26 Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid for Better Marketing Results

Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

To err is human. So it’s not your fault you make some copywriting mistakes. We’re here to fix it. Here are some common copywriting mistakes to avoid.

26 Common Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

Here are the most common mistakes you should avoid in your copywriting to improve results. The great thing about this is you can easily fix these mistakes.

1. Not Understanding Your Target Audience

This is one of the most obvious copywriting mistakes to avoid.

Most copywriters write copy that makes sense to them rather than the audience they want to engage with.

Even though knowledge of your products/services is important, you must also differentiate between what you want to say and what your prospect wants to hear.

Make sure you understand the buyer’s persona inside and out.

A competent copywriter understands the needs, pains, motivations, frustrations, and possible objections of the reader. This knowledge helps them create compelling copy that resonates with the prospect.

2. Solving No Problem

The goal of copywriting is to compel the audience to take action.

However, before they can act, they must first understand the problem that their actions will help them solve. It is incorrect to assume that the reader is already aware of this.

Explain the problem in your copy.

Remember the “What’s in it for me?” rule? When reading your copy, the prospect is looking for a clear response to this question.

3. Using the Wrong Tone of Voice

Before you start writing, ask yourself: how would my ideal customer prefer to be addressed?

For example, if you are selling parenting products or services, you would not use words like informative or motivational.

But if you’re selling accounting software, it might be okay — just don’t be too formal. Being approachable is always a good tactic.

Identify your target audience and speak their language. What words do they find meaningful? Why would these words appeal to them?

Finally, remember that you are not writing for everyone; you are writing for one person.

Using the wrong tone and style may confuse your target audience or attract a different demographic than you intended.

4. Not Using Power Words

When it comes to writing compelling copy, less is more.

To pique people’s interest in your product or service, you need a few keywords powerful enough to capture and hold someone’s attention.

This is where powerful action verbs come into play.

The active voice inspires action, whereas the passive voice promotes passivity. It makes sense, but many marketers and copywriters overuse passive words.

To combat this, start your messaging with a verb (like a CTA). Words like Enjoy, Experience, Browse, Gain, and so on explicitly tell your audience what they should be doing while also appealing to their emotions or personal experiences.

Alternatively, select words from this extensive 250 list of power words to give your copywriting the boost it deserves.

5. Writing Weak Headlines

Your headline only has a few seconds to capture attention, so make it clear and concise.

If you can’t clearly communicate what your page is about in a few words, go back and rewrite it until it makes sense.

This is important if your copy serves multiple purposes, for instance, selling products while also informing readers about health issues associated with those products.

In situations like this, you need more specific headlines that outline both pieces of information.

It also helps to ensure your headlines aren’t cluttered with unnecessary words.

Every word you use in a headline is valuable real estate, so choose them carefully.

Get to the point quickly. It may be tempting to be clever. Resist the temptation.

Instead, choose a headline that clearly states what you’re offering (and how it will benefit your target audience). If you need more tips on how to write clear, effective headlines, click here.

6. Focusing on the Negative

A common copywriting mistake to avoid is using too many negatives (or none at all, in some cases).

Ads with a positive message are more memorable than those without.

Before you write any text for an advertisement, consider whether each word is necessary — or if a positive one will help sell your product more effectively.

Eliminating just one or two negative words can impact engagement rates. These simple changes can significantly improve conversion rates for landing pages and advertising campaigns.

However, there is always some gray area.

A CTA that reads “Don’t Miss Out” may still be effective in some campaigns because it conveys a sense of urgency that outweighs the negative.

So, yes, take things individually, but as a general rule, stick to words with positive connotations.

7. Overusing the Hard Sell Method

There’s a fine line between emphasizing your product’s advantages and overselling your offer.

It doesn’t matter how appealing your product or service is, don’t overuse the hard sell.

Yes, you want your audience to make a purchase decision (or a sign-up decision, if that’s the case), but instead of telling them “Buy this now!” or “Sign up now!”, demonstrate how your offering will improve their lives.

This gives the impression that it was entirely their decision to act, rather than yours.

So yes, no hard sell. Focus more on soft-sell copywriting.

8. No Verbs in Your CTAs

A strong call to action can improve conversion.

While CTAs may look simple in practice, they have a significant impact on the success of your campaigns.

But what is a call to action without a call?

A CTA without a key verb is not only confusing. It also gives your reader no reason to be interested in your offer.

It is your responsibility as a copywriter to give them a reason to not only pay attention, but to eventually sign up, purchase, or convert — whatever the case may be.

A few simple changes to your main CTA can significantly improve your copywriting, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Below are examples of high-conversion CTAs:

  • Sign Up
  • Shop Now
  • Learn More
  • Book Now
  • Download
  • Start Now

Learn how to write effective calls to action.

9. Using Boring Hooks and Generalizations

Copywriters worth their salt know that you can’t hook readers with boring hooks and generalization. Look at these hooks for example,

  • It is no secret that sugar is harmful to our health.
  • Everyone understands how dangerous smoking is.

These mean nothing and convey or value. Why write it if it doesn’t add anything new?

Such generic copy can be created by anyone online. If you want to write compelling copy, use interesting information supported by statistics and research, quotes from subject matter experts, or customer testimonials.

Rather than the above, how about:

  • I was excited to learn that chocolate’s sugar content can enhance cognitive abilities.
  • Did you know that smoking causes nine out of ten lung cancer deaths?

Are these hooks not better?

10. Too Formal

Copywriters understand that good copywriting is conversational. We must speak to our audience in their language if we want to engage them.

However, it is difficult to strike a balance between conversational and casual.

Some authors may sound overly formal to maintain this balance. They use complex sentences and academic language as if they were writing a college essay.

This type of writing scares the reader off.

The bare minimum you can do to avoid this is to substitute conversational phrases like “you see” or “can’t” for “cannot” in your copies.

You can learn to write conversational copy here.

11. Too Much Jargon

Even though 21% of adults in the United States are illiterate, those with advanced literacy skills will not spend time reading complex texts.

Niche jargon and buzzwords are strictly prohibited in copywriting.

If a person has to look for a dictionary to understand what you’ve written, they won’t engage with your message.

Readability testing tools can help you know whether your copy contains too many overcomplicated words.

12. Failure to Optimize for Mobile

Let’s be honest: when it comes to finding a content specialist for their brands, most people consider web-based copywriting. But what about the 4.32 billion internet users who access your message via mobile?

When writing and formatting content, it’s important to keep a wide audience in mind.

Create it with eye-catching visuals, short sentences, and easy-to-read font sizes for headlines. Eliminate unnecessary words, create concise subheadings, and consider short paragraph lengths.

13. Ignoring SEO or Overdoing It

When writing copy, keep in mind how people will find it on the internet.

SEO writing elements will help search engines understand the context and rank your pages appropriately, but you must strike a balance here.

Too much emphasis on keyword optimization will harm your copy more than help it. It will appear as spam to Google, and it will sound awkward and unnatural to read to users.

Learn how to mix SEO and copywriting.

14. Using Too Many Modifiers

Adverbs and adjectives are effective copywriting tools. The trick is to know the limit.

Every modifier you use in your copy should help. When overused, they make your copy wordy, causing users to lose sight of the main message.

15. Using Words that End in -ly

Intensifiers are words used to emphasize adverbs. There’s nothing wrong with them unless they’re overused, transforming your copy into crap.

When used too much, they become fillers.

They appear to be what Stephen King had in mind when he wrote, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Many of these adverbs end in -ly.

When possible, avoid using such words in your copy. There’s always a stronger-sounding alternative power word. Thus, “critical” or “essential” conveys more confidence than “very important.”

Also, if you need better-sounding words than those that end in -ly, use the reverse dictionary. It helps.

16. Wrong Use of Emotional Triggers

Copywriting is about eliciting an emotional response from readers, encouraging them to stick with a brand, and inspiring them to take action.

Knowing this, some copywriters use emotional triggers for evil, exploiting prospects fears, and doubt.

While such manipulation can be effective, it doesn’t create a positive long-term relationship with your customer.

17. Terrible CTA Culture

While most copywriters understand the importance of a call to action (CTA), some are unsure how to make it effective.

A good CTA creates urgency, directs users to action, and provides a compelling reason to do so.

A common copywriting mistake to avoid is to use multiple CTAs on the same page, especially if they lead to different pages.

Readers will not know what to do.

Give them the simplest possible path to the next step, and don’t limit yourself to the boring “Buy now” or “Click here” options.

Use creative CTA text and don’t be afraid to use “I” and “me” pronouns. It makes your CTA sound more genuine and personalized.

18. Overusing Idioms

Idioms add color to your writing. But don’t overdo it because it can be distracting.

Avoid using phrases like “cold cucumbers” or “raining cats and dogs” because not all readers will understand them, and you may not be able to convey the intended message.

19. Not Using Enough Benefits

This is one of the most common copywriting mistakes to avoid.

Most inexperienced copywriters unfamiliar with the buyer persona’s needs and pain points make this mistake a lot.

They describe the product features but do not explain how those features will benefit the reader. Give your readers a reason to buy.

Make friends through feature-benefit writing:

  • Lead with benefits. Answer the “So what?” question. Explain how your product or service will benefit the reader’s life if they choose it.
  • Back up the benefits with the features that enable them. This puts the customer first and increases credibility.

Learn how to write a benefit-laden copy.

20. Relying Too Much on Copywriting Formulas

There are many copywriting formulas available online that we can learn and apply to our writing. Based on the experiences of other copywriters, these tips are excellent guides.

However, many of these copywriting formulas are simply common practices that have worked for someone. Who promised they’d work for your readers?

For example:

  1. They say that odd numbers get more attention. True, but that doesn’t mean that even numbers will reduce conversion.
  2. They say that the word “free” is a surefire way to entice a reader. Maybe, but some people will see it as spam. Also, most people interested in free things don’t buy.
  3. They say that these headline formulas work. Let it be, but those formulas won’t work if they don’t resonate with your target audience.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s a mistake to believe and use all copywriting formulas. Instead of assuming they will work for you because they worked for another copywriter, test them with your target audience first.

21. Being Overly Salesy

Today, customers are smart.

They know your copy is about selling something, so they don’t need you to draw their attention to it. Too aggressive, direct selling messages in texts can backfire.

Instead, tell a story about your product, include customer testimonials, and use appealing language to pique the audience’s interest.

A compelling call to action at the end of your copy will motivate readers to take action.

22. Making Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

Grammar and spelling errors are some of the most common copywriting mistakes to avoid. They occur. its unavoidable.

However, you can use a tool like Grammarly to ensure these mistakes are corrected before you hit the publish button.

You will never get repeat business if you submit a project without proofreading it.

A landing page or home page with a significant typo will make you appear unprofessional.

23. Ignoring Page Design

Online marketing is about creating a positive user experience and providing copy that complements your website’s design.

If you’re creating a sales page, ensure the page design is appealing. Not just that… use headings, bullet points, and short sentences.

24. No Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Lack of USP

When writing your copy, it is critical to have a compelling Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that differentiates you from your competitors.

Without a compelling USP, your message may be lost in a sea of similar businesses.

So, how do you avoid this mistake?

What makes your product or service unique? Is it a specific feature, a unique benefit, or a new approach?

Once you’ve identified your USP, make it clear and prominent in your copy.

Highlight the value and benefits that your customers will receive by purchasing your product.

Use strong, persuasive language to communicate your USP and demonstrate why it is superior to what your competitors offer.

25. Failure to Address Objections

This is another serious one of the copywriting mistakes to avoid.

It is critical to address objections in your copy to eliminate any doubts or concerns your potential customers may have.

When you anticipate and address objections up front, you demonstrate that you understand their concerns and are ready to provide solutions.

To successfully handle concerns, learn about your target audience’s pain areas and probable objections.

Then, add these criticisms to your writing and create compelling counterarguments.

26. Not Testing Your Copy

Another copywriting mistake to avoid is failing to perform A/B testing on your copy.

A/B testing lets you compare different versions of your copy to see which one performs better.

This testing allows you to tweak your messaging for higher conversion rates.

Without A/B testing, you risk missing out on crucial insights and wasting resources on useless copywriting.

For example, failing to test subject lines in email marketing may result in a missed opportunity to considerably increase open rates.

A/B testing is a crucial tool for fine-tuning your material and increasing its impact on your intended audience. Do not neglect this important phase in your copywriting approach.

Final Thoughts on Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve discovered the top copywriting mistakes to avoid. Its time to put what you’ve learned into practice.

Go through your copy and find out where you’ve faltered. Then make the necessary changes.

But creating compelling copy that sells can be tough, especially if you’re a busy person. That’s why it’s important to have a professional copywriter in your corner.

We can help you create copy that resonates with your audience and puts more money in your poecket.

If you’re in need of excellent copywriting to sell more of your products and services, get in touch with us today.

The Complete Copywriting Course

Maku Seun is a freelance copywriter and direct response marketer. He helps digital marketers, coaches, and course creators boost sales by writing compelling sales copy which includes long-form sales letters, email copy, and website copy for their products and services. If you want him to write compelling sales copy for your business, click here.