The Key Differences Between Content Marketing and Copywriting


Content marketing has spent a lot of time in the limelight over the last couple of decades. As search engine optimization and digital marketing strategy has grown dramatically, content creation has continually been at the forefront of that growth. The terms content writing and copywriting are often used interchangeably, but the reality is that they are not the same.

In the early days of SEO, marketing agencies often labeled all of their content creators “copywriters”, but this is a mislabel dependent upon their particular duties. While both content writing and copywriting are critical to any successful, well-rounded content marketing strategy today, knowing the difference between the two writing methods is critical.

From intent to style and from SEO to utilization, putting pen to paper (well, putting fingers to keyboards) requires a deep understanding of purpose. Without underscoring the variations between content writing and copywriting, a content marketing plan is destined to suffer.

Content Writing Basics

When it comes to content marketing, most people think that content writing simply means creating content. While that is certainly part of it, content writing goes far beyond the straightforward concept of writing words to be digested online. Today, beneficial content writing means creating high-quality content pieces that add value to a subject matter. Value typically comes in two forms: entertainment or education.

While content writing may indirectly facilitate sales that is not its main purpose. Instead, content writing serves to build a company’s reputation, engage customers and prospects, and entertain those interested in the subject matter. Some of the most common forms of content writing include:

  • Blog Posts
  • Case Studies
  • E-books
  • Email Blasts
  • Evergreen Articles
  • News Articles
  • Social Media Posts
  • Tutorials
  • White Papers

The above forms of content writing are typically long-form and can generate leads, drastically improve search rankings, create a devoted fan base, and eventually drive sales.

Copywriting Basics

Copywriting, on the other hand, serves a much different purpose. In fact, the essence of copywriting is to persuade, not to entertain or educate. While there are instances that copywriting can both entertain and educate, the intent behind the words is to get the reader to take a specific action. As a result, copywriting plays a critical role in the sales process. When a company is running an ad or creating a sales pitch of any kind, copywriting lays the foundation for communicating with prospects.

A copywriter must maintain a finger on the pulse of what makes prospects take action. Things like understanding what type of trigger words to use and how to best formulate phrases that elicit emotion is key. Some of the most common forms of copywriting include:

  • CPM Ads (Cost-Per-Mille)
  • PPC Ads (Pay-Per-Click)
  • PPC Landing Pages
  • Product Pages
  • Sales Emails
  • SMS Ads
  • Social Media Ads
  • Website Sales Copy

The above forms of copywriting are typically short-form and are an essential component in the sales process for companies employing any kind of digital marketing strategy.

The Value of Writing

Whether using content writing to engage an audience or copywriting to convert them to customers, there is an undeniable value in written words in the content marketing world. The intention behind those words is what differentiates copywriting and content writing, but both forms of content creation are extremely important today.

A comprehensive digital marketing strategy must include content marketing, and that means launching a range of initiatives to properly promote a brand. As such, an incredible article may rank organically on Google, thus piquing the interest of a prospect. Then, that same prospect may see a Facebook ad whose copywriting is so compelling, they decide to make a purchase. In both cases, content is at the heart of the marketing plan.

At first glance, the differences between content writing and copywriting may seem nuanced. However, a deeper dive reveals the important differences between the two. While one is no more important than the other, marketers must understand the difference to successfully deploy a content marketing strategy.

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