Say that 5 times fast, will ya?
The truth is, I don’t have 650 reasons to do anything, but having spent the last few days doing some research into digital agencies, social media agencies, web companies, PR firms, etc. (all service companies) it’s somewhat shocking and hugely disappointing to see the amount of wasted bits and bytes used on superfluous nonsense.
I’m not going to name companies here, that’s not the point. It’s a general frustration with copywriting on the Web. Most of the companies I took a look at had very nice sites (some were very sparse/simple, some more complex), and most of them had very rich portfolios of fancy design, development and marketing work (although they were almost universally lacking any real case studies with metrics and ROI). But it’s as if they forgot about copywriting. And frankly, copy sells. After looking at 50 or so competitive sites, designs start to fade away and all you really see is the copy.
Something I like to do when looking at text is to take it out of context. Copy and paste a bunch of text into a file and read it there; not alongside other copy on the website, and not combined with the site design. That really helps focus on the copy and make it stand out (for better or worse). You also start to see interesting patterns and similarities in the copy.
What’s really surprising about the copywriting that I found is that it’s written by companies that are supposed to be experts in digital marketing. And the last time I checked that means they’re in the business of effective communication — selling their ability to effectively communicate to their clients’ target markets. But if these companies can’t put out a decent effort for themselves, what does that say about their ability to give customers what they need?
Here are some examples:
At Acme Corp, we are passionate about exceptional website design and application development. We research it and practice it. We live and breathe it. Let us run with your project and see just how great web development is done these days.
We’re a full-service, interactive marketing agency focused on measurable, results-driven engagement.
The Acme Group is a digital services and creation company that delivers the best possible experience for the consumer through the integrated and disciplined use of the best possible practices, good ideas, people and technology.
We offer unparalleled design and creative direction, along with a rock-solid group of technologically innovative minds.
The 3 Most Common Copywriting Problems
- We, We, We Syndrome: I realize that at some point a company needs to explain to prospects and customers what it does. But too often this focuses on the service provider and not on customers. There’s not enough writing in the second person. When I read the first quote above my first reaction was, “Let YOU run with MY project? It’s MY project, not YOURS, I’m not letting you run anywhere with it.” That’s an adverse reaction to the “We, We, We Syndrome”.
- Punch Drunk Word Addiction: It’s easy to throw in extra words that you feel are powerful – words that punch the reader right in the face and say, “POW! Check this out!” But the truth is these words very quickly become meaningless. In the 3rd quote above, they’ve used “best possible” twice. In the last quote, the latter part of the sentence doesn’t inspire anything in me except for a yawn, “…ROCK-SOLID group of TECHNOLOGICALLY INNOVATIVE minds.” Say what?
- And You Are Who Exactly? Affliction: After looking at 50+ websites (all in the same general area) you quickly realize how few of them are presenting a strong brand and genuine personality. Everything starts to blend together, and the only ones that truly do stand out are those that used text effectively.
Writing great copy is very hard. Especially when you realize that it also involves deeper internal and brand analysis – What is your company’s personality? What is your company’s brand? What do you stand for?” And then you have to really hone in on your value proposition to customers – What value do you bring? How? What results have you generated?
These are the types of questions you need to answer before you can write really effective copy. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, how can you write copy that explains this stuff to prospects and customers on your site? You can’t.