Copywriting vs. Content Writing

woman copywriting at desk
Business image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

Think about the last ad you saw, watched, or heard. Maybe it was a radio jingle that’s now stuck in your head. It’s catchy, right? And it was likely written by a copywriter.

Often the words “copywriting” and “content writing” are used interchangeably. But they’re actually quite different approaches to marketing, requiring different techniques to be successful. Though they function differently, copywriting and content writing ultimately have the same end goal: to generate leads that convert into sales. And both are essential tools of a well-rounded and successful marketing strategy.

So, what’s the difference? How can you make use of both to jumpstart your marketing?

What is Copywriting?

Advertisements are everywhere in our lives. We see them in print and on the web, hear them on the radio, and watch them on TV. Experts estimate that each of us is exposed to an average of 5,000 marketing messages per day.

Of course, our minds don’t register all of these messages, though many slip through our subconscious. We may only consciously register a handful of the ads that we see. And it may take multiple impressions before an ad sticks in our mind.

With so much competition out there, it’s critical that your message stands out and leaves an impression. That’s why good copy is so important. Think about slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It” or “I’m Lovin’ It” from McDonald’s. Hearing these phrases triggers an immediate association with the brand, and they have inspired brand loyalty.

These slogans are an example of good copywriting, and illustrate the basic idea of what copywriting is: short-form content written with the intent to drive sales. We can define copywriting as writing meant to persuade the reader to take an action, typically to purchase a product or service.

Copywriting appears on any kind of advertising content you can think of, including a direct mail piece, a website landing page, a digital or print advertisement, and a sales email. All these pieces function as channels to increase company sales. While copywriting is not branding, it works to fuse your products/services and your company personality together to create a brand identity.

It’s important to be concise with copy. You have a limited amount of time to gain someone’s attention. Your copy must be short enough to be consumed in one glance (think “Just Do It”) or compelling enough that readers will be intrigued and eager to read more. You can think of copywriting as a three-step process:

  1. Create an emotional connection with your prospects by identifying a major pain point or desire
  2. Cultivate need by showing that escaping pain or achieving desire is possible for the prospect
  3. And position your product/service as the solution (with a call to action)

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is written to inform. It should also be engaging, if not entertaining, and it must align with your brand’s personality and voice. Though it still functions to increase sales, content writing does so in a less blatant way than copywriting.

Offer your customers informational content to help them solve problems in your area of expertise. This could be in the form of a blog, video, ebook, or whitepaper. Customers will often do a great amount of research before committing to a purchase. If you position yourself as an expert in your field, it will attract more sales in the long term. You can provide your customers with answers to questions before they even have to ask.

Through consuming your content over time, you will build trust with your audience, eventually converting them to customers. Content writing leads to sales by information and examples, rather than a snappy sales pitch. Since content writing doesn’t have to be as concise as copywriting, you can expand upon your topic and really show your knowledge.

It also has the added step of requiring search engine optimization (SEO). Keep key words and SEO in mind when writing to ensure that your content is found on the web. Web searchers can ultimately become clients—but only if they can find your content. Content writing pieces are also the type of marketing content your customers will share, often on social media.

What Can Content and Copywriting Do for You?

Here’s how to think of the difference between copywriting and content writing, using the example of Nike. Through copywriting we can learn that Nike is a fitness apparel company focused on being trendy and active, as well as advocating customers to achieve their fitness goals. This is their brand. With their content writing, Nike can establish themselves as qualified activewear providers by creating content to inform their audience on topics related to fitness, athletic footwear, and health/wellness goals.

Copywriting_Increase_Sales_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Want even more of a comparison? Check out this conversation between a professional copywriter and a content marketer.

The important thing is that neither copywriting nor content marketing works very well without the other. Including both copywriting and content writing in your marketing strategy is critical for development of a well-rounded marketing plan. Businesses need a concise sales pitch to drive sales and increase brand awareness. And long-form content is becoming more and more crucial to development of a brand’s story and credibility.

Both types of writing offer value to the customer, whether by showing them ways you can solve their problems or by providing them with high-quality information that they’ll find useful. They can be used in conjunction to turn leads into return customers and ambassadors for your brand.

Though each type of writing requires a different thought process, both must be well-written, and require the writer to be in the mindset of the audience. The prospect is the most important person in the copywriting process. You have to speak to them in ways they can understand and relate to. If you aren’t reaching your prospective audience, your marketing efforts will be for naught.

While writing is an essential piece of the marketing process, we know it’s challenging to find time to give your written content the attention it deserves. At Paw Print & Mail, we offer copywriting and content writing services that will help enhance your marketing strategy. Contact us today to get started on your next marketing project.

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