We have all spent countless hours on our website copy. Redesigning it to fit current trends, rewriting it time and again so that it reads well, includes all the questions our audience wants answers to and tried different calls-to-action to make it relevant to our marketing campaign, and so on. But there are no conversion rate optimization tips out there that give the warning signs of a web copy that hasn’t been working for you.

Here are 13 most common warning signs of a crappy web copy:

1. You don’t know who you’re addressing

Most businesses don’t go beyond general demographics like age and gender when trying to identify their target audience. This results in marketing campaigns that draw in traffic that is most likely to not convert.

An ideal visitor would be a person who’s more open to your persuasion and would make some kind of interaction with your business. Maybe even convert if you’re convincing enough.

But to write a convincing copy, you need to know who you’re addressing – your ideal buyer, what they need, what they are looking for and why. So here are some important aspects you need to look into apart from the demographics:

  • Interests: Understand what kind of topics and content types your audience is engaging with the most online. Analyse their online engagement patterns to figure out the right schedule for your social posts.
  • Sources: Apart from what they are engaging in, it is important to know which platform they are active on as well. This way you know how much effort you need to put into a platform to get the maximum results.
  • Geography: Identify where the majority of your target audience is. It helps you understand which language they prefer while interacting with a business campaign, and the topics you can address through them.
  • Technology: A very important part of knowing your audience, is knowing what kind of technology they use for their online activity. Be it  the browsers they use, desktop or mobile devices, you need to know what your business website has to be prepared for.

image courtesy: Tourism e-school

2. You don’t use relatable words

If your web copy looks like a copy-paste job from your business brochure and is nothing short of a sales pitch this will no doubt turn people away.

The only way to change their reaction, is by using words they can relate to. When your copy becomes more relatable, the chances of visitors turning into buyers also increases. So what are those hypnotic words that you can use?

  • You’ – the word that can make anything sound a lot more personal. Address your visitors like you’re having a face to face conversation with them. Using the word ‘you’ makes them a part of your narration.
  • Imagine’ – your website copy needs to provoke thoughts that will make the visitor feel the need to convert. Using the word ‘imagine’ subtly nudges them to visualize what problems they are facing or might face and how you are solving it. Being able to imagine a use case is proven to increase the desire to purchase a product.
  • Because’ – if you’re asking your users to convert, there has to be a reason behind it. And they need to know it too. Using the word ‘because’ in your copy gives people a reason to take an action you want them to.

3. You don’t really talk about your customer

Yes, you have worked really hard to create a product and then improve it further to fit the market. But the truth is, your target audience isn’t really interested in how proud of your work you are. On the contrary, all they can think of is themselves.

So ditch the ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘us’ and ‘we’, and include ‘you’ into your web copy (read point2). Tell your website visitors what you can do for them to make things happier, easier and more productive? Or how you can help them double up their savings!

The idea is to identify the common problems and hassles that your target audience faces, and then address them with a solution that ‘includes’ your product. Be it any kind of campaign, website visitors only want to know what’s in it for them.

4. You’re using way too many adjectives and adverbs

Using too many adjectives and adverbs increases the number of words in a sentence and slows down your visitor’s reading speed. This actually kills your persuasive power as the visitor gets more time to think about everything written, weigh his choices or simply leave because it was way too much to read. In simple words, adverbs and adjectives are destructive.

Cutting out some of these words will not just reduce your web copy length, but also make it a lot more easy to read and scan through. Here are 4 simple rules to follow:

  • Choose sensory adjectives because they are more memorable and impactful.
  • Cut down on the adjective count in a sentence without changing its meaning.
  • Use ‘specific’ adjectives only to add credibility to your web copy.
  • Use emotion rich adjectives more instead.

5. You wrote a little too much

Trying to convince the visitor, you ended up writing way too many web pages for your website and that is definitely not going to work. It is human tendency to judge a book by its cover.

Treat each page like a landing page. Include what is important and do away with the stories that don’t add value to your customers or to your business.

6. You’re talking about money too soon

Remember the last time you dealt with a salesman who was least bothered about talking to you about the product and more interested in how much you could pay him for it? Yes, asking your website visitors to invest in your products a little too soon can hamper the conversions on your page.

Understand what stage of the purchase cycle the visitor is on before overwhelming him with information related to pricing. Not everyone is sales-ready!

7. You sound too much like literature

When I read Shakespeare for the first time, the only thought that came to my head was – could he not use simpler words? While that could be excused as ‘literature’, your website copy can’t.

Overindulging in complex wording might make it difficult  for the average visitor to comprehend or it may even portray you as someone who is trying to act ‘superior’. To avoid putting off your visitors, use shorter sentences and simpler words.

8. You are doing the slick sales talk

Of course you think your products and services are unmatched in the industry. But how do you expect a website visitor to believe you simply because you said so? Using too many superlatives makes you sound like someone who likes to exaggerate things out of proportion  – someone insincere.

Avoid the slick sales talk and use superlatives to:

  • Quote sources and test results that prove your company is the ‘best’.
  • Share someone else’s experience who says you’re good at what you do.
  • Ask a question around your business message to make the self boasting sentence sound humbler.

9. You’ve made Google your priority

Targeting and working towards a good ranking on search engines is a good thing. But writing a copy full of keywords only to rank on them kills the creativity of a marketing copy. And this has a direct impact on your persuasiveness.

Write for your target audience before you start optimizing for search engines.

10. You sound a little too haywire

You know what kills conversions the most? Being haywire. When a website visitor doesn’t know what to read, what to do next after landing on your web page, he is most definitely going to leave. So ensure your call-to-action stands out and your value proposition is absolutely clear.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The CTA must remain contextual to the rest of your web copy and the main marketing message.
  • It needs to be present in a contrasting color that stands out from the rest of the website theme and design, yet doesn’t look out of place.
  • The placement of the CTA should be strategic and should act as a guide to the next step for the visitor.

11. You’re treating your web copy as a checklist

Trying to cover all the aspects of a ‘converting copy’, you end up just trying to follow every step – understand customers, use persuasive words, A/B test your copy, etc. But what about getting creative around the new sales copy you just created?

A web page that sounds boring is a web page that drives people away. So here are a few ways to add a little twist to your web copy:

  • Create a repetitive series using one word as a constant to deliver your message.
  • Rhyme the copy to a certain extent, but don’t make a Twinkle Twinkle version 2!
  • Use alliteration in your web copy.

The perfect web copy is a perfect mix of science and creativity. So go beyond that checklist of yours and put on your creative hat!

12. Your web copy isn’t scannable

You need to treat your website visitors like a kid in school who has the shortest attention span but is eager to learn more about something.

According to usability expert Jakob Nielsen, website visitors are that section of the audience that is looking for information just like wild animals look for food. They want to be able to get a gist of what you do and what you offer in one scan.

So how do you entice your visitors enough to linger on and read further?

  • Highlight the hero title on your web page.
  • Use 2-3 font sizes and colors to create a hierarchy of information.
  • Make subheadings for all the important information or easy-to-scan listicles.

13. You’re not reinforcing your message

The worst thing a business can do is let its website visitors leave without making even the smallest of interaction with them. While none of us suggest stalking them or bombarding them with too many CTAs while they browse web pages, it is always a good idea to reinforce your marketing message while they are on their way out.

Using exit intent targeting campaigns will not only hold back that person for a few more seconds or minutes on your website, but also does not spoil the visitor’s browsing experience.

For example: The House of Folklore ran a Christmas special campaign on their website, offering the best of deals on some of their products. Whenever a visitor was about to leave their website, it displayed them an exit overlay that reminded them of the festive specials and directed them to the page with a clear call-to-action.

folklore onsite retargeting

Over to you

Trust us, if you avoid these silly mistakes, you stand a higher chance to persuade your website visitors to stick around and take the desired step towards the conversion. Be it a quick sign up or a purchase, your web copy determines it all!

Have you made any of these mistakes? Or have you got something to add to this post? Feel free to drop a comment in the box below!

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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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