Do These 3 Common Copywriting Mistakes Keep Your Readers from Buying?

Talk to the Hand

Congratulations! You’ve built a great blog with high-quality content. You’re getting decent traffic, and your readers might even be using social media tools to recommend your stuff. Life should be good.

But no one’s buying. Or barely anyone, which is no fun.

So why isn’t that great content translating into more sales? Let’s look at three common copy mistakes that keep your readers from becoming customers, and how you can turn that around.

Mistake #1: You haven’t asked them

Recently I was looking at a blogger’s promotion of a big project. He’s mobilized a great community to help spread the word, the project is getting decent buzz, and he’s demonstrated an ability to get folks to take action when he asks them to. From a social Web standpoint, he’s doing a terrific job.

But the sales of the product still aren’t stellar.

When I visit his blog, I notice that I have to hunt around to figure out how to buy the product. There’s no attention-dominating ad that clearly says BUY THE PRODUCT HERE. There are no hyperlinks in his posts that say Click here to buy the product. His email signature doesn’t include a link to buy the product. He hasn’t asked his community to Twitter the TinyURL (which he, of course, could conveniently provide them) for the product.

It’s such a small, simple thing, and it’s very easy to forget. If you have something to sell (or an email list to opt in for, or an RSS feed to subscribe to), you have to ask. Explicitly. In every communication.

Don’t even think of making your readers hunt for the link. They won’t.

If you’re not making calls to action so often and so clearly it’s a little embarrassing, you aren’t making enough calls to action and they’re not clear enough.

Mistake #2: You’re solving a problem they don’t care about

You’re promoting a technique that boosts PageRank (feature), when what your readers want is more traffic (benefit). You’re promoting a supplement that enhances blood flow in the brain (feature), when what your readers want is to remember where they put their damned keys (benefit).

You might be caught up in describing all of your features and how cool you find them, instead of showing your readers the benefits of your offering (in other words, all the fantastic goodies they get by ordering from you).

Or you might be doing a great job of describing your product benefits, but they’re what Clayton Makepeace calls “fake benefits”: benefits no one actually cares about getting.

Either way, your reader doesn’t care about what you’re promoting. Thus, no sale.

Mistake #3: You haven’t given them reason to believe you

One great advantage of a content net strategy over single-shot marketing is that you create an incredible opportunity to build trust. By providing lots of value, you demonstrate that you have your audience’s best interests at heart.

But that trust doesn’t fully translate to your offer. You still have to prove that your product or service will perform as promised.

Tell interesting stories about how the product has already delivered on the promise that you make. (If it’s a brand-new product, give it away for free to some friends to generate a few compelling success stories.)

Show how similar (perhaps more expensive) products have delivered exceptional results. For example, you can describe the amazing benefits clients have gained from your private coaching service, which happens to be the basis of your much less expensive information product.

If your product can be physically demonstrated in a memorable way (Will it Blend being the canonical example), do it. What we see will always be more convincing than what we read.

Pair your proof with a slightly cocky guarantee. Offer “more than your money back,” a 100% refund plus some nominal additional sum for the customer’s trouble. Not only does a powerhouse guarantee remove worry and risk for your customer, it also demonstrates your complete confidence. And confidence is contagious.

When you’re proving your offer, you’ve got to show, not tell. It’s not enough to say it’s great. Show us why we should believe you.

You’ve already done the hard part

Creating valuable content and attracting an audience is a lot of work. (It’s fun work, but it’s still work.) After you’ve put significant time and attention into your content, don’t let a few common copy mistakes keep you from closing the sale.

Correct these three mistakes whenever you make an offer to your blog or email list, and you’ll make the most of the success you’ve worked so hard for.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is an Associate Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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Reader Comments (36)

  1. says

    I think #2 is the most over-looked. Yes. You are the best writer, but if you’re writing to no audience in particular. You’ll never be found. You’ve got to respond to an actual need out there. The blogosphere is a microcosm of the economy in terms of supply and demand.

  2. says

    #2 is also the really painful and expensive one. #1 is easy to fix, #3 takes a little more work but it’s still not too bad. But you can go a long, depressing way down the #2 road if your actual offer isn’t something anyone wants.

    Often, though, the product is good but the communication isn’t. Or the product can be tweaked to add on desirable bits that customers want, in addition to all the healthy junk they actually need.

  3. says

    Nice post, I think this goes back to the fact that people involved with writing and social media also need to be aware that it is still a business. Trust, credibility, likeability, and content are key, but in the end traffic, sales, etc are the bottom line. Ask and give a call to action about what you want your readers to do. If you establish the trust, the call to actions will get results you want.


  4. says

    I definitely agree with point 3. Why should someone buy your stuff if you don’t have any proof or guarantee that it works? You should get more feedback from those who already got it and liked it, also post that information.

    Good article.

  5. says

    Great post! Insights from your experience are valuable and immediately applicable. I am in the process of scripting a marketing video for my membership web site and I have reviewed it with these 3 points in mind. Every improvement gives the message that much more punch! Thank you!

  6. says

    A possible addendum to #3:
    You & your blog might have built trust, but if the product or service looks suspect people may be hesitant to buy. This is especially true if the product you’re offering is from a third party – not you. So many blogs have great content but then you see an offer (or maybe even buy the product) & it looks (turns out to be) suspect. That’s a quick way to burn bridges.

    That & focusing on ONLY selling products while neglecting the great free content you become known for. I’ve opted out of many a list after being bombed by sales messages & NO free content (even after I bought).

  7. says

    #1 is the one that hits a home run for me. Every “how to sell” book that I’ve read has said in one way or another that the reason sales people don’t have success selling – especially when starting out in their career – is they don’t ask for the order. I can see how this translates to selling online.

  8. says

    I recently finished a redesign of a company website, I was sure it was perfect after all it looked so nice. Then I showed it to 10 people and they all said….”What do I do?” I would like to assume they were all morons, but I realized they were just pointing out the missing call to action. My off in the weeds redesign can be seen at … I am adding more calls to action this week.

  9. says

    I find that people are constantly trying to fix problems that most people do not even care about. I think if we can all recognize that people do not care about paying to fix a problem than the company should also recognize it.

    If they do not recognize that people will not pay to fix a certain problem then I guess they are not businessmen.

  10. says

    Excellent Post, when i shop online I tend to find alot of online stores that are hard to acutally buy a product they are promoting. I guess they could increase sales if they made it more easyer to find for the average user, because I know by experience if my parents cant find something on the first page of a website they click of and try another site, unless ofc it’s a huge retail store.

    So when I build my sites I tend to make it so easy that my parents could use it!

  11. says

    Such a beautiful post that really packs in a heck of a good amount of useful knowledge!

    You may have only listed 3 mistakes, but boy do they cover a lot of the ways people stumble.

    Good job!

  12. says

    Regarding #1 (Call To Action): Can anyone recommend a good call to action when affiliate marketing (a Clickbank product)? In other words, what is the best way to get my readers to click through to the product sales (landing) page from my blog post?

    While I understand the need for testing, it is difficult to get useable results when you only receive 10 to 30 unique visitors everyday and month-to-month results vary widely.

  13. says

    Calvin, click through to the link in the article that says “Click here,” it’s a great post by Brian about how the words “click here” actually test better than other calls to action.

  14. says

    Calvin, I was in this same traffic level: 10 to 30 unique visitors everyday… My ads did not receive any click and I receive an email telling that if you have less than 1.000 unique visitor per day the chances are really low to sell anything :( With that in mind the call to action almost no meaning!

  15. says

    Thanks for taking the time to answer. I should have made it clear that I have read Brian’s “Click Here” post. I have, in fact, gone back to hyperlink “Click Here” in my calls-to-action. Previously, I only hyperlinked the keyword after the call to action.

    Right now, I’m using text like the following:
    [a href]Click here[/a] to learn more about [a href to the clickbank sales letter]some keyword[/a].

    However, I’m wondering if someone with more successful experience can recommend a better performing text (especially after the “Click here” part).

    I’m actually (affiliate) marketing a few different products (each product has a separate blog). With 10 to 30 unique visitors a month, some of my blogs are producing 1 to 2 sales every month. I have to admit that the rest of the blogs aren’t producing results yet.

    However, I’m hoping that someone experienced can recommend a good performing template for the call to action – something that works well for affiliate marketing. I’ve given a sample of what I use in most of my blogs in the reply to Sonia. My current calls-to-action feel a bit lacking, but I can’t think of anything better – which is why I’m asking for advice.

  16. says

    If your blog is aimed at getting people to buy something and you it’s only getting 10-30 visitors, you need to do two things: 1. get more visitors or 2. Sell something that costs a lot of money.

    Obviously, most people want more visitors and CopyBlogger and others tell in great detail how to do that.

    But, maybe you can be a referral affliate for something that has a high payout like cars, real estate or electronics.

  17. says

    Calvin, my guess is that a simple Click here to order Name of great Product will do well. The main thing you’re looking for in a call to action is clarity and visibility . . . if you have that covered, I’d go on to tweak other factors like the headlines, the benefits and the proof, or possibly the product itself.

  18. says

    Calvin, you totally hit the nail on the head. Number 2 is a huge impediment that I have seen (particularly at I am going to go through and take a fresh look at my pages and take a new approach. Thanks.

  19. says

    Thanks for your suggestion. It’s something I’ll have to test. Which brings up another question: What is a good way to split test different calls-to-action in my blog posts? Can someone recommend some plug-in which can automatically switch between different calls-to-action?

    I’m currently working on getting more visitors. Since I’m not in the US, I can’t get into many higher paying affiliate programs. It’s also not efficient for me to join too many different affiliate programs, unless I am able to get at least $500 of commission every month (due to the cost of banking in the checks where I stay).

    This leaves product creation. I’ve created a few (unsuccessful) products in the past, when I was just starting out. At that time, I was still at the “try everything” stage. For now, I’m only concentrating on affiliate marketing with blogs and articles.

  20. says

    Great article. I have been blogging for a while and really had trouble integrating calls to action. I am a Realtor and am not the ‘pushy’ type so I always thought that asking people to contact me was too agressive. Since that’s the point of my blog (conversions) I just had to get over it and ask for the business.

  21. says

    A Content developer should look into all aspects while developing content. The mistake#1 is a very silly mistake and actually prevented one who was really interested in the product for which content was developed from buying the product. Nice observation.

  22. says

    Excellent article….I enjoy it greatly and I’m glad I found your blog. I must say there are some really good article on clickbank and thats how I found your site.

    Thanks for the awesome article again.

  23. says

    Great article. I really have to admid, that especially the feature/benefit thing is something that I did wrong. So I will go now and do my homework and optimize my sales pages. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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