10 Things To Avoid In Your Online Business Writing: A Guide To Copywriting Taboos

10 Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

Editor’s note: It would be tricky for us to write a guide that’s tailored exactly to your unique business, since we don’t know you yet. Hi, how are you by the way? So, we’ll be making up a slightly silly business and giving them advice on their copywriting, and hopefully you can apply it to your situation.

Your business sells high-quality, affordable waistcoats for pigs. They’re jazzy but elegant, the fit is tailored to suit the modern porker, they incorporate a miracle wipe-clean fabric, and they’re delivered in 3 to 5 business days. And yet your sales are disappointing. The porcine waistcoat sector in general is booming, and rarely have the UK’s hogs been so snappily attired. What’s going wrong?

Website content writing taboos

One of the most likely explanations is that your website isn’t grabbing your visitors by the scruff in quite the way you’d hoped. It’s possible that your website content is breaking one or more of the taboos of copywriting. These are traps, and they’re very easy to fall into, especially if you’re writing your own copy. At WordHound, we’re more than happy to take that job on for you, as you might expect. But we’re also happy to offer some guidelines if you want to have a crack at it yourself. So here they are…

1. Taking too long to get to the point of your blog

Don’t forget to explain, as early as possible, why anyone should bother reading what follows.

Life is short, and there’s a lot of stuff to check out before you ‘check out’. Some of it isn’t even on the internet – it’s outside! People need to know very, very quickly why they should spend the next two minutes of their terrifyingly finite existences on your piggy fashion site.

In theory, the perfect bit of copywriting just says “GOOD STUFF – CLICK HERE” (teamed, perhaps, with an attractive image of a sow in an embroidered bodice).

But of course, consumers are a little more sophisticated these days. Just make sure the casual visitor has a good reason to carry on reading until they get to the bit that says “BUY NOW”. That reason could be the superb quality of your product or service, but if that’s not really an option, open with something snappy and relatable. Like – oh I don’t know – a problem that a barnyard clothing website might be experiencing.

2. Assuming too much customer knowledge

Copywriting mistakes: Don't assume too much knowledge
Obvious and simple or confusing jumble? Know your audience.

Not everyone who visits your site will be an expert, and almost none of them will understand your product as well as you do. Think about how your visitors arrive there. Some might have Googled “Emerald silk low-cut formal waistcoat for Lincolnshire Curly Coat Pig, size 28”, but some will have arrived via a search for “funny hogs”.

The first lot are easy to sell to, but the second will need a convincing explanation as to why they should buy your livestock apparel – and quite probably, a pig to put it on. Do you even sell pigs? These are the things you need to think about.

3. Being longwinded

Write, and then remove everything you can. Almost nobody cares about how the idea for pig garb came to you in a dream, shortly after the war, while you were working in your Norfolk shed on a project to put a parrot into space. And if they do, they can read your beautifully crafted blog post on the subject.

Your home page is your shop front, so people should be able to glance at it and know whether it’s of any use to them immediately. Your product pages need all the necessary details and no more. If you really want to tell more of a story, that’s what your blog pages are for. The important things, in this example, are (a) pigs, and (b) how to make them look chic.

4. Writing for the wrong audience

Copywriting mistakes: Know your audience

People who are actually looking for cravats for turkeys may be tangentially interested in pig fashion, but they’re far less likely to buy it. Keep your writing focused on what you do best, rather than making the serious copywriting mistake of trying to explain how the entire animal costume market operates.

Of course, you’re proud of your waistcoat line, but today’s pig owner needs to understand exactly how much more attractive their charges are going to look while they’re wearing them. Explain the benefits to the customer of Donegal tweed, or mother-of-pearl buttons, or your dry-cleaning service. Don’t just tell them the features. How are notch lapels actually going to improve a pig’s appearance – and, by extension, the customer’s life?

5. Copying your business’s competitors

A reminder, in case you’d forgotten – our time in this universe is exceptionally brief. The internet, however, is absolutely massive, and most people have read more or less the same thing a million times. But your voice is unique. Couple it with your fantastic products, and it can be the key to success for your website.

It takes a while to find that voice, but it’s worth the effort. Copying what your competitors are doing (in terms of style and tone) might get words up on the screen, but it’s a recipe for bored customers – and nude, inelegant pigs.

6. Forgetting the call to action

A call to action – “add to basket”, for example, or “I’m ready to enhance my pig’s sense of self-worth by purchasing one of your superb waistcoats” – is obviously necessary. However, you do need to think about where it goes.

If you’re the UK’s leading outlet for swine duds, you can probably put a CTA as high up the page as you like. If you’re new to the market, and customers don’t know you, you’ll need to build trust before you ask them to part with their cash. 

Show the product, explain the benefits (rather than the features), link to reviews, and remember to keep it snappy – if you’re that new, most of your visitors are just checking you out. You need to persuade them quickly before they wander off to OinkBay.

7. Missing the chance to optimise your content

There’s an endless rabbit-hole of complicated-but-useful SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) information you can explore, but in the beginning, think keywords. How are your customers finding you? By typing words into Google and its competitors. So, if you can come up with a list of those words and phrases, and fit them into your text in a way that’s readable and as natural as possible, you’ve made a good start.

You might want to use the phrase “How to gussy-up an average-looking porker”, for example. You may even be able to think of something better than that. We, on the other hand, might choose to include the words “What are the copywriting mistakes I should avoid on my business website?”, or perhaps “Copywriting taboos and how not to break them”. And look – we just did.

8. Publishing walls of text on your website

Copywriting mistakes: Wall of text

TL;DR does not stand for “Terrific Lexicon; Delightful Reading”. But it’s not necessarily the word count that’s the problem. 500 words can look like a huge block of unbroken text that nobody on the planet could read without going bananas.

But with plenty of naturally spaced paragraphs, and a judicious number of useful subheadings to guide the eye, even the casual visitor can be enticed to read double that amount. Sometimes. It does rather depend on how interested in pigs’ wardrobes they are, but look, you’ve made it this far.

9. Not checking your content for readability

The average buyer of pigs’ waistcoats is an intelligent, kind-hearted person with enough money to own, feed and clothe their curly-tailed companions. Grammar is important when you’re talking to them about your business, but perhaps more so is the voice of your writing.

Always read it out loud to yourself. This is a great way to check whether you’re speaking with respect and warmth, which is what you want. If it sounds like you’re barking instructions, or mumbling curses, you need to rethink. Or get someone else to do it. Spelling, on the other hand, is non-negotiable.

10. Forgetting to break the rules sometimes

Taboos are strange things. Some – the increasingly widespread disapproval of cannibalism, for example – are based largely on common sense and basic human decency. Others, like not eating yoghurt between Michaelmas and St Hilda’s Day, aren’t.

The guidelines above are aimed at people who’d like to have a crack at their own business website content, so of course, once you’ve got the basics mastered, you might well be able to bend some of those rules.

If you’re in need of any help after that (or even well before you’ve actually tried), feel free to give us a shout.

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