The golden age of copywriting may very well have occurred in the 1960’s when scotch-fueled, skinny-tied mad men labored for hours over a typewriter in order to craft the perfect five-word slogan. At the dawn of the online era, copywriting’s persuasive and artful virtues were cast aside in favor of keyword stuffing and web scraping, which did more to win over the mechanical hearts of search engines rather than the true hearts of consumers.
“Just Put More Content On Your Website, You’ll Be Fine”
While there’s little doubt today that black-hat techniques do more harm than good, true copywriting has yet to make a full-fledged comeback. In fact, website content is still viewed as a commodity – something that can simply be outsourced at a large quantity and slapped onto a website, netting vast and positive search results. Why else are content marketplaces and article spinning software still so pervasive?
It is obvious to anyone with some knowledge about digital marketing that content and copy is not the same thing. The web content Vs. Web copy debate has been going on for years now. If you ask marketing experts if it really matters, the answer will mostly be yes. While content marketing is a powerful way of pushing your business to growth and success, copywriting is a form of fine art that can be effectively used to engage people and encourage them into performing specific action.
Understanding the difference between the two is important as it can help in defining your market in vivid detail. It can also help marketers in other areas such as identifying growth priorities and hiring people with the right talents to achieve their goals.
An old-school definition:
Web copy is created by using creative words and sentences aimed at engaging people and encouraging them to take some predetermined action. Web copy content has a single aim – of driving people to click through, sign up, fill out an online form, register or make a purchase. It acts as a guiding light, helping people find their way through your website, and providing them the information they have come in search of.
The web copy must be enticing enough to grab the attention of visitors to your website quickly and make sure that they stick around. The content must sell your brand to them. It obviously means that the core function of a web copy is to sell.
On the other hand web content is the content found on your website in any form. Web content constitutes all the writing on your website and web pages. The core purpose is to provide information and enlighten people about your website and business.
The key difference between web copy and web content is that the latter is not used for any promotional or selling purpose. Web pages simply provide insights and create value for your business. High quality and informative web pages can help you gain the respect and loyalty of your customers and achieve your goal of building long term relationships with your targeted audience.
Web content also include content in other forms apart from the written word. Well-crafted web content will also have images, videos, and podcasts to support the text form and make the whole page more attractive, impactful and valuable. If it is information posted to provide your audience the data they are looking for, then such information can be categorized as web content. It follows that information-sharing is a prelude to educating your audience and gaining their trust.
At the same time, it also helps you create a bond with your targeted audience that can help you sell your products and/or services. Web content can help your organization earn profit in the long term although it must be borne in mind that selling, promoting, and creating sales opportunities are not the intended end goals of web content.
Web content can help businesses attract new customers from diverse markets to their business through a process of creating posts that are informative, interesting, and valuable. Web content that provides answers to the most pressing queries that some potential buyers and customers might have can do wonders to your traffic. At the same time, consistency is the key factor. Be consistent in delivering valuable and highly informative content to your readers and visitors and you can be sure that your business will take huge positive strides in the right direction.
Truth Bomb: True Marketers Don’t Produce Content
While it may seem like mere semantics, there is a stark difference between website content and website copy. Let’s take a closer look at what is web content.
The statement ‘Content is King’ may appear clichéd but the simple truth is that content is at the core of any marketing strategy. Web content is the key reason why your visitors view the pages you have developed and share it with others using social media, website links and other modes. Web content can be in the form of website text, images, audio files, videos and more.
- Press Releases
- Video Transcripts
- Product Descriptions (manufacturer)
- Executive Summary
Contrast that with website copy, which should tell a story, explain a concept and persuade readers to action. Whereas content (while necessary) is boilerplate and mechanical, copy is built for conversion.
A closer view of what is web copy is needed to fully understand the differentiating factors.
The web copy must be conceived and designed to reassure the visitor about your product or service and convince them to take a specific action such as subscribing to your newsletter or buying one of your products/services. It is crucial to develop a copy that provides vital information that your potential buyers are looking for. The web copy creates exposure for your brand by using the right text.
- On-Page Text
- Blog Posts
- Social Media Updates
- Product Descriptions (original)
- Advanced Content (white papers, eBooks, guides)
As such, marketers should espouse copy over content. Effective copywriting requires thorough research and thoughtful editing, conducted by a subject-matter expert and a professional writer. It won’t be fast or cheap, but will pay dividends.
It’s The Sales Funnel, Sillyhead
When you draw a distinction between copy and content in this manner, you can see that they correlate directly to the structure of the inbound marketing funnel. Web copy is inherently top-of-the-funnel; built to generate leads, while web content builds trust after a prospect familiarizes themselves with your brand, and should be employed near the end of the sales cycle (bottom-of-the-funnel).
Don’t flip your funnel! Boilerplate web content is ineffective at converting website visitors, period. They should instead be greeted with thoughtful, original and creative copy that speaks to them at a personal level.
Copywriting should be laborious and painstaking (typewriter and scotch optional) but when your finished product comes to life and wows your reader, you’ll be thankful for the effort. Long live copy!