Copy Or Content? 2 Keys To Understand The Difference (And How To Use Them To Build Your Content Strategy)

When you don’t understand the difference between copy and content, it gets hard to develop a strong brand message and a content strategy to drive relevant traffic to your website and get your readers to buy from you.

You may find yourself with a less than stellar social media presence, writing blog posts no one reads, and hearing crickets in your inbox.

The first step to your strategy is to figure out what you should be writing in the first place. Are you selling or engaging?

Is it copy or content?

Once you define a purpose for all your business writing, your ideas and your product will start to make sense to your audience. And you’ll position yourself as someone they can’t afford not to do business with.

But What Is Copy?

Both copy and content play a key role in your company’s messaging strategy, but in very different ways:

In marketing, copywriting is a style of writing designed to guide people towards a specific action. This includes social media bios, landing pages, most of the company website, pitch decks, sales pages, catchphrases, elevator pitches, and every form of communication meant to trigger a sale.

Content is almost everything a brand shares with its audience. From blog posts to stories, social media captions, videos, whitepapers, lead magnets, and even live streams are forms of content. Unless they’re used as a sales pitch: Then they turn into copy.

Great Copy Turns Readers Into Buyers

Then how do I know if it’s copy or content?

Content overarches copy, so the lines are blurred in many cases.

But in general lines, copy is written exclusively to drive your audience to an action.

And content is meant to be informative. It is a resource you’re making for your audience.

Copy is almost always the piece of content on your website that stays consistent all the time. A landing page, a social media bio, product descriptions, an elevator pitch… You need to make sure your website is always up to date, but you’ll rarely rewrite it.

Remember Steve Jobs? Yeah, that one. When he launched the iPod Nano, he didn’t list the product features. He told you the reason why the iPod mattered: He famously said, “Imagine a thousand songs in your pocket.”

Let’s take a look at the fact: The iPod Nano had 4GB of storage capacity, which is roughly one thousand songs worth of storage.

But that sounds boring. Saying that doesn’t really give you a clear picture of why you should care.

What this seemingly simple line did was put the focus on the user instead of the company. Suddenly, you weren’t talking about the iPod’s storage: You were dreaming of having one thousand songs in your pocket. Just like that.

Your reader (or viewer) is the hero of their story. By placing the emphasis of your products on how they make your hero’s life better, you’re supporting their narrative instead of colliding with it. And in doing so, your reader turns to buyer because it clicks in their mind that you’re there to help them succeed.

That’s what great copy does.

Great Content Connects You With Your Audience

On the other hand, content is generally everything that you share on a regular basis. Blog posts, videos, post captions, whitepapers, and more.

Content serves a number of purposes:

  • Consistently great content gives you authority: When you share valuable information with your audience on a regular basis, they trust you. You establish your credibility and nurture a solid “fan base.”
  • You build a relationship with your followers: In posting consistently, your readers or viewers learn what to expect from you, come back regularly to check for more, and warm up to your brand.
  • Your regular posts improve your visibility: Post high-quality content on your blog (or channel of choice) regularly and you will surely see a steady increase in views. Note that organic traffic and growth is a long game and takes work to get going.

A solid content strategy includes a lot more than blog posts or social media captions. With the right approach, you can grow a loyal audience that’s looking forward to hearing from you on a regular basis.

When you don’t understand the line between copy and content, your messaging gets blurred, your marketing becomes confusing, and you end up working with the wrong goals in mind.

When you’ve set a clear goal, your messaging and your content strategy work together to help you establish authority, connect with your audience effectively, and boost your sales.

Ready to write content your readers will actually want to read? Check out our video for 3 steps to engaging website content.

Copy that?
Eliana Ifill,
Lead copywriter

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