The Differences Between Content Writing and Copywriting Explained

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The Differences Between Content Writing and Copywriting Explained

In a broader sense, copywriting does fall under the umbrella of content writing. After all, marketing and sales copy is also content and anyone who writes them is technically writing sales content. Therefore, it’s true that copy and content are not always mutually exclusive, but the two cannot be used synonymously when describing web content. Despite similarities, content writing and copywriting are classified as two different forms of writing, each with their separate styles, formats, and goals. As we discuss each of the two concepts separately and comparatively, their respective purposes and differences should become more evident.

What is Content Writing?

Content writing in its practical application refers to the practice of writing informational pieces to inform, educate, and help the target readers. The exact style and format will vary, depending on the subject, the target readers, the platform (blog, social media, email, main site, etc.), and the objectives driving the piece. For example, you are now reading a piece of content that’s meant to be educational for anyone who wants to know what separates copywriting from content writing. Since this post is meant to inform its target readers regarding the meanings, similarities, differences, and goals that define and differentiate content writing and copywriting, we can cite it as an example of content writing.

Criticism is another aspect of content writing, especially if that piece of content is meant to serve as a guide or a review. Honest film reviews, game reviews, product reviews, tech guides, DIY guides, etc. are classified as content and not copies because they help readers take more informed purchase decisions, rather than just pushing them towards buying anything specific. There are promotional aspects to genuine content as well, but we will get to that part later.

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What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the practice of writing persuasive, advertisement content that’s meant to promote and sell products (of any kind). Promotional content written by a copywriter with the intent of marketing and selling products is called marketing and/or sales copy. Promotional copy is also informational by nature because it is created with the goal of spreading positive awareness about the product(s) being marketed.

However, the informational value of ad and sales copy is low, especially when compared to actual content. Copywriters are paid to create ad copy that highlights the product’s best features, while skipping or veiling its shortcomings. As one can imagine, that inherent bias is what lowers the informational value of any content written by a copywriter. While ad and sales copy written by an expert copywriter can be quite persuasive and charming to the right audience, it should not be perceived as a source of genuine information.

A very common and extremely important example of copywritten content would be the landing page. The company webpage where a user arrives after clicking or tapping on an anchor is known as the landing page. Not all landing pages are created as sales copy of course but when doing so it is considered to be good practice. When a qualified lead with the intent to buy lands on a new page, well written sales copy boosts their chances of conversion significantly.

Created on the common themes of promotion, selective information sharing, and sales conversion, copywriters also create appropriately formatted ad copy for brochures, marketing and sales emails, social media posts and ads, press releases, brand mottos and taglines, mass media ads (TV, newspaper, magazine), radio ads, and billboards to name a few.

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What are the Differences that Separate Content Writing from Copywriting?

By now, the main similarities and differences between copywriting and content writing has likely started to make more sense to you, but we will delve in further to objectively point them out for a clearer understanding. Let’s divide each of their main differences into small chunks for better explanation.

Informational Vs. Promotional

Content writers are hired to write informational, educational, critical, and helpful blog posts, web articles, news articles, social media posts, email newsletters, guides, reviews, overviews, and the like. The informational content may or may not promote one or more product(s), but that is not the sole or even the primary objective of a genuine piece of web content.

They are the most effective marketing tools in content because informational content simultaneously inspires interest and then answers questions about that inspired interest. From a business’s perspective, marketing oriented content is what helps them identify the target audience and generate actual interest about the niche, and eventually the products therein.

Copywriters are hired to create ad and sales copy that is primarily meant for customers at the end of their sales funnel. These are promotional pieces which can only be effective when the customer is already well-informed and genuinely interested. Unlike content, sales conversion is both the primary and the only goal of a copy.

Marketing vs Sales

Both content and ad copy are used extensively to market brands and products, which is where the two may merge at times. However, there is a key difference that separates the two. As previously stated, marketing content is about spreading general awareness about the chosen topic first, and then informing the target audience about the product/brand being promoted. This is precisely what makes content writers ideal for creating content that’s more marketing and branding oriented.

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On the other hand, copywriters create promotional pieces that are exclusively dedicated to whatever it is that they are promoting. When a modern (potential) customer who is mildly interested in the concerned topic comes across ad copy, they are not likely to be impressed or converted into a paying customer. People know bias when they see it nowadays. Dedicated, promotional pieces enjoy the highest rate of success when the landing page is visited by an informed lead with a genuine interest to purchase. Therefore, copywriters create content that is more sales oriented.

Bias Vs Neutrality

Copywriters can never write unbiased copy because that would be in direct opposition to what they are supposed to promote. Although quality copy is written in such a way that the bias never feels unfounded or dishonest, a piece that’s written to promote something, cannot possibly be too critical of the same.

Marketing content writers also create promotional content, but they have a lot more freedom in terms of both criticism and neutrality. You will often find a single promotional article recommending multiple products from different businesses, in addition to citing the pros and cons of each. That is something that ad copy can never do. On top of that, copy can only exist when there is something to advertise, which makes it incapable of being neutral at any point. However, a content writer can be completely neutral and honest while writing reviews, guides, and suggestive blog posts.