Depending on who you ask, copy and content are considered two totally distinct entities, or they are considered close cousins.
Some draw a clear distinction, describing Copy as “The Persuader” and Content as “The Informer.”
Sales letters are copy. White papers, user manuals, encyclopedias and reports are content. Some would never put the two in the same discussion room together! Not doing so, I believe, puts you at a distinct disadvantage.
On nearly all internet marketing websites, copy is the motivator and call to action for whatever is being offered for sale, and the content describes whatever it is that is being sold.
On successful websites, both copy and content are used as effective tools in the persuasive process. Both are used to build and enhance the quality of the user experience. Quality copy will answer the prospect’s question of whether they’re at the right site; whether you have the answer to the “What’s in it for me?” with your product, or raise their level of curiosity to entice them to dig a little deeper, where they will determine that “Yes, this product IS for me.”
In digging a little deeper, quality content will provide your prospect the right information, at the right time, and in the right way to increase his interest and motivation. Both will build the call to action to its final intended conclusion… a sale.
As you can see, while copy and content are not the same, they are closely intertwined.
So why even discuss it? Because not knowing the difference can kill your chances of creating a successful website. If you want to attract success… that is if you want to bring someone to your site to buy your stuff, you need the right pitch.. copy… that opens the door, invites them in, and creates an experience he likes and trusts.
Once inside, he wants to know about what he’s getting… content… in a format that gives him all the information he needs in a manner that’s clear, concise and convincing.
If you’re going to the store to buy a new vacuum cleaner, the salesperson will undoubtedly give you the highlights of all the advantages (copy) of buying Brand X. And, you (if you’re like me) will have lots of questions about how it compares to other vacuums in price, performance, special features and overall reliability.
Then you’ll want to know how good the warranty is (content). Before you buy, you’ll need both the copy and content to convince you that this purchase is right for you. However, if your salesperson doesn’t describe the advantages of this particular vacuum well (sell the copy), you may not buy.
Or if your salesperson drones on and on about where the vacuum cleaner is made, or the robots that put the pieces together, or provides other “content” that is either irrelevant or doesn’t answer your specific questions, you also may not buy this particular vacuum. You may walk out of the store and right down the street to the next store selling vacuum cleaners. No sale.
Once again, ask yourself who you really want to visit your website? Is it safe to say you want to attract people with the money, authority and desire to buy your product? If so, here are a couple of keys to doing just that.
Have quality copy and content — clear, compelling, persuasive all the way through. A process that puts the copy and content together to provide the best customer experience possible… the right incentive… the right amount of the right information for the product… and the simplest methods of closure on this sale. The right copy and content to create the incentive to take the first call to action… and return again and again.