01 Dec The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Copywriting
You can spend an exorbitant amount of money on a snappy website design that’s so adaptable it can even shift into another dimension, but if your content fails to pass the test your whole brand will score an F.
Just because you’re a good reader doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good writer, which is why enlisting the help of an agency that provides quality copywriting services is so essential.
In 2013, Real Business conducted a study that revealed 59% of Brits wouldn’t use a company whose website has overt grammatical errors and misspellings. Which, in our opinion, is completely fair – regardless of your speciality, nothing cries incompetence quite like using the wrong version of ‘there’.
Your copywriting should be lucid and clear, meticulously-edited and, above all, indicative of your wider brand. It needs to tell consumers exactly who you are.
Here, we go through a few examples of websites with good to less-than-good copywriting.
Before we start, let’s clarify – what makes good copywriting?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the cheapest prices and the best product if nobody can make sense of what you’re saying.
Once you’ve established your brand’s tone of voice, all of your copywriting should follow suit.
Keep things short, sweet and easily digestible. Nothing scares off a reader faster than a massive block of text.
The important content should always be at the top, followed by the less important (but still necessary). If it’s not necessary, let it go.
Your content should always emphasise what you can do for your customers, not who you are as a company.
Unless you’re a software or electronics company, you can ditch the tech speak in lieu of simplicity.
Edit your content and then edit it again until you’re absolutely sure it’s error-free. If you can’t spell your product name correctly, your audience won’t have much faith in your ability to use it either.
The good – The Hustle
Click onto The Hustle’s homepage and it’s immediately clear what they do – mostly because there’s only a single sentence, which efficiently describes what the company is, and what it’ll do for you:
“The Hustle. Your smart, good-looking friend that sends you an email each morning with all the tech and business news you need to know for the day.”
It’s brief, it’s eye-catching and it’s out of the ordinary. Click onto the main site and then the ‘About’ page, and you’re met with a quirkier description that, yes, waffles on for a little bit, but it’s deliberately evocative and eventually ends with a line acknowledging that it’s gone on for long enough. This is clearly a company that we as consumers can relate to. We’re all in on the joke.
Underneath is then a more detailed description of The Hustle’s mission, ground specifically in what the company can do for its clients.
“Bottom line is that our mission at The Hustle is to keep you informed through a daily email, highlighting a handful of topical stories and adding perspective and colour to make it easy to understand. So, if you’re fed up with traditional media and ready to try something new, join our charge and the hundreds of thousands of others who believe what you believe. We’d love to have you on board.”
The text is grammatically flawless, engaging and consistent in its tone. It’s also particularly fun, and completely audience-appropriate.
The bad – Cyberfrog Design
Cyberfrog is a web design company based in Liverpool. They’re essentially a one-stop shop for businesses looking to improve their web presence, offering everything from SEO copywriting to web development and marketing. Herein lies the issue.
The actual quality of the copywriting on Cyberfrog’s website isn’t so much the problem, even though it does waffle at times. It’s the sheer extent of copy featured. Just look at the homepage – each section includes paragraph after paragraph of jargon-packed sentences, so much so that the important stuff gets lost in the shuffle. We get that they offer a ton of different products, but that’s what additional web pages are for.
The main carousel is the perfect example of bulky copy not working. Before we can even get through reading half of the text, the image changes. In this case, a brief header, followed by a sentence or two of further explanation and then a ‘read more’ button would have sufficed. Then readers can click through and carry on at their leisure.
Further down the homepage are a trio of sizeable paragraphs explaining Cyberfrog’s products. In the centre paragraph lies chunky statements like this:
“Our clients include regional, national and international companies as well as smaller businesses, start-ups and individuals.”
What does that sentence really tell us? That they work with all types of businesses, everywhere. Just a little consideration when including vague explanations like this would go a long way.
Like we said earlier, Cyberfrog’s copy itself isn’t necessarily problematic, it’s the way it’s presented. Which, when you’re trying to entice a customer to keep reading, can be enough to turn them away.
The ugly – WordAi
What makes this website’s copywriting particularly ugly is the fact that it belongs to a content agency, so you’d expect copy that’s nothing short of impeccable.
WordAi is a content company that improves and rewrites content by putting it through a computer that supposedly understands what the content itself means. An interesting concept, sure – but none of that matters if the content surrounding it is frustratingly unreadable.
Right off the bat, the first sentence contains a typo. It reads:
“Unlike other spinners, WordAi fully understands what each word content means.”
Just about any consumer searching for a company to generate quality copywriting would be off this page immediately. But for the sake of this experiment, let’s say we read on. Skipping the other various typos, we eventually reach an example of a computer-generated rewrite WordAi has written.
The original sentence was:
“Nobody has been arrested by the police officers, but the suspect is being interrogated by them.”
And the new WordAi sentence becomes:
“Law enforcement are interrogating the defendant, although they have not detained anybody.”
Not only has WordAi jumbled the sentence around, but they’ve also completely altered its meaning. A ‘defendant’ is someone that’s accused of a crime in a court of law, while a suspect is just that – a suspect. Similarly, ‘detained’ and ‘interrogated’ are two entirely different words as well. If a law company had actually used misinformation like this, they could be in seriously hot water.
In short, WordAi’s homepage is not only confusing and text-heavy, but it’s also messy and riddled with errors. Furthermore, if you’re going to offer examples of the work your company does, you had better ensure they’re pretty stellar.
Attention to detail can go a long way in copywriting cases, but nothing is irredeemable. With some solid tidying and a shift in focus to what’s really important, even the worst can re-enter good territory.