From a traditional marketing standpoint, the answer to the question in the headline above is simple.
Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers — and customers into repeat buyers.
Copywriting gets a reader to take a specific action. Sometimes that’s making a purchase, but it can also be subscribing to your email list, signing up for your content library, or calling you for more information.
Content marketing is blogs, podcasts, and email autoresponders.
Copywriting is sales pages, ads, and direct mail.
Two different critters, right?
Well, not if you’re doing it right.
Content without copywriting is a waste of good content
There are some blogs out there with seriously good content — and only a few readers. (Maybe yours is one of them.)
If you’re writing great articles that people would love to read, but you’re not getting the traffic you want, the problem may be ineffective copywriting:
- Your headlines might be too dull. When your headlines are boring, they don’t give people any reason to click through to the rest of your writing.
- Your headlines might be too cute and clever. If this is the case, you’re simply showing how smart you are without communicating any reader benefits. If your headlines are too dull or too clever, learn how to write magnetic headlines.
- You haven’t explicitly thought about how your content benefits readers. Just like a product has to have a benefit to the buyer, your content has to be inherently rewarding to readers or they won’t come back to your website.
- Your content isn’t building any rapport or trust. You can always get social media attention by being a brat, a pest, or a train wreck, but attention doesn’t translate into subscribers or customers.
- You haven’t leveraged any social proof. It’s tricky to show readers your blog is a cool place to hang out when you don’t have lots of readers yet, but we have a few tips for you.
- You don’t have a clear, specific call to action. A call to action lets people know what you want them to do next.
Remember, copywriting is the art of convincing your reader to take a specific action. And yes, it’s still copywriting if it takes place in a podcast or video … if you’re doing it well.
The thoughtful use of copywriting techniques on your blog will get readers to subscribe to your content, opt in to your email list, and share your great articles with other readers. That’s how you build a large, loyal audience.
Copywriting without content is a waste of good copy
So, is copywriting everything? Will the effective use of copywriting techniques propel you automatically into the ranks of the world’s most popular blogs?
If you do a brilliant job packaging and marketing crap, all you do is efficiently get the word out about how bad your crap is. Not the result you’re looking for.
Smart marketers still need to keep these principles of great content marketing in mind:
- Be generous. Generosity is sexy. When your free content is so valuable that it makes you a little uncomfortable, you know you’ve got it right.
- Produce enjoyable content. Only ad men like advertising. If your content looks like an ad, it will be overlooked or thrown away. Make your “advertising” too valuable to throw away by wrapping it in wonderfully beneficial, readable content.
- Attract the right people. Content marketing helps your SEO efforts, but don’t make the mistake of writing for search engines. Always write for people first, and then make your content search-engine friendly so new readers can find you.
And, of course, always remember the first rule of Copyblogger.
Really good content is unsurpassed at building rapport, delivering a sales message without feeling “salesy,” and getting potential customers to stick around.
That’s why many of the sharpest copywriting minds now favor a “content net” approach. They combine strategic copywriting with great content to get the best of both worlds. Which is exactly what Copyblogger’s been teaching readers for the past 10 years.
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Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on January 11, 2011.