“That sounds GOOD,” I thought, leaning back in my desktop chair and stretching my arms overhead. “It’s going to work great!”
When I first started out writing copy, I didn’t know what I was doing. Sure, I had a degree in journalism and mass communication, and my time in newspaper and magazine taught me how to write targeted, concise, and attention-grabbing copy, which is a solid foundation for a copywriter.
If you’d asked me why I was good at writing sales copy that converted, however, I couldn’t have given you a reason. It “just did”. … until it “just didn’t”.
The copy I was patting myself on the back for above? Total fail. Oh sure, it was clever, it was funny, it was attention-grabbing … but it didn’t convert, and I had no idea why.
“How could the audience not like it?” I huffed in frustration. “It’s so funny! That’s just crazy.”
I’ve learned a lot since that moment years ago. The things you SHOULDN’T do when it comes to sales copy are just as important as the things you should. This article covers three mistakes copywriters make and offers solutions that will stop these mistakes from sinking your sales copy.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to just tell you all the “don’ts” and leave you hanging out to dry. I’m packing this article with solutions and free resources!
MISTAKE #1: Too Much “You” in the Copy
Just because I think something sounds great doesn’t mean the target audience will agree. You have to take yourself out of the equation when you’re writing sales copy because if you don’t know the target audience and what they want and need, your copy won’t resonate with them, and that’s a problem.
This one might be the most difficult for me to avoid. I think I’m very entertaining, and it’s easy to default into my voice and my style if I haven’t done enough of one of the most important things we copywriters do. Research.
THE SOLUTION: R-E-S-E-A-R-C-H
Out of all the solutions, this is the easiest (although likely most time-consuming) one. Research is research. You don’t have to make judgments or try to create angles during the research phase. You just want to gather as much information as you can about the target audience and the brand voice.
Your goal during the research phase is to get to know the target audience as well as or better than your client. It’s going to take more than a single-page questionnaire or a quick glance at the client’s website. If you really want to get your client results, know their audience.
When we write for clients, our goal is to write AS the clients. That means we have to know what they sound like, words and phrases they use, and how they normally communicate with their audiences. You don’t want the target audience to feel disconnected from the copy, especially when sales are involved. Need some help knowing how to dial in on the brand personality? Download my FREE Personality Booster Pack here.
MISTAKE #2: Focusing Only On The Features
You know how you tend to get really, really excited about your favorite new thing? You can’t wait to tell everyone you know all about its features and how awesome it is. Our clients are the same way with their offers. They’ve worked long and hard to create a product or service, pouring their heart and soul into creating something valuable that checks all the boxes and does all the things.
So when they talk to you about their offer, oftentimes they focus almost completely on the features, descriptions, and bonuses of the offer. They’ve been in it so long that they forget what it felt like BEFORE.
Their audience is still in the BEFORE. While they might be wowed by features and bonuses and clever descriptions, that’s not what really coverts them. What converts them are the results they’ll experience because of the offer. If the sales copy doesn’t give the audience a clear and compelling description of how their lives will improve because of the offer, they’ll be gone.
THE SOLUTION: Give The Reader What They Want
Go back to your research on the target audience. If you don’t know what they want, you can’t give them the solution they need. Make a list of the problems they have and the results they want, then connect each of those things with the offer in a way that shows how the offer is the solution to their problem.
Not sure what questions to ask to get that information about the target audience? I have a downloadable guide that gives you the eight questions I ask EVERY client that really helps me pinpoint exactly what the target audience needs to hear in order to convert. You can download it for FREE here.
MISTAKE #3: Ignoring The Data
I saw the DM notification and my heart sank. Reluctantly, I clicked over to Messenger and read my client’s message.
“The landing page isn’t converting. Can you look at it again?”
Ugh. We’ve all been there, right? Here’s the hard truth - sometimes campaigns don’t go the way the client wants them to, and one of the first places the client tends to blame is the copy. When you’re a sales copywriter, that is the one thing you do NOT want to happen.
In reality, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to a campaign not converting up to par, and it’s not always the copy. Customer service, the offer, the ability to close the sale on the back end - all of those things can contribute. So how do you determine what the cause really is? How can you communicate with the client about it in a way that is confident and respectful, especially when it’s NOT the copy’s fault?
Your new best friend in these situations is the data. When it comes to paid traffic, data is invaluable to copywriters … but it’s not something many copywriters even talk about. This is a big, big problem.
THE SOLUTION: Learn To Read Analytics
There’s only one way to correct this mistake, and that’s learning to read analytics. There are certain analytics in the back end of ad campaign data that will tell you what you need to know in order to:
Learning how to read analytics has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for my business, and not just in terms of client results, although that’s certainly true. It’s been something that allows me to make recommendations and confidently guide my clients towards solutions that work.
Take the situation above. I could have panicked, cried, changed everything on the landing page, and prayed it worked. Instead, I asked her some very specific questions about what her Facebook ad analytics were showing and calmly pointed out what the problem might be, suggesting what I believed should be changed first. The situation ended up being a win-win.
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Hi, I'm Christa, an Iowa-based messaging expert specializing in targeted messaging, copywriting, and ghostwriting services. I have one handsome hubby who's my partner in crime (not literally) and two great kids who keep us busy (Track and field! Volleyball! Basketball! All the sports!) Using words to help people promote what they love is my favorite!