Content Writing vs Copywriting and why it matters to your content strategy
Content is king.
I'm sure you've heard that one before. In a busy digital market, good content cuts through the noise, positions your brand authentically, and drives tangible results. It's more important than ever to understand the different types of content, where they shine, and how to leverage them to your advantage.
You might use content writing and copywriting interchangeably – and you're not alone in doing that. But they're not the same thing, and both serve a distinct purpose in your digital marketing strategy.
So what's the difference?
Copywriting drives action. It's generally short-form, where each word is chosen carefully to drive the audience to action, like making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or booking an appointment (to name a few). The primary goal of copywriting is conversion, achieved through compelling headlines, product descriptions, ad copies, and calls-to-action (CTA).
Content writing is about crafting valuable and engaging material that educates, informs, or entertains your target audience. It's where the art of storytelling comes into play, and where you can nurture a deeper relationship between your brand and your audience. The core objective of content writing is to build trust and brand loyalty, and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. This can be done through blog posts, articles, whitepapers, downloadables, and more.
Content marketing vs copywriting: when do you use them?
Understanding the difference between content writing vs copywriting becomes a lot more nuanced when you look at it through the customer journey lens.
A lot of people zero in on the bottom of the sales funnel when it comes to content marketing, and it makes sense. You want your audience to convert – that's the whole point of digital marketing, right? But by focusing only on the bottom of that funnel, you're missing out on a huge potential audience that may eventually convert at a later date.
Incorporating both content writing and copywriting into your content strategy is not just a good idea; it's fundamental in effective content marketing.
During the Awareness stage, content writing plays a pivotal role. It's where potential customers are seeking information, answers, or insights. They might not even know that they need your product or service yet – and that's where well-crafted content helps attract your audience, educate them, and subtly introduce your brand without the hard sell.
So how do you do this?
Here at Dilate, our content strategy focuses on engaging and educating, like this blog you're reading right now. We also have blogs talking about understanding the power of search intent, how organic marketing can lead to long-term success, and how to scale your business growth with Google Ads. None of these specifically tell readers to work with us – we're simply showcasing our knowledge, educating our readers, and positioning ourselves as thought leaders in the digital marketing industry.
Think of a health supplement brand. They might create articles detailing the benefits of essential vitamins and minerals, educating readers on the importance of supplementation for overall well-being. Similarly, a personal training service might create a series of instructional blogs on home exercises or healthy recipes, providing value while also showcasing expertise.
This is where you'll also want to develop an effective way to do SEO to ensure you're capturing your audience's search intent and your content is getting shown to the right people in search engine results.
The initial engagement you get from this content not only satiates the audience's quest for information, but also starts laying down those first bricks of trust in and recognition of your brand.
As the customer transitions to the consideration stage, a blend of content writing and copywriting is essential. While your content continues to educate and engage, your copywriting can start to position your brand's offerings as viable solutions to the customer's needs, gently nudging them towards conversion.
What does this look like?
Take the example of an organic skincare brand. They may write a blog post comparing the benefits of natural ingredients versus synthetic ones, positioning their products as the superior choice. This may be paired with a stronger CTA or banner at the end of their blog.
A home automation company might create engaging newsletters that include both informative content on smart home trends and compelling copywriting that showcases their products as modern, convenient solutions.
For this stage, it's all about balance.
In the Decision stage, copywriting takes the lead. This is where persuasive copy aims to seal the deal and encourage your customer to take action. Whether it's clicking the 'buy now' button or signing up for a service, it's all about that compelling copy that drives the final engagement.
Take the example of an online clothing store. They might create enticing product descriptions and use persuasive CTA phrases like, 'Get yours today!' or 'Feel the comfort' with the 'Buy Now' button. Or a subscription-based meal delivery service might use persuasive landing pages showcasing testimonials alongside a catchy headline, like, 'Join thousands enjoying hassle-free dinners,' to encourage sign-ups.
The point is, this is where your brand can be the centre of attention. This is where you showcase all of your USPs (Unique Selling Points) and convince the audience that they need what you're offering.
Content & copy done right
There are a lot of brands out there that just get content marketing right.
Take Square, for example. Their homepage and service pages have some great examples of copywriting, like, 'Power your business with Square,' and 'Start selling with Square.'
But their blog section (or Business Resource Centre) doesn't really talk about their business at all. Instead, it serves as an information hub for their target audience: small to mid-sized business owners. They feature topics like, '10 Tips on How to Host a Wedding at Your Bar or Restaurant' and 'How to Open a Nail Salon.' They also feature a range of case studies. They've covered all bases, and addressed the entire customer journey.
Or take Zendesk, a well-known customer service and CRM software company. Their examples of effective copywriting are headlines like, 'Build lasting relationships with our complete customer service solution' and 'Sell smarter, not harder' – engaging copy that packs a punch and drives action. Their service pages highlight USPs in an enticing way and focus solely on how they can solve the problems of their target audience. They're working to convert.
But much like Square, Zendesk's blog section is a lot more general, with blog titles like, 'How to track consumer behaviour' and 'What is digital engagement?'
There are so many brands out there doing content right. Brands like MICHELIN, Mailchimp, Hubspot, Evernote... find any well-known brand and you'll see the way they skillfully marry copywriting and content writing together to create a killer content strategy.
Is content writing or copywriting better for my digital marketing strategy?
The above examples tell us something important: all of the big players in their respective industries are using both.
An effective content marketing strategy must have both content writing and copywriting to be effective. Both have their place, and both play a pivotal role in widening your net and converting consumers – whether that's now, or a little bit further down the line.
So, much like that quote from The Road to El Dorado: 'Both. Both is good.'
Measuring content success
Like any of your marketing efforts, you need to be able to measure your success. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential in determining whether your content marketing efforts are actually doing what they need to be doing.
For copywriting, success is often measured by things like:
- Conversion rates
- Click-through rates (CTR)
- Number of leads
- Number of sales generated
These are KPIs that everybody knows well, and that translate to real, monetary value.
But content writing works a little differently, so it's important you set realistic KPIs. For example, a blog capturing informational search intent is not likely to convert, so leads or sales are probably not something you'll want to measure.
You'll instead want to look at metrics like:
- Organic website traffic
- Page views
- Time spent on page
- Social shares
- Number of comments
- Inbound links
You're gauging engagement and the level of value delivered to your audience – and that requires a different set of KPIs.
Get in front of your target audience with effective content strategy
No one understands your target audience better than you. But sometimes, a little bit of guidance can help.
At Dilate, our content marketing and SEO experts work together to capture your audience at every stage of their journey. We work with you to make sure we understand your target market and serve them the right content at exactly the right time.
Ready to increase your engagement and grow your business? Let's talk.