Copywriting vs Content Marketing: Key Differences

Jake Sheridan
Sep 8

Copywriting and content marketing are often used in the same conversations. This can lead to some doubt about where one begins and the other ends. It’s important to understand the differences so that you can hire the right pros, and give them the right instructions.

In this guide, you’re going to learn the differences between copywriting vs. content marketing. You’ll learn why each one matters, and how they can be used together to create a powerful effect.

Copywriting vs Content Marketing

Copywriting and content marketing are both important parts of online promotion. Copywriting is a skill that is used to make any type of content perform, while content marketing is a strategy of using free, high-value content to drive readers toward a certain action.

Let’s look at these two in more detail.

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is the process of developing writing to make it more effective for advertising. When applied properly, copywriting can make many types of content more compelling.  

It has been around as long as ads, but the best practices that everyone once agreed on have changed a lot in recent years. Most advertising is moving online now, and copywriters have had to adapt.

Professional copywriters apply dozens of different rules for improving content, based on their own experience and research. Many focus on making content more digestible for online audiences by keeping paragraphs short and using headings to allow people to scan for the info they want. 

Copywriting can replace standard writing on any type of content, from text ads to emails, landing pages, and blogs.

It’s not difficult to learn and apply some principles of copywriting, but if you are taking any campaign seriously, the messaging is the last place you want to cut costs. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of putting a chunk of your budget toward professional copywriting. 

Advantages:

  • Matters to almost any message: Nearly any message you’ve put out could be improved with some professional copywriting principles applied. All of your messaging can be reviewed if you have a copywriter on staff. 
  • Can improve conversions with only small changes: A well-crafted headline can significantly outperform one written without any copywriting skills. Small changes can be effective at driving more conversions from your landing pages and emails.  

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive: Hiring an experienced professional is expensive, but the differences between professional and entry-level copywriting are significant. If you care about performance, you need to go with someone experienced.
  • Needs to be ongoing to be effective: Writing is rewriting, as the saying goes. Copywriters work with keyword, ranking, and visitor behavior data to discover where content needs to be improved over time. If you care about creating effective copy, it will need to be tweaked after launch.  

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategy where you use free, valuable content to convince readers to take a preferred action. Info-rich content (like blogs, videos, and newsletters) can be used to manage your reputation and indirectly drive signups and sales from grateful readers.

Campaigns for this type of marketing can involve either paid advertising or organic SEO. The hub and spoke model of breaking topics into a central piece and branches of more specific content has helped many marketers promote their pieces using natural SEO growth.

There are many benefits of content marketing, but it’s important to consider the costs:

Advantages:

  • Scalable: It’s possible to develop content marketing for small business budgets. However, enterprise-level campaigns can achieve a world of different goals, from dominating the conversation for certain terms to rapidly changing the nationwide perception of a brand. 
  • Lasting value: The pieces that you develop for content marketing campaigns can get shared for years if they are created properly. They can be a lasting resource to help answer the most common questions or concerns you get from potential customers.

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive: Creating valuable content requires a matching budget. To compete with competitors, you may need to create polished videos. Even written content that often involves consulting (or authorship) from subject-matter experts.
  • Complex: Content marketers support their recommendations with a lot of data. Successful campaigns rely on consumer research and an understanding of how search engines evaluate content. Planning these campaigns usually requires a professional.  

What’s the difference between copywriting and content marketing?

The difference between copywriting and content marketing is that copywriting a way to develop content whereas content marketing is a way to deploy content.

Copywriting is concerned only with the written word

Copywriting is about making copy better for advertising, and that’s all it concerns. Content marketing, on the other hand, can involve many different kinds of content including videos, infographics, and other deliverables where writing plays only a limited role.

Copywriting is directly advertorial, content marketing is indirect

Copywriting is concerned with making ads the best they can be. Everything from brand statements to slogans can be made more effective. Content marketing content avoids advertising, at least in the direct sense. Content created for these campaigns is meant to be valuable info, not an ad. 

Understand the difference and create better campaigns 

Now you understand the difference between copywriting and content marketing. While they are different and have different aims, there is also an important relationship. Copywriting will be an important part of text-related content that you create for your campaigns.

Copywriters can enhance content marketing campaigns using their unique skills. While content marketing isn’t advertorial, it can be used to support advertorial content. Copywriters can help you smoothly transition between your information content and conversion content. 

Written by Jake Sheridan on September 8, 2020

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.

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