Copy Writing Vs. Content Marketing – What’s The Difference?

Copywriting Vs. Content MarketingI think that it would be an understatement to say that there are many people (even online) who are a bit confused about the terms copywriting and content marketing.

You may be confused about the two yourself. Maybe you thought that they were one and the same thing all together.

The idea for this post, actually came to me because of a blog comment I read last week where someone didn’t know the difference between the two.

But why is it important to know the different?

Well, if you are writing online to market your product or service, and even if you need to hire a writer, I think that you should know the difference between the two.

Copywriting and content marketing are two different types of content with two different agendas. In this post I’m going to fully explain the difference between the two, so you won’t ever be confused again.

What is Copywriting?

If I were to write the definition of the term “copywriting” I would say that copywriting is seeking the potential buyer’s attention and cleverly convince him or her to buy, by using emotional triggers.

As a copywriter, the better you’ll be at using those emotional triggers by putting them well together, the more successful your copywriting will be.

Another misconception about copywriting is that this type of content refers to only sales letters, but that isn’t true at all. Copywriting content is used in newsletters, emails, press releases, brochures, memos, reports and other type of written pieces.

Copywriting doesn’t have anything to do with the format it’s written into, it has to do with the type and style of writing.

 The Art of Copywriting 

Copywriting requires a line by line crafty design.  The first of such line being the headline.

A good copywriting piece will have a knock out headline that usually will require a lot of thinking on the part of the writer.  At times it may requires some tweaking over and over until you get it right.  The higher you get paid for your copywriting, the more tweaking, trying and testing you’d probably need.

The better the headline, the more money the copywriting  piece will bring in.  A bad headline could simply sink a product into total failure.  Headlines are always important, but even more so in copywriting.

When the copywriter is done with the headline, however,  it doesn’t mean they can now relax. They are going to need to keep that sentence by sentence work of art to keep the interest of the reader/buyer alive, and nudge that potential buyer to make the decision to buy.

Now, there are as many copywriting styles as they are copywriters.  You could pick 10 of the best copywriters out there, and you’d notice that each have a different style, but that doesn’t mean that one style is less or more efficient than the other. However, there are some noticeable features that you can recognize in copywriting. Let’s see what they are.

The Trademark of Copywriting

If you’d write your sales copy as a college paper, you would be fired as a copywriter in a heartbeat. Copywriting is meant to make people feel and act, so it’s full of sort sentences, repetitions, colloquialisms, and phrases starting with Because, And, But or Or for emphasis.

Regular college paper type grammar rules don’t apply to copywriting, whatsoever!

While it still is important to write using good general grammar and spelling, it’s OK to beak English school writing rules on purpose, so you can get more readers’ reactions to your writing.

The one and only goal of copywriting, whether it’s in the form of a sales letter, an email or a brochure it’s to sell. If your copy doesn’t sell, then you’ve failed at the job.

However, the reason why copywriters have to be more and more skills these days, I think, it’s because the public is becoming smarter, or at least more aware of selling’s tactics, and they can smell fishy stuff faster and easier now.  I think that any good copywriter needs to keep this in mind nowadays.

So, now that we’ve clarified what copywriting is, let me try to clarify what content marketing is all about.

What is Content Marketing?

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Content Marketing Institute

I think that this quotation gives a very short and clear definition of the of term content marketing. If I were your high school English teacher and ask you, what is the most important word in this sentence, though, what would your answer be?

Well, the most important word in this sentence is the word consistent. Unlike copywriting, content marketing is ongoing – it needs to be consistent.

Content marketing is very different than copywriting in several different ways, but one thing for sure, it’s that there is much less pressure to content marketing than there is to copywriting. Content marketing is more of a free writing style, so to speak – it doesn’t have as many rules and recipes for success as copywriting does.

What you and I are doing on our blogs is content marketing. When you write small blurbs on Facebook, Twitter, forums, or even emails to your lists, it’s content marketing.  Content marketing is everywhere in the internet.

Content marketing is an ongoing process, as oppose to a sales letter, a brochure or even a mailing campaign that is often created once, or maybe only a few times during the life span of a product.

For a lot of online marketers, while they may have paid a copywriter to write their sales page, they still have to use content marketing to promote that sales page which reveals their product or service.

Content Marketing Equals building Relationships

Content marketing also calls for building relationships with your readers, while it’s usually not the case for copywriting.

Since content marketing is an ongoing and consistent content creation to help educate and inform our readers, we can use content marketing to build relationships with our readers, so they could become our best customers and referring people.

While copywriting requires more of specific writing skills, content marketing requires more long term commitment.

Do not use Copywriting Style in Your Content Marketing

Maybe not so much now, because of Google slap, but in the recent past there were way too many bloggers using copywriting type content on their blog posts.  Especially the guru kind of blogger. This is a mistake.

While a blog is the perfect platform for content marketing, it’s not the place to create copies to sell.  Keep your copywriting style for your sales copies, and write your best content marketing for your blog.

I hope this post was helpful to you in understanding the difference between copywriting and content marketing.

Please, leave your thoughts, inputs and comments below!

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43 Comments

  • Gladys says:

    Hello Ms Sylviane
    Very informative post on the different between content marketing and copywriting.

    Even as a newbie I did learn the difference when you created my sales page.
    I have to polish up my content marketing because that’s what I am currently doing, but I know I will probably never get into copywriting,

    It is still important to know the difference and you did a great job explaining it.

    Thank you
    Gladys

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Gladys,

      What happened to your avatar (picture)?

      I’m glad you are aware of the difference, because what you want to do is content marketing, of course, not copywriting when it comes to your blog.

      Thanks for coming by.

  • donna merrillTwitter: donna_tribe says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    I’m sure glad you wrote this post. I clarifies the difference between copy writing and content marketing. When it comes to content marketing, It is pretty easy for me to catch on to. But copy writing is a different story. As you mention, it needs trigger emotions, carefully selecting each and every sentence. There is a true art to it all.

    Back in the day before the internet, David and I were selling self published books of mine. It was done by purchasing a list and snail mailing a good copy writing letter. That was the most difficult writing I ever witnessed. We did well back in the day doing this, but that was 20 years ago.

    Now, with so many professional copy writers on the internet it still is not only a chore, but to me, a competitive one. I am currently reading “Cashvertising” by Drew Eric Whitman. With copy writing, there is always a constant learning curve.

    Thanks for telling us the difference!

    -Donna
    donna merrill invites you to read..Have You Come A Long Way, Blogger?My Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Donna,

      Copywriting is an art and a skill, that not everyone has, that’s why good copywriters are charging a lot of money. What they write generates lots of money too.

      I’m in the process of learning more about copywriting, and I learn everyday about writing in general. I’ve just passed 2 tests that allowed me to join a writer’s platform that will help me finding more clients. I’ll be blogging about that soon.

      Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for coming.

  • Kumar GaurawTwitter: kgauraw says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Very insightful post. This clarifies a lot of things for even me. You have done a fine job of explaining what content marketing is and what it is not.

    And Copywriting, on the other hand, is an artful skill mastery of which is very rewarding. I know copywriters who charge thousands of dollars per job and they do a great job of it.

    Creating sales pages, landing pages and during product launches, copywriting plays a very important role.

    Thank you for sharing these.

    Regards,
    Kumar
    Kumar Gauraw invites you to read..My Experiments With Evernote And How You Can Use It TooMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      HI Kumar,

      Indeed, copywriting is an art and that’s why those who master that art can charge lots of money, because what they write is worth gold and make a lot of money for their clients. That copywriting piece is the link between the potential buyer and the product.

      Thank you for coming 🙂

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Hey Sylviane,

    Although I know the difference in a way don’t you think they are somewhat similar though?

    I mean both of their goals are to get the reader to make some type of decision because with content marketing we do have our call to action.

    Copywriting has a more direct purpose and you’re right, although it’s not always about sales copy, it can be about signing up for our list, attending a webinar, or getting our free gift. I know for a lot of us who don’t have the writing capabilities of a copywriter then our enticing nature might not be very good but with a little practice and assistance we can be a heck of a lot better.

    Great explanation of both though so thanks for that. I can see where the confusion would be because in the beginning I thought they were the same too.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne invites you to read..DoFollow or NoFollow: Heated DebateMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      Now I don’t know if it’s WP or CommentLuv that’s crazy or both, but while I get junk comments every day, yours and Sherman’s were found in the moderation folder. That’s so nuts.

      Well, yes, and no, copywriting is much, much demanding though. Will many people can write, very few can be good copywriters, because it’s really an acquired skill of its own. I’m learning more about copywriting now, because there plenty of room for improvement, and I not mastering it yet, while my regular writing confidence is fine. Just took and passed a ton of writing tests 🙂

      Sorry about publishing your comment only now. It was hiding from me, and thanks for coming, Adrienne.

  • sherman smithTwitter: shermanksmith75 says:

    Hey Sylviane,

    As I was reading, I was like “ooooohhhh”… just had an Aha moment. I actually thought they were both the same. With so many people talking about copywriting and content marketing, it’s a wonder why so many bloggers and online marketers are confused about the two.

    This post makes me want to go back to my old post to see if I was doing copywriting or content marketing. Now I see why it’s important for us bloggers to focus on content marketing more since it’s more long term.

    But it sounds like you definitely have to be very skillful when it comes to copywriting. It seems like you have to go through a lot of trials and tribulations before you can get it right. I can see why these copy writers get paid so well.

    Thanks for sharing this insight Sylviane!
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sherman,

      I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve said to Adrienne, both yours and her comment were hiding in the moderation folder, so I didn’t see them. Sorry about that!

      I’m so glad you had an Aha moment. I can’t tell about you early posts, but those you have now, I can assure you that they’re not copywriting copies, but good content marketing. Once thing that we need to remember is that in order to work, copywriting needs to be good, bad copywriting doesn’t work. I know I’ve done some of those in the past 🙂

      Thank you so much for your input.

  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    You are so right in all that you wrote and I think every writer would nod their head in agreement 🙂

    Copywriting is indeed an art and not many can become good copy writers, while most people can become good content writers with time – the more they blog or write, the better they become. Copy writers need a bit of creativity in them to weave those words that bring out the emotions and make people take action, and well, if you can do that through your content too, no harm, just don’t over do it!

    I agree, copywriting is a highly paid job and not an easy one to get if you aren’t good at it, while content writing is something most people can get with ease and requires little practice as compared.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Harleena,

      Well, your expert comment is a nice one to have here 🙂 and I’m glad you’re saying that every writer would agree with what I’ve described here to be copywriting and content marketing.

      Really appreciated your feedback, and thanks for coming.

  • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Great explanation. I understand the difference but mostly because I worked in business that did online marketing when we were promoting Robert and others. We had a marketing department so I learned the jargon.

    I must say though when I started blogging I was a little unclear on content marketing but have learned it. I think there are many people who do not understand the difference.

    Thanks for explaining it so well.

    Sue
    Sue Price invites you to read..Reinventing Yourself: Life After 50My Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sue,

      Back in the days when I started blogging I was confused a bit confused too or even a lot to say the truth 🙂 Now years of writing later, I can explain it! Ah don’t you love experience?

      Thank you for your input and as a big biz woman I know that you know the difference 😉

  • Ann07 says:

    Hi, Sylviane!

    You said it right and straight to the point.

    The differences between Copywriting and Content Marketing that are shared above are explained well.

    As what I’ve learned from this article, copywriting is meant to make people feel and act. Copywriting requires clever sentence construction to persuade readers to purchase your business, while Content Marketing is a business strategy of creating and sharing valuable and relevant contents to entice solid community of customers.

    Thanks for sharing us your knowledge with regard to this topic. 🙂

    Best,
    Ann07

    By the way, I found this post shared on kingged.com

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Ann, and welcome here. I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed this post, and memorize this pretty well.

      Thank you for coming.

  • Sunday says:

    Hi Sylvianne,
    I appreciate your article and it is very rich. Content marketing is different from copywriting even though they can be interchanged. The key points here is that timing for each is very is a distinguishing factor. The idea of using content marketing to promote copywriting is another important point to take in!

    This comment was shared in kingged.com where this article was found.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor

    http://kingged.com/difference-copywriting-content-marketing/

  • William ButlerTwitter: wiarbu says:

    Hi Sylviane,
    I am familiar with both content creation and copywriting. Advertising agencies thrive on copywriting, and not only use emotional triggers, but need to be completely in tune with their clients needs. Usually a short deadline to compete with another agency puts enormous pressure on an agency to come up with just the right presentation, the cost of which is borne by them should they lose out on the contract, so the stakes are very high. They also use keywords that are escalate sales in a number of categories.

    Kind Regards,
    Bill
    William Butler invites you to read..Near Death Experience: You Might Be Having One Right NowMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi William,

      Thank you very much for your expert input here. I know the stakes of copywriting can be very high, indeed!

  • Maneesha Malhotra says:

    I used to understand Copy Writing & Content Marketing Both are same. There is nothing different ! It was my personal thinking Toward Copy Writing & Content Marketing before reading this post 😉 Hye Sylviane, Copy writing is such a Big Art, Which just have only few people as I do see. Many content writers Copy writing & write unique articles but it’s a Big article to write a great article & editing too in article.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Mannesha,

      I’m glad you know now that there is a big difference between copy writing and content marketing. They just have difference use and require different skills.

      Thanks for coming by, and for your comment.

  • Miracle Ayodele says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    You have just given a clear cut on Copy writing and content marketing. Those they look similar but they are different.

    Content marketing is just what the bloggers use most, promoting and making sure people view the content.

    Copy writing are used by those selling products or books and that needs a trigger before it can really go wide.

    I love the point that you mentioned, that we should not use copy writing strategy in content marketing.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Miracle,

      Sorry for the late reply here.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this information. No, indeed, we shouldn’t use copywriting as content for our blog. Copywriting and content marketing each have their own place and use.

      Thanks for your input.

  • metz says:

    There is a small barrier between these two (copywriting and content marketing). I must say that this is a cool and interesting post about its difference.

    My take is that be reminded that copywriting is the art of convincing your reader to take a specific action.

    To wrap it up, content without copywriting is a waste of good content and copywriting without content is a waste of good copy.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Metz,

      Sorry for this late reply to your comment here, but I was off line for a couple of days,

      you said: “content without copywriting is a waste of good content and copywriting without content is a waste of good copy.” Am not sure I would put it this way though, as the word “waste” may not be a good word for this. It’s just that copywriting has it own specific use and so is content marketing. They each have their own purpose.

      Thank you for you feedback.

  • Corina RamosTwitter: notnowmomsbusy says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Thanks for clarifying this for me. As I was reading your post it had me wondering where my writing style would be and it’s definitely content marketing. With that being said, now I know what it is I need to develop.

    I’ve got to hand it to the copywriters though. It takes some serious skill to be able to come up with the perfect content.

    Thanks again for explaining the two. I was like every one else…I thought they were the same thing.

    Hope you’re having a great week!
    Corina Ramos invites you to read..Operation Herb Garden: It’s On Now With Gro-ables By Miracle-GroMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Corina,

      Yes, most of us bloggers are doing content marketing, so we don’t have to worry about that. The rule of thumb is that if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you’re most likely doing content marketing as copywriting is another business, so to speak.

      Sorry for this late reply, but I’ve been sick with a cold again for a couple days, and was totally off line.

      Thank you so much for coming by.

  • MarkTwitter: coach2coachguy says:

    Okay Slviane:

    Thanks for clearing things up for me.

    I’ll stick to (trying) to be a passionate content blogger! It’s far easier to try and consistently share helpful problem solving “how to” content with my target market and hopefully encouraging them to share it, than it is to try and convince them to buy directly from one of my blog post.

    Granted, we both know ultimately, if they aren’t converted into paying customers or clients, at some point,then we’re out of business.

    Since you drew a very clear line, I’ll just hire the pros such as yourself to help me with actual art of creating persuasive sales copy!

    While I stick to the more comfortable art of providing content! Thanks for clarifying and sharing your extremely thoughtful and helpful insights!
    Mark invites you to read..How To Increase Sales: Especially On A Shoestring Budget!Part TwoMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Mark,

      Yes, content marketing is easier and doesn’t call for an immediate customer, it’s more like customer service, even, I would say.

      As for copywriting it’s more like a commercial. It has to be well thought of to pull sales.

      Thanks for coming by and for your input.

  • Barbara CharlesTwitter: BarbaraCharlesl says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    This is a great post because I’ve never known the difference. Didn’t know there was a difference so this was great for me. They both seem vastly different to me so I’m not sure how anyone could get them mixed up. I’m glad I do content writing – as you stated a lot easier. Copyrighting would make my head hurt. 😉

    Thanks for the info.
    Barbara
    Barbara Charles invites you to read..Four Things You Always Need To Check On Your WordPress BlogMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Sorry for this late reply but I was off line for 2 days sick with a bad cold again. I don’t know what’s up with me these days, spent years without getting sick at all, and now, twice in less then 2 months. I think that my worries must have affected my immune system, somehow.

      Copywriting is a real business. I know of some people who are professional copywriters and they are paid thousands of dollars for a simple 5000 word copy. It’s a skill, no doubt. Right now, I’m learning some great copywriting skills from Steve Slaunwhite who’s a master of it.

      Content marketing is what we all do on our blogs and it’s easier to do to 🙂

      Thank you for coming and for your input 🙂

  • Carolyn Nicander MohrTwitter: wonderoftech says:

    Hi Sylviane, Excellent explanation of the differences between copywriting and content marketing. You’re right, so many people don’t adapt their writing styles to the genre they’re writing for. I learned early on with blogging that my writing style as a lawyer wasn’t a good fit for blogging. I still have to catch myself when I’m being too formal. Chances are my final edits will include adding contractions to make my writing more informal and conversational.

    I hope those who are interested in content marketing and copywriting will heed your sage advice here, Sylviane!
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      I can only imagine how your legal writing background could make your writing formal if you don’t watch it. I don’t know if you know, but I’ve worked as a legal assistant for 2 years and while there, I took some legal writing classes as well, so my writing can become very formal at times too, and exactly like you when I get to edit, I usually try to make it more conversational.

      Thank for you comment Carolyn and have a great weekend.

      • Carolyn Nicander MohrTwitter: wonderoftech says:

        I didn’t know that, Sylviane, but I can imagine that your skills and talents made you an excellent legal assistant! You understand, then how we have to go against our instincts to write formally and become more conversational in our writing.

        You’re doing it well, Sylviane, I haven’t detected any formality in your relaxed writing style. You do an excellent job of delivering your information in an organized manner that’s enjoyable to read!
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  • OktoTwitter: oktohakim says:

    Very well explained! This is the first time I read the difference on the subject, I know it is different to some extent now you make me understand better
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Okto,

      I’m glad you see the difference between content marketing and copywriting now.

      Thanks for your comment and or coming by.

  • Ravi ChaharTwitter: ravichahar27 says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    In today\’s era of blogging in which there are many competitors for every blogger we are required to have the skills to content marketing. It\’s the greatest way to drive traffic at any blog by engaging people in the content we write.

    Copy writing is not that much influential. You know readers build trust and sometimes with this effective way of copy writing it shatters. I don\’t say it happens always. But in some cases.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us.~ravi
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Ravi,

      What would be wrong is to use copywriting where it doesn’t belong, such as on a blog for example, but when it comes to a place where sales need to be made, copywriting is what works. Now it can be more or less well done.

      Thank for coming and for your input.

  • Micah Medina says:

    Hey Sylviane!

    I’ve always said that there’s a world of a difference between a copywriter and someone who is a copy writer. The latter just does a bit of research, puts all the information together, and calls it an article. The former is a bit of a sales ninja.

    A good sales copy sells. An excellent sales copy sells without selling. It’s like that ordinary guy/gal who comes up to you, gives a bit of chit chat, and the next thing you know, you’ve bought a bunch of stuff and you don’t really care how or why. A top notch copywriter can sound casual and even familiar, but still be very very persuasive through writing. Just like a regular Joe and an Evangelical preacher, the difference is charisma.

    Placement of copy is also important. It’s not an article or a blog post that you can just drop onto a blog or something similar. You need to know what page it will have most impact on. People visiting a blog aren’t really there for hard sales. They’re just there to look around.

    I’m not in any way saying that pure content creators are any less talented. There’s an art to content marketing as well in a different way. It’s just a bit harder to come by a good copy because not many people understand how to make a potential client act based on written words alone.

    Another great post!

    All the best,
    Micah

  • Olamosh says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Thanks for this wonderful write-up, to be sincere, even I didn’t know the difference between this two.

    But with this long explanation, i now fully understand the difference between Copy writing & Content Marketing.

    But i think the newsletters of a thing that we do received daily is a type of content marketing. I have always seen sales letter as content marketing but not knowing that is copyrighting.

    Thanks for sharing this article with us, I really learn alot from it.

    Have a nice day

    I found the link to this post on Kingged and i have also kingged it on kingged.com

  • Jimmy John says:

    Thanks for your post and advice. To me it seems that the smaller the segment of copy, the longer it actually takes i.e. the headline. Whereas the body is the longest group but won’t take as much thought and consideration in terms of drawing in your target.

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