This article explains why content marketing is not the same thing as copywriting, and why copywriting can often generate a lot more value than content marketing. Several years ago, I was hired to write content marketing articles for a real estate brokerage. This brokerage wanted to attract prospective home buyers to its website by creating neighborhood guides for communities in the Los Angeles area. So the brokerage used a marketplace platform to recruit guide writers, and I was one of the writers.
Each guide described a Los Angeles neighborhood like Los Feliz by providing details about nearby attractions such as movie theaters, parks, farmers markets, and restaurants. The guides were for readers who wanted to know more about a neighborhood where they might buy a home. They were similar to guides for tourists. I was being paid around $75 to write each one, which works out to a per-word rate of 7.5 cents for a 1000-word guide.
The guides focused on informing the reader about each neighborhood. They did not include the current real estate listings for Los Feliz, for example. They did include financial information such as the average price of a home with two bedrooms in the neighborhood, but the articles were not designed to promote specific homes. These were informative articles that provided a broad overview of the real estate market in the area along with an overview of nearby amenities.
The real estate brokerage was targeting the top of the marketing funnel with these guides. They were meant to attract a broad audience. I was only hired to write the articles, so I did not know how the brokerage was promoting them, but SEO was an important marketing channel. It was likely that these articles ranked for a large number of keywords in search engines just because of how the brief was designed. Local parks and recreation areas often get limited news coverage, so neighborhood overview articles would include many low-competition keywords.
The focus on Los Angeles neighborhoods also helped the real estate agency obtain qualified leads. Writing about other topics, such as celebrities or sports, may have produced more page views. But the goal of the content marketer is not to generate as much traffic as possible, it’s to attract qualified leads for the client. So the content marketer needs to pick a topic that prospective buyers want to read about.
These articles focused on describing neighborhoods and did not include information about the process of purchasing a home. They did not discuss topics like qualifying for a loan from the bank, submitting a bid for the home, and picking a mortgage with affordable payments. As a result, the brokerage mostly wanted to hire writers who were familiar with Los Angeles neighborhoods. The writers did not need to know how banks processed and approved mortgages. Writers did not need real estate licenses either.
Now consider a real estate brokerage with a different objective. Suppose the brokerage wanted to convince readers to buy specific houses. If the brokerage planned to publish articles that convinced readers to purchase homes, it’s likely that the brokerage would need to hire licensed real estate agents to write them, or writers with a similar amount of background knowledge. The articles would need to include information about the home-buying process, including the financing process.
And if the real estate agent convinced a buyer to spend $1 million on a house, the agent would receive a lot more than $75 in compensation. If a real estate agent charged a 6 percent sales commission, and they convinced a buyer to purchase a house worth $1 million, the agent would receive a $60,000 commission. If the agent published articles that convinced 100 buyers to purchase homes, the agent would earn $6 million in commissions. Skilled sales representatives earn a lot of money, and a copywriter’s basically a sales representative who uses copy to persuade customers.
So it’s important to know your goal before you hire a writer. You hire a content marketer to attract an audience. It’s easier to attract potential customers if you provide useful information to them instead of pitching your product immediately. Informative articles also help your company establish a relationship with its audience. Once a prospective buyer is familiar with your company and the product or service it offers, then a copywriter can convince them to take out their wallet.