Copywriting VS Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Content Marketing

Jul 15

From a conventional point of view, the answer is simple:

Copywriting is salesmanship in print. It’s designed to get the reader to take a specific action, such as make a purchase or subscribe to a newsletter. Copy is usually shorter than content, and more obviously sales-oriented. Headlines, calls-to-action, sales pages, and assurance messages are all forms of copy.

Content marketing is marketing that uses any form of content to acquire or retain customers.. Content is the long stuff: articles, ebooks, reports, podcasts, and videos. It’s used to build an audience. For example: Company X creates a free ebook and gives it to you in exchange for your email and permission to continue educating you.

Content informs. Copy persuades. Nuff' said. At least that's what some folks would tell you.

But is it really that simple? (hint, the article would end here if it was)

Of course not. At least, not if you’re doing it right.

Good Copy + Bad Content = FAIL

From the reader’s perspective, all copy is content, all content is copy.

Click to Tweet

Therefore, every word you write needs to fuel the persuasive process. This applies even if you’re not selling a product. You’re still selling something; be it an idea, a way of life, or a service.

For Example:

Jim has a site that provides online courses for people who want to learn more about gardening.

When a potential customer lands on his homepage the first thing they do is look to the short text (copy), in order to find the answers to a few key questions- “Am I in the right place?”, “Can this site help me?”, “If so, what do I do now?”

It’s the job of the homepage copy to answer these questions, or to at least provide an answer sufficient to compel the reader to dig a little deeper. The tone of the copy should also represent the broader mission and personality of the site.

Only after these questions have been answered and the reader feels comfortable will she start reading an article about gardening (content).

In this case the content’s purpose is to move the reader closer to buying a course. So it needs to be both informative AND engaging. It’s not a sales page, but the message should be clear that Jim knows what he’s talking about and can solve the reader’s problem.

In this way, the content takes on some of the characteristics of copy. The articles aren’t there to passively impart information- they’re purpose is to draw the reader in, and lead them down the path to a purchase.

Like copy, good content is always written with the needs of the reader in mind. It takes their hand and brings them into the fold. It simultaneously solidifies Jim’s authority as an expert and gains the reader’s trust.

Keys To Good Content

  • Good content builds trust. In an indirect manner, your content should convey the fact that you’re an authority on the topic, that you know what you’re talking about, and that you’ve got their best interest in mind. People won’t come to trust you because you tell them to, they’ll come to trust you because you show them you’re trustworthy.

  • Write with the reader in mind. Just like a product has to have a benefit to the buyer, your content needs to be rewarding to the reader, or they won’t stick around.

  • Back up opinions with evidence. This can be in the form of testimonials, research based facts and figures, case studies, or personal stories.

  • People hate advertising: in fact, they’ve developed a resistance to it. Make your advertising subtle and indirect, wrapping it in a fluffy blanket of awesome content.

  • Join the conversation. It’s much easier to inject yourself into an ongoing narrative than to be the catalyst for one. Keep an ear to the street and try to jump on a wave when it’s still in it’s infancy.

  • Give till’ it hurts. Those who reach the apex of online success aren’t afraid to give away amazing content for free. If you do your job right there will always be room for higher- level info you can charge a premium for. Try to make your free content better than your competitors paid content

Jim can be the best copywriter in the world, but his work is in vain if his content drags the reader down. Likewise, his amazing content would be wasted if his copy failed to engage the reader and convey a clear purpose and appropriate tone.

Bad Copy + Good Content = FAIL

For our purposes, content is useless when it exists simply for it’s own sake- or when it attracts untargeted traffic that isn’t interested in buying from you.

If you fail to support it with good copywriting techniques, even good content can undermine your sales process or stifle your reader’s momentum towards becoming a buyer/ subscriber.

This is why there’s plenty of blogs out there with tons of awesome articles, but few readers. Don’t let yours be one of them.

Remember, the purpose of copy is to prompt your reader to take a specific action. Proper copywriting techniques on your blog will get readers to subscribe to your newsletter, purchase your products, share your stuff on social media, and keep coming back for more.

That’s how you build a large, loyal audience.

Keys to Good Copywriting

  • People buy stories, not facts. Think about beer commercials… Do they show balding, overweight men watching Nascar in their undies? NO. They show young hard-bodies doing cool shit like surfing or playing football. People don’t want you to berate them with facts and figures, they want you to make them feel good.

  • Create magnetic headlines. Your headline is the first (and possibly only) chance you get to hook your reader. Make it count.

  • Don’t repeat yourself. Avoid saying the same thing over and over by not repeating the things you already said when you said them before.

  • Write for people, not search engines. Always write with the reader in mind; go back later and optimize your posts for SEO.

  • Know Thy Audience. Do your homework. Know who your readers are. Get inside their minds and address their questions and concerns before they have a chance to.

  • Don’t Over Write. Less is more. Keep it clear- focus on the message. Example: Instantly 10x your blog traffic and explode your online success and catapult your profits to the moon with the revolutionary, unimaginable tips found in this epic and cutting-edge new free ebook, for FREE!!!

  • Benefits NOT Features. Speak to your reader’s needs and wants. At the end of the day people won’t buy your product because it has more widgets than your competitor’s, they’ll buy it because of the way it makes them feel.

  • Tell them what to do. You should include clear, specific calls to action that tell people what they should do next. (This could be subscribe to your list, share your posts on Twitter, or buy your product.) Don’t just assume they’ll know, tell them.

The Takeaway

Great content marketing is the most effective way to build rapport with readers and sell without selling. It’s what keeps readers coming back again and again.

At the end of the day, a holistic approach that seamlessly intertwines copywriting techniques with your content is the most surefire path to success.

Pssssttt… Would you mind doing us a favor? If you enjoyed this article please share it on Facebook via the share buttons on the left… thanks :)

How about you? How are you using copywriting and content marketing to grow your audience? Let us know in the comments.

Share the Love!!