What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting?
Our world is full of things that are similar, but also really different. It might be easy to tell apple cider from apple juice (one’s foggy, one’s clear), but how do you really tell a hawk from a falcon, an opera from a musical, or tacos from burritos? (Aren’t some soft-shelled tacos just small, poorly wrapped burritos?)
In the marketing world, it’s easy to confuse copywriting and content marketing.
One person might say, “I wrote that copy,” and another, “I wrote that content.” In this case, we all might be talking about the same thing. However, content marketing and copywriting are distinctly different.
What is content marketing? What is copywriting?
Let’s start with the basic differences:
Content marketing refers to the creation of shareable content — whether it’s videos, blogs, eBooks, podcasts or magazines — that brands publish to increase brand awareness, establish trust with an audience, attract new customers, nurture leads and ultimately drive sales. The goal of an organization’s content marketing efforts is to create content that customers find useful and entertaining.
Content marketing should not look, sound or feel like an explicit advertisement.
On the other hand, copywriting is a much more direct form of marketing. Good copywriting is usually short, succinct, funny and enticing and prompts readers to take a specific action, to “buy now because quantities are limited,” to “sign up for a free assessment,” to “talk to one of our specialists today” or simply put, to read whatever content follows.
Some of the familiar types of copywriting include calls to action and SEO. Just like headlines are there to get your content noticed, SEO copywriting helps your content appear more prominently in search results.
The two might be different, but copywriting and content marketing should not be kept apart.
Let’s put it this way: A drum is different from a guitar. Sometimes you want a steady rhythm, other times a catchy melody. Each instrument has a different purpose, but one thing is certain: You’re not going to rock ‘n’ roll without both.
How is copywriting used in content marketing?
You might have already produced a well-written, thoroughly researched, expert piece of content. This piece of content could position your company as a thought leader and undoubtedly generate leads that will turn into new clients.
If they read it.
And that’s a big if.
You could (and probably should) promote the piece of content through paid media tactics; however, having strong copywriting skills can help catch readers’ attention on social media, in email campaigns and in search engine results.
Here are some basics of good copywriting and how it can get your content seen:
- Strong headlines do a lot of heavy lifting. Headlines grab the reader’s attention, tell them what the content is about and entice them to click. Make sure to avoid clickbait-style headlines, which Facebook now penalizes.
- Research keywords and know how to use them. Thoroughly researching the search volume of the keywords for your topic based on a competitive analysis and knowing how to incorporate them are fundamental to ensuring your content shows up in search results.
- Optimize for search engines. SEO copywriting involves more than keywords. We wrote a whole 10-part blog series that explains how Google assesses quality content and how you can get your pages to appear higher in search results. This includes factors such as making sure content is readable and comprehensive, it establishes expertise, incorporates quality links and so much more.
- A strong call to action. Include definite statements that compel readers to learn more or stay in touch. This is, after all, a big step to turning those visitors into paying customers.
Put your money where your copywriting is
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been a victim of a clever copywriter’s machinations and truly thought we were clicking on a link that would blow our minds, or leave us truly amazed by what a woman found in her cereal box.
And as we all know, there really isn’t one ridiculously simple trick that chefs at fancy restaurants don’t want people to know.
Clickbait is the scourge of the internet, and it’s important you not be tempted to use this deviously effective way to lead people to your site.
If you don’t have anything to back up that clever headline, people will click the back button in disgust. When a visitor clicks away from a site without taking any action or spending any time on the site, it’s known as a “bounce back.” A high bounce-back rate decreases a page’s chance of appearing in search engine results.
A clever, intriguing headline will only get you so far. If you don’t have great content to back it up, you can get burned. Your business will have a harder time ranking higher in search results and your audience could develop a distaste for your brand.
Why is content marketing important?
In a world of catchy headlines, technical SEO and intimidating terms that can make your head spin, many are relieved to know that a huge part of effective content marketing is producing great content.
What makes good content? That’s like asking what makes good writing. There is no formula.
While it’s vital to have effective copywriting and an SEO strategy that will optimize your search rankings, you still need good old-fashioned quality writing. It answers your audience’s questions. It’s easy to read. It cites experts and credible sources. It’s trustworthy. It’s useful. (Here are some writing tips from journalists-turned-content writers.)
Think of copywriting as a good sign or billboard you see on a long, cross-country drive. It catches your attention and lets you know about a must-see attraction. But there better be something there when you arrive. That something is the content. And to run a successful business, that roadside attraction needs both: the eye-catcher and the substance.
Brandpoint’s team of professional writers can help turn your goals and ideas into high-quality, valuable marketing content. Learn more here.