5 pitfalls to avoid as a copywriter

Earlier this year, my colleague Signe gave you 15 concrete tips for writing a good landing page.

If you've read this blog post, you already know the SEO value of thorough keyword analysis, value propositions, call-to-actions, meta descriptions and SEO titles - important conditions for your landing page to be visible in search results.

Now I want to delve into the actual writing of a well-written landing page. The text should cement your credibility in the minds of potential customers.

Unfortunately, many people fall into the same bad habits when writing SEO texts. In this post, I've picked out a handful of them.

Read on to find out what to avoid as a copywriter - and what to do instead.

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1. Flat platitudes and empty adjectives

Texts on company landing pages and about us pages are often long, self-congratulatory rants filled with flat platitudes and empty adjectives.

As a result, Google users can find countless landing pages with virtually identical texts, where more or less only the company name distinguishes one text from another.

Typical examples of platitudes are:

  • We are quality conscious
  • We have the customer at the center
  • We collect happy customers
  • We are flexible
  • We deliver on time
  • We've been around for X number of generations

If you've tried Googling a service yourself, you've probably come across one of these phrases - or all of them on the same page.

Google has certainly come across them - many times. At the time of writing, Google has 12,900 results for the search "we put the customer first" - closely followed by "we deliver on time", which yields 12,800 results.

There is nothing new about a company being quality-conscious, customer-oriented and able to deliver. It would be something new if a company wasn't - although such a company would probably have a rather short lifespan.

So you don't need to explain it explicitly. 12,900 others have already done so.

So what should you do instead?

Show it instead! Make it concrete - not abstract.

So how can you make it concrete to the customer that you are quality conscious?

If you're a mover, for example, you could write that you use packaging and straps to ensure that fragile belongings don't break. You know your trade like the back of your hand and you know what constitutes high quality. But your customers don't necessarily.

That's why you need to show them that you are quality conscious - not tell them that you are.

In other words, you need to paint a picture for your potential customers. In rhetoric - the study of oratory and persuasion - we sometimes talk about evidentia. This means that texts or speeches have the quality of causing the recipient to form an image in their mind's eye.

And that's exactly what you should strive for in your texts: to make the recipient - and therefore a potential customer - form a picture in their mind's eye.

So ditch the platitudes and empty adjectives in your copywriting and replace them with examples and evidence. Show it, don't tell it.

2. Flat platitudes and empty adjectives are - not what they do

When you replace your platitudes and adjectives with concrete examples, you're already well on your way to not falling into the next pitfall.

Because the problem with platitudes isn't just that they make your texts abstract.

The problem is that they may describe what your company is - but not what it does. For example, the fact that a company has been around for X number of generations is a piece of information that doesn't tell you anything about the benefit or benefit to the customer.

Who says that a company equals quality because it has been around for several generations? What if they've treaded water and never renewed themselves despite multiple generations?

As a business, you should put yourself in the recipient's shoes - not your own. Although most people won't admit it, most of us act in our own interests. So do your customers. And it's not in their interest that your company has been around for X number of generations - only in your own.

So what should you do instead?

Ask yourself, what advantage does your long-standing business have for the customer? And last but not least: What's in it for the customer?

For example, one advantage could be that the customer gets the opportunity to get advice from experienced staff with knowledge and professionalism. A benefit could then be that the customer is guaranteed to receive the desired service or product.

So you need to explicitly communicate what a fact or feature does.

Does your company have the largest product range in the Nordics? Fantastic! Then clarify the benefit and, most importantly, the payoff: customers get all their needs in one place and don't have to spend time and effort shopping at several different retailers.

In other words, you need to point out value to your potential customers. Not just what your company is, but also what it does for the customer.

In sales and marketing, this strategy is known as the FFU model. And it's a strategy you can use to your advantage in your SEO texts.

3. Companies that talk past customers with jargon

As a dentist, you know that "gingivitis" is the Latin word for gum inflammation. If you work in law, you probably take it for granted that "exheredere" means to disinherit. And if you work in SEO, terms like "dwell time", "CTA" and "keyword stuffing" are a natural part of your vocabulary.

Because of course you've mastered the jargon and technical language of your profession. And it's perfectly understandable that you want to communicate your professionalism to your customers. But you risk shooting yourself in the foot if you take your own professionalism for granted.

Your profession is not your customers' profession - otherwise they wouldn't have Googled the service you provide. That's why it's important that your text doesn't leave potential customers with unanswered questions.

Writing is subject to the condition that it is solitary. As the sender of a text, you are not in the same room as your readers. Writing, unlike conversation, is not a dialog - but a monologue. There's nothing new in that. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato knew this already - and he also accused writing of being non-dialogical.

But just because writing is solitary doesn't mean you should leave your readers all alone. And just because writing is non-dialogical doesn't mean you have to talk past your readers.

So what should you do instead?

Precisely because writing is solitary and non-dialogical, it is important that a text is self-explanatory. Because your readers - and therefore your potential customers - don't have the opportunity to have terms explained that they don't understand.

Therefore, they are likely to feel overlooked or talked down to if they come across a text overflowing with jargon. So cut out the jargon and put yourself in the customer's shoes.

Think about the questions you encounter in your everyday life. What do your customers ask? What makes your patients wonder? What words would you wonder about if you didn't have your own experience and education?

A self-explanatory text at eye level will put your customers at ease - and make your business appear more trustworthy.

4. Convoluted wording - even writing can be too written

Think back to your elementary school days. You have just gotten your Danish style back. You look disappointedly at your Danish teacher's admonishing comment with anticipation: "Too oral!" - in an ominous red color, no less.

Does your Danish teacher's comment still haunt you when you write texts? Do you do everything you can to make your texts as written as possible?

If so, it's time to forget some of the things you learned in primary school.

For example, I came across the following wording on a moving company's website:

"Once you arrive at the new location, your belongings will be placed at your request."

The above sentence might sound great to your old Danish teacher. But it won't look good to your readers - if they even bother to read it.

We are hopelessly impatient on the internet and often skim websites for information rather than reading texts from cover to cover.

Therefore, your readers are also likely to lose interest if they have to chew through long, convoluted wording, foreign words and run-on sentences within other run-on sentences.

Even writing can become too written.

So what should you do instead?

Drop the high lix numbers, lower the level of abstraction and make your text more verbal.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should write the way you speak. Oral language is fleeting and tied to a specific period of time - and will therefore be characterized by filler words, superfluous repetitions and impulsive interjections. Of course, you need to cut these out of your texts.

But you can use oral means to your advantage.

Oral language also has advantages that you can use in writing. For example, it's pictorial, personal, dynamic and concrete - qualities that can help make your texts more understandable and reader-friendly.

That's why it's a good idea to use oral techniques in your copywriting. You can do this by, for example:

  • Write short sentences - only one piece of information for each sentence
  • Put the most important information at the beginning of the sentence - and the more detailed information at the end
  • Use imagery and metaphors to make your products or services more tangible

So how can you rewrite "once arrived at the new location, your effects will be placed at your request" to make it more verbal?

Try for example: "We put your moving boxes where you want them". Less is more.

5. Fear of filler words results in too few linking words

As I've already mentioned, we glimpse a lot when we surf the web. That's why it's great to remember to avoid superfluous words that aren't needed.

Yes, filler words can be annoying - not least for a reader who has landed on your site because they need to fulfill a need. We have previously warned against the use of filler words in our post "15 tips for your landing page". So have countless other communication agencies.

And with good reason. There's no need for more noise on the internet and filler words can easily make your text drown in the crowd.

That being said: Everything in moderation!

For many copywriters, the fear of filler words turns into too few connecting words. I often come across texts where it's clear that the copywriter has taken the advice to avoid filler words a little too literally.

The result is a fragmented text with a lot of information that doesn't seem to have any context.

So what should you do instead?

First and foremost, you can always try to listen to see if a filler word is actually a filler word that hinders understanding - or if it's a connector word that contributes to understanding.

Communication agencies often warn against the use of words like 'so', 'then', 'just' and 'namely'. And yes, they are sometimes used as superfluous filler words.

On the other hand, they can also help to propel a text and make it flow. Connecting words can help make your text more understandable.

It's possible that the word "so" is sometimes used to reiterate a point. But it can also be used to emphasize a consequence and clarify the value of a statement.

It's also possible that words like "namely" and "so" are considered by some to be figures of speech and don't contribute anything. But they can also help to substantiate a claim and create coherence in your text.

So how do you decide if a word is filler or connection?

Read your text aloud as you write. Did you come across the word while reading? Then it's a filler word. Conversely, is there a missing link if you remove it from the text? Then it's a linking word.

Avoid the pitfalls with a copywriter

Still nervous about falling into the pitfalls? You're always welcome to contact Amplify and let one of our copywriters write your landing page.

Contact us on +45 70 60 50 28, info@amplify.dk or via our contact form.

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