Let me guess…
You’re an honest person. Genuine, helpful and frank.
You work hard to write good copy for your website.
You avoid sleazy sales talk. You ignore marketing drivel.
But could it be that a dash of sales hype sneaks into your copy, turning off prospects and dampening your conversion rates? It happens. All the time. The web is full of insincere prattle.
Here’s a list of words that you might want to ban from your web copy because they’re overused, meaningless or a tad sleazy.
Most of all, you’ll want to avoid using them on your landing pages, where conversions are of the essence.
Part I: Gobbledygook
Some words are so overused that they’ve become filler.
They pad sentences without adding meaning.
When you needlessly slow your reader down, you increase the risk that they’ll click on the back button. And that’s when you might lose them forever.
The words below are meaningless filler:
- Market-leading – Which market are you leading? And do your customers care?
- Best-in-class – Unless you have research to prove why you’re the best, you better scrap this phrase.
- World-class – Are you really among the best in the world? Like Usain Bolt?
- State-of-the-art and cutting-edge – Do you mean you’re not behind the times?
- Industry-standard and first-rate – Does anyone ever claim to deliver goods or services that are below industry standards or second-rate? Well?
Rather than padding your sentences with empty phrases, tell readers exactly what’s so good about your service or product and explain why that’s important for them. How do you make your customer’s life better? Does your product or app take away hassle and pain? Does it make your reader happier, more productive, or more relaxed?
On their homepage, Synthesis lets customers explain why their service is so good:
Keep this in mind when writing landing page copy:
Slaughter gobbledygook. Simply state why your product is good and why your reader should care. » Tweet this «
Part II: New and improved mumbo-jumbo
You’re launching a new product. And you can’t wait to let the world know about your wonderful new features.
But how do you share your excitement without sounding like a huckster?
Some words are so overused that they may reduce the credibility of your product page copy:
- Breakthrough – Have you discovered the God particle? Or are you exaggerating your contribution to mankind?
- Next-generation – Were you thinking about going back in time to launch the previous generation?
- Innovative – When you have to tell us your product or app is innovative, it probably isn’t. Why don’t you simply tell us what it does?
- Revolutionary and pioneering – Were you the first the climb Mount Everest? Or cross the Atlantic Ocean?
Instead of using mumbo-jumbo, tell readers exactly what’s new and how they’ll benefit from it. This is how Apple describes the improved camera on the iPhone 5s product page:
A large sensor allows the individual pixels to get larger. And larger pixels, not more pixels, mean a better picture. So iPhone 5s has an all-new 8MP sensor. One that’s 15 percent larger than before, with pixels measuring 1.5 microns. We also increased the aperture to f/2.2. All that adds up to 33 percent greater light sensitivity. That’s significant, because more light gives you better, brighter images with even more accurate colors. And the new True Tone flash intelligently figures out exactly how much light your shot needs.
Notice how the Apple copywriters present exact numbers to explain the improved light sensitivity of the camera. These facts increase credibility.
But facts don’t speak for themselves, so Apple also tells you why these numbers matter to you: “more light gives you better, brighter images with even more accurate colors“. They always translate features into benefits.
Whether on a product page or a landing page, facts increase credibility, but benefits sell. » Tweet this «
Part III: Superlative sales speak
Your readers will detect even a hint of slick sales speak.
They will sense the slightest insincerity in your landing page copy.
Use superlatives only in these situations:
- You prove why you offer the fastest or best service. Quote your sources, use test results or mention specific figures to increase your credibility.
- You quote someone else who says your product is the best they ever used. Allow your customers to boast on your behalf. But be careful: sugary testimonials can make you lose credibility, too.
- You use a superlative in a question. For example, “Could this be the best IT service in Manchester?” A question makes you sound a little humbler.
Avoid sounding like a yellow-highlighter salesman who’s only interested in making more money. Reconsider using these phrases on your website:
- Most whatever – For example, “Most business owners use this product.” Superlatives can quickly dent your credibility.
- Amazing, stunning, fantastic and ultimate – These words are almost like superlatives and the same rules apply.
Unbounce lets customers use words like “wonderful” and “amazing” while their own homepage copy is more understated:
This lesson applies to absolutely any page on your site, but it especially applies to landing pages.
Be careful with over-hyped sales copy. Nobody likes being sold to. » Tweet this «
Part IV: Meaningless drivel
When your reader starts to mumble, “Yeah, yeah,” you begin to lose them.
This happens when you use obvious terms, such as “quality product.” Have you ever seen a website claiming to offer an average product?
To avoid this type of reaction, scrap these phrases from your web copy:
- Fast delivery – Customers would rather hear when they can expect your product delivery.
- Superior quality or top quality product – If your product has a high quality, explain exactly why. Is it the material? The manufacturing process?
- Excellent customer service – If your service is excellent, tell readers why. Do you solve all complaints within three hours? Do you have a no-quibble guarantee? Are your opening hours longer than those of your competitor?
This is how Man Crates describes their customer service on their about page:
The following is especially true on a landing page, where you want to be as concise as possible:
Enhance your credibility. Use specific details to explain the quality of your service or product. » Tweet this «
Part V: Needlessly complicated jargon
Web readers are in a hurry.
They have to catch up with the news. They want to skim through the latest Unbounce blog posts. And they need to check out the latest cat pictures on Google+ or Facebook.
We’re all busy. Make your text as easy to understand as possible:
- Utilize or leverage – In most cases, “use” or “benefit from” is an easier-to-read alternative.
- Alleviate – Why not simply “ease” pain?
- Very, actually, really, just, and other adverbs – Adverbs are almost always unnecessary. They slow your reader down. Cut these words and you’ll see that your copy becomes easier to read.
Evernote’s homepage doesn’t suggest that you “utilize Evernote’s apps to alleviate the stress of modern life.” Instead, they use simple words to explain the benefits of Evernote:
Use simple instead of difficult words. Avoid jargon. And tighten your text. » Tweet this «
The truth about bad copy
I’d love to tell you that writing landing page copy is easy.
I’d love to tell you that you only need to know a few simple tricks.
But the truth is that writing straightforward copy that converts is hard work. Damn hard work.
You need to understand the wishes, desires and dreams of your customers. You need to know how you can overcome any hesitation to buying from you.
Sneak into your customer’s mind to find out which hassle you can take away, which trouble you can help avoid.
Use the words your customers use. Speak their language and your copy will convert. Your business will grow.
Now I want to hear from you: What overused landing page copy irritates you most?
Listen to Henneke on the Call to Action podcast: