Whether you’re a startup looking to create a content strategy or a writer hoping to launch a copywriting career, you’ll need to know the difference between copywriting and content marketing. What do the two have in common, and what are the best approaches to each?
In this blog, we’ll go over the difference between copywriting and content marketing and explain the techniques you need to borrow from each practice to make your copy and content as successful as possible. You’ll find there is a lot of overlap between both the two terms and the skills you require to implement them. But first, let’s start with the basics:
Copywriting and content marketing definitions
Pam Foster of American Writers & Artists, Inc. defines copywriting as:
“Copywriting is the skill — and field of work — where people write sales promotions and other marketing materials for products, services, fundraising campaigns, etc. It’s the craft of writing persuasive messages that prompt people to take action (buy something, inquire about a service, download a free eBook, donate to a cause, etc.).”
In a nutshell? “Copywriting is re-arranging words to make things sell better. It is a text form of salesmanship. But there’s a lot more to it than that.”
Meanwhile, there are numerous definitions of content marketing out there, but Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute defines it as:
“…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Copywriting vs content marketing: what are the main differences?
Similar though they may seem at first, the two practices have some key differences.
Content marketing involves creating and sharing free, multimedia content across various business channels, such as blogs and social media posts. The principal aim is to attract readers to your site and encourage positive brand recognition, usually over a long period of time.
Meanwhile, copywriting aims to directly, immediately lead the reader to take a specific action: whether that’s subscribing to a newsletter, calling you for more information, or buying your product. Effective copy will include a call to action and will be geared toward compelling the reader to complete that action.
Some examples of content marketing are videos, podcasts, infographics, and blogs, while copywriting examples encompass things like direct mail, sales pages, blogs, web pages and ads.
What is content marketing? A closer look
Content is chiefly created to relay information and can take the form of text, audio, video, imagery, social media, and many more mediums. Content marketing has the long-term goal of portraying your business or brand as a credible, trustworthy, authoritative figure within your industry.
People who read your content may not make a purchase or sign up to a mailing list directly afterwards; that’s totally fine. However, they may follow your blog or bookmark your site, because they recognise you as somewhere to turn to for fascinating, informative content. You’ve therefore cemented your brand in their minds – a great result.
How to measure the success of your content marketing
Your marketing strategy needs to include using various metrics and analytical tools to measure the success of your content.
If the results are not what you’d hoped, it may be because you’re producing materials which work well as pieces of content – articles that are insightful and enjoyable to read – but which are not successful as pieces of copy. Here are some copywriting elements which might be missing from your content.
Which copywriting techniques do you need to include in your content marketing?
- You need to produce a captivating headline. Very few readers will ever find out the valuable insights, facts and teachings your content has to offer if you give it a dull headline. The headline needs to instantly grab the reader’s attention, provoke their curiosity, and make it impossible for them to scroll past. Follow these foolproof tips to frame magnetic headlines.
- You need a call to action. Content marketing doesn’t need an explicit call to action in the same way copywriting does – you don’t have to include phrases like ‘click here’, ‘contact us’ or ‘buy now’. But if you don’t suggest some next steps – such as gently nudging viewers to read another one of your blogs or to check out your site’s homepage – they’re likely to click off your content and forget about you completely. Make sure you don’t lose them forever by planning out a journey for them to follow which will turn them into loyal readers and, eventually, repeat customers.
- Write well. It sounds blindingly obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. Talented copywriters are skilled at boiling down complex concepts into their most simple components. They use white space, simple language, subheadings, and short sentences to avoid overwhelming readers. To be accessible to as many people as possible, your content needs to do this, too.
What is copywriting? In more detail…
Copy is created by writers on behalf of a brand or business, to achieve specific goals – usually promoting the business’s goals, message, values, and products.
Copywriting should always centre around a call to action, and by the end, readers need to have a clear idea of what you want them to do next.
Copywriting communicates with a brand’s target buyer persona in order to strengthen B2C or B2B relationships – but it is always written with a specific reader in mind.
Measuring the success of copywriting
Again, you should perform marketing analysis in order to find holes and flaws in your strategy. You might be producing high-quality copy, but if it does not also work as powerful content, you could start putting off your readers. Here are the ways a good content marketing strategy can inform your copywriting:
Which content marketing principles do you need to follow in your copywriting?
- The copy needs to be enjoyable to read. It’s important to produce copy that works as a sales pitch, but if it’s too dull, monotonous or packed with jargon, your bounce rate will be staggering. Yes, copywriting is essentially advertising, but you need to disguise all that overt promotion behind fascinating, readable storytelling.
- You need to be generous. Ideally, readers will finish scrolling through your copy and think to themselves, “I can’t believe they gave me all that information for free.” Presenting yourself as a brand who generously divulges their expert knowledge is a sure-fire way to garner devoted readers.
- You need to write for humans, not just search engines. SEO skills will guarantee your copy gets found by the right audience. But all that tricky, technical work is useless if readers feel bored, intimidated or alienated by what they’re reading. Write copy that appeals to humans as well as robots.
Whatever you’re writing, you need to bear in mind the key principles and skills copywriters and content marketers use to make their words a success. While there are some key differences between the goals and purposes of these two types of content, an awareness of how they intersect is a vital element of the best marketing strategies.
Whether you’re looking for freelancers who can help you with your copywriting needs or to fulfil your content marketing strategy, speak to us at Copify today.
Main image credit: Rawpixel.com
Internal image credit: Rawpixel.com, Rawpixel.com, emirkhan bal