Copywriting mistakes are the worst when you can’t undo them. I might go in and adjust the copy on a landing page or fix a typo that I noticed in a CTA button. But I still cringe thinking of jokes that fell flat in email subject lines or stray punctuation that made its way into one-sheeters. And I hate to think of how those mistakes appeared to prospects.
Everyone makes mistakes like these, but nobody likes doing so. That’s why today I’m sharing six cringe-worthy B2B copywriting mistakes so that you can avoid them and boost your conversion rates.
Here are the six B2B copywriting mistakes:
- Using jargon
- Addressing everyone
- Focusing on features
- Stressing the negatives
- Offering too many actions
- Leaving your brand story behind
I’ll cover why these are mistakes and how you can avoid them in your copy. But first, let’s review what B2B copywriting is and why it’s so important to get it right.
What is B2B copywriting?
B2B copywriting is the process of crafting copy that encourages readers, representing other businesses, to take an action. The action could be to sign up for an email newsletter, click on a link to a blog post, register for a webinar, or purchase a product.
What makes B2B copywriting different is that your solutions are sold to companies, but it’s people who are making the decisions. And, of course, it’s people who will be reading your copywriting. That means you’ll need to address business-level concerns while speaking to, an engaging, individuals. That can be challenging, so making mistakes is understandable. But we put together this list so you can learn how to avoid mistakes without having to stumble—or sacrifice any leads—yourself.
The mistakes you need to avoid in your B2B copywriting
Now that we’re clear on what B2B copywriting is—and why it’s important to get it right—let’s jump into the mistakes you need to avoid.
1. Using jargon
I’ll say it: Acronyms are annoying. KPI, CRM, CMS, SaaS, SEO, MQL, SQL—these are all important terms for marketers, but they’re industry jargon. And industry jargon is often not the most useful or the most specific.
If you’re using shorthand that your potential customers don’t know, it can lead to confusion. Or, even worse, it can make the reader feel alienated or disinterested. A recent study at the Ohio State University found that people were less interested in science and politics topics when the copy contained jargon. The reason? Unfamiliar jargon tells people that they don’t belong.
In your B2B copywriting, you want to be as specific as possible, and you want to make sure your audience not only understands but feels welcome.
2. Addressing everyone
Trying to market to everyone is like trying to please everyone—it just won’t work. If you’re trying to address everyone in your B2B copywriting, you might end up reaching some prospects, but you lose the opportunity to resonate with your target customer.
Instead, you need to get specific in your B2B copywriting for it to be effective. The best way to do this is to write for your target customer, ideally by creating a buyer persona.
A buyer persona, or customer persona, is a fictional, composite character based on your actual users. The best personas are based on real data and have specific characteristics. These characteristics include basics, like age, industry, and job title. They also include motivations, frustrations, challenges, and goals. For example, the Content Marketing Institute suggests including an approach to the job, like self-starter or dedicated leader.
When you’re working on your copywriting, use these motivations and challenges to drive your copy. That way you’re writing directly for your target customer.
3. Focusing on features
This one doesn’t seem like a mistake at first. You have a great product with some really cool features, and your potential customers should know about them. But for potential customers, the feature isn’t nearly as compelling as the benefits they’d see using this tool. This is especially true for B2B customers.
Take this example of a product description from Hotjar.
The first, bold text describing its heatmap offering isn’t an explanation of what a heatmap is or the technology that the company uses. Instead, it’s the benefit that the customer can expect. With Hotjar’s heatmaps, you can see how your website visitors behave.
4. Stressing the negatives
Your website traffic is too low. Those marketing emails look wonky. Your conversion rates are abysmal. The digital marketing agency you work with is fleecing you.
With B2B copywriting, it’s easy to stress the negatives. In a lot of cases, especially with marketing technology, your audience is using someone else’s product or services already. That means you need to not only convince them that your offering is great, but also get them ready to leave their current solution.
But that doesn’t mean stressing the negatives always works.
Instead, use positive frameworks in relation to your business. Take this example from Monday.com.
Rather than saying Asana is bad or pointing out that Asan’s import falls short, the Monday.com ad claims that the tool is “So Much Better.” The adverb here makes it playful, if competitive, and the second part of the headline highlights key product features. Asana’s takes up more space, but Monday.com’s is more engaging.
So to engage your audience in your copywriting, remember to be positive, too.
5. Offering too many actions
If you’ve ever wasted an embarrassing amount of time scrolling through Netflix trying to decide what to watch, you know that committing when there are too many choices can be a challenge. And if you’re like me, you might spend twenty minutes looking before shutting the TV off instead.
Now, imagine if your landing page or website was offering tons of choices. How many of your potential customers would just close the window or the email instead of parsing through the actions? It’s probably better not to know.
In fact, Sumo actually lists too many options as the #1 mistake that you can make with your calls to action, pointing to websites like Walmart as examples of copywriting with too many options for your audience. Check out the image below, with CTAs for free trials, a store locator, same-day pick up, and more.
This mistake, at least, has an easy fix. Determine your preferred action for your copywriting, then get rid of the rest of those CTAs.
6. Leaving your brand story behind
Most of the mistakes so far have been focused on your audience and how they perceive your copywriting. Because your goal is to encourage an action, you want to make sure that your copy engages your audience. But to write effective, consistent copy, you also need to make sure your positioning is clear.
That’s why you need to keep your brand story in mind.
HubSpot has a great definition of a brand story:
A brand story recounts the series of events that sparked your company’s inception and expresses how that narrative still drives your mission today. Just like your favorite books and movies’ characters, if you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will remember who you are, develop empathy for you, and, ultimately, care about you.
When you’re writing copy, use this brand story to define your positioning. How can you help your customers? Why are you helping your customers? Who are you to your customers? This might not all come up in a tagline, but it will help make even the shortest ad copy snippets more engaging and authentic.
Make your B2B copywriting effective
Avoiding these mistakes will help make your B2B copywriting more effective—which will help you meet your business goals. Time to get started crafting some copy.