3 Things I Learned From Doing Copy Reviews

3 Things I Learned From Doing Copy Reviews

Last week I offered 5-minute copy reviews (3 tips) to my subscribers.  

I did this for a few reasons:

  • To show how simple changes to copy (or strategy of said copy) can be made to attract more conversions
  • Help spread the word about my conversion copywriting services
  • Get my nose up in everyone’s business…  I mean get to know my audience a little more 

 Only a handful of brave souls stepped forward. 

I say “brave” because having your work critiqued is never easy. At least not if you have even a smidgen of an ego.

If you’ve ever been involved in a mastermind where a single person is put on a “hot seat” and everyone gives constructive criticism, you know what I mean.

As the person in the hot seat, you are not allowed to argue, defend yourself, or object in any way to the comments from the audience.

Regardless of how much you want to say:

“I already tried that…” or

“I don’t think that’ll work…” or

“Are you high?”

…all you’re allowed to say (one of the hot seat rules) is:

“Thank you for the opportunity to be put through your spanking machine of copy destruction.”

Or, more acceptably: Thank you.

It can be tough, but it’s also the best way to get better at your craft.

The theory that a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters will eventually create a masterpiece is a bit overblown. (Although one study may prove it’s a possibility.)

My mini-review, of course, isn’t nearly as scary. It’s just me sitting at my desk with two cats. And they’re judging me, not you.

The idea for this post came from a virtual 3-day copywriting event I attended last week. One of the speakers talked about the nearly 2,000 copy critiques she did in a single year. 

And while I’m nowhere near that number (CLICK HERE! to sign up for a real-deal COPY review), the patterns she observed were similar to the ones I also spot most often.

Maybe you’ll see yourself and your webpage — or email — in these as well. 

(The same advice about web copy also pertains to emails.)

Let’s dive into them, shall we?

COPY REVIEW MISTAKE #1: You use complex words when simpler ones will do

Easy-to-read writing is like great acting. You only notice it if it’s missing. 

When you need to stop and Google a word in every other sentence, it breaks up the flow for the reader. And stops them from continuing to read.

Ideally, writing at the 7th or 8th-grade level is best. It’s fairly easy for the average adult to read.

Many different calculators exist for finding the reading level of your writing. 

The Flesch Reading Ease score, the most well-known, ranks text on a score between 1 and 100. A score between 79 and 80 equals a grade school level of about 8.

Here’s a great tool to measure your text’s readability. Plug in a sample of your writing to see where it falls.

Here’s how this blog post rated: pretty close to dead-on readable.

COPY REVIEW MISTAKE #2 Your copy isn’t emotionally charged

People make decisions based on emotions. 

Even for those of us who consider ourselves logical decision-makers, science tells us deep inside we’re all a hot mess of feelings.

And those emotions drive the decision bus all the way to the BUY NOW button.

Much research proves it. So pulling on your reader’s heartstrings makes it easier for them to “get” your message.

They feel your words and respond to you. You’ve jumped into the conversation they’re already having in their heads.

If this sounds like manipulation, it’s not. You are simply reminding them of what they want and why. And hammering the point home.

Let me give you an example with a letter (actual snail mail!) from The Nature Conservancy I received this week that inspired me to open my wallet.

Before you read it, consider the backstory:

I was a supporter of the Nature Conservancy but didn’t renew. No real reason except I kept meaning to and didn’t.

I’m a huge nature lover. I belong to every Cornell Live Bird cam around the world and volunteered at a cat rescue for over three years. I stood in the rain to sign up when a rep from the NC stopped me outside a Sprouts market and asked me, “Do you want to help sea turtles?”

With this in mind, notice the emotionally-infused copy where the arrows point:

“Nature can’t afford to lose you, and, frankly, neither can we.” 

“We’re counting on you…”

“Your membership is the best way to create a better future for our planet…”

The entire letter is pumped full of tear-jerking, “you’re so important to the animals and nature!” messaging that you better believe I hopped on my computer and sent them money.

That’s what happens when you get into someone’s head when you KNOW they want the thing you’re selling. Also, notice all the “you’s.”

COPY REVIEW MISTAKE #3: Your messaging is vague or too general.

I work with a lot of business coaches. In this world, common phrases include: “uplevel your business,” “live the life of your dreams” and “live an extraordinary life!” 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these statements. But they’ve become so commonplace they’ve lost their meaning.

Think of your profession. What phrases do you find on every website?

Problem is, it’s not that the words themselves need work. It’s that using the same words as everyone else makes you blend in with everyone else. 

Including your competitors.

So how can you make your copy better than all the rest?

Create scenarios, word pictures, that enable your readers to know YOU get them. You know their pain. 

Obviously, it’s gotta be genuine. People can smell fake empathy a mile away… *sprays Febreze*

For this reason, you need to use your customer’s own words. 

Let’s take “uplevel your business.” What does that look like to your customer? 

  • Will they be able to afford that dream home on the ocean?
  • Take a month off to vacation in Croatia?
  • Pay off all their bills easily every month?
  • Buy a pound of Black Ivory coffee at $1,500/lb, smooth, mellow, and unique coffee made from elephant droppings (no joke) where a percentage of the proceeds is used to fund rescued elephants’ healthcare?

What do your customers want? Help them get it.

Now you. How will you simplify, emotionally fortify or clarify your copy? 

Other posts you may enjoy:

5 Ways to Never Bore Your Readers

Power Up Your Message Instantly (includes a limited time, free offer)

Are You Making this Major Website Copy Mistake?

P.S. If you found this helpful, please share it on social and connect with me on Facebook HERE.


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