8 Reasons Why Your Copy Isn’t Selling Anything

By    Last updated October 20, 2016   Copywriting

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Bad copy kills conversion rates.


While good copy attracts lots of lovely clicks, shares, and sales!


It’s phenomenal how a few small words can double or triple sales and conversions.


I’ve been testing the copy and wording on my own websites over the last few years to see how the conversion rates changed.


Here are some of the biggest mistakes I’ve noticed along the way.



Mistake #1. It’s Not Simple Enough


Picture your product or service. Now try to distil it into a single sentence.


Now break it down again into just a few words.


It’s really hard isn’t it?


That’s why good copy is so tricky to come by. Because our instinct is to use more words. We want to tell customers everything.


Learn from Apple here. Their beautifully simple copy captures the brand and the essence of the iPhone in just four words.


The Simple iPhone4 Copy



The best copywriters spend most of their time cutting out words. Be ruthless. Get rid of any words that aren’t selling the product.


Don’t use any fancy words where a simple one will do. It’s just superfluous unnecessary.



Mistake # 2. You’re Telling Us What It does, Not WHY We Need It


How are you going to change your customer’s life? How are you going to revolutionise their world? How are you going to make things easier or better for them?


That’s the heart of persuasive copy. Don’t just describe your product, tell us why we need it in our lives.


Spotify do it so well, they don’t even need to explain the software. They just tell you why you need it.


Soundtrack Your Life



Convince and persuade us first, then tell us the details.


Advertising expert, John Caples, agrees:


“The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers so full of their own accomplishments that they forget to tell us why we should buy.”



Mistake #3: You Don’t Know Who You’re Talking To


To sell products, you need to know exactly what your target audience is thinking.


Before you start writing, figure out who’s going to read your copy. Who are you talking to?


Check out the copy for the new ‘Final Cut Pro X’ software. It’s designed specifically for professional video makers and editors.


Unprecedented Power For The Next Genration of Post



Now, if you’re not into video production, this tagline makes no sense to you. Because ‘post’ is shorthand for ‘post-production’. Only people in the industry are really familiar with it. So Final Cut instantly connects with real, professional film makers. Their target audience.


Best of all, they’re not afraid to alienate people who have no use for this product. Deciding who you don’t sell to is just as important.


It’s easy to sell to people when you know what they want.


Learn more: My five steps to defining your target audience.



Mistake #4: You’re Not Bold Enough


We live in a digital world where capturing attention is essential. Don’t be scared to go big and bold.


Doing this is sometimes risky, but you’ve got to reach out and grab people’s attention. Say something that makes your customers stop in their tracks.


The example below is one of HubSpot’s most shared blogs ever. Guess why it worked? Yep, the bold, powerful copy.


Be Bold In Your Copy



Mistake #5: You’re Not Making A Promise


Use your copy to promise us real, measurable value.


Benny Lewis’ Fluent In 3 Months course is probably the best example of promised value on the internet.


Make Promises In Your Copy



Follow his lead. Make us a promise!


I’m a big fan of Optin Monster. They build reactive email submission forms designed to increase signup rates. But just look at how many specific promises they make in their copy.


optinMonster's Promises



  1. They’ll grow your email list
  2. It takes just minutes (not hours)
  3. They’ll help you get the “highest conversion rates”
  4. You’ll get more traffic


Don’t just tell us what you do, tell us how we’ll benefit.



Mistake #6: You’re Distracting From The Sale


Your copy has ONE purpose. To sell your product.


Anything else is distracting from it.


It’s a common mistake, because we’re all trying to create something unique, funny, or clever. We all want to find a new angle. So we write longer, clever copy.


But it’s very, very hard to be funny, clever AND direct.


If you must only choose one, choose direct!


Here’s Skye’s homepage. There is literally only one thing you can do: download Skype. Nothing distracts from that one thing.


Download Skype



Mistake #7: You’re Not Providing Credibility For Your Claims


Using superlatives and blowing your own trumpet is marketing 101. By all means, tell your customers you’re the best in the game. Tell them you make the fastest or most efficient or cheapest or best product.


But if you do, give them evidence. Show your credibility.


Because we’ve seen it all before. We’ve become dismissive of products that claim to be the best.


UNLESS, you have hard facts to back it up.


Wordpress Power 24% of The Internet



WordPress can reliably tell customers it’s the biggest website-building platform on the web. Why? Because it powers a quarter of the entire internet. You can’t argue with that!


As customers, we trust testimonials and hard facts. If you’re the best, prove it.



Mistake #8: You Threw Your Headline Together In Two Minutes


"Your headline is 80c in the dollar – David Ogilvy."


This is a fantastically famous saying in the advertising world. It’s based on the statistic that 80% of people read your headlines, where only 20% continue to read the rest of your copy.


It applies to newspaper articles, blogs, Facebook adverts, billboards. Everything.


So if you’re spending a dollar on your advertising campaign, you lose 80c if your headline sucks. That’s a lot of money.


Make your headlines count. Luckily, I’ve got a blog coming up next week dedicated to writing a kick-ass headline. Stick around to find out more.



It’s so easy to treat your sales copy as an afterthought. After all, you’ve spent months creating your product, and weeks designing your website. The copy tends to get thrown together at the last minute.


Don’t blow it all with lazy wording. It’s your last chance to convince and persuade customers. Use it wisely.



Daren Low

Daren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha.com and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via and Twitter.

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