1. Too Much White Space
I've said over and over again that nobody wants to try and read a massive, undifferentiated wall of text -- especially online, where we tend to scan a page for a few seconds and the move on if we don't see what we're looking for. Breaking up your content into digestible paragraphs, lists, and sidebars gives the eyes a break and makes it much easier to read the text quickly. It also enhances the overall design of the web page or print piece by allowing plenty of room for images.
But I've seen examples of this smart practice taken to extremes. In fact, I've been asked to rewrite such examples because the page looked like nothing but one bullet point after another. Endless lists and one-sentence paragraphs may open up that coveted white space, but they also give the impression of random notes as opposed to a polished message. Bring those disconnected sentences together into short but worthwhile paragraphs. Beef out some of those bullet points with benefit statements that explain why you're making those points in the first place.
2. Too Much Enthusiasm
Selling is persuading; the more energy your copywriting contains, the more excitement you can generate in your audience. After all, if you're not enthusiastic about your product or service, why should anyone else be? But it's all too easy to take the "caffeinated approach" a little too far -- right over the edge of Hyperbole Cliff. Before you know it, you're coming across more as a breathless schoolgirl or crazed fanboy than as a professional representative of your profession or industry. You may also start to exhibit the oily sheen of the snake-oil salesman who will say anything to make a sale.
How do you reign yourself in just enough to express that energy without shooting down your credibility? First of all, be careful about using exclamation points. I had one web designer tell me that she never accepted exclamation points in her copywriting. While that viewpoint might sound extreme, I understood what she meant. If your content is compelling enough, it shouldn't need much of that kind of help. In particular, never use multiple exclamation points ("!!!!") or question marks ("?????"). We got the message the first time, thanks.
3. Too Soft a Sell
Nobody likes a pushy salesperson, either in person or on the page. There are certainly situations where you might need aggressive copywriting, such as a landing page where you have to make your entire pitch and then get that response right then and there. Generally, however, it's sound advice to back off a little and give your audience room to meet you halfway. Making intelligent points, backing them up, and wrapping them in the right emotions can result in many a "soft sell."
But there's such as thing as too soft a sell -- namely, the sell that doesn't sell. I've seen marketing content that was so passive as to be ineffectual, focusing so hard on not harassing the reader or appearing too forward that it failed to make its pitch. The biggest danger here is failing to state a clear call to action in an imperative voice. No matter how gently you choose to sell to your reader, at the end you must tell them exactly what they need to do right now, even if it's only signing up for your newsletter or emailing you with any questions.
You can make all three of these copywriting "improvements" work to your advantage, as long as you don't go overboard with them. Need help walking that fine line? Contact me and let a professional freelance copywriter walk it for you.