They are different! #Fact
Copywriting and content writing are too often mistaken to be the same thing. I mean, aren’t they? They’re both forms of writing to produce an output, right?
Wrong! As a matter of fact, copywriting and content writing differ in a variety of ways. Although the two seem to intertwine, they have some pretty distinct characteristics.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key differences between copywriting and content writing. I’ve also included some case studies that will show you how content writing and copywriting work.
Purpose: Awareness vs. Action
Copywriting and content writing are different with regards to the purpose for which they are written. Let’s begin with content writing.
Content Writing Aims to Spread Awareness
According to Search Engine Journal, content writing is producing a piece of writing that aims to educate the reader about a brand, product, or service. In this form of writing, thick and rich descriptions are given about the topic at hand. This largely helps the right audience become aware of a certain product or service.
Content writing educates.
Content can be about anything under the sun. Content writers usually provide high-value to the right audience. If they’re targeting athletes, content related to sports would be best. If they’re targeting entrepreneurs, startup or business content would be ideal.
So we can say that content writing simply educates readers.
Some types of content writing are technical writing, editorial and news articles, research papers, business articles, and feature articles among others.
Content writing’s ultimate goal is to educate readers and make them aware of your product or service. You want to help readers understand what your brand is about in a high-value blog post they’ll most likely be interested in.
Content writing also generates awareness.
According to Stephen Fairley, companies that blog more than 15 times a month experience traffic in their sites by five times more compared to those who don’t. That means companies who utilize content writing on a regular basis are able to create exposure for their brand, products, and services. Having updated content also helps to stay relevant to the target audience.
To help in creating traffic in sites, content writers would usually include keywords in their content. Keywords play a large part in search engine optimization (SEO) which help pages rank higher on search engines like Google. They emphasize specific words in their articles that could come up when related words are searched on the internet.
Content writing is often long-form and journalistic in nature, to allow the use of more keywords for SEO purposes. According to a study conducted by OkDork, blog posts that have around 3,000-10,000 words get the most social shares.
A longer article, however, doesn’t mean that it should be boring! Informative articles can be entertaining too. In fact, writing content is supposed to be as interesting as possible. You want to entertain your reader and make them curious to know more about what you’re introducing.
But you don’t want to be pushy and sell your product or service in content writing. The only thing you should be focusing on is making sure you are entertaining and educating your reader.
Your purpose is to help your audience understand your brand and/or the topic, not to convince them to buy from you.
Copywriting Aims to Invoke Action
Trying to sell your product or service is the job of a copywriter. Unlike content writing, copywriting is all about persuading readers to buy the product or service you’re selling.
Some know copywriting as short and catchy—kind of like what you would see on a poster or a TV advertisement.
“Just Do It”
“Finger Lickin’ Good”
These are indirect-response copy associated with famous brands Nike and KFC.
However, not all forms of copywriting are of the like. Long-form copy has been proven to convince people to buy products or services on the spot (no matter how high-priced they may be).
In fact, long-form copy converts better than short copy in most cases—especially if you use the art of direct-response copywriting to write copy.
Direct-response copywriting makes readers act now.
Direct-response copy aims to get readers to act immediately—right after reading the copy. Say goodbye to delayed buying decisions because you get results ASAP!
Some examples of direct-response copy are website pages, sales letters, product descriptions, and blog posts.
A copywriter’s job is not to talk about the product and explain its features like content writing.
Instead, a copywriter uses persuasive copy that speaks to the right audience and creative storytelling convince them to take action right now or they miss out on something if they don’t…
According to a study conducted by Conversion Verve, they were able to increase conversions by 63% by transforming short-form copy into long-form copy.
Users took action as soon as they finished reading the page (yes, even it was longer!) just because the long copy helped them clear any objections in their minds.
But don’t get me wrong, short copy can work better if there are little-to-no risk and commitment involved. The secret is using persuasive direct-response copywriting and knowing how long your copy should be.
This is why copywriting is considered to be a highly valued skill. It combines a mix of content writing, marketing, and advertising skills to be able to create copy that sells. To be an effective copywriter, you have to know what the people want, how to convince them to act, how to appeal to their emotions, and how to engage them to make a purchase.
Result: Trust vs. Sales
Content Writing Builds Trust
Content writing provides value and answers your readers’ questions. As people find your content valuable and interesting, they start trusting your brand more and more each day. It kind of works the same way as human relationships.
Who would you trust more? Someone you only met a few days ago or you’ve known for years?
The more you know about the person, the more you tend to trust them. It’s the same with brands, products, and services.
This is why content writing is important. It educates your reader and helps them build trust in your brand. A content writer should be able to discuss everything, so that any questions the reader might have are already answered in the content. In getting someone to invest in a product or service, building rapport first is necessary.
Take a look at this case study by Econsultancy:
A background screening agency called Rental History Reports set goals to:
- Increase traffic to their sites
- Reduce company spending
- Build trust with their audience.
To achieve these goals, they began content writing for their website and published blogs 3 times a week. Because of this, the company saw a 400% increase in traffic in their website in six months and more than half of the company’s sales are due to the traffic gained by their blog posts.
Rental History Reports was able to form a connection and relationship with their target audience through the blog posts they published weekly. The significant growth they saw is the result of good content writing.
Copywriting Generates Sales
On the other hand, copywriting is all about the company’s bottom line—getting more sales. What marks good copy is its ability to generate income. After reading a piece of copy, readers can decide to buy the product or service on the spot. You want that visitor in your website to click that “Buy Now!” button without hesitation!
Copywriting is using the available information and making it appealing. Copywriters take note of purchasing behaviors and desires of the target audience. They tell you what the product can do for you and how it will make your life better or more convenient. Some will convince readers that purchasing a certain product or service will guarantee stability, safety, happiness, etc. Therefore, a copywriter does not sell the product itself, but they sell emotions and desires.
More than having copy that sells emotions; an effective copy is also one that is action oriented. What do I mean?
For example, take a look The Wall Street Journal’s ever-famous direct-mail—hailed as the greatest sales letter of all time that generated an estimated $2 billion in revenue for The Wall Street Journal. And people did act as soon as they finished reading this letter, they immediately subscribed to The Wall Street Journal…
However, this doesn’t mean that copywriters are expert bluffers and liars—absolutely not. Copywriters are marketers and advertisers who have the skills to write effective and persuasive marketing copy.
They are those who can tweak content or information to generate action, which is often making a sale. But don’t think it’s okay to lie about products every now and then… Good copywriting is ethical and only persuades with truthful information. It’s just a matter of knowing what words to use.
This is why copywriters get paid a huge amount of money. Business owners know that a copywriter’s work can generate more sales and big bucks in the long run.
However, some companies still don’t know the importance of copywriting. Surprisingly, a lot of agencies are among these companies! Both content writing and copywriting play a large part in generating sales but there’s a fine line between the two.
Express Writers, for example, tried producing content and copy for their company. They produced several blog posts a week for their site pages. The result? A significant growth in traffic to their sites, a higher search ranking, and more clients as well!
So… which one’s better?
After discussing the differences of copywriting and content writing, you might be thinking which one’s better…
Truth be told, they’re both equally important since they help achieve different marketing goals. When you think about it, copywriting and content writing actually need each other to create effective results. Ideally, they should be paired up and work together to build a brand.
“Great Copywriters blend Content Writing and Copywriting into one beautiful article that’s simultaneously helpful to the reader AND makes the author money by selling or recommending helpful products.” – Neville Medhora
But, in the world of freelancing, direct-response copywriters get paid better and are in high demand simply because they directly affect sales.
It’s not unusual for companies to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a single copywriter just to write high-converting copy that sells, especially if the company can make 6-figures a month from this copy alone.
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Author: Chrizelle Anne So
Chrizelle is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication at De La Salle University. She works full-time as a Copywriter and Marketing Assistant in a renowned music and film agency in the Philippines. Chrizelle also works as a freelance copywriter in Copywriting Dojo.