptions of your product or service on your landing page.
Digital marketing companies are often guilty of this practice.
“We are Digital Artisans”
An expert team crafting websites and apps
These statements don’t tell you anything about the company. It also doesn’t tell you what type of websites and apps they create or if they have any specific expertise. What is it that you deliver to your client? More leads and sales or better engagement rates could be a start.
5. Silly grammar mistakes
There are enough Grammar tools around the web to ensure that you don’t do a ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’. The question is whether you are using them. At best, your customers will point out the mistake and have a good laugh on social. At worst, it’ll be a grammatical blunder changing the meaning of what you’ve written and you’ll go down in history when people write blogs about “7 grammar mistakes that blew the copy”.
In case you were wondering what such mistakes look like, see this article on 11 embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes from brands
Sometimes the errors are way too obvious. Sometimes you can’t catch them during the first read. The best way to avoid grammar errors is
- Sleepover it and look with a fresh pair of eyes the next day
- Use a tool like Grammarly to catch errors
- Pray to the grammar gods that the grammar police doesn’t call you out
Writing is an art and writers have a chance to improve with each piece. Running a double check for the most common errors can bring about a change in your writing style for the better.