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Copywriting vs Content Writing: Choosing the Right Approach for Your Business

Copywriting and content writing both have their place in business, but most people use the two terms interchangeably. In reality, these two writing forms are very different, from the skills and styles they require to their goals. Read on to learn the differences between them, and how you can use them both to grow your business.

TL;DR

  • Good copywriting is persuasive, clear, concise, audience-focused, well-structured, and error-free. It grabs attention, resonates with readers, and guides them toward taking action.
  • Copywriting comes in different flavors: social media copywriting for catchy campaigns, SEO copywriting for encouraging action, direct response copywriting for immediate responses, and product copywriting for promoting products and services to others.
  • Content writing is all about captivating readers: it’s engaging, well-researched, search engine optimized, shareable, and audience-focused. It delivers valuable information, builds brand loyalty, and establishes a strong online presence.
  • Copywriting sells with flair, focusing on persuasion, product features, and quick action. Content writing goes beyond sales, emphasizing information, long-term value, storytelling, connections, empathy, and providing insights that go beyond a sales pitch.

Understanding copywriting: key characteristics of persuasive copywriting

When done correctly, great copywriting is invisible. Readers don’t trip over copywriting, or spend time admiring it. Copywriting comes at a pace. It moves readers on their way as if subconsciously.

However, to get there, you need to see it like a science. It has techniques, steps, and well-thought-out methods. If you don’t know them, you won't be able to develop the beautiful persuasive copy that you want.

Here are the key features of great copywriting:

Clear and concise copy is paramount 🙌

Copywriting needs to pack a punch. You’re often working with limited word counts, space on the page, or a tiny attention span. Get what you need to say across quickly, and avoid any room for confusion from your readers.

Be customer-centric 🕴️

Copywriting dances to the tune of its readers, aiming to serve them bite-sized, joyful, content that resonates effortlessly—like cupcakes! With a clear mission in mind, copywriting strives to forge a connection with its intended audience immediately. It needs to deliver its message in a relatable manner, often playing on a customer pain point.

It needs to be well-structured like a map 🗺️

Copywriting should be structured in a way that allows the reader to be guided toward the end goal of the piece–picture a step-by-step treasure map. This means being well-structured, persuading the reader to make a certain action, and having them arrive at that decision by the time they read the final word—with ease.

Persuasive and action-oriented 🎯

At the heart of copywriting lies the mission to ignite action within readers once they've devoured your words. Persuasion in copywriting has the power to entice readers into a world where they can't resist making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, or diving into a plethora of other enticing offerings your business has in store for them. But, it needs to get them over to that world and mindset.

Flawless and playful where it makes sense 🤓

In persuasive writing, errors stick out like a sore thumb and distract the reader from the goal of the piece. Copywriting needs to be free of errors so that the reader can focus on what you are offering them–not making mental notes of the missing commas and the little typos made. Your writing will win hearts if it's playful, but there’s a time and a place and play should not be a substitute for clarity or legibility.

What are the different types of copywriting?

Copywriting has many faces. After all, persuasive writing can be used for a lot of different purposes and in various different formats, channels, and industries. Let’s have a look at some of the most important copywriting types:

Short and trendy: social media copywriting 🤳

Copywriters for social media write copy for businesses to use on their social media posts. They are the catalysts for social media campaigns, writing catchy phrases to trend on social media platforms and helping a company’s social media presence flourish while ensuring their campaigns convert.

More on the technical side: SEO copywriting 🧰

SEO copywriting combines persuasive writing with SEO techniques to drive action, like purchases or subscriptions. It optimizes content with keywords to boost organic visibility, attracting targeted traffic on popular search engines. This skillful writing engages both search engines and human readers, inspiring readers to become valuable customers while remaining at the top of search engine rankings.

Get readers to act: direct response copywriting 🎬

Direct response copywriting is essentially an immediate call to action. It’s persuasive writing that encourages a customer to act right after they’ve finished reading, usually to make a purchase. However, it can also be to sign up for a subscription service, where the copywriter would require SaaS copywriting skills.

Showcase your expertise: blog copywriting 👩‍🔬

Blog copywriting, something used a lot for the B2B industry, is the art of crafting persuasive content that communicates the value and benefits of a company's products or services to other businesses. This specialized writing is typically distributed online or in brochure format, aiming to capture the attention of potential business clients and convince them of the advantages offered by the company.

Want to become a SaaS copywriter? Here are the 17 soft and hard SaaS copywriting skills you’ll need!

 

The anatomy of content writing: understanding characteristics of useful content

Content writing includes loads of different styles and purposes. Let’s explore some of the most in-demand characteristics and tactics in this realm.

Kiss your readers hello or you’ll kiss them goodbye 💋

Content writing should grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading until the end. It’s not enough to simply provide the reader with the information they need, the information also needs to be written in a way that is engaging and straightforward. A quick way to remember this is to KISS your readers: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

If it’s not well-researched, it’s not good content 🔬

As the main goal of content writing is to inform, it must be well-researched in order to supply the reader with the accurate and useful information they’ve been searching for. Content writing has to offer the reader valuable insights. Presenting false, misleading information, or grand claims that aren’t backed up will quickly ruin your reputation.

SEO is a must today 👨🏻‍💻

In order for content writing to be worthwhile and easy for readers to find, it needs to be optimized for search engines. By employing search engine optimization best practices, content becomes a magnet, drawing traffic to a business’s website.

This not only ensures that existing customers and readers can rediscover the site whenever they crave topic-specific information, but also propels the content writer and brand towards expansion, amplifying reach and captivating a wider audience.

Looking for SEO and content services? Here at dslx, we offer exactly what you need to grow your business.

Let the sharing frenzy begin 📫

When it comes to business and brand growth, nothing beats the power of good old-fashioned word of mouth. In the digital marketing realm, this translates to equipping your readers with the tools to easily share articles and other captivating content with their community who could benefit from it.

Without this seamless sharing ability, the potential reach of your content will remain confined, missing out on reaching the very people who would find it truly indispensable. When in doubt, plug a request at the end of your article for people to share it.

Put your audience at the heart of your content 💚

Just like with copywriting, crafting content for your business demands a laser-like focus on your audience. Getting to know your audience inside-out is an absolute game-changer. And, dishing out content that tickles their fancy and leaves them craving more helps build an army of loyal followers for your brand. Get ready to shower your audience with content that's as enticing as a cup of strong Colombian coffee on a sunny morning.

What are the different types of content writing?

Content writing encompasses a variety of distinct types and use cases. Let’s look at some of the most common ones.

When you’re trying to explain something tricky: technical writing 🤓

Technical writing relates to any writing where complex and sometimes difficult-to-understand information on a topic or industry terminology is made simpler for a reader who may need the information to complete a task.

Although technical writing is often thought of as writing programming manuals or other science-based writing, it can actually be used in any industry when complicated ideas are simplified and explained to a reader.

When you want to showcase your product or business on a website: blogging 📚

Blogging is widespread now (there are 4.4 million new blogs published per day!) and it’s commonplace that a business will have a blog where articles relevant to their product or service will be published. A blog is a place where informative content is published, building a stronger relationship between the brand and customer by providing help and insight on topics that will be of interest to them.

Pardon the self-promotion, but here’s a prime example of a blog where we explain a very relevant topic to our users: Check out this post on using AI for articles and generating content.

When you want to hop on the social train: social media marketing content 🚂

Social media content marketing is content that’s written specifically for social media, to build brand reputation and interact with followers and potential customers. Unlike social media copywriting, social media marketing is used to inform followers and build loyalty between a business and its customers, rather than being a call to action. It increases a positive sentiment and keeps your business top of mind.

What are the differences between copywriting and content writing?

Persuasion vs. Information

Copywriting is the smooth talker of the writing world, using persuasive tactics to entice readers into action. It's all about getting them to hit that "buy now" button or eagerly join your email list.

On the other hand, content writing takes a more informative approach, serving up valuable knowledge to the reader. It's like sharing a treasure trove of insights and ideas the reader can take away with them.

Features vs. Value

Copywriting is an excellent way to highlight the features of the product or service your brand wants to promote, whereas content writing is a great way to showcase the long-term value of the brand itself.

Content writing isn’t only about your product, but about how you can inform and help your audience outside of your main selling point yet inside your area of knowledge and expertise.

Selling vs. Storytelling

Copywriting focuses on selling products or services, aiming for concise persuasion. In contrast to copywriting, content writing builds rapport and longevity with readers.

While copywriting has a singular goal and shorter format, content writing allows for longer articles and blog posts that develop the brand's story and foster audience loyalty.

Profits vs. People

One of the main differences between copywriting and content writing is that copywriting is focused almost solely on sales, but content writing helps to create a deeper connection with your target audience.

These connections can lead to sales in the future, but they also help to secure your brand as a trusted source of information in the industry.

Sales Pages vs. Social Media

Copywriting is often not very interactive for the reader, by this we mean it’s mostly ads that are not really shareable on social media. On the other hand, content writing, because it discusses ideas, can be much more shareable. People want to share interesting reads they’ve found or ask others for their opinion.

This means that it’s possible to create a community within your audience, leading to a long-term customer base with content writing.

Making the write choice for your business: 5 factors to consider when deciding between copywriting and content writing needs

1. What are your business goals? 🎯

If you have to choose between copywriting and content writing, it’s important to decide what you intend to achieve with either discipline. If you’re keen to produce more sales or to cause the reader to take immediate action, copywriting will benefit you by persuading the reader to do these things.

However, if you’re more interested in building a long-term audience and creating a community surrounding your company, with long-term sales and retention in mind, content writing will be the way to go.

2. Who is your target audience? 👀

The target audience that you’re writing for is important when it comes to deciding between copywriting and content writing. Copywriting is often targeted towards people who already follow your brand, or for people who are looking for a specific product or service that you can provide them. It’s the copywriter’s job to persuade them to take action.

However, content writing is often based on acquiring a bigger audience for a brand through articles, whitepapers, newsletters, and general information that may be helpful to them. This contributes to a long-term marketing strategy that copywriting can then turn into sales.

3. What medium do you need to publish on? 📚

While some mediums can work for copywriting and content writing, there are some that are used exclusively for each.

For example, advertisements, slogans, and email campaigns are generally in need of copywriting. Whereas, blog posts, guides, and newsletters are left to content writers. Social media is one of the few mediums that can house both copywriting and content writing in slightly different styles.

4. How developed is your brand voice? 🗣️

Copywriting and content writing send quite different messages to your audience. Copywriting tends to sound more like a call to action for your readers, whereas content writing can be more informal and conversational.

It’s important to evaluate the tone you want to set for your brand before you decide whether to focus more on content or copywriting.

5. What budget do you have? 💰

As content writing is used as part of a long-term marketing campaign, it is expected that the upkeep of content production can be more expensive than copywriting. However, this is not the case. In fact, copywriting services are more expensive than content writing–why? There are various reasons but as copywriting is usually directly related to landing pages and conversions they are more highly valued.

Instead, gauging how good a content writer is can be more complicated, and many companies don’t understand their importance well enough. So, they hire average writers to do their blogs–and when they don’t see results with time they blame it on the general concept of content writing, not on the specific writer they’ve hired.

To put these facts in numbers, a top-tier content writer–those that go on Forbes, for example–can earn up to $6,000 per 4K words article. Instead, a single landing page by a top copywriter can go for up to $25,000–and let me tell you, it won’t have 4K words in it.

However, in the long term, content writing can fuel more sales and a more loyal customer base, so this is something to consider when deciding which route to take.

Click here to read about how dslx can help with your content writing needs.

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Copywriting vs. content writing FAQs

How do the audiences for copywriting and content writing differ?

The audience for copywriting will be in the market to buy something or to take immediate action. It’s likely that they’re already in need of the product or service you can provide. By contrast, the audience of content writing might be looking to learn something specific or become more informed in a certain area that you specialize in. They might not be looking to make an action or purchase immediately, but are looking for information.

What is the purpose of copywriting vs content writing?

The purpose of copywriting is to persuade the reader to take action, whereas the purpose of content writing is to inform the reader. An action could be making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, or paying for a service.

Can copywriting and content writing be used together in a marketing campaign?

Yes, they can, and most successful marketing campaigns use both. Using both content writing and copywriting in your campaign will help to grow your audience and brand loyalty in the long term, while also persuading readers to take set actions in the short term. The best marketing campaigns have goals in the short term but also focus on building a long-term audience.

How does the tone of copywriting and content writing differ?

Tonally, copywriting and content writing can differ significantly. Copywriting tends to be focused on selling, with the goal of the writing made clear to the reader instantly. However, content writing can be more informal, but is also more informative. Where copywriting is to the point, content writing can tell stories and explore relevant tangents.

How do I measure the success of copywriting vs content writing?

The success of copywriting is measured by whether readers do the action you want them to. This could be things like buying your products, signing up for your newsletter, or joining your email list.

Content writing is trickier to gauge, but if you’re gaining more followers on social media or getting more people to visit your website, it’s a good sign. Ultimately, the key to content marketing and writing success is building a loyal fanbase who keeps coming back for more.

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Cristina Rojas Colloridi
Cristina Rojas Colloridi was the second full-time team member at dslx. She started as a part-time junior content writer and now works as a full-time Account Manager. Born and raised in sunny Colombia, Cris manages many of dslx’s US-time-zoned clients and freelance writers. Cris has achieved a Brazilian Jiujitsu silver medal, an open water swimming gold medal, and a half-marathon personal record—it’s hard to say which moves quicker: Cris’ legs or typing fingers!

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