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Is Content Better Than Copy

We explore the symbiotic relationship between the sales copy of your website and the ongoing content programme in the online marketing mix to achieve maximum sales.

Some say that Content is the new Copy.
Some say that Content is superior to Copy.
Some say that Content is the new missing piece of the puzzle.

Whatever this Content animal is, the truth is that it has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years – in fact probably as long as copy has been around. So, I think the first step to understand the difference between the two is to dispel the idea that content is something new. It’s as old as Adam – we just have a new name for it.

While this might sound like a flippant statement, I am perfectly sincere in my intention of bringing a little sanity and clarity to this new enigma that is on everyone’s lips these days.

While they are both older than grandma, there is indeed a distinct difference between web copy and web content. And, when they’re used correctly and sanely, they can be very powerful partners in your marketing arsenal.

I found a great quote from Elizabeth Campbell that differentiates the two rather nicely:

Copy sells and content tells.

Copy sells and content tells. #ContentMarketing #WebCopy Click To Tweet

Web Copy: It’s All About You

When it comes to copy, the basic argument revolves around the idea that copy is what you would expect to find on a corporate website or a corporate brochure. It comes down to you, the brand, doing all the talking, while the customer does all the listening. This is the classic broadcast model of communicating to your customers.

Web copy is all about how well you describe your product or service. It is perfectly manicured, it carefully includes all the relevant USPs and it articulates the benefits of using the product or service as simply and as effectively as possible. It is designed with calls to action and other prompts to get the customer to respond positively.

Sounds Terrible?

Actually not. If you are looking to buy something and want to be sold to, or if you are looking for solid information in order to make a decision, then this might be perfect for you.

For example, I was recently looking to find a B&B and found myself trawling through hundreds of property pages on AirB&B, looking at the pictures, reading the list of facilities, looking at the maps, etc. To my surprise, in many cases I found myself frustrated at not having enough “copy”, not enough information from the seller, including not enough pictures to show me more about the property.

In this case, I wanted to be sold to and found myself lacking crucial copy/information that I needed and wanted in order to make a purchasing decision.

Content: It’s All About your Readership

Content, on the other hand, is seen as less about the products and more about helping and working with your readership. It is based more on discovering what your prospects want or are looking for and then providing the type of content that is useful and engaging: to help them with their problems, their issues, their pains and/or inspire them in their dreams.

While there are very clever types of content marketing out there, a very simple example is something we did for a client of ours, Rare Pink. They sell engagement rings and, while they have lots of hardcore sales copy about how great their diamond rings are, we created a whole section on their site called Rare Pink University, where we wrote and created a rather comprehensive guide where we explained to their readers everything they wanted and needed to know about choosing and buying a diamond.

Look at just one example from the Rare Pink University: Engagement Ring Styles and Settings. As you can see, it does very little selling but lots of telling, and has some helpful and informative visual support.

Rare Pink

Article about engagement ring styles and settings that we wrote for Rare Pink.

For another client, Prestige Holidays, who create tailor-made holidays around the world, we created a different type of guide. The first was based on keyword research that told us that many people were looking for ideas and inspirations for a holiday for specific months of the year. We found a lot of people were going into Google to search for phrases such as “where to holiday in June” or “holiday ideas for September”.

So, for this client, we created a content strategy in the form of a mini blog in the voice of their Managing Director, who shared with his readers which destinations were the best places to visit in each month of the year.

Where When Page for Prestige Holidays

The ‘Home Page’ of the When & Where blog that we created for Prestige Holidays.

Whereas #webcopy is all about you, #content is all about your audience. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Is Content What Gets People to Want to Read your Copy?

Like most things in life, the answer to a question such as “is content better than copy” is not a matter of yes or no.

In fact, I think that in order to really succeed, we do indeed need both, but, maybe it is more useful to think in terms of content being one of the primary drivers of traffic while copy could be seen as the converter of that traffic.

For example, if you have a content strategy that works, one of the important outcomes is that some readers will come back for more, thus generating repeat visits; some of them might like the content enough to share it around the internet, thus generating new visitors to your site.

However, once those people are on your site and looking at one of your important Landing Pages, it is the job of the copy to massage the call to action, the enquiry and the sale.

In order to succeed, we need both copy AND content. #WebCopy #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

For those content purists who might be inclined at this point to jump down my throat, yes, I agree that if you define content in its more pure form, you could argue that content should possibly also be the converting mechanism in its own right, and that copy might be completely redundant in the new order. But just like the concept of the paperless office is more a yellow brick road on the quest to Oz than a reality in today’s offices around the world, my content to copy vector approach tends to be one that is more practical at this point and, according to my clients, seems to be delivering good enquiries, good phone calls and good online sales.

And this makes them money.
And surely that is the point of either or both of them?




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