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By now, we’ve all heard the expression, “Content is King.” Your content—a well-optimized blog post, or a landing page for your latest eBook, or a email invitation (you get the idea) is, for some, the first introduction your reader has to your company. And first impressions can certainly make or break a prospect's interest in your products or services.

It's so important to be focused and compelling with your writing, so you're better able to draw the reader in rather than sending them to scroll further down the search engine results page. But this can be easier said than done. It doesn’t matter if you are a writing veteran or you're just getting started with content marketing, copywriting mistakes happen. Here are 6 of the most common of these mistakes – and fixes to get you back on track.

1. Bad Headlines

Headlines are arguably the most important part of your writing. A weak headline will cause the reader to pass over your content until they reach something that does grab their attention and pique their interest. In addition, headlines set the expectation for what is to follow – those little details that caught their attention should be the main focus of the piece. If there is a message mismatch, the reader again will lose interest and you will lose some credibility.

The ideal headline should be less than 60 characters, include relevant keywords that align with the content's copy, and address a topic that resonates with your target audience. For more tips on writing effective headlines, check out Bacon Makes This Blog Title WAY Better... and So Do These 10 Tips!

2. Not Being Concise

People are busy, and if they clicked on a link to your content, they likely want to get to the meat of it quickly. If you’re writing lengthy posts in an attempt to achieve higher SEO rankings, that’s a mistake. Google's algorithms are getting better and better at distinguishing quality from quantity. And long-form content is not equivalent to good content. Cramming in as much as you can about a topic will lose your reader, not engage them.

Much more important than length is the quality of the information – which has a better chance of being shared. If you find, however, that your audience really takes to longer articles, it's still wise to make use of formatting best practices, including images, bulleted lists, subheadings and video to break things up.

3. Failing to Write for Your Audience

Sure, you know your product or service like the back of your hand, but do you know who is actually looking at your website and searching for what you offer? This is exactly why you should create target buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of what your ideal customer looks like based on market research and your actual customers (I took a great course on personas through Buyer Persona Institute).

If you do not take the time to identify your personas and you're not writing to specifically address their needs, interests and pain points, you’re missing out. By writing to a particular buyer persona, you can hone your message and focus on certain problems and solutions, showcasing your expertise and helping to guide your prospect down your sales funnel.

4. Using Potentially Unfamiliar Jargon

When you’ve been a part of a particular industry for years, it’s easy to forget that people don't use all of the same terms and workplace language in everyday conversation, especially people who are new to that industry, or who do not know much about what you do. A really easy way to turn off your reader is to use abbreviations that they quite possibly won’t understand, and they won’t stick around to figure out what they mean.  You may be trying to establish yourself as an expert by using industry lingo, and it’s fine to do so, but just be sure to spell it out the first time you use it in a piece of content.

5. Not Conveying What’s in it for Your Reader

Another common mistake is to tout the features of your product or service without addressing the clear-cut benefits. Readers don’t want to hear you describing everything your company can do, they want to hear exactly what it can do for them. Will it solve a problem they regularly encounter? Help your reader connect with you by focusing on something with which they can identify.

6. Your Call-to-Action Is Missing

You might know that your goal is to get your reader to download your white paper, subscribe to your blog, or request a demo with your product, but if you don’t give them a clear and easy way to do that, they are going to move on. Be sure to have an attention-grabbing CTA so they know exactly what they should do next. Play with placement, size, colors, and messaging – you'll never know what works best unless you test! And when you find something that works really well, stick with it.

Now that you're aware of these copywriting don’ts, be sure to take them into account for your next writing project. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and focus on being clear, concise, and focused on a benefit. Align your headlines with the content that follows, and let them know what you want them to do when they’ve finished reading. You’ll be well on your way to improving your conversion rates!

Free Download: 4 Best Practices for Your Content Marketing Program

About the Author

Lori Dickey | Marketing Specialist
Lori Dickey, Marketing Specialist

Lori Dickey has been a Marketing Specialist and Project Manager for PMG since 2010. When she’s not figuring out a way to put a new spin on an old concept, she’s writing about marketing numbers, figures and facts – and sighing with relief when the writing is done and the reading has begun!

 Tags: Content Marketing Blogging

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