Copywriting requires a delicate balance — if you overdo it or underdo it, it could be your undoing as far as lead generation is concerned. Here are three copywriting errors that will quickly transform great prospects into somebody else’s customer.
1. Lofty Style
Today’s most common writing style is informal, even for “starchy” businesses such as financial services and even certain types of law practices. Less formal writing in business is a reflection of our less formal culture, and, I think, as a direct result of business blogging and social media content that started to take off in the mid-2000s.
The problem with an overly formal, lofty tone is it suggests a business that is impersonal, heavy-handed and perhaps pretentious. This is not the sort of company culture most people look for in a potential supplier or service provider. Of course, there are exceptions, but a company had better know its customers very well if it dares to break the convention of informality. Many companies do it without giving the matter much thought.
2. Inappropriate Reading Level
Writing over the heads of customers or dumbing it down too much sends sales prospects running for the exit doors. Nobody likes to feel dumb. On the other hand, if someone is looking for an estate planning professional or precision aircraft components, he or she doesn’t want copy that reads like a Dr. Seuss book.
The Flesch Grade Level Readability Test is an excellent standard to run copy through, and there are many others. This online readability checker is a quick way to evaluate reading level across several testing standards. Doing this takes a bit of time, but achieving the proper readability can really make the difference in conversion rates.
3. Poor Editing or No Editing
All business copy needs editing, even that which is produced by top copywriters. Editors have to cover a number of bases, including:
- Clarity — Are ideas conveyed clearly and fully?
Concision — Are ideas expressed without an excess number of words?
Grammar — Does the copy follow accepted rules of grammar?
Word Choice — Is there a better, more accurate word available to convey a particular idea?
Accuracy — Are statistics and facts accurate?
Citation — Are statistics and facts properly credited to their sources?
Style — Does the content follow the rules of the applicable writing standard (e.g., AP Style, Chicago Manual of Style)?
Copywriters may be able to edit some of these areas themselves, but probably not all — and probably not well — since it is difficult to objectively review one’s own work. Any business that has a website and/or uses content in its marketing efforts must recognize the value of professional editing. Copywriting errors in any of these areas will cause prospects to lose confidence in the seller, and/or prevent the company from clearly and persuasively communicating its value.