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Don’t be a Copycat: 4 Traits of Terrible Web Copy

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There’s a blatant distinction between writing copy for your client, and writing copy for yourself.

good-copywriting-content-copywriter-advertising-copyGood copywriting for clients is results-oriented, meaning the writer’s copy is clear, concise, and compelling, driven by solving a target customer’s problem.

A content copywriter that writes for oneself is image-oriented, and rather than problem-solving, they create copy that’s artistic and clever. In other words, they’ll use a client’s project as their own soapbox to show off how entertaining and witty he or she can be.

Image-oriented is what many copywriters start out as, but soon realize how focusing on results is actually doing what a client has initially hired a copywriter for – to sell.

To become a results-oriented copywriter, beware of these four traits that image-oriented copywriters are notorious for:

Lyrical Copywriting

If you’re a copywriting poet and you know it…well, keep it to yourself.

‘Lyrical copy’ is a type of copy filled with long, uncommon words. It’s the type of copy that gets English Literature graduate students stroking their soul patches, saying ‘Yes, quite.’

Rather than stating ‘pertaining to breakfast’, they’ll use jentacular. Calling someone a filthy slob? A lyrical wordsmith would say slubberdegullion. A fighter just delivered a knockout punch? No, they must mean recumbentitbus. You get the idea.

Let’s say a lyrical copywriter is hired by Home Depot. What if the sales copy looked like this?

Carpenters: With a little unit comprised of the 22nd element in the Periodic Table, you can craft precision apertures in solid masses of fibrous substances. Furthermore, lo and behold, an ergonomic grip area that ensures force is applied with amenity and gratification! Visit our facilities if you’re resolute in acquiring said little unit.

If you don’t speak barista, that was an ad for a cordless drill.

Any copy that requires your consumer to keep Thesaurus.com open as a decoder means you’re doing it wrong. Remember, simple sells, and clear, concise copy will answer consumer questions before they arise.

Sentimental Copywriting

The second trait of image-oriented copywriters is being sentimental. You’ll find this common amongst university students, and interns who were once university students.

This copywriter has one goal with their work – making you ‘feel’ the copy. If no feeling is elicited from their words, the writer has failed.

Check out this sentimental copy:

Rebirth that Dying Relationship like a Phoenix

His silhouette envelops the doorway, a single tear hanging from his eyelash, dropping like the depths of his loveless heart. You peer at him over the brim of your cup, betrayed by the fading shadow of his love, breathless from a broken promise. And when he finally lowers the veil on your heart, you hope the passion will one day revive like a phoenix from its ashes.

See what this writer is trying to sell? The only feeling we get from this passage is ‘confusion.’

On the bright side, a passage like this wouldn’t look out of place in a Nicholas Sparks novel, so the writer has that going for them.

Overly-Clever Copywriting

This trait is the result of a writer whose smarter than he or she thinks and wants to prove it.

Oh, and the person also doesn’t have a clue about marketing.

For example, an architect that employs a copywriter to sell the benefits of the firm receives this ‘clever’ headline:

We’ll ensure your house is not a square.

Yes, ‘not a square’ is a shrewd way of saying ‘uncool’! Wordplay! The writer is a genius!

…But after reading the headline a second time, the architectural firm soon realizes the writer is a moron for trying to sell an irregular shaped house that’s destined to fall over.

People rarely relate to smart-aleck ads. If the headline is tougher to crack than The Da Vinci Code, the writer will lose their target consumers, then their clients, and contract.

If you’re writing copy for advertising, keep these four principles in mind:

  • Solve a meaningful problem from the target consumer.
  • Evoke what life would be like if that problem is solved.
  • Prove that you can deliver on that promise.
  • Push the consumer to perform an action – subscribe, download, share, or buy.

Overly-clever advertising isn’t necessary if the content is effectively building upon the self-interests of the customer.

Outlandish Copywriting

Finally, we have the snake-oil salesman of copywriters.

They coerce consumers with Magic Bullet-like, infomercial copy, like:

get rid of $100,000 debt in 100 days…

…it’s the stock option that, once Halloween hits, will make Google stocks look like a small-time investment. Invest in pumpkin juice today…

…upgrade to a Graphite hockey blade, and you’ll start sniping like Steven Stamkos…

Promises of endless freedom or impossible value deals may work in the short term, but will quickly sour as your baseless words are exposed.

This type of advertising betrays consumer confidence. Not converting the consumer isn’t the ‘worst that can happen’ – it leaves a bad taste left in the mouths of consumers that they won’t soon forget. And that unpleasant smell will reach their family and friends, too.

People feel stupid for falling for such schemes. They’ll grow resistant to advertising.

Remember, there is a limit to credibility – people can only consume so much B.S. Once that invisible line is breached with your sales copy, you’ve lost the consumer forever.

Good copywriters, advertising copy, and website content focuses on the audience – your prospective customers. If you carefully consider your content and take care of your audience’s needs, they’ll take care of you too.


Are you looking for great copywriting for your content marketing strategy?

Eden Advertising’s content copywriters are versed in a variety of industries, crafting compelling, clear copy that resonates with target audiences. From website copy to advertising copy, we can deliver your marketing message in a memorable way.

Contact us today for a free consultation!

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