This post features a unattributed list of Web copywriting sins. I don’t know where I found this, but I like it, so I thought I should pass it along. If you know where it comes from, please let me know. I’d like to give it proper attribution and congratulate the author on their insights.
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Enjoy! – Phil
SEVEN DEADLY WEB COPY MISTAKES
Words on the web are a different animal than words in print. As a copywriter, I watch the trends. And YOU need to be aware of online behavior too. That is IF you want potential clients to read what’s on your website. Studies show a full 79% of Internet users SCAN the page rather than read word for word. What does that mean to you? It means whatever they DO read had better be GOOD. Here are 7 web copy mistakes you need to avoid.
Mistake #1: OPENING WITH FLASH
Open with a bang, but not with Flash. If you don’t know, Flash is a program by Macromedia that shows mini movies. Graphic artists LOVE Flash animation. They think it’s pretty and high tech. Internet cruisers hate it. They can’t wait to find the “Skip Intro” link. That’s because Flash stands in between them and the information they’re hunting for. See, studies show when folks are online they have a need to feel “active.” There are millions of pages of information out there. And they aren’t so sure yours is the best use of their time. Flash slows them down. So trash the Flash. And go with stronger copy instead. [note from Phil: I use an Anti-Flash plug-in for Firefox, so when flash is on a page I don’t see anything but a play button. I think this is gaining popularity — and causing more problems for designers that rely on Flash.]
Mistake #2: NO COMPELLING HEADLINES OR SUBHEADS
In print, eyes go to the picture first. Not so online. Research shows the first thing web users see is a headline. Now, remember what I said about scanning? Eyes drift down the page looking for easy-to-pick-up words. Well, the headline and subheads should effectively tell scanners what’s on the page without having to dig into the real copy… like a quick summary of the entire page! Headlines get the attention. The first subhead identifies the problem of your target audience. The next wows them with the solution – YOU! This way scanners can gloss over the content and get the whole story with the headlines and subheads. Once they’re hooked, they can go back and really read your copy.
Mistake #3: OPENING WITH “WELCOME TO MY HOME PAGE”
You’re wasting valuable real estate if this is your first phrase. It may be the first and last thing a site visitor reads. Don’t forget why web users visit you in the first place. It’s all about THEM. Not you. Something THEY need got them to your site. Figure out what it is. Identify the benefits, or emotional buttons in your copy. People WANT to know they’re in good hands. OR that they made a smart purchase. Do them a favor. Convince them with benefit-laden copy.