Web Content Vs. Web Copy: Know the Difference

Steven Shattuck VP of Marketing, Bloomerang

Posted on March 20th 2013

Web Content Vs. Web Copy: Know the Difference

The golden age of copywriting may very well have occurred in the 1960′s, when scotch-fueled, skinny-tied mad men labored for hours over a typewriter in order to craft the perfect five-word slogan. At the dawn of the online era, copywriting’s persuasive and artful virtues were cast aside in favor of keyword stuffing and web scraping, which did more to win over the mechanical hearts of search engines rather than the true hearts of consumers.

“Just Put More Content On Your Website, You’ll Be Fine”

While there’s little doubt today that black-hat techniques do more harm than good, true copywriting has yet to make a full-fledged comeback. In fact, website content is still viewed as a commodity – something that can simply be outsourced at a large quantity and slapped onto a website, netting vast and positive search results. Why else are content marketplaces and article spinning software still so pervasive?

web content

Truth Bomb: True Marketers Don’t Produce Content

While it may seem like mere semantics, there is a stark difference between website content and website copy.

Website Content:

  • News
  • Press Releases
  • Video Transcripts
  • Product Descriptions (manufacturer)
  • Executive Summary

Contrast that with website copy, which should tell a story, explain a concept and persuade readers to action. Whereas content (while necessary) is boilerplate and mechanical, copy is built for conversion.

Website Copy:

  • On-Page Text
  • Blog Posts
  • Social Media Updates
  • Product Descriptions (original)
  • Advanced Content (white papers, eBooks, guides)

As such, marketers should espouse copy over content. Effective copywriting requires thorough research and thoughtful editing, conducted by a subject-matter expert and a professional writer. It won’t be fast or cheap, but will pay dividends.

It’s The Sales Funnel, Sillyhead

When you draw a distinction between copy and content in this manner, you can see that they correlate directly to the structure of the inbound marketing funnel. Web copy is inherently top-of-the-funnel; built to generate leads, while web content builds trust after a prospect familiarizes themselves with your brand, and should be employed near the end of the sales cycle (bottom-of-the-funnel).

Don’t flip your funnel! Boilerplate web content is ineffective at converting website visitors, period. They should instead be greeted with thoughtful, original and creative copy that speaks to them at a personal level.

Copywriting should be laborious and painstaking (typewriter and scotch optional) but when your finished product comes to life and wows your reader, you’ll be thankful for the effort. Long live copy!


Steven Shattuck

VP of Marketing, Bloomerang

Steven Shattuck is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.

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Posted on March 20th 2013 at 10:04PM

Great way to sum it up Steven. I would fear the day the web is overcome with just "Content". Just recycled content getting sharred over and over again. If we don't have "Copy" this internet thing gets stale fast! I'm going to go get my scotch now.

Posted on March 21st 2013 at 2:16PM

Agreed. My fear is that we are approaching a content bubble - consumers are becoming highly aware that they are being marketed too and may become desensitized to all content with thinly veiled commercial intent (infographics, interactives, videos, etc.).

Posted on March 21st 2013 at 4:17PM

I agree that there's a lot of lame copywriting, but disagree with your distinction between web content and web copywriting. I would argue that it's all content. Sure, some types of content are more compelling tha others, but it should all be imbued with good storytelling and strong copywriting, even the directional text and confirmation and error messages. 

Posted on March 22nd 2013 at 1:55PM

Completely agree!

The Contenteer
Posted on March 20th 2014 at 1:19PM

I agree with Carmen's comment. It seems your definitions here are rather confused, and confusing! Just to clarify here, you have included 'Advanced Content' such as ebooks, whitepapers etc in your list of website copy.

I agree copy is made for conversion, but I can't agree that content is 'boilerplate' and 'mechanical'. This is a ludicrous statement. 

Also, your statement 'As such, marketers should espouse copy over content'.

...In my opinion a marketer worth his weight would use the correct technique to fit the job in hand, not spend time blogging about which is the best method overall - this is irrelevant and a simple waste of time.