Copywriting vs. Content Marketing: Which One Do You Need?

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Andrew Copeland
By Andrew Copeland

November 3, 2021

A writer is just a writer, right?

The truth is…not really. While finding somebody who is “good at writing” to handle content might be a viable short-term solution, you’ll need to clearly define your marketing goals if you want to build a scalable team you can have confidence in. 

The terms copywriting and content marketing are sometimes used interchangeably and this can be confusing. It’s important to understand that they are actually two different roles that require different backgrounds and skillsets. You may be able to combine them into one role as a short-term solution, but as I said, you will be better off if you can clearly define your needs and find the right candidate to meet your expectations.

If you want to learn the real difference between copywriting vs. content marketing and find out which is better for your business, keep reading.

Copywriting vs. Content Marketing

Copywriting and content marketing are two closely related disciplines and they depend on each other quite a bit. But there are some key differences to keep in mind if you want to make the right move.

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is geared toward achieving a direct short-term goal like generating sales through specific actions. It is straightforward, has strong calls to action, and conveys valuable information like price and special offers in order to motivate people to take immediate action. 

copywriting for a solar company on display ads, CTAs, and email marketing

Good copywriting is short, attractive, persuasive, emotional, and entertaining. It involves concepts, creativity, and a focus on brand voice. Some common forms of copywriting include:

  • Website copy
  • Calls to action (CTAs) 
  • Headlines
  • Display ads
  • Email subject lines

Think of copywriting as being more closely related to sales; it inspires the reader to take a specific action like calling or making a purchase. So if you have short-term goals like refining your website, running ads, or starting email marketing, you are probably looking for a skilled copywriter. 

What is content marketing?

While copywriting is a more direct, persuasive type of writing, content marketing is geared toward trust, education, and authority. Content marketing supports long-term goals, like thought leadership, and helps to create awareness of your brand. 

examples of content marketing on a marketing agency resource page

Content marketing is less about making the sale and more about building relationships with potential customers. It aims to increase brand awareness, attract new customers, and build compounding traffic over time. The writing itself needs to be informative and come from a place of authenticity.

Examples of content marketing include:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks
  • Video series’
  • Webinars
  • Case studies

Think of content marketing as being more related to journalism. Good content marketers are skilled at creating long-form content. They do research, conduct interviews, and are knowledgeable about SEO. If you have long-term goals like building a brand and ranking high in search results, you are probably looking for a content marketer on your team.

Two Peas in the Same Pod

While the phrase copywriting vs. content marketing implies that the two disciplines are at odds with each other, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They actually complement each other very well. Think of it this way: content marketing tells people who you are and copywriting tells them why they should care.

A well-crafted content strategy makes use of both disciplines to maintain a steady stream of new business opportunities coming in. You can have amazing website copy but if nobody is coming to it, it’s going to be a wasted investment. 

Conversely, you can have a perfectly optimized blog with an extensive resource library available, but if your leads aren’t taking that final step and turning into opportunities, your content marketing investment isn’t doing much good either.

If you really want to market your business effectively, you will need to fill both roles at some point.

Create a Well-Balanced Content Strategy

Not all writers are the same. Both copywriting and content marketing are designed to generate more business opportunities. But the main difference is in the vision. Copywriting focuses on short-term goals like clicking on an ad, filling out a form, or opening an email. Content marketing focuses on long-term goals like growing your contact list, building trust, and ranking high in the SERPs. 

You may not have room in your budget for a big marketing team, but your planning should go further than to simply “hire a writer.” Keep in mind that there are different types of writers out there with unique skill sets, so understanding your marketing goals and taking your time with interviews will yield much better results in the long run.

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