Website copy, blog copy, print copy—is there a difference? Copywriting makes me feel like Don Draper (without the bar cart and cocktails), but I’ve also been blogging since the dark ages (before blogs were “blogs”), and writing blog copy can be far less thrilling than crafting just a few perfect lines of web copy.
From the length of the copy to the goal of the copy, here is a quick look at just how different these three types of copy can be.
When it comes to the inbound marketing funnel, website copy is usually top-of-the-funnel (with exceptions, of course), painstakingly crafted by copywriting pros to generate leads. When someone lands on your website, you’ve got seconds to capture the visitor’s attention with concise, compelling copy.
Web copy often follows some semblance of a tried-and-true formula, such as Bob Stone's Gem. Bob Stone was a marketing giant and pioneer who developed a direct-marketing formula that works pretty well for crafting web copy. First, copy that compels and sells should lead with your strongest benefit, expand on that benefit, and then explain exactly what the prospect will get. Next, the copy should back up the benefit statement with proof and tell the prospect what they'll lose if they don't act. Lastly, the copy should sum up the most important benefits and provide a call-to-action (CTA).
This is where those late-night Mad Men-style, coffee-fueled copywriting sessions come into play. A copywriter can spend hours consolidating all of that information and finessing everything into just a few lines or paragraphs of perfectly crafted, actionable web copy. For some, writing web copy can be a stressful undertaking (how do you cram so many ideas and vital components into so little copy?), but for the rest of us, writing web copy is an artful (nerdy?) undertaking.
According to HubSpot, 53 percent of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. Meanwhile, 81 percent of B2B brands that engage with content marketing say they support their efforts with blog posts. So how does blog copy compare to web copy? For starters, it’s a lot longer.
Blog copy tends to be focused on informing the reader about a topic with the eventual goal of spurring them to action. This softer sell features long-form content that eventually encourages the reader to contact your company, consider a product, or even download a white paper or e-book to pursue more information. Along the Buyer’s Journey, blog copy is excellent high-level Awareness Stage nourishment for your buyer personas, who are seeking educational, neutral content to decide whether their problem is solvable and what the solution requires.
Of course, blog copy can also feed visitors at the Consideration and Decision stages. The Demand Gen Report found that 47 percent of B2B buyers actually rely on blog content in the research phase and that they viewed three to five pieces of content before even engaging with a sales rep. However, chances are that the bulk of your blog copy will focus on long-form educational content geared toward positioning your company as an industry expert and leader.
The major benefit of blog copy is that—beyond the fact that it’s usually heavily optimized for search engines—it performs better precisely because it is long. And all of that blog copy pays off, because websites with a blog tend to have 434 percent more indexed pages than sites without a blog.
Last, but not least, is print copy. Although many marketers and businesses think print is dead, it’s actually very much alive. After all, your mailbox is still full of flyers, mailers, and the occasional piece of “real” mail, right? You also still see print copy in newspapers, magazines, bus stops, your doctor’s office, the subway station, Times Square … and basically everywhere.
Unlike long-form informational blog copy or concise, top-of-the-funnel web copy, print copy tends to embrace a direct, upfront sales pitch approach. This type of copy is short and sweet, featuring catchy one-liners or short informational blurbs that complement graphics and pictures. A focused CTA is usually the primary focus of print copy, urging the reader to contact a business, buy something, or show up at an event.
By its nature, print copy most closely resembles web copy, so it might be appealing to copy/paste your print copy into a website. Don’t! You can work in the reverse, using your web copy to populate a piece of print marketing like a postcard or flyer, but never use your print copy in place of web copy. Why? Your web copy should be optimized for search engines and geared directly toward the right personas and action items. Chances are your print copy is not as refined or curated, because print materials tend to be more mass market than geared toward carefully crafted buyer personas.
All the Copy
At the end of the day, there are several things that all inbound marketing copy should feature:
- Proper spelling, grammar, and consistency. The reality is, readers never notice when it’s right, but they’ll definitely notice when it’s wrong and call you out on it.
- Keep it simple. Avoid jargon and gobbledygook throw-away terminology that could encourage visitors to click away. Be direct, authoritative, and confident in your copy and say what you mean.
- Compel the reader to act. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing web, blog, or print copy, your goal should always be to get the reader to do something. If you can deliver a sense of urgency in the CTA, even better.
- Make it emotional. More often than not, people act based on an emotional response to copy. Appeal to a sense of exclusivity and emotion in your copy.
Whether you love—or dread—crafting copy for your website, blog, or a special piece of print marketing, hopefully these distinctions make sense. Is there anything we missed? Let us know!