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April 29, 2016
Here’s a statistic that is not a typo: The error rate for the average typist is 8 percent. Put another way, for every 100 words you type, only 92 will be spelled correctly. And over the course of a 500-word blog post, that’s a whopping 40 errors. Imagine what a visitor to your website will think if every 12th word or so is misspelled. More than likely, the reader will think you don’t know what you are talking about, or—worse yet—you don’t care about your website’s readers to bother with quality content, and will click away from your site, probably never to return …
Of course, most people catch and fix many of the errors they create, and the spell-check features of document applications identify some of the rest. However, the aforementioned statistic underscores how easily copywriting mistakes can occur by diligent writers. Furthermore every word of a blog post may be spelled or used correctly but provide no impact upon the reader, who, again might be inclined to leave your website unimpressed. Here are some of the most common copywriting mistakes to avoid when producing content that will ultimately move enthusiastic visitors along the buyer’s journey:
Even with a careful eye, even with another’s careful eye, and even with spell and grammar checks, a mistake here or there will slip through. That’s not a major copywriting issue—if you find a mistake after the fact, fix it and move on. The big problem is writing without any sort of editing at all. If you pound out a 600-word blog and instantly hit publish, the odds are great that the first person reading it—and noticing any mistakes you made—will be a website visitor. If your organization doesn’t have the time or resources to implement a full editing process, the least you can do is take 5-10 minutes to give your copy a second and third read. That small extra effort can improve the text, as well as improve your standing with readers.
There’s a funny old “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which John Lithgow can only speak in clichés, much to the chagrin of his daughter played by Joan Cusack (yes, Joan Cusack was on SNL for a season …). Comic effect aside, the segment is an example of how going overboard with trite, overused platitudes can distract from the message you are trying to convey. Furthermore, spoken clichés often (slightly) flow better with the words around them; in written text, they interrupt the pace while the reader attempts deciphering what you are really trying to say. Occasionally, a cliché may reinforce your point, in which case, using one is OK. But take this approach sparingly and leave the clichés to sports talk radio.
A little humor in your content never hurts, and it is great for introducing or shaking up an otherwise dry topic. However, trying to be too funny diminishes the potentially serious points your copy is trying to make. That said, content that is too boring—all statistics and jargon, without any narrative, transition, or opinion—can be equally as ineffective. Be careful not to write to either extreme, and strive to create copy that is both entertaining and informative.
Personas are key to inbound marketing principles. Many businesses take time to develop personas, only to fail in gearing blog and e-book content toward them. A strategy that brings your ideal visitors to your website will thoroughly confuse them if the blog doesn’t speak to their needs, experiences, and goals. Keep personas at the forefront of your copywriting, and your content will make a powerful connection with the readers you seek to turn into customers.
What challenges have you encountered with your organization’s copywriting efforts?
About the author
Joe Gillespie is Director of Inbound Copy for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and, before coming to SmartBug, was a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.
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