What’s the difference between copywriting and content marketing?

Lots of people use “content marketing” and “copywriting” interchangeably. But should they?

Not necessarily.

In most cases, content writing and copywriting are two different things. And they require different skills.

Most people think “copywriting” is any writing that persuades someone toward a sale.

So, in that sense, “content marketing” could be considered a type of copywriting. But not all copywriting is content marketing. (You know, in the same way, “All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles.”)

Confused yet? Don’t worry.

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How do copywriting and content marketing differ?

In my opinion, Ed Gandia, one of my favorite freelance writing business gurus, explained the difference best.

Here’s my paraphrase:

To close a sale, you need your customer to get from 0 to 100.

At 0, they don’t even realize they have a problem you can solve.

At 100, they purchase your product/service.

Content marketing helps get people about three-fourths of the way from 0 to 100. It “warms up” prospective customers through compelling, helpful, persuasive information. It brings attention to a problem you can solve and establishes you as a reliable expert.

Content marketing requires a long-term approach, since it’s more low-pressure. You don’t know how long it will take for someone to make their decision.

Examples of content marketing include:

  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • Case studies

Copywriting (more specifically, conversion copywriting) gets the reader the rest of the way to 100. It uses more persuasive, urgent language to help overcome hesitancy and convert a prospect into a paying customer.

Copywriting is meant to get people to act quickly—and make faster sales.

Examples of copywriting include:

  • Sales letters (including fundraising letters)
  • Traditional ads
  • Buyer’s guides
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Is it copywriting or content marketing? Check the CTA…

One big difference between content marketing and copywriting is the call-to-action (CTA) you use. The CTA tells the reader what to do next.

All good content marketing and copywriting has a CTA, but they serve different purposes.

For content marketing, the CTA usually targets someone who’s interested, but not yet ready to buy. It may be something like signing up for an email list or scheduling a demo. They help nudge the reader closer to making a purchase.

With copywriting, the CTA targets someone who is about ready to buy and needs to be encouraged to make that last decision. Links and buttons like “Buy now!” or “Start your free trial today!” are a good sign you’re dealing with conversion copywriting, not content marketing. This kind of CTA helps “close the deal.”

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Do you need a copywriter or a content marketing writer?

Some writers can do both content marketing and copywriting skillfully. Others specialize in one or the other. It all depends on what your needs and goals are.

If you’re looking to generate sales leads and “warm up” prospects with a long-term approach, look for someone with expertise in content marketing writing.

If you need to increase sales quickly, seek out a copywriter, particularly one with experience in getting high conversion rates.

Need to set the stage for a sale?

I specialize in creating well-researched, effective content marketing that makes life easier for marketing professionals and their organizations.

If you’re looking for someone to help generate leads and nudge readers along the sales funnel, let’s talk! Fill out this form to get a FREE quote.

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