What’s the difference…and why does it matter for your business?
When you’re growing your business, marketing is almost always top of mind. That’s because as CEO and business owner, it’s your job to grow your audience, bring in new leads to your pipeline, and attract the kinds of potential customers that convert to sales for your bottom line.
But marketing can feel opaque for most of us, especially if that’s not your area of expertise or specialty. And when you’re assessing the ROI—the value of time you need to put in and the revenue or output of your efforts—it’s important to spend your limited time and energy wisely.
When you’re considering your marketing efforts in the digital space in particular, you need to understand when to use copywriting instead of content marketing to create your marketing collateral. Because while many business owners assume they’re the same thing, they serve very different purposes and goals.
Let’s break down the differences.
First, what’s copywriting?
Copywriting originated alongside the newspaper boom in the early 20th Century. Copywriters were essentially ad copywriters, using persuasive tactics and techniques to sell products through the paper, and later other forms of advertisements (queue the Mad Man theme song…).
But beyond Don Draper, copywriting has changed drastically in recent years with the popularity of digital marketing. Today, most businesses know they need a website, paid online advertising, and a content strategy presence to succeed.
Copywriting today includes writing persuasive web copy to sell products, services, and digital courses for businesses. Copywriters are concerned with persuasion through marketing copy, as well as brand messaging and awareness, and can write a range of sales copy:
- Website copy
- Paid ads
- Facebook or Instagram ads
- Sales pages
- Launch funnels
- Email sequences
- …and more
Any sales copy that is created to make a sale? That’s copywriting.
When do you need copywriting
Copywriting is more than just appealing words on a page. It involves customer research, surveying, interviewing, product and marketplace positioning, and a deep understanding of the brand.
It’s a particular type of writing that serves one purpose: to sell. Here are some times to use copywriting techniques in your marketing:
- When you’re launching a new product or service
- When you’re creating a sales funnel, paid, ad, or sale page
- When you need persuasive, effective website copy for your homepage and other core pages
- When you need a tagline, slogan, or other branded copy
How content writing is different
As opposed to copywriting, content writing is concerned with awareness, education, and relationship-building. This style of writing is more about connection and brand awareness than persuasion and ‘the close’. In fact, many would argue that content writing is most effective as a top-of-the-funnel technique. That means, when you’re considering your sales funnel, the top is awareness, cold prospects, and others who are encountering your brand for the first time.
That’s why content writing is so effective for things like:
- Storytelling and journalism
- Blog writing and other educational content
- White papers, case studies, and long form copy that draws in leads
Content writing is the bridge from unknown brand to household name. It connects, builds authority, and inspires relatively unaware prospects to interact with your brand.Content writing is the bridge from unknown brand to household name. It connects, builds authority, and inspires relatively unaware prospects to interact with your brand. Read more: Click To Tweet
When you need content writing
Content writing is highly effective when you need to either tell your brand story or grow your online presence and authority. In both cases, you can expect your efforts to yield results like leads, followers, and mentions.
Content writing is also an important strategy for growing your SEO strategy—that is, bringing more people to your website from search. Blogs and other free educational or how-to content plays a big role in this.
Here’s when you’ll want to focus on content writing in your marketing:
- When you’re focused on SEO
- When you’re launching and growing your blog
- When you want long form content like a white paper or resource
- When you want to interview customers or tell your brand story
So, which do you need?
The short answer is that you need both copywriting and content writing to make a meaningful impact in your online marketing efforts. That’s because your sales funnel will require both strategies at different points of the conversation:
For new and unaware prospects: Attract with free content, blogs, educational resources, and guides that
For cold to lukewarm prospects: Help them understand your brand by providing your story and building engagement over shared values. Share free resources, collect leads, and begin to introduce your solution as a direct way to meaningfully help your prospects.
For warm prospects: Engage over email, build relationships, tell stories, and begin to sell your solution.
For hot prospects: Provide informed copy that persuades with compelling copy and arguments you know your prospect needs to hear.
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About The Author
Rachel Gogos is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for people, the web, and creating strong personal brands. She started her career at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, where she helped create the look and feel for the organization’s first website. Today, in her current role running brandiD, Rachel channels over 15 years of marketing and communications experience into each and every website for brandiD’s clients. Find out more!