Writing copy and content is far more than just filling an empty space. If you’re here, chances are you already know this. So why do some organisations simply overlook good copywriting practices?

In our personal and professional lives, we all know the importance of saying the right thing. Carefully selected bon mots can put people at ease, get them thinking, and indeed get them to act. But the sheer power of choosing the right words seems to be lost on some companies!

With this in mind, read on for my personal bottom 6 copy and content writing blunders that I see B2Bs (and indeed companies of all kinds) make time and time again. There are other mistakes out there in the wild, but these are the ones that generally catch my eye the most. Let’s dive in.

1. It’s All “Me, Me, Me”

This mistake particularly gets my goat and I see it a lot in the wild. Too many websites, brochures, flyers, et al. start out blatantly promoting the company’s position (such as “we are X and we do Y”) rather than explaining how they help their clients (e.g., “Y is a real problem and can have an impact on A, B, and C. We are X and we can help you achieve…”).

Your opening gambit is the ideal place to get to the heart of what your client wants to hear. When you start off by acknowledging the problem that’s brought the reader to you, you get them agreeing with you straight out of the gate. Demonstrating your empathy for the client’s situation and explaining how you solve their issues is far more impactful than kicking off with lazy “wow, aren’t we great!” platitudes.

Put simply, Copy should start out with the resolution you provide, not the product you’re trying to sell. Once you’ve got them hooked then you can get into the nuts and bolts of your company and how you help.

2. Far Too Jargony

Next on my hit list is B2B copy that’s so dense with jargon that you can cut it with a knife. It’s not that jargon is inherently bad – any language that simplifies a concept can be a valuable tool – it’s just that many companies throw it around without a second thought.

Using jargon in your copy should go hand in hand with your use of language as a whole. The answer lies with your average client. Consider the general level of expertise your prospects and clients have; if a large majority of them understand a term straight off the bat then it’s probably fair game, but if you find yourself having to explain another term every time then it’s probably not a good choice for your marketing copy.

If you’re unsure of your average client’s industry knowledge, make a game out of it! Who said market research had to be boring? You can use tools like social media polls, SurveyMonkey, or Kahoot to create a “gamified” quiz along the lines of “how many terms can you get right?”. You could even give out prizes for the top scorers!

3. Poor Use of Keywords

I can forgive people this mistake because SEO is a massively brain-frying topic, but most on-page SEO isn’t too hard once you know what you’re doing. The goal of any piece of copy is to persuade your ideal customer to buy, but online copy has two jobs on its hands: to persuade human readers and to appeal to search algorithms.

The shrewd use of keywords is a crucial place where SEO and copywriting overlap. Keywords on their own aren’t the be-all-and-end-all to your site’s well being in search results, but you could be missing a trick if you aren’t highlighting key phrases in certain places. And your search rankings can nosedive if you use key phrases too frequently in your text.

Let’s get your keywords in the right places first. Though it’s important to mention your key terms naturally within your text, always try to make some mention of them within your title tag, meta description, and any HTML header tags within the page.

But be careful about mentioning your keywords too frequently. Google doesn’t like it when you cram too many instances of the same keywords into one page (called “keyword stuffing”). This is where tools like SEO Book’s Keyword Density Tool come in handy. Simply paste your text into their tool and it’ll show your keyword densities as a percentage. The current rule of thumb is to aim for 1-2% keyword density for the keywords you’re targeting.

But above all, poor use of keywords can negatively impact both search findability and human readability.

4. Not Telling The Reader What to Do!

You’re writing copy for a reason – you want the reader to do something! It’s a real shame to see well-written B2B copy that addresses the clients need well, then grows their interest by explaining what the company can do for them… and then it just… ends.

There sometimes seems to be a little reticence to end on a clear direction like “Call us now on {phone number}” or “Email the team at {email address} for your free quote today!”. This hesitation could be down to a few reasons. When you’re writing copy, there can be a certain assumption that “they know where to look for our phone number, duh!” (assuming the contact details are presented front and centre). Alternatively it could be down to good old fashioned British awkwardness when asking people to do something!

I’m aware that not all copy needs a call to action (CTA) – you may already be guiding the reader through an action, or taking a more advisory tone to ensure the reader understands a concept. But if you’re expecting the reader to take a certain action off the back of your copy, make it really easy for them. If you leave them to work out what the next step is, they can easily slip through your fingers.

5. Inconsistent Writing Styles

When you see this one out and about, it’s never pretty. When the personality in your writing is inconsistent across your website, blog posts, and even flyers and brochures, the pivot in language and tone can result in notable mental whiplash when viewed side-by-side.

As your company grows, it’s likely that your marketing collateral will too. And as that happens, it’s equally likely that different people will write the copy for each piece. Each of these people likely have their own ways of writing and their own ideas about what needs to be said – so they’ll naturally leave their own stamp on the copy. And given even the shortest amount of time, the same person can find themselves writing completely differently!

Many companies fall into the trap of thinking brand guidelines are just for visuals, such as the use of your logo, preferred colour schemes, and choice of fonts. But brand guidelines should also include information about the tone and language to use in copy and content – making sure everyone’s on the same page about what needs to be said, how, and why. If you don’t provide guidance about the tone of voice, kinds of language, and indeed personality to use, the resulting copy is unlikely to appear cohesive and “joined up” when viewed as a whole.

As well as establishing what you want your copy to sound like, you might also want to provide insight into the audience you’re looking to attract, the image you’re trying to portray, and the general feeling you’d like your copy and content to portray (and yes, it’s fine to take a slightly more conversational tone in your blogs compared to your purely promotional copy).

Additionally, you could also add guidance on the use of jargon, what kind of audience you’re looking to persuade, whether/how to inject personality and humour, and what keywords want to aim for if the text is destined for the web. The aim here is to remain as consistent as possible across all of your copy regardless of who’s actually written it and when.

6. Not Keeping Your Copy and Content Up to Date

Unfortunately this one rears its head a lot in all industries, especially when the company is small or working to capacity. Try to regularly review all of your current marketing materials to make sure the information is still accurate and up to date. That includes your website, your business cards, any flyers or printed handout material, brochures, blogs, videos, podcasts, recurring social media posts – basically any information your brand is putting out there. (No pressure!)

If you do come across a reference to obsolete data or a service you don’t provide anymore, either change it immediately or schedule in a time to remedy it as soon as possible. Whether it’s something minor like a single link to a page that’s no longer there, or something major like an industry development that renders some of your older blog posts obsolete; always make the effort to update it – you don’t know who’s going to see it, so put your copy where your mouth is!

Curious about further marketing faux pas? Take a look at this post: 7 Shockingly Common Marketing Mistakes.

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