SEO Copywriting, conversion copywriting or content marketing?

Everyone seems to be attaching a proprietary new label to some component in the traditional marketing process in an effort to secure a bigger share of company marketing dollars. Conversion copywriting, SEO copywriting, content marketing, inbound marketing, permission marketing… To the business owner, it can become quite confusing. The terms are meaningful, and I hope this helps.

Attaching a company's brand message to content (content marketing) isn't new. It's generally held that the process began in 1663, with the launch of the Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen magazine in Germany. Marketers quickly realized that they could create display ads for their clients that aligned with upcoming articles. The targeted audience and distribution of the publication, and seasonal content, became important in choosing the right publication and timing of campaigns. And the ad had to present exactly the right wording (copywriting) to get readers to make a call, send a mail inquiry or visit a shop.

Copywriting and sales

As anyone with great search engine rankings, social media subscribers and likes, and a steady stream of traffic to the site can tell you; visitors don't automatically convert into buyers. They still need to be persuaded to take action. The right message can convert visitors into customers.

Joseph E. Kennedy defined copywriting as salesmanship in print. He dashed off a quick note to Albert Lasker, one of the most powerful men in advertising at the time, “I can tell you what advertising is. I know that you don’t know.” He had piqued Lasker's curiosity and was granted an interview. Little did he know, but Lasker had been trying to come up with that definition for seven years. This was in 1904, and copywriting has since expanded from direct mail and ads in newspapers and magazines, to many digital formats. Your readers need a compelling reason to make a purchase or engage in a process that leads them towards becoming a customer.

Where does content fit in?

I cut my marketing teeth in magazine publishing. If you worked in the magazine publishing industry back in the 80s, you worked in art, copy or editorial. The art department designed the publication and page layouts, and handled the design of the display ads. The artists made everything look stylish and sexy, but management kept reminding us that design was just an expense. But the art team certainly had their days in the sun, when they created an eye-popping cover and publication sales at the newsstand and subscriptions increased dramatically that month.

The copywriters in the agency were revered as gods, because if the ads they crafted converted, the businesses owners realized a profit, and that meant they'd buy ads for another year or two, or at least a few more months. But the articles (content) were also crucial to success. If the stories sucked, or the information wasn't considered valuable, the publication lost its essential 'eyeballs' (readership), and the whole magazine could crumble within a few months.

I was often reminded that I had the misfortune of working for two small publications, where my roles included both art and copy; and when they needed an article, I even jumped over to editorial. The wisdom of the day was that you had to wear one hat; you had to specialize. That's how careers were made. But I considered my wide range of experience a valuable education in the relationship between content and distribution, and the copywriting that drove the revenue for the ad clients that provided everyone with a paycheque.

Unless you're a well known brand in your industry, and your prospective customers have all heard of you, someone's going to have to tell your story, and distribute it in the social media and press/news channels where your customers hang out. Originally, businesses bought powerfully worded ad spots in the publications, radio stations and TV channels their customers consumed. They simply attached their story or advertising message someone else's content. and then in 1946, a new content medium emerged. Copywriters discussed a common problem in the article, and then presented the solution, skillfully weaving the brand story and product or service pitch into the article.

Today, you and your company are the brand, and you must create and distribute the content to reach your audience and customers. Fortunately, copywriters and content writers are there to help you. The effective YouTube videos are scripted, and seemingly spontaneous social media posts generally follow a strategy and deliver a clear message. Likes, shares and inbound links are earned by providing incredible value of some kind. A skilled content writer can pinpoint who your ideal customers are, and where your audience hangs out on the internet; then create the kind of content they crave.

Okay, but all you really need is SEO and Google rankings, right?

SEO, traffic and content are inseparable

SEO isn't a magic wand we can wave over a site with "thin" or nonexistent content, and "poof" you have top-5 rankings on Google. But can't we just enter a few keywords in the meta tags or 'stuff' them into the content somewhere?

You will never earn top-5 rankings on Google for the content your website does not have. You won't earn any likes, shares, inbound links, comments or any other 'love' for the content you failed to create and publish.

When speaking with prospective clients they'll often say something like, "Yeah, but none of my competitors are publishing regular content." Precisely! And that is exactly how we're going to "out content"™ those businesses and take their spots in the top-5 rankings. Right now the status quo prevails. Google and Bing have no reason to punt your competitors' sites out of the top ranking spots, so yours can be there. When we create the content your readers and customers are searching for, but your competitors have failed to provide, therein lies your marketing advantage. We'll have content to use in our SEO copywriting strategy, employ in link building strategies, link to from social media, encourage visitors to share, etc.

What can content marketing do for you?

Creating valuable content is a long-term strategy that uses incredibly useful information to build a stronger relationship with your audience. It captures their attention, increases engagement, builds trust, and enhances brand recall. According to Demand Metric's findings, 70% of customers would rather learn about a company through a helpful article than an ad.

According to a study compiled by Brand Metric, 90% of all organizations are using some form of content marketing in 2019, and 25% of their marketing budgets are invested into content marketing. And the really great news is, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.

Demand Metric says 44% of the people ignore direct email. 86% of viewers skip the television commercials. 91% of email list subscribers will unsubscribe from company emails. Advertising on content websites are ignored by 92%. According to results compiled by AccuraCast, the average click-through rate for pay per click (PPC) ads in the first position (earned by a higher bid rate and quality landing pages) is only 7.94%. For ads that are not in first position, the Google AdWords click-through drops to 2%.

Delivering valuable content on a regular basis gets you 'eyeballs', and it is the most effective way of building long-term relationships with both new and existing customers. I've been writing engaging and valuable content for website clients for over 20 years. Prior to that, I wrote articles and ad copy for magazines.

What can copywriting do for you?

By my definition, copywriting differs from content writing in its objective. When I write content my focus is on delivering value. I want the reader or consumer of the content to come back, visit my client's website, subscribe, like or share the post, etc.

SEO copywriting

SEO copywriting focuses on carefully writing copy/content that targets keyphrases — words or phrases searchers use to find information — so it ranks higher on Google, Bing and Yahoo! SEO copywriting goes beyond just creating content because it typically includes one or two careful SEO revisions before publishing, as well as some SEO work in the site's content management system (like WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, Typo3, Contao, Neos CMS, etc.). The SEO copywriting plans I offer will typically also include monitoring of the content's rankings over the following 6 months or a year, with some additional tweaks and fine tuning.

Conversion copywriting

Conversion copywriting focuses on persuading the reader or consumer of content to take a specific action. Again, it goes beyond just creating content, and strategically includes words and phrases, selling points, and proof to convince the person to act. I've been writing conversion copy since 1987. I have done some direct response copywriting, and created magazine ads, but most of my copywriting over the last 20 years has been website copy.

  • creation of lead generation funnels, with white papers, landing pages and followup email drip campaigns
  • conversion copywriting on web pages, with strong calls to action
  • SEO copywriting, to earn search engine rankings and increase traffic

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