[Tweet “On face value, copywriting and content writing seem like two sides of the same coin; however, there are major differences between the two styles of writing.”]
In my SEO Consulting practice, there’s a metaphor I like to use a lot: Just like you wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix a leaky roof, you wouldn’t hire just any writer to develop an effective piece of content marketing.
For marketers who want to be successful with their content marketing process, it’s important to make sure that the content writer or producer you’re working with is well-versed in creating content that’s appropriate for the specific goals of your content marketing campaign.
Different styles of writing demand a different set of parameters to determine if the content is successful. On face value, copywriting and content writing seem like two sides of the same coin; however, there are major differences between the two styles of writing.
So what are the differences between copywriting and content creation? The short answer is: Copywriting is any writing that’s done for marketing purposes. Content writing, on the other hand, is a more specialized form of writing focused on one or more content marketing goals.
Copywriting goals: advertise a product or brand, drive conversion/sales, and encourage a direct response.
Content goals: build rapport/trust with consumers, create a positive brand association, and increase domain authority.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is another word for “marketing writing.” It refers to text that’s used to market a product in some way. When someone creates the text for an advertisement, website, brochure, catalog, direct mail piece, tagline, white paper, social media post, or any other marketing communication, they are writing copy.
The word “copywriting” itself is derived from a secondary definition of the word “copy”, which is used in this case to describe text for an article or advertisement.
While “copy” can refer broadly to text intended to be published on any platform (including news articles), marketers typically use the term to describe any text used to promote a product.
How is content writing different?
When a writer creates copy for a piece of content marketing, they are doing a different form of copywriting. Traditional copywriting skills will only get them so far. Exciting product descriptions, compelling calls to action, and promotional offers that are often found in marketing copy are typically absent from content marketing. Content writing requires a different set of skills because the goals of content marketing are different from most other forms of marketing writing.
Ultimately the goal of any marketing is to attract and convert prospects into customers. But the methods used in content writing are much more indirect when compared to traditional marketing assets.
Content marketers don’t typically promote specific offers or products. Instead, they seek to build relationships with consumers by providing valuable, educational, or entertaining information, usually at no charge to the consumer. These relationships are the foundation on which brand recognition and loyalty can be built.
Content marketers are patient. They know that consumers who trust their brands will purchase from them at some point in the future. So they invest in creating content to achieve goals other than direct conversion or branding.
What’s the relationship between copywriting and content marketing?
Writers and producers of content marketing should know that the goal of any marketing writing (whether it’s part of an advertisement or part of a piece of content) is to convey information about a product or service to potential customers.
So while content needs to be crafted with an indirect marketing goal in mind, it still carries some message about the brand. For example, Fractl might produce an interesting piece of content about airline germs for a travel booking company. In that case, the travel company isn’t selling disinfectant, or anything related to germs.
However, by digging into a topic which travelers might find entertaining or useful, the content gives the correct impression that the people behind this brand are experts in the broader travel space. The writing used in that piece of content doesn’t need to sell the product, but it does need to make sense in the context of the brand.
To recap, copywriting is typically more product-focused and often has direct conversion goals. Content marketing, on the other hand, is often tangentially related to the product. Instead of attempting to make a sale, the goal is to positively influence the reader by adding value. The goal is to form a positive brand association in the reader’s mind.
Both copywriting and content marketing:
- Target a specific audience
- Are created to convey a message to an audience
- Require good quality writing
We’ve found that great copywriters may not necessarily be good content writers (and vice versa). However, most writers can develop the skills required with time and practice.
So how do I create content that is marketable?
For starters, avoid the temptation to sell something. Almost all content marketing is based on the principle that people prefer to buy from people and brands they like. And providing value to others without the expectation of a reward is one of the best ways to win a customer over.
At Fractl, our core link-building service is based on creating content about topics that are tangential to our client’s industry. That means our work frequently (and deliberately) doesn’t mention the products or services our clients offer at all. This sometimes takes a little while for marketers to understand. However, it’s proven to be a crucial part of our success.
Adapting Content Creation or Copywriting to your Business
Now that you know the difference between copywriting and content marketing writing, you’ll be able to make informed decisions when it comes to content creation. Too often, we’ve seen marketing teams who thought they could pay a freelance writer to create a bunch of blog posts, only to see disappointing results. Instead, we hope you’ll use what you’ve learned to create online content that’s well-formatted, well-structured, built to rank, and optimized to reach your content goals.