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I’m Courtney Fanning the copywriting and brand strategy brains behind Big Picture. I use my literal master’s in selling stories to help 1:1 clients and DIY students write purpose-driven copy that sells and scales. 

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Written by Courtney
Copywriting & brand strategy brains behind Big Picture.

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It’s a common mistake to assume that once your website copy is written (either by a professional copywriter or DIY) anything less than a windfall of new leads and customers means your copy is ineffective. However, you might actually have a marketing problem, not a copy problem. So how do you tell if you have a problem with your website copy or your marketing—or both?

In this post, you’ll learn how to diagnose your problems to tell if it’s your website’s words or how you’re funneling people to your site, and how to fix issues with both without tearing everything down and starting from scratch. 

The Four Stages Of Marketing (And Why They Matter For Your Copy) 

The four stages of marketing are:

1) Awareness

  • This stage focuses on making people aware that you and your offers exist. Your marketing efforts aim to capture attention and generate interest through various channels like advertising, social media, and content marketing (blogging).
  • The Awareness stage is crucial because your copy can’t do its job unless you invest in marketing activities that funnel people to your site.

2) Consideration

  • In this stage of the funnel, people are aware you exist and are engaging with your copy or content, evaluating your product or services. Your marketing strategies at this point should provide detailed information, explain how you’re different from market competitors, and help your audience understand your value and the benefits or your solution. Copywriting and content marketing are the primary tactics used to engage your audience.

3) Conversion

  • This is the stage where your audience decides to take the action you’ve laid out for them (inquire, buy, subscribe, join) or not. Marketing, copy, and user experience (UX) efforts here are geared towards reducing friction during the inquiry or checkout process and de-risking the purchase or inquiry using tactics like social proof, sales psychology, promotions, discounts, and personalized offers to encourage final buying decisions.

4) Loyalty

  • After someone becomes a client or customer, your goal shifts to retaining “your people” and building a long-term relationship with them. Your marketing strategies might include follow-up communication, gifts, loyalty programs, personalized recommendations, and excellent customer service to encourage repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.

Your Marketing Goals

Marketing encompasses the activities and channels used to deliver your copy to the right audience or drive/funnel them to your platforms where they can consume your copy. Diversifying your marketing (a.k.a. not relying on one app or platform for all your marketing) will increase your visibility, reach, and audience engagement.

Think of your Marketing Mix as tactics that fall into four buckets:

  1. Search (SEO, blogging, Pinterest, podcasts)
  2. Social (social media)
  3. Relationship (networking and community)
  4. Paid (ads, sponsorships, paid content, trade fairs)

Your Copywriting Goals

Copywriting is a sales and marketing tactic that uses compelling messaging to inform you about a problem you may or may not have known you have, and then persuade you to take a specific action to solve the problem. The end goal can be to persuade you to buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, book a discovery call, or download an app.

Website copywriting lives in the Consideration Stage, once your other marketing tactics have driven them to click over to your site.

(SEO-optimized copy can help you get found in search results, which falls in the Awareness Stage and a particularly juicy social post can go viral and bring people into the Awareness Stage, but you cannot rely on one keyword or once lucky social post for your marketing needs.) 

The Low-Traffic Problem 

I repeat: Your copy can’t do its job unless you invest in marketing activities that funnel people to your site. But most businesses aren’t doing enough marketing to generate enough data to draw meaningful conclusions about their website, in general.

If you’re not driving a significant number of visitors to your site, via marketing activities, consistently, then you will need to wait and accumulate data over a longer period of time.

What about SEO? Shouldn’t your SEO-optimized copy attract people to your site? SEO is one piece of a very intricate puzzle. You need to diversify your marketing efforts to include search, social, relationship, and paid marketing channels to cover your bases. 

If you’re successfully driving a significant number of visitors to your website through your marketing activities, and you’re not getting the results you want here’s how to determine if your copy or marketing is the root of the problem.

Signs Your Copy Is Ineffective

Poor engagement metrics

If your audience isn’t engaging with your copy—clicking buttons, scrolling past 50%, filling out contact forms, subscribing to newsletters, adding products to their cart—it might be a sign that your copy isn’t resonating or compelling enough to move your readers toward action.

Low conversion rates despite high traffic*

If people are visiting your site but not converting, your copy may not be persuasive or clear enough.

*There isn’t a magic number or range for ideal website visits before measurement. I feel like you need at least 1,000 website or marketing page visitors before any meaningful patterns emerge, but you might be comfortable with 100. It’s up to you.  

Signs Your Marketing Is Ineffective

Traffic generation struggles

If you’re not getting enough visitors to your site, your marketing efforts might not be effective in reaching your target audience.

High bounce rates and low time on page

If visitors are leaving your site quickly, your marketing might be attracting the wrong audience, therefore your site might not be delivering the content or offers they expected.

Signs Both Your Marketing And Copy Might Be the Issue

Poor lead quality

If the wrong type of prospect lands on your site and converts, but they are not a good fit for your offers or services, your copy might not be clear enough to weed out the qualities and expectations not suited to your business.

It ALSO might mean you’re marketing in the wrong places. Every platform and channel caters to different audiences—different ages, interests, income levels, and buying intentions. If you’re fishing in the wrong pond, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the gold-standard fishing pole, you’ll keep reeling in guppies.

Assessing Your Key Copy & Marketing Metrics (And Fixing What’s Broken)

Data-driven insights can help you optimize your marketing efforts for better results, but if you don’t know what to do with your data, or what it means, you’re DOA. Here are the metrics I look at when reviewing copy for potential copy refreshes with my clients:

Click-through rates (CTR)

A low CTR can indicate your headlines or calls-to-action (CTAs) aren’t compelling enough. Try A/B testing different versions of your copy to discover which messaging resonates best with your audience.

Customer journey mapping

Understanding how users navigate your site can reveal where they drop off and why. You can do this inside Google Analytics to analyze where your traffic is coming from, and which channels are ushering in visitors who are clicking around your site and converting. You can also see where people are bouncing off your site, and try to draw conclusions about what information they came looking for that they didn’t find.

🔥📈Hot Jar

One of my favorite interactive analytics tools is Hot Jar’s screen recording feature. You can watch individual users’ sessions (kinda’ creepy, but their identity is private) and see where they stop scrolling to read a catchy headline or attempt to click an image, thinking it’s a link.

If you’re a visual person who struggles to make sense of Google Analytics’ text-based dashboards, Hot Jar lets you see the data in a whole new way.

Target audience segmentation

Not all traffic is the same. Tailoring your marketing efforts to specific segments of your audience ensures more relevant and effective campaigns. 

When it comes to your website copy, quickly giving people the opportunity to self-select the offers and solutions they’re into allows you to direct them to pages written to address their specific needs. If your homepage doesn’t do this, grab my Homepage Hero Copy Template and I’ll show you exactly how to set this up. 

(P.S. I also use Kit (formerly Convertkit) to tag users inside my Email Welcome Sequence and send marketing and promo emails to fit the business owner’s stage.)

Audience engagement and conversions

Incorporating more social proof (testimonials, case studies, certifications, education, etc.) can increase audience trust and lead to more conversions. Many businesses use VideoAsk and Bonjoro to digitally reach out to page visitors and start a text or video conversation. This high-touch customer engagement tactic personalizes your visitor’s website experience and gives them the opportunity to ask the questions they have that might be holding them back from converting.  

Diagnosing issues in your copy and marketing is essential for success. By understanding the signs and metrics, crafting compelling messages, and optimizing your strategies, you can enhance both your copy and your marketing efforts. Take action today to ensure your business thrives.

Concluding Caveat: People Are Fallible and Illogical

Sometimes people are so distracted and rushed that they will buy something before they really understand what it is. And they will fill out your contact form without checking your services page and pricing. Some people will see your pricing and assume it’s negotiable, or that you’ll work something out…or take pity on them and do the work for free. (I might be speaking from experience, but I’m not the only one.) 

Sometimes you just have to keep tweaking and iterating both your marketing and your copy until things start making sense. Often the two issues are intertwined and improving one, will improve the other as well. 

✏️When you’re ready to hire a freelance copywriter…

BRAND MESSAGING – A 4-day brand strategy intensive to help you dial in your brand and your messaging.

WEBSITE COPYWRITING – Let me articulate your brand story, co-create your brand messaging, and translate it into powerful web copy that converts.

SALES PAGE COPY – Long-form sales page copy that moves people to buy your courses and offers without giving them (and you) the ick.

COPY TUNE-UP + EDITING – Perfect for the DIYer on a budget. Button up your copy with a professional diagnosis and copy edits before hitting publish.


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