Web Content vs. Web Copy – what’s the difference and which is the best for your website?

Do you have a website that despite being a thing of beauty born out of hours, days, weeks of effort and careful planning is failing to live up to expectations?

It could be your content – and your copy. As web developers and optimisers, we can’t do our job without having something to put on the pages we’re building – in other words, content. And it’s one of the hardest and most time consuming parts of a web development project. This is understandable, because quality content is hard work for most people who don’t do it for a living.

Although it may seem like splitting hairs, if you understand the difference between ‘content’ and ‘copy’, it can make the whole process simpler and faster.

Content vs Copy So what is the difference?

It’s easy to be confused. Content is often used to mean everything on a site – text, images, audio and video. Copy is often used to mean all written material.

So this is our take on it. Content tends to be factual information and include:

  • Product use instructions
  • FAQ’s (though if carefully written you can include copy in your answers)
  • News items and press releases
  • Manufacturers specifications
  • Blogs

Good content will solve a problem, answer a question and add value.

Content informs, educates or entertains.

Copy, on the other hand has to persuade the reader to take some kind of action or change the way they think. It has to motivate them to do something. Right then and there.

Copy will appear:

  • On your homepage
  • In calls to action
  • On Services, About Us and Landing pages

There is a nice simple saying that goes “Content tells, copy sells”.

Which is more important?

People go through a series of steps when buying. They don’t just suddenly buy something without doing some research and making decisions.

From a sales perspective , the process is known as the sales funnel and it includes four key steps:

  1. Lead generation or attraction
  2. Opportunity identification, familiarisation and building trust
  3. Engagement - nurturing the lead or prospect, overcoming objections
  4. Conversion – i.e. the sale

Content and copy support different steps in this process, and because people go through all the steps, then if you fail at any one you won’t get the sale. So – they both have a role to play. You need both.

How to create great content and persuasive copy

Although many content marketers might object - content, in my view, is easier to create than copy.

It is relatively easy to write a step by step instruction on how to do something. I say relatively, because it still needs to be clear, articulate and well structured.

But it takes a particular skill to write in a way that tells a story that can change people’s mind and persuade them to take action.

As our associate Cara from Copy Carats explains:

"Back in the day, there were ‘hunters’ and ‘farmers’ when it came to sales. While we live in an age where people (78-97%) research online before they reach a decision, it’s still a very human process.

We’re motivated by the same elements we always have been; saving time and /or money are key drivers of course… but fundamentally our feelings drive sales and that’s what good copy taps into.

Think about any recent purchase you’ve made… I guarantee price was only a part of your decision… What really drives us is value. “I get more for my money”, “this will be easier to use”, “it’s less likely to fail me”, “I deserve it”, etc.

These days, understanding your buyer’s aspirations has never been easier – we have detailed data and statistics that gives us unrivalled insights into what turns our prospect on and off, in the online world.

Where content is your online ‘farmer’; copy is your online ‘hunter’. Good copy speaks to the nerve centre of the buyer - soothing or exciting, rationalising or indulging, inspiring or resolving their future aspirations.

A good copywriter knows how to tap into that human psyche and make your value not just explicit, but compelling… and that’s what closes sales."

How’s yours?

When reviewing a website, particularly from a conversion perspective, it more common to find that the copy is either poorly written or it is absent all together.

So if your website looks good, has plenty of content, and gets visits but no sales - then you probably need help with your sales copy.

If a website does not rank well in the search engines, gets few visits and/or low engagement rates, then a lack of content could be a contributing factor. Fortunately there’s a way forward, and that is to get an expert to help you sort your website.

So if you want your website to do more and need help with your content or copy get in touch.

Image: Just2shutter via FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Client words...

Thanks so much for your audit. It's really valuable in that you have targeted the very things that I have neglected- i.e. case studies and proof of professionalism. Also that I should be focusing on keeping existing clients revisiting the site - an area for further work.

K Browne