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What’s the difference between copywriting and content writing?

Despite the two terms having been used somewhat interchangeably, copywriting and content writing are two different concepts. They sound like they’re doing the same thing. They’re both just writing, right? Well, yes, but there’s a difference in what they achieve. 

So what is the difference between copywriting and content writing? Mainly, intent. 

Copy persuades, content informs. Copy is written messaging with the intent to sell or promote something that a business or organisation offers, while content aims to convey information and knowledge on a product or subject with the intent to both educate and create brand awareness.

Let’s get into it. 

Why does the difference between copy and content matter?

Understanding the difference between copy and content is understanding how to effectively maximise different parts of your marketing strategy.

If you don’t understand what copy and content do individually for a brand, then you can’t optimise that strategy. 

Read on to learn what good copy does and what good content does.

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The art of copy

What does good copy do?

Copy is writing that has the primary goal of converting website traffic into leads and sales.

Examples of copywriting are:

  • Ads (print and online)
  • Website landing pages
  • Social media ads
  • Brochures
  • Product descriptions
  • Sales

Each type of copywriting requires different skills. Product descriptions require a different type of copy to social media posts, for instance, with contrasting tones of voice and targeted audiences.

Copywriting is all about converting. Generally, this means that copy is writing with a short-term goal, presented, more often, in short form. The job is to hook the reader in and persuade them to take action straight away. Results are more immediate and easily measurable. 

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The art of content

What does good content do?

Content is also persuasive writing, just executed with much more subtlety. A piece of content is designed to educate an audience and to provide valuable information on a subject without making a hard sell. When done well, it’s an artful way of increasing confidence in a brand and a brand’s ability to help the customer, with the view of potential future conversions because of this.  

The six key points of content writing:

Content is not a sales pitch

Because content writing is not selling anything in particular, calls to action are kept to a minimum. The aim is to just provide helpful, no-strings-attached information that relates to certain search queries and to the search intent behind those queries. 

Content drives traffic

Content writing functions to increase visits to a brand’s website by targeting different search queries and optimising pages to rank well on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for those particular search queries. More on how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes into it later.

Content increases brand awareness

Increased traffic means increased brand awareness: more people know that a brand exists and that it offers the product or service that they want or need.

Content increases brand trust

If the content is authoritative and informative, the user’s trust in a brand to fulfil the needs from their search query is gradually increased.

Content creates growth

And if more people know about a brand and the products or services it sells, and if more people trust in those products or services, more people will purchase them. That’s the end goal. 

Content is the ‘why’ behind a product, not the ‘buy’ 

Content can be an indirect way to educate people about the great benefit that comes from using your product or service, through the methods above. It is not a direct sales pitch. 

Examples of content writing include:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • How-to guides
  • Inspiration/ideas articles 
  • Newsletters

Though a content creation strategy is a long-term project and the results aren’t as immediately measurable as they are with sales copy, it’s an invaluable resource for putting a brand on the digital map. 

Effective, quality content creation is one of the best facets to include in a marketing strategy or marketing campaign. 

Content vs. Copy: Summary of the Key Difference

So, content writing is a long term method of building trust in a brand and driving organic traffic towards sales copy. Good sales copy then turns that traffic into leads. 

Utilising both is simply the most effective method of enhancing a digital marketing strategy.

Where Does SEO Come Into It All?

Being an effective copywriter of any kind is greatly enhanced by having an advanced understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A combination of careful research and masterful, creative copywriting with best SEO practices can make persuasive content that causes leads to skyrocket.

The digital marketing sector is rapidly growing because of the increasing importance of SEO tactics in enabling websites to rank and get traffic. There is little point in having a content strategy if the writer doesn’t understand how to properly signal to search engines.

However, successful SEO is the skilled combination of copywriting strategies that enables content to rank well on Google while also creating content that appeals to people, not just bots. It’s a delicate art.

Read more about the art of SEO from our digital marketing experts.