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AM #019: Content vs Copywriting: A Delicate Duet for a Winning Marketing Performance

Early in my marketing career, I often heard the phrase “content is king” echoing throughout the industry.

So, I jumped on board and focused primarily on creating content.

  • Newsletters

  • Social posts

  • Blog articles

  • Interviews

  • Videos

  • Events

It started to catch.

Evident through an engaged and growing social following, increased web traffic, and a stronger online presence - I was convinced I had it all figured out here.

But as time went on, I found that despite the hours spent creating content and building awareness, I still wasn’t hitting the revenue goal.

And occasionally when I did see an impact on revenue, it felt like “luck” not “strategy.”

This is when I began to understand the distinction between content vs copywriting - and the pivotal role BOTH play in the overall marketing strategy.

It wasn’t until I made a shift in mindset, and started to study and incorporate copywriting techniques and frameworks into the overall marketing strategy, did I begin to see and feel the true power of the marketing role and its direct (and consistent) impact on conversion and revenue.

Moral of the story:

Content writing and copywriting are not one in the same.

While they complement each other, they play distinct roles along the customer’s buying journey.

By mastering both, I was able to round out my marketing approach - moving ideal customers along the buyer journey from educating and informing my target market to driving conversion and growing revenue.

Here are the 6 differences between content and copy [with brand examples] that have helped me level up the impact of my marketing efforts.

1. Content writing educates and informs. Copywriting persuades and converts.

Let’s take a look at Mailchimp.

Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that provides businesses with tools to create, send, and analyze email campaigns, automating marketing processes and fostering customer engagement.

For content writing, Mailchimp has a Marketing Library that is filled with valuable articles and resources covering a variety of topics for small business owners and marketers. In the example below, Mailchimp is teaching its target market the basics of a marketing funnel and how to build one. Educational and informative.

For copywriting, Mailchimp uses its homepage and main product pages to trigger action. The action-oriented headline, sub-text and direct call-to-action in bright yellow to start a free trial pull a prospective customer in to take Mailchimp on a test run.

Mailchimp content vs copywriting

2. Content writing uses a conversational tone. Copywriting uses a persuasive & emotive tone.

Let’s take a look at Grammarly.

Grammarly is a digital writing assistance tool that helps users enhance their grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style, ensuring clear and effective communication.

For content writing, Grammarly has a blog written in a conversational tone in that the articles are helpful, but friendly, casual, and approachable. Language is simple and easy to understand and elements of humor are woven throughout. It’s inviting. 🙂

For copywriting, Grammarly highlights the desirable outcome: “writing with care and confidence” - as we generally seek to improve our writing skills and feel and sound more confident in our abilities. The topic of “joining 30 million users” creates

  1. A sense of belonging

  2. Establishes credibility and trust

Grammarly content vs copywriting

3. Content writing attracts a broader audience. Copywriting targets a specific group of buyers.

Let’s take a look at Nike.

Nike is a global sportswear giant, renowned for designing and manufacturing high-quality athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories while inspiring and motivating athletes of all levels.

For content writing, here’s an example of Nike’s President and CEO, John Donahoe sharing the FY22 Impact Report and it’s tie-in to Nike’s core purpose, attracting the greater athletic community.

For copywriting, here’s an example of a Mother’s Day ad highlighting “Gifts for Her” with a Shop Now button below that takes you to select products targeted to kids (or spouses) whose moms (wives) love to sport Nike.

Nike content vs copywriting

4. Content writing offers valuable insights. Copywriting highlights the benefits of a product/service

Let’s take a look at Asana.

Asana is a project management platform that enables teams to plan, organize and track their work progress, streamline collaboration, and enhance productivity.

For content, Asana has educational and informative blogs that help execs, leaders, and managers grow in their knowledge and expertise.

For copy, Asana has a list of benefits and features on their homepage and throughout their product page, with images and videos that demonstrate how they improve efficiency and make the complexities of project management simple.

Asana content vs copywriting

5. Content writing builds rapport and trust. Copywriting triggers emotional response and action.

Let’s take a look at Apple.

For content, Apple places “trust-building” ads around the world promoting privacy - a leading concern among consumers today. The ad is designed to give its users a sense of confidence knowing their personal data is safe and protected with Apple.

For copy, it’s clear Apple has mastered buying psychology - from the structure of the page to the personalization, easy navigation, preferences, and intuitive shop-and-buy design. The words on each product page trigger emotional response and action.

Apple content vs copywriting

6. Content writing focuses on long-term engagement, copywriting aims for immediate conversion.

Let’s take a look at Semrush.

Semrush is recognized as one of the world’s leading SEO tools.

For content, they have an academy filled with online courses for marketers to level up their skills and knowledge as it pertains to marketing. All courses are 100% free, led by top experts, and offer certifications to help enhance their careers.

For copy, they aren’t playing around. Right when you land on the homepage they offer a bold promise in the headline with a field form to enter your email address and get started with an account. They follow this up with logos from credible companies that use Semrush to grow their business.

SEMrush content vs copywriting

Takeaway: Content vs. Copywriting

To wrap this up, the journey from creating content and driving revenue relies on this:

→ Mastering the subtle yet key distinction between content & copy

Both play an important role in the overall marketing strategy, complementing each other to guide your customers through their buying journey.

So, while some may still view content as “king” - I’ve found it takes the power of both, content & copy, to truly rule the kingdom.

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