Content marketing is often confused with copywriting. But in reality, they’re very different things.
You have to learn what makes them different and why you should use each type of writing in your marketing efforts.
So to get clear about which kind of writing works best for you and your brand.
Read this article to learn the differences between content marketing and copywriting. Then get started using the right kind of writing for you and your brand, or even use them both!
The power of compelling copy not only influences your potential customer in online purchasing decisions but also builds a connection with your buyer persona.
Proper messaging by either the benefits or features of your product/service means telling people what they want to know effectively and concisely.
But what are the meanings of features and benefits?
- Features are what you offer, they focus on what your product/services are, and they are the factual pieces of information about what you sell. Think about sizing, color, fabric, or dimensions.
- Benefits are the impact of what you offer on your customers, they focus on how your products/services will help people live better lives, and they represent the emotions and the experiences that a customer will gain from using your product/service.
This marketing perspective is mostly associated in with copywriting more than anything else, which brings us to our primary comparison, What differentiates copywriting and content marketing?
Whether you’re a small business or a startup trying to develop a strong online presence or a freelance writer hoping to land a writing job, you’ll need to understand the differences between copywriting and content marketing. What do the two share in common, and the most effective ways to approach them?
There’s an easy way to answer these questions by explaining:
Content Marketing vs Copywriting
Copywriting is a type of creative writing with a compelling message that leads readers to take an action. This action can be purchasing something from your store or signing up for your mailing list.
It refers to the text that fills up your web pages and social media platforms to motivate visitors to take a specific call to action (CTA) right away. So your copy may include any detailed piece of content about a specific topic, including:
- Slogans and taglines
- Headlines atop your pages
- An introduction to your business and how it came about
- A description of your products or services
- Email campaigns
Any copy you write to persuade someone to do something, read something, or purchase something is called copywriting.
Can You Only Use CTA in Copywriting?
Please note that CTA (Call To Action) is not restricted to copywriting alone; it is also utilized in content marketing as well. The application primarily relies on the nature and purpose of your content. Meaning if you aim to motivate your audience to make a purchase from your store or subscribe to your newsletter, then it can be considered copywriting. However, if your intention is to educate your readers about your product range and quality, and provide guidance on usage or styling, then it falls under content marketing, even if you conclude with a Call To Action.
Interestingly enough, within the same piece of content, your CTA can actually serve both purposes, copywriting and content marketing. For instance, in the case of this Jon Loomer article on Meta Ads Attribution Setting, Jon managed to use a call to action not once, not twice, not three times, but four different times.
Each CTA, in this case, served a different purpose; the first one was ‘Subscribe’, which asked readers to subscribe to his free Advertising Foundations series; the second was ‘Sign Up Today’, which was to get readers to sign up for Loomer’s Newsletter, the third was ‘Click Here’, which he used to encourage potential customers to purchase a membership in his Power Hitters Club for Facebook marketers, the fourth and last CTA was ‘Watch Video’ to encourage readers to click on and watch Loomer’s Youtube video which he embedded into the article.
As we can see, most of these CTAs are there to encourage users to transition from one stage to the next in their buyer journey, gaining Jon new customers and ultimately increasing his revenue. Therefore, in and of themselves, these CTAs act as copywriting content. However, they are merely functioning parts of a bigger whole, which is an educational long-form article/guide on Meta Ads Attribution Setting written to add value to Jon’s followers by educating them in detail about this specific topic, AKA a content marketing piece of writing.
In other words, these CTAs are simply serving additional copywriting purposes under the bigger content marketing umbrella of the article itself.
Content marketing is the creation and sharing of new, valuable, free, and original material, with a longer-range goal of attracting and converting prospects into leads and then into sales. And this could be:
- Articles (like this one!)
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- White paper
- Email newsletters
Each lets you send your messages to your target audiences. Content marketing focuses on bringing audiences to you when they perform web searches, and convincing them that your business is trustworthy and helpful.
Therefore, when looking for content for your marketing plans, it is helpful to know how these roles differ, so you can make the right choice for your business.
Not Every Valuable Piece of Content Can be Called Content Marketing!
Content Marketing is not simply about producing content for the sake of it. It’s a strategic approach centered around distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable action. The keyword here is ‘strategic‘. Content Marketing should never be aimless; it should always serve your business or entity’s marketing purpose.
When it comes to promoting your product, your content marketing strategy should be laser-focused on sharing well-crafted content that offers tangible value to potential customers. For instance, Social Media Examiner dedicated a magnitude of efforts towards spreading awareness and educating businesses about the best social media uses through their Social Media Marketing World Events and guest posts.
This ultimately helps Social Media Examiner achieve their marketing goals by proving themselves as helpful, trusted resource and reaching a broader base of their target audience, thus eventually promoting the sale of their social marketing events and evidently increasing their revenue.
In essence, a well-conceived content marketing strategy can have a real and measurable impact on the success and growth of your business. It sets the boundary between aimless content creation and strategic marketing, ensuring every piece of content serves a specific purpose in your marketing objectives. By doing so, you’re not just throwing content into the void but building a pathway that leads your audience straight to your product.
Content marketing and copywriting are both forms of writing in the realm of digital marketing. Here’s how you can pinpoint all their differences:
|Purpose||Entertain, educate, inform, build trust and engage||Drive sales, or generate leads|
|Tone of voice||Conversational||Persuasive (yet delightful)|
|Flow||Non-linear, multidirectional; full of tangents and sidebars (e.g., “By the way, did you know…?”)||Linear, strategic, intentional; ends with a call to action|
|Implementation method(s)||Indirect (e.g., a video tutorial about a specific topic)||Direct (e.g., a video about the benefits of your service/product)|
Note: Your content’s POV determines whether it’ll be content marketing or copywriting.
Say you’re writing a video script about content marketing. If your goal is to educate readers on what content marketing is a video tutorial that is conversational and focuses on building trust instead of selling, you’re doing content marketing.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your video is about showcasing the benefits you offer from your content marketing service with the intention of persuading viewers to close a deal with you, you’re doing copywriting. The same concept applies to social media marketing and email marketing.
How Can the Same Type of Content Serve Different Purposes?
Content, whether it’s an email, video, blog post, or social media post, can serve different purposes depending on the strategic approach taken. This versatility is evident when comparing content marketing and copywriting, two core components of digital marketing.
When a piece of content is used for content marketing, the primary goal is to encourage the reader to move along in their buyer journey or customer funnel by providing valuable, relevant, and consistent information to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, ultimately leading to profitable customer action.
For instance, an educational video about the benefits of a product, or an informative email newsletter sharing industry trends and insights, both fall under content marketing. These tactics aim to build trust and rapport with the audience, establishing the brand as a thought leader in its field and fostering long-term relationships.
On the other hand, when the same piece of content—be it an email or video—is used for copywriting, the focus shifts towards persuading the audience to take a specific action.
This could be purchasing a product, signing up for a service, or clicking on a link. A sales-oriented email promoting a limited-time offer, or a compelling video ad showcasing a product’s features and urging viewers to buy now, are examples of copywriting. Here, the objective is immediate conversion, employing persuasive language, compelling headlines, and strong calls to action to drive sales.
In essence, while the nature of the content might be the same—an email, video, or blog post—the intent, messaging, and desired outcome distinguish whether it’s used for content marketing or copywriting.
But there’s more to generating your content through copywriting and content marketing:
- Content curation
- Content strategy
What Is Content Curation?
In its simplest form, content curation is just finding information that already exists and sharing it with your audience in a new way. However, if done well, it can be an incredibly valuable tool for building relationships with your target audience.
Steps of Content Curation
Instead of writing content from scratch, this process entails:
- Discovery: Seeing what others wrote about the topic you want to talk about.
- Gathering: Taking the most important details.
- Rewriting and refining: Rephrase the ideas, and rearrange and expand on them to come up with your unique version.
Content curation is especially good for entry-level content writers because it allows them to collect online content and present the best pieces in a structured way without getting involved in creating your content.
So What Is a Content Strategy?
Content strategy is the process of taking business objectives and devising a content-based plan to achieve them.
Content strategists are in charge of what gets published and why. This means they need to be well-versed in the business niche as well as understand the target audience.
Additionally, they should know how to map content pathways that take potential customers from just browsing to converting.
Now, What Does Content Strategy Do?
- Answers the question ‘why’ by helping you understand why you’ve published certain types of content. For instance, you write a lead magnet to grow the size of your email list. You compose emails to gain clicks to your website. You write blog posts to establish authority in your industry.
- Determines who you’re reaching out to with your content marketing strategy, by creating a content persona and remembering the buyer’s journey.
- Decides what kind of content you’ll publish and where you should promote it, and sets a schedule to create and publish it.
- Decides who will create your content. You might have to write all of it by yourself, or you can hire expert writers to keep your it flowing steadily.
- Sets metrics to measure content marketing success. Some of these include bounce rate, time on page, and scroll depth.
For your content strategy to drive conversions, it’s valuable to use both copywriting and content marketing together through a well-planned strategy.
You should use both copywriting and content marketing to achieve a balanced mix of these two approaches. Without copywriting in the form of calls to action, you may not be able to get conversions from your blog posts, articles, social media updates, etc.
The main purpose of copywriting and content creation is to attract new leads, so always keep that in the back of your head.
But What About SEO-Optimized Content?
SEO-optimized content is a form of website content that has been specifically optimized to improve search engine rankings.
It’s important for all websites to have SEO-optimized content because it makes your site easier to find, which means more visitors and ultimately more customers or clients.
There are many different factors that go into creating SEO-optimized content, but the most important thing to remember is that it should be high-quality and engaging.
High-ranking content is a high-valued. Keywords shouldn’t ruin the tone or conversion rate, but they should be relevant to the topic.
Why You Need a Content Optimization Strategy
Because Google Search, particularly, is the most consistent and reliable high-traffic search engine. According to research, 68% of all online experiences begin with a Google query.
With an optimization strategy in mind, you can open up the floodgates for your site and attract highly targeted visitors who are interested in your products or services.
How It Works
It focuses on creating content around the topic and keywords your target audience searches for so it appears higher in Google Search. As the higher, you get in Google’s search result pages ‘SERP’, the more traffic your website receives.
HubSpot’s research indicates that 75% of searchers never go past the first page in search results.
Let’s dive into some tips to help you to optimize your content:
- Research the best keywords using tools like SEMrush and Google Search Console to discover how various terms, phrases, and long-tail key phrases perform in SERP.
- Optimize your headlines as it’s the first thing people will see on your organic result after a search.
- Keyword research is important but using them naturally and strategically is even more so. Don’t use the same keyword repeatedly just because it has the highest position. You’ll sound insincere.
- Optimize your images for SEO using alternative texts (i.e., alt texts).
- Make sure your internal links point back to relevant pages within your site. This can help drive new traffic to older files and improve their ranking.
- Include links to reputable external sources (like authoritative websites) as references, and include them within the text.
- A good meta description should be between 110-155 characters long and include keywords. It should appear within the first 160 characters of the page title tag.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s an overview of the three key differences between copywriting and content marketing:
|Goal||Written to create engagement||Written to create conversion or a sale|
|Direction||Very multi-directional by creating conversation and engaging, there are often links to multiple different sources, locations, and multiple different questions and calls to action.||Extremely one-directional, linear, strategic, and intentional, and it ends with a singular CTA|
|Result||Increasing click-through rate (CTR) by getting more likes, shares, and comments and adding goodwill and value to your business||Increasing conversion rates and ultimately increasing revenue|