Content Marketing vs. Copywriting: Top Strategies for 2014
Content marketing versus copywriting: aren’t we talking about the same thing?
It’s easy to think that content marketing is the same as copywriting. In fact, this is a common misconception. The two do work hand-in-hand, but are distinctly different. We’re going to address this difference with the help of an illustration:
Copywriting is to Content Marketing What Eggs Are to Cake
Who doesn’t like cake? Okay, so I actually know someone who doesn’t, but they always have one for their birthday. The reason I’m talking about cake is because everyone can relate to it. Everyone knows what a cake looks like, how awesome it tastes and that the most scrumptious fluffy cakes always have a common ingredient: eggs.
To say that content marketing and copywriting are the same would be like saying the cake and the eggs are the same. It’s easy to confuse terms like “content marketing” and “copywriting.” It’s a lot harder for us to confuse a baked cake with an egg. So even though copywriting and content marketing sound similar and work together as a team, they are different; just as a cake and an egg are two completely different things.
Content Marketing – Think of It as a Cake
Before we get too technical about content marketing, take a moment to think of your favorite kind of cake. Once you have it, keep it in mind. We’re going to come back to it.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.” The end goal or objective is to drive the profitable customer to positive action.
Content marketing is especially important today because traditional marketing methods have been tuned out by millions. Television advertisements are generally ignored; hence, why people love their DVRs and prefer watching their favorite shows via commercial free instant services like Netflix and Hulu. Magazine advertisements aren’t much better as readers are skilled at skimming to the content that interests them, while ignoring the “fluff.” Online advertising has grown even tougher as audiences become more adept at surfing their way to the information that applies to them; ignoring advertisement banners and buttons altogether.
The purpose of content marketing is not only to attract customers, but also to retain them through the consistent creation and acquisition of valuable and relevant content. Clearly, this is an ongoing process that you will likely integrate into your marketing plans or strategies.
Think of content marketing as your favorite cake. It is the eye-appealing, mouthwatering, must-eat end product.
Copywriting – Think of It as the Eggs
Wikipedia says that copywriting is “writing copy [or text] for the purpose of advertising or marketing.” Copy is written with the intent of persuading a potential customer to purchase a product, a service or adopt a specific belief or idea. In essence, copywriting is one of the steps involved in the creation and implementation of a content marketing strategy.
Think of copywriting as the eggs in the cake. Eggs make the cake moist and fluffy. They are the ingredient that adds wanted quality to the cake, making the taster take one bite after another.
Fluffy Cake Is the Future!
We all love moist, fluffy cake. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a dry, tasteless cake, and likely steered clear of it afterwards. We like a cake that tempts out senses and provides a heavenly, satisfying experience.
Content is said to be the present and future of marketing. In our technological world, audiences are bombarded with tons of information on a daily basis. As a result, they’ve become experts at skimming, weeding out the “fluff” and zeroing in on the information that strikes them as relevant and valuable. Today’s marketing must cater to this trend if expected to succeed. As a result, delectable content is now at the very heart of marketing; the kind of content that makes a person stop, read, think and act. Audiences want content that delivers the same satisfying experience as their favorite cake!
With this in mind, it is vital to adopt strategies designed to deliver effective content marketing; the kind that’s packed full of the best ingredient: quality, tempting copy. What’s the secret? Knowledge. Content marketing is not complicated, but it does involve knowing a little about the brains of your audience.
Know Your Audience and Cater to Their Taste
Stepping into 2014, you’ve no doubt read a lot about knowing your audience. In order to produce quality copy that is relevant and valuable to your marketing strategy, you need to understand the following:
- Relevant issues to your audience.
- Their needs and wants.
- Current and potential customer expectations.
- How your product or service is relevant and necessary to your audience.
Merely identifying this information isn’t enough. To truly know your audience, you need to get inside their heads and understand HOW and WHY they react. Once you manage this, you’ll be ready and able to apply some of the top strategies for 2014:
Strategy #1: Tapping Into Basic Emotions
A cake is appealing to the eye. Sometimes its very color triggers an emotional response. For example, people who love chocolate are instantly attracted to a chocolate frosted cake. Content is very similar. Its appearance can elicit an emotional response, and content that triggers an emotional reaction is proven to:
The quickest way to tap into your audience’s emotions is to use the power of headlines. Antonio Damasio once said, “We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.” Headlines are the most prominent element on any page, and what they say can make the audience think; think about reading the content beneath the headline.
Studies indicate that emotionally charged headlines promote sharing, which is the golden egg of a successful marketing strategy. When a headline produces a strong positive or negative emotion, people are more likely to retweet and share. What kinds of emotion should you target? The most commonly shared headlines inspire awe, stir up anxiety or incite anger.
Strategy #2: Wield Logic and Motivation
This strategy can be summed up in one word: persuasion. You can write a beautiful piece of content with incredibly persuasive potential, but will your audience take the time to read it? If you include eye-catching and emotion-provoking headlines, you’re on the right track. The next step is to tap into logic.
Even cakes have a certain amount of logical design preparation. If they were designed chaotically, there would be no such thing as a multi-tiered cake able to withstand the effects of gravity. Proper supports must be placed under each layer or the cake will be ruined.
Logic through format. One of the most popular formatting options for content is bullet and numbered lists. These short blurbs of information stand out just as much as headlines, but did you ever consider whether or not they were ordered correct? Proper order is important because our brain is expecting it. Lists need to be logically ordered; otherwise, the brain will virtually ignore them, dismissing them as nonsense and a waste of time.
Motivation through emotion. Humans share a deeply engrained biological fear of lose. We’re far more fearful of losing something than gaining the same something. As a result, you can appeal to you audience and motivate them by focusing on how not to lose. For example:
- Highlight when something is scarce. Your audience won’t want to miss it.
- Create a sense of urgency and need with a limited time offer.
- Talk about the risks.
- Explain the costs.
- Discuss mistakes and pitfalls.
Another way to motivate your audience is through positive peer pressure. In other words, openly show the audience why your current customers chose you. You can accomplish this in several ways:
- Client reviews and testimonials.
- Product reviews and endorsements.
- A display of media sites that have spotlighted your brand or business.
- Social media widgets that display the size of your following.
- The incorporation of “trust seals,” such as memberships, security certificates and awards.
Strategy #3: Stick to Simple Language
The words we chose directly affect the ability of our audience to comprehend and process their meaning. You might liken language to a cake’s frosting. What’s the secret to a scrumptious frosting? In most cases, the answer is simplicity. A simple recipe stands the test of time and is next to impossible to screw up.
Your choice of content language should be strategic yet simplistic. Here’s the playbook to content readability:
- Don’t use complicated sentence structures.
- Don’t use long words.
- Don’t use a lot of technical jargon.
- Do use common words; the ones that appear in everyday conversation.
- Do create simple sentences.
- Do avoid jargon.
The trick to this strategy is to avoid dumbing down the content (or watering down the frosting), but keeping a lower-literacy user in mind as it is created. Not everyone can read and understand college level material. There’s no shame in this. However, the majority of people can readily read and comprehend an 8th-grade level.
Similarly, not everyone can handle an overly sweet frosting. Therefore, when preparing a cake for a large event, the frosting often stays simple and basic to avoid overloading the folks who dislike a strong sweetness. Likewise, by keeping language simple, you open your content to a much larger audience, thus raising your chances of success.
Strategy #4: Build Relationships with Your Audience
Recently, we published a blog predicting content marketing expectations in 2014. Several of the predictions touched on building, maintaining and using audience relationships. It’s no surprise this is a top strategy for 2014.
Social media is HUGE, and it’s only expected to grow larger. It promotes one-on-one relationships and intelligent conversations. One of the strongest success strategies for effective content marketing is building a relationship with your audience, making them feel involved and important. Building relationships with your audience can be likened to having your cake and eating it too. This is truly the ideal scenario!
Copywriters have been tapping into this strategy when writing copy for years. Audience feedback helps them establish a relationship. They build on this relationship by interacting with their audience. They take suggestions and criticisms and add them to their expanding pool of experience.
Content marketing is starting to jump onboard with this strategy in 2014. Through social media platforms, companies can build relationships with their audience. The audience—a diverse mixture of past, present and potential customers—can offer their two-cents, which in turn helps them feel a closer connection to the company, brand or individual. These new relationships can then be used to further business.
Strategy #5: Seek Professional Services
Just because you can follow instructions and bake a cake doesn’t mean you’ll bake one for any occasion. Let’s be honest; most of us turn to a professional baker for birthday, anniversary, wedding, graduation and other event cakes. We trust the professional over ourselves because they have knowledge and expertise we lack. Not to mention, they know all the latest styles, trends and designs. They can even provide a completely custom experience, if that’s what we want. Seeking a professional content marketer and copywriter—or an agency offering both services—is quite similar.
Search engines are cracking down. Poor-quality content is unacceptable. Successful content marketing is hinging almost entirely on high quality copy—the kind professional copywriters are experienced in providing. In truth, to achieve quality ranking through content, you’re going to need the assistance of an SEO professional. No matter how awesome you are at marketing research, strategies and content writing, it’s no substitute for a true professional; the elitist who is in the trenches every single day and on top of every last update—no matter how minor, major or in between.
Let’s face it: you can’t have content marketing without copywriting. Imagine baking that cake without eggs. What would happen? It would turn out flat, undesirable to the eye and a complete culinary failure. In 2014, don’t bake your content marketing strategies (cake) without quality copywriting (eggs)!
(Content marketing's a piece of cake / shutterstock)
Julia McCoy is the manager/CEO of Express Writers, http://expresswriters.com. Since launching in May 2011, Express Writers has served over 2,000 clients and provided quality content for all industries, from tax lawyers to appliance repair contractors. Julia has 10 years of experience writing, a track record of academic achievements in writing, and is located in Springfield, Missouri.
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