My favorite things in life are writing and watching the original masterpiece, Halloween. And today I get to combine the two!
Viewing after viewing, I'm consistently impressed by the fact that Michael Myers, the fictional psychopath of the cult classic Halloween, is able to slay so many victims without saying a single word. I'm equally perplexed at how many content marketers persuade customers to buy their product by using terrible copywriting tactics.
We don't like to shame specific businesses, but if Michael Myers were a copywriter, we'd gladly point out his creepy copywriting mistakes (that marketers are guilty of too). Here are the 9 most horrific copywriting offenses as demonstrated by the monster himself, Michael Myers.
No Value for the Reader
This is big. Copywriters should always be thinking about the customers. Sometimes we marketers get in the habit of thinking, talking, and writing about ourselves and "our" customers. Instead, try switching from third-person to second-person, utilizing "you" and "yours." Don't tell your followers why "our customers love the new product". Tell them "this is why you'll love it".
Michael Myers' Facebook Post: People are scared of me. I'm big, I wear a white-mask, a navy janitor's uniform, and I murder people for a living.
Crafting Vague Headlines
According to Copyblogger, 80% of people read headline copy but only 20% will finish the article. You can't blame them either, they're bombarded with marketing messages each day. It's your job you craft a headline that's specific and communicates value to the reader. Pack as much information as you can into a sentence, for example: "If you're on the hunt for a new office copier, download our new eBook and discover which machine fits your budget and needs" is more direct and descriptive than "Are copiers necessary?"
Michael Myers' Blog Post Headline: "I'm Michael Myers. Where are you?"
Related Article: 3 Words That Will Instantly Boost Call-to-Action Conversion Rates
Using an Improper Tone
Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it- even when it comes to copywriting. If something is said sarcastically in a serious situation, readers can be offended. Likewise, tone should fit the context. Your CTA button on your home or checkout page should have a persuasive tone, but Twitter and Facebook should remain conversational.
Michael Myers' Checkout Page CTA: Yo' @LaurieStrode! Tell me where you're at kid sis.
Incorrect Punctuation and Spelling
Nothing says "thought leader" like grammatical errors. I've seen (and unfortunately created) many social media posts with spelling and/or grammar mistakes. Which is the last thing you want to do with social posts, because for one, you instantly get bombarded with spell-checking remarks, and two, you sound less professional. And if you're tagging someone in your post, definitely get all the details before you press 'post'.
Michael Myers' Tweet: Hey @LooorieStide, I'm leeving you're friends house and coming for you. Hows babysitting going?
Too much text can hurt. Even in cases with no character limit, lengthy language can bore your reader. Our friends at Buffer created a guide listing the ideal copywriting length for everything online. They found that, although the max is 140, the ideal Tweet is 100 characters long. Facebook posts around 40 characters receive 86 percent higher engagement than lengthier posts. And when it comes to crafting the perfect email subject line, stick to 28-39 characters.
Michael Myers' Email Subject Line: If you're in the mood for the some Halloween fun, and your name is Laurie, and you're babysitting kids right now, and you're eating popcorn, and you're bummed you're not hanging out with your rebellious friends, and you're really brainy, then open this email.
Related Article: 14 Resources to Reference When Writing a Blog Post
Sometimes B2B marketers, and writers in general, can get too caught up in fancy lingo, using ornate phrases like "at the present time" instead of "now" or "we're here to facilitate the transformative framework of your intelligence-based business" instead of "we're here to help." The reader shouldn't have to break out a thesaurus or a grammar guide to understand your offering. Do the brainwork for him and simplify your words. Be conversational.
Michael Myers "About" Page: With my distinguishing psychotic characteristic, I envisage a night of titillating consternation, ultimately realizing my intention of annihilating Laurie's friends, resulting in undiscriminating bloodshed.
Forgetting to Flip Negatives into Positives
You can communicate the value of your product or service with a glass half-full or half-empty language. For example, when you're promoting a new discount, you have two ways of communication the offer: the customer is told he is "getting 50% off the sales price" or "50% extra with the new promotion" Marketers are quick to communicate the reduction, but sometimes buyers feel more upbeat about getting something for free.
Michael Myers' Promotional Copy: Special Discount: If you scream, I'll take 50% of your arms off. For a limited time only.
Using Weak Verbs and Too Many Nouns
Social media scientist and expert, Dan Zarrella, analyzed over 200,000 tweets and found that the ones with less nouns and more verbs or adverbs received higher click-through rates. I hear this from writing gurus all the time: Use strong verbs!
Michael Myers' Tweet: The dead arm is in my hand.
Never Using Numbers
Research shows that numbers stick, meaning headlines like "10 reasons to click here" resonate with readers more than "Ten reasons to click here". Don't underestimate the power of listicles. Takipi analyzed over 100 blogs to determine which headlines were shared the most. They discovered that readers prefer headlines that begin with digits rather than numerical words.
Michael Myers' Headline: Seventy-five Reasons You Should Stop Running From Me
In Michael Myers' case, the pen was not mightier than the sword. Maybe he should've spent a little time A/B testing.
You, on the other (less creepy) hand, can run a proper A/B test and start to engage potential customers. Don't let the right ones get away from you.
Now, cue the Halloween music.