How to Fix 5 Conversion-Killing Copywriting Mistakes

"Being persuasive isn’t the same as being pushy." – Nick Usborne

A sales page lies at the end of the conversion path.

When a prospect arrives on that page, it’s the result of a lot of planning and hard work.

So the next part really sucks.

Because most of those visitors will leave the page without buying anything.

Fortunately — a small silver lining — there are ways to reduce the number of leavers. Some of those people leave as a result of totally avoidable mistakes we’ve made when writing the sales page.

Let’s go through five of these mistakes, one by one, and figure out how to correct them.

Conversion Killer #1: You write to the wrong person

Sometimes this means you’re writing to totally the wrong person.

For example, if you’re selling a family car, you might assume you should be writing to “dad.” But you’re not taking into consideration a recent study that shows 82 percent of moms have the final say in which car they finally buy.

So if you’re writing just to dad, you’re making a big mistake.

The same can happen in B2B. You think you’re selling to person A, but it’s person B who has the final say. Or maybe the decision goes to committee.

The point being, you can’t write a good sales page if you’re writing it to the wrong person.

How to fix it

The cure is to do your research before you start writing, or have someone do it for you.

Make sure you know who you’re writing to. And then do a ton more research until you feel you really know that person.

Conversion Killer #2: You ask the wrong question before you start

As a young copywriter, I used to focus most of my attention on how I was going to craft my message.

Hey, I was an enthusiastic young thing, anxious to show off how well I could write! I wanted to write amazing, clever headlines and copy.

After a few years I finally figured out I was starting in the wrong place.

How I wrote the copy wouldn’t help if I hadn’t first figured out what to say.

You can’t write the wrong message well! (Actually, you can. But it won’t do you any good.)

How to fix it

Finally, I figured out that asking, “What should I say?” was a much better starting point than, “How should I say it?”

Then, decades later — because I’m a slow learner — I finally figured out an even better question.

“What does my prospect want to hear?”

That’s really the only question you need to ask. And it circles back to Conversion Killer #1. Because you have no hope of knowing what your prospect wants to hear unless you first have a deep understanding of who they are.

Once you focus on what your prospect wants to hear, your task as a copywriter becomes embarrassingly simple.

Conversion Killer #3: You list too many benefits

As a junior copywriter, you quickly learned it’s better to talk about a product’s benefits than its features.

  • Don’t tell me your fitness tracker has three programmable buttons.
  • Tell me how it can help me lose weight and feel better about myself when I look in the mirror. (That’s what I want to hear.)

But … there’s a caveat here.

Sometimes I’ll read copy that has an overly long list of benefits.

They’re all good benefits, but the list is just way too long.

Two things happen when the list is too long.

  1. It loses its punch. It becomes a bore to read. Lists are boring by nature. They just can’t help it.
  2. Your product begins to sound like everyone else’s.

Find sales pages for five fitness trackers that list benefits and you’ll likely find they have very similar lists.

In other words, they’re all trying to cover all the bases, and they all sound pretty much the same.

How to fix it

Think about focusing on just one of those benefits.

Build the whole sales message around that one thing.

Now you have a page that no longer includes a boring list. And it also stands out from the competition.

One benefit. One message. A single focus.

Conversion Killer #4: You fade out before you’re done

This is my weakness.

I’m generally good with headlines.

I write a strong opening and keep the pace going through the middle part of my sales copy.

And then … toward the end … I tend to fade away a little.

Which is absolutely nuts. Makes no sense at all.

But I know I tend to do this. So I deliberately check my closing lines on any page before I hit “publish” or send the draft to a client.

I’m not alone, of course.

Plenty of other copywriters have the same weakness. A strong opening and middle, with a weak ending.

And there’s nothing more ridiculous than losing focus, pace, and urgency at the point where it matters most … when you’re trying to close the sale.

How to fix it

Check your own copywriting and see if this is a weakness you share.

If it is, make a note to always review the last few lines of every sales page you write.

It should feel like you’ve grabbed your prospect by the hand and are running across the finish line with her.

Conversion Killer #5: You sound like a salesperson

When we come across sales language that sounds pushy, our defenses go up. We become suspicious.

That is why I advocate for a more conversational approach to copywriting.

Write persuasively, by all means.

But being persuasive isn’t the same as being pushy.

How to fix it

I can be really persuasive when selling my daughter on the value of doing her homework. But I do it without being pushy or manipulative.

I do the same as a copywriter.

I use language I would feel comfortable using to persuade family and friends. And I show my readers the same respect I would show family and friends.

While pushy sales language puts people off and makes them feel defensive, conversational language is disarming and makes them feel safe.

Wrapping it up …

Maybe one or two of these conversion killers make you pause and think, “OMG, I do that all the time!”

If so, don’t worry about it. I make most of these mistakes at least some of the time.

But I catch them when I review my first draft.

You can do the same.

Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes.

Just correct them before you click the “send” or “publish” button.

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On Thursday, May 24, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern / 11:00 a.m. Pacific, Copyblogger founder and Rainmaker Digital CEO Brian Clark is co-hosting a live webinar with Ricardo Bueno from RightMessage called: How to Double Your List Size (and Sales) by Personalizing Your Landing Pages.

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