Copywriting vs. Content Writing: What are the differences?

[At Embarque](embarque.io), we’ve realized that many founders, entrepreneurs, bootstrappers and indie hackers use these words interchangeably.

copywriting vs content writing

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We’ve realized that many founders, entrepreneurs, bootstrappers, and indie hackers use copywriting and content writing interchangeably.

But are they really the same thing?

Absolutely not.

Both copywriting and content writing are marketing tools that most successful brands use to convey their stories.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an enterprise or small business owner. Understanding the differences between a copywriter and content writer will help you engage the right professional to communicate your brand’s story.

Although 53% of bloggers and marketing professionals claim that content marketing is their best tool for reaching out to their audience, copywriting is not totally negligible for successful marketing campaigns.

Read on, and let’s pinpoint the values and differences of each tool for you.

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is simply the art of selling an idea, product, or service through written words.

The principal goal of copywriting is to get the reader to purchase a product, sign-up for a newsletter, subscribe to a service, or enroll in a course, and so on.

Famous copywriter, David Ogilvy, explained it better this way:

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

Copywriting uses techniques, including storytelling, benefits over features, emotional triggers, and personalization, to pitch customers to try a brand’s products.

Copywriters are known to come up with compelling headlines that draw the reader’s attention to the body or the copy’s central message, which eventually leads them to make a buying decision.

Additionally, copywriting is a high revenue-generating skill because it focuses on creating a sales message that allows the customers to pull the trigger on buying products.

Copywriters are the go-to for:

Now that you understand what copywriting is, how exactly does it relate to SEO?

SEO copywriting works best for targeting transactional-intent keywords

Smart business owners don’t target only one particular type of intent on Google. They target all kinds of intents.

For instance, the transactional intent keywords are targeted at people who already know what they want and are looking for where to get them.

People who use transactional keywords enter sentence like this into the search engine box:

Add text to video” (They’re looking for a video editor that allows them to add text to video.)

Daily report template” (They’re looking for a daily report template.)

Best lawn mowers 2020” (They’re looking for a great lawn mower)

This type of intent needs persuasive copy to convert visitors into active buyers. That is where copywriting comes in.

Companies hire skilled copywriters to craft an excellent landing page copy, which appeals to these transactional intent keywords.

What is content writing?

Just like copywriting, content writing is a necessary marketing tool for building a brand. It’s essentially instrumental to the growth and successes of any business, both online and offline.

So, what is content writing?

Content writing is simply the art of creating content around a specific topic to inform, educate, and entertain.

Content writing’s primary goal is to engage the audience productively with content and get them to buy into your brand’s story, which might eventually lead to them purchasing a product.

A content writer is a wordsmith that can research several topics and develop engaging, useful, and high-quality content that speaks to the pain points of your existing and potential audience.

Content writing focus includes:

Many B2B marketers acknowledge that content writing can position any brand as an authority on any topic on the search engine, which eventually boosts the organization’s credibility.

The leading content writers in the world are SEO experts. They have knowledge on how to optimize the content to rank more effectively on search engines like Google and YouTube.

So the question is, how does content writing relate to SEO?

What is the relationship between SEO and content writing?

Content writing integrated with SEO allows your content to be visible on the organic search results so your target audience can find you whenever they search using keywords.

Hiring an SEO content writing expert or agency will quickly allow you to effectively communicate your brand’s message and optimize your content for the best conversion possible.

An expert SEO content writer understands how to create content that resonates with both search engines and users.

They are experts in writing informative, engaging, and SEO-friendly articles.

The goals of SEO content include:

SEO blogging is more effective for targeting informational-intent keywords

Yes, SEO content can target navigational, transactional, and investigational keywords. But it will get maximum conversion when used for targeting informational-intent keywords.

Why?

Nowadays, more people are looking for information about one or two things, and in their quest for solutions they go to Google and type keywords in the form of questions.

Targeting those informational keywords with high-quality SEO content that provides useful answers to the as-yet-unknown question will undoubtedly position your brand as an authority on that topic.

For instance, a searcher who enters “living room design ideas” into the search engine box isn’t looking to buy anything. He’s probably looking for ideas on how to set up a living room.

So using copywriting to create transactional intent messages will make them flee and never come back.

Instead, you want to create high-quality informational content around these keywords that answers the questions, so your blog could be positioned higher in the search results.

For living room design ideas, we have the following results on the search page:

Differences between copywriting and content writing

#1: Content writing is built to drive attention. Copywriting is built to drive sales. Both drive traffic.

Content writing serves to educate potential customers on relevant topics.

On the other hand, copywriting is focused on crafting a sales pitch intended to sell a particular product. The main goal of copywriting is to inspire action.

Match your content with the search intent to make both types of writing drive traffic through SEO or community engagement.

#2: Copywriters focus more on customer research. Content writers concentrate on keyword research and content ideas.

Great copywriters are professional researchers. Before coming up with a sales message, the copywriter will want to answer several questions:

Copywriters gather their keywords and topics from these answers to create a list of buying triggers throughout the copy.

These triggers are used alongside copywriting formulas to convert the audience into buyers.

What about SEO content writers?

An SEO content writer is an expert at coming up with long-tail and head keywords that make it easier for them to rank web pages on the search result.

Content writing also requires some of the heavy research that copywriters get into. But their main goal is first and foremost to provide useful content to attract relevant customers.

#3: Copywriting gets the interest of the audience to buy a product. Content writing informs the audience about the product.

Big brands like Canva, Amazon, and Buffer leverage both marketing tools for maximum conversion.

For instance, Canva creates blog posts that target informational, transactional, and navigational keywords.

They use these blog posts to build engagement and trust with their audience and, in turn, send them to other pages where they will be asked to use their products.

So, in essence, they wield content writing to engage the audience and use copywriting to get them to try the product.

#4: Content writers use facts, statistics, and relevant data to communicate their message. Copywriters use stories and expressive languages.

Content writers employ various statistics and relevant data to prove their message’s authenticity and build trust with readers.

A copywriter creates memorable stories such as the hero’s journey to arouse readers’ emotions and get readers to make a buying decision.

Additionally, they use expressive languages, such as:

#5: Copywriting is content. Content isn’t necessarily copywriting.

While copywriting incorporates content writing skills to craft a sales message, we can’t agree that content writing is copywriting if it isn’t driving people toward making a purchase, subscription, or sign-up decision.

Content writing is creative, engaging, and informative and could be shared. Meanwhile, copywriting is focused mainly on generating sales.

Copyblogger explained as:

“Copywriting without content is a waste of good copy,” _and “content without copywriting is a waste of good content.”_

Why you should hire a content strategist

Indeed, there are times you’ll need a content strategist in your journey as a marketer to deliver useful and engaging content that reaches both potential and existing customers.

But the question is, at what point exactly should you consider hiring these professionals?

Before arriving at this decision, a great content strategist should understand your business’s goals and your audience’s needs and be an expert at delivering a great content marketing plan.

So, you want to hire professionals for writing projects who offer writing services such as:

Hiring a content strategist could be a great way to map out a content plan that consistently supplies your potential and existing audience with quality content.