Copywriting and Content: Similar, but not the same

Many professionals in our industry use “copy” and “content” interchangeably. While we might not make a distinction, they are different.

I need a content strategy stat! (psst, what is that again?)

As a former copywriter, I would get blank stares when I’d say to a client, “If you give me the content I can write copy.” While copy is content, it alone is not content strategy.

Content strategy is the act of ensuring that all of the online content you are producing—copy, graphics, photography, videos—is being shared on the right platforms and targeting the right audiences. Not sure if you’ve got a strategy? Consider the following questions:

  • If you have a website and you’re maintaining a blog and sending email, have you stopped to think about what you’re saying and to whom?
  • Do you know who is most likely to purchase your product or service? Are you speaking to them?
  • Do the messages you’re conveying track back to one of your business objectives?

If you answered “No” to most of them, you don’t have a strategy. You may have some pretty compelling copy though, which is a good place to start.

Copywriting is the actual text that engages or informs.

What you say and how you say it are of equal importance when trying to establish an online identity. Tone and voice should be consistent across your site as well as across mediums. Copy should work with images, graphics and videos to create a brand for your product or service that is recognizable and memorable.

Incorporate your brand into copy when and where it makes sense. For example, if you’re a whimsical brand, feel free to be fun and less formal in your messaging. Just be mindful of complicating the user experience with cute and quirky references when trying to help a user accomplish a task. There are best practices for the instructional text in drop-down menus and in form fields for a reason. Be clear and concise and use familiar wording in these situations to get the user to your call-to-action.

Keep SEO in mind.

While search terms and keywords should be kept in mind when developing copy for the web, organic content tends to appeal to both people and search engines. In fact, the most recent Google search algorithm rewards conversational copy over the old keyword stuffing practices. What this means is that the SEO rules have not really changed. If you’ve been producing original, quality content then keep up the good work!

Alexa Seretti is the Director of Interactive and Content Strategy at Flying Cork. She is a former copywriter and content strategist who has worked with clients such as UPMC, PNC and Nationwide Insurance.