How to tell if your sales copy sucks

Greetings! In today’s Web-writing video, Heather discusses how to check your sales copy to detect common and costly mistakes – those she has witnessed time and again in her long SEO copywriting career.

It’s true, writing sales copy is really difficult if you’ve never done it before. There are several ways you can inadvertently go wrong, and many DIY folks don’t know how to go about checking their sales copy to see if they’ve done it right.

So without your knowledge, much less your intention, your sales copy might suck!

Don’t despair. Tune in as Heather addresses the most common sales copywriting mistakes, and how to check your sales copy to ensure you’re not making them…

Your writing focuses on the product/service – not the reader.

  • How many times did you include your company name and the words “we” and “our”?
  • Readers want to know what’s in it for them.

http://www.futurenowinc.com/wewe.htm

When you’re brand new to sales writing – or even when you’re experienced, but things just aren’t clicking when you sit down to write – it’s all too easy to focus your copy on your company, and/or your product or service. You’ll use the words “we” and “our” a lot, and mention your company name over and over.

  • What you want to do is change the focus of the sales content from features to benefits, telling your readers how your product/service helps them.

One of the things you can do when double-checking the focus of your sales copy is to go through and count how many times you’ve used the words “we” and “our,” as well as your company name.

  • Or, you can try this cute little tool called the “wewe” monitor. Simply put your sales page URL into the “wewe” tool and it will give you a score that reflects how many times you have focused on the company rather than on the reader. It’s a fun tool worth checking out!

You’re repeating yourself. Repeatedly.

  • Repeating yourself = sloppy writing.
  • Tighten up the copy and delete any repetitive content.

Repetitive copy is not a mistake reserved for brand new sales writers – it can mar the content of experienced writers who just haven’t quite got the flow of a new writing project yet.

With repetitive copy, the writer might mention a concept or a benefit statement in one paragraph, and then again in the next paragraph – maybe in a slightly different way – and yet again further down the page…

  • That is sloppy writing, because it stretches the sales page out longer than it needs to be. Also, repeating a benefit statement may preempt the inclusion of another – possibly even more powerful – benefit statement while cluttering your copy.

So check your sales copy for repetition, tightening it up and deleting any repetitive content.

  • If you’re having difficulty seeing where that repetitive content is, then it might be a good idea to give your sales page to an editor, or a trusted someone who can check your work and give you honest feedback.

Your copy is TDL (too damn long)

  • Long-form sales letters/Web pages work – if you know what you’re doing.
  • Don’t make your readers scroll through useless information.
  • Try splitting your information up on multiple pages instead.

Often, a sales page will run too long if the person is new to sales writing, or if they’re experienced but haven’t quite gotten into the flow of the project.

In either case, the writer is throwing everything s/he can think of into the sales page to see what sticks. Besides ending up with a really long sales page, chances are the copy has repetitive content.

  • You want your sales page to be as long as it needs to be to convey the information you want it to convey.

While there’s no hard and fast rule for sales page length, the “sweet spot” is usually around 250 to 500 words…BUT that depends completely on your target audience!

You want to avoid writing a long-form sales letter unless you really know what you’re doing. People who know how to write lengthy sales copy online have tested a lot of approaches – it’s what they do, they’re experts. Anybody else who tries it is not likely to see the same results.

What most likely will happen is you’ll end up with 10 pages of copy that your readers will have to scroll through to find out how to take action. You don’t want to do that.

  • If you find that your page is getting TDL, but you have so much that you want to say and it’s important information that you what on your site somewhere, try splitting the content up on multiple pages. That way, your readers won’t be overwhelmed with this long, 15,000-word essay!

Thanks for joining us for this week’s SEO copywriting how-to video! If you have a question for Heather, you can tweet it to her @heatherlloyd or email  heather@seocopywriting.com. And be sure to check back next Monday for another hot Web-writing tip – it may well answer your question. See you then!

Want to learn more about sales writing and SEO? Check out SuccessWorks’  SEO copywriting training options to see what program suits you best!

photo credit to josef.stuefer