Online Copywriting. Copy and Content: Any Difference?

By: Oleg Ishenko

People generally consider content and copy as two different entities. Well, it is true: they do have two different purposes. The purpose of content is to provide information of some subject. Content can be encyclopedia articles, long descriptive text, tutorials or even pictures and media (as non-textual content). The purpose of copy, however, is more incentive in nature. Although in some cases copy can resemble content; its primary objective is engaging people to take action. Making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, following a link or adding a page to bookmarks – whatever you want your visitor to do. So, while content informs, copy motivates.

But if you take a look at content and copy in terms of conversion, the differences start fading away. No matter what you are going to create – a sales letter or a long article, all the words must contribute to the persuasive process. That is, in the eyes of a visitor all content is a copy and all copy is content.

In case your aim is making a visitor simply click an AdSense or an affiliate link – an incentive copy is enough. But if you are serious about selling your own product or service, or even more important, making further sales to the same person (creating a repeated customer) – you have to find a proper balance between short motivating copy and informative content.

Consider an example of an online mortgage application service. When first arriving to the site your prospect customer is in the search for answers to the key questions in his mind: 'Am I in the right place? What should I do?' Here the frontpage copy has to do its job by engaging the visitor to go deeper. And the conditions of eligibility, which are the informative content, have to be at least equally incentive in order to capture the visitor's attention and eventually motivate him to submit an application. Therefore, even such content as loan eligibility has to be written observing the core rules of copywriting which concern the usability, performance and motivation.

Copy and content must complement each other. There is no much use in a brilliant copy if it is accompanied by poor content which disappoints visitors. Same is right the other way around – a juicy, magical content will not do its job half as well if it is presented by a meaningless and vague copy.

Thus, so far there have been historical and organizational differences between the creation of copy and content. But these differences simply reflect the flaws in the persuasive and conversion processes. It is high time that you should break the barriers for the sake of the improved user experience and the success of your online business.

References:

Eisenberg, B., Eisenberg, J., Davis, L.T. 'Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank'. Wizard Academy Press, 2005, Austin, TX.

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