Copywriting and content writing follow different guidelines and it’s important to be able to make the distinction — especially if your role requires you to evaluate copy and content. So, the distinction matters. Here are some guidelines to keep it sorted.
- In its strictest definition, the objective of content is to inform, explain or entertain the reader. The writer exercises his/her skills to craft messages in a way that the reader will understand it.
- Credibility, accuracy and authenticity are crucial to creating content (much like they are in journalism).
- Content was traditionally meant to endure, and therefore took the form of books, trade publications, magazines, and white papers.
- Personality, authenticity, and credibility are essential to effective content creation.
- The true purpose of content is to present facts, features or ideas. While these ideas may be persuasive, selling isn’t the primary objective.
- Effective content connects with reader, gets them thinking, or leaves them with a satisfying feeling of having read something that affects or affirms their worldview.
- Again, looking at the strictest definition, copy is text written to sell, market, raise awareness, or in its most generic sense, advertise. A copywriter’s craft is to position and sell the benefits of a product or service.
- Copy is meant to last in the mind of the audience, to change perception and behavior.
- Copywriting is about the relationship between the customer (or target audience), the benefits of the product (or service) and the company that provides it.
- At its best, well-crafted copy engages the reader emotionally, tapping in to their needs and leads them to the conclusion that those needs can be best addressed by the products/services provided.
- In order to effectively generate a response, calls-to-action need to be included. The reader needs to be told what to do.
Why It Matters
The ability to distinguish between content and copy is a crucial skill for writing in the digital world. There are situations that require factual, informative text devoid of the sales pitch or persuasive marketing voice. Other situations demand the benefit-driven text crafted to resonate with the customer’s needs, compelling them to action,making the ability to distinguish between content and copy crucial in the digital world.
And though it’s all writing in one form or another, there are different skills required for each. Just as different writers have varying abilities to switch between brand voices, not all copywriters can switch off the marketing voice in order to craft effective content. Switching from the voice of a content writer to that of a marketing writer is equally as challenging. The language used in much marketing copy today often defies the rules learned in the academic world in order to emphasize a point, focus attention or engage the imagination of the reader and ultimately make a sale.
The question of whether copy or content is appropriate is answered best by simply considering the objective of the communication. Both are valid and effective tools in the writer’s toolbox. The real trick is to be able to assess the situation and deploy the appropriate skills to achieve the objective.