These 6 Online Screw Ups Are Driving Away Your Prospects

website copy mistakes

I’m sure you’ll agree that website copy should lock a prospect in a tight grip, lull their objections, excite them about a product, and seduce into making an inquiry.

But I bet that looking at traffic data you feel prospects run away confused, bored, or perhaps even annoyed. Bounce rate is sky high, average time on site is barely noticeable and nobody seems to be reading everything you have to say.

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But what if that was the problem exactly? What if the amount of information and how you present it is driving away prospects?

Let’s look at why this is happening.

You Lose Readers with Warm Up Paragraphs

You know, it’s kind of scary. It turns out that humans now have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. According to this research, our attention span on the Web is only eight seconds. The attention span of a goldfish, however, is a second longer.

It also means that you have only eight seconds to grab your readers’ attention.

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And chances are you waste it with warm-up paragraph. That’s copy that does nothing else but beat around the bush until you’re finally ready to introduce the key message.

If the first 20 words, or about two paragraphs of your copy, don’t introduce the problem, remove them. Chances are that they’re there only because you needed to warm up to finally write the key points.

There is one other thing to remember when you write Web copy: Your prospects are in a rush.

They have other websites to visit before making the buying decision.

And the quicker you tell them what they need to know, the bigger the chance they’ll remember you and come back to buy.

You Feature Long Lists of … (nomen omen) … Features

I know, features are easy to write. After all, they’re tangible aspects of your product, functionality or technology behind it.

They can also take a lot of space on a page, making it seem richer with content.

But they don’t sell.

At least, not until a prospect had familiarized him or herself with your business.

Prospects visit your site for a reason. They want to find out:

  • If your product could help them solve their particular problem,
  • If it’s a solution for people like them,
  • What makes it different from other alternatives and,
  • Why they should buy from you.

Lists of features only distract them from finding it out.

When writing your web copy, focus on benefits – tell visitors what they are going to gain by using your solution.

And leave features for the last stage of the buying cycle, when you’ll have to overcome your prospects’ final sales objections.

You’re Trying to Please Everyone

You can’t write content that satisfies everyone.

Or fill a single page with arguments that’ll speak to and attract different audiences.

But chances are that you really don’t need to target them all.

You probably offer a solution to a particular market. And so, write copy with that audience in mind:

Make it clear that your solution is for them

Less Accounting is open as to what audience they’re trying to attract: business owners who dislike bookkeeping.

online screw ups website copy mistakes

But what if you need to target a secondary audience too? Use a separate, dedicated landing page.

online screw ups website copy mistakes

(Less Accounting’s site features additional landing pages targeting other customer groups).

Use a language your audience can relate to make copy more relevant

Wishpond product tour page mentions epic content marketing. And it a one thing every marketer strives for?

online screw ups website copy mistakes

Showcase images that communicate with whom you want to do business

It’s an interesting fact – our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text.

This means that visitors will have made up their mind about your page before they finished decoding the copy. How? By processing images and other visual cues.

To make your copy more effective you need to back it up with relevant images. In a case of landing pages, ones that communicate who a page is for.

Harpoon features an image that backs up the main headline – a contempt looking freelancer.

online screw ups website copy mistakes

Nudge your audience a little, too

Lastly, nudge your audience with something only they will understand. Use cues to connect with them on emotional level,too.

Workado’s product screenshot features projects from companies like MomCorp, Stark Industries and Wayne Enterprises. I’m sure every geek or comic fan will know what these are.

online screw ups website copy mistakes

Your Copy Includes Only Long Paragraphs

This may come as a surprise but, you don’t have to elaborate on all points.

Some are self-explanatory. Others are easier to consume in a condensed form. And some ideas might be easier to understand if they’re abbreviated. In such cases, convert them into bulleted lists.

  • They grab the reader’s attention.
  • Help them focus on the key message of your copy.
  • Break the dense chunks of text.
  • And make it easier to scan.

You’re Not Using Images to Communicate Emotions

You know, sometimes the best way to connect with a reader is by telling her that you know how she feels.

That you’ve been in her situation before and can relate to the problem.

But describing it in words might just fill the page with unnecessary copy

In those situations, communicate emotions with an image or animated gif.

Here’s one example how I do it:

online screw ups website copy mistakes

See the post live here:

You Don’t Catch the Reader’s Attention with Numbers

Numbers stop a wandering eye.

When you have to use statistics or data to back up your points, use digits instead of words.

Numbers make the copy easier to scan too. Also, readers often associate them with the most important information on the page and thus naturally seek them out when skimming through it.

And there’s data to prove it:

In one eye-tracking study. Jakob Nielsen discovered that numbers often work well to stop a wandering eye, even when they are embedded within a mass of words.

According to his findings this happens because:

  • Numbers represent facts. And that’s what readers are often looking for.
  • The shape of a group of digits is significantly different from a group of letters. That’s the reason why they stand out in the reader’s peripheral vision. Take a look at this example: the number 2015 looks different from the word five. And yet they both include the same number of characters.

Keep these items above in mind the next time you’re producing website copy to seduce your prospects into becoming your new customers.

Disgruntled Web Reader Photo via Shutterstock 2 Comments ▼

Pawel Grabowski Pawel Grabowski has done a lot of business stuff from running a Web development studio, a publishing house and an eCommerce company. He now writes promotional copy for B2B and professional companies.

2 Reactions
  1. If you’re building a customer centric business here are key things to mention on the first paragraph of your pages: target audience (freelancers), the service (take control of your finances), your unique approach (accounting software for business owners who dislike bookkeeping). There are risks that people who don’t belong to the category won’t continue reading. But the ones who belong to the category will continue reading and follow your call to action instruction. Of course, you still need to follow good web writing practices like catchy headline, short-paragraphs, relevant images, etc. But that’s the way to get prospects to response to your messages.

  2. Often times you will need custom landing pages for prospects, and a lot of them. If you’re not a developer you can use services like Unbounce to manage & quickly create lots of custom landing pages.

    In addition to the comments about the content above, remember to make content scannable. Headlines, bulleted lists, etc. help people get to the point more quickly so that they find why they need your product/service in those 8 seconds.