Marketing Explained: the differences between Copywriting and Content Marketing, and what YOU should be doing in 2015

‘Copywriting’ and ‘Content Marketing’; two phrases often used interchangeably and the topic of much debate and confusion.

So which is which, and what are you doing?

Or more importantly, what should you be doing?

Firstly, let’s clear up any confusion over the differences between the two concepts.


Copywriting is writing copy for the purpose of advertising or marketing. The copy is meant to persuade someone to buy a product, or influence their beliefs.”

Copywriting is an active method of achieving sales, often involving a ‘push strategy’ whereby the product or service is taken directly to the customer.

Examples of copywriting include:

  • Landing pages
  • Advertising
  • PR
  • Direct mail

These communications are designed to get the reader to take a specific action, and therefore a successful copywriter must be persuasive, creative and direct in their approach.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a marketing technique for 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 is typically a more passive way of capturing the attention of your prospects, and usually favours the ‘pull strategy’, as with any inbound marketing approach.

Examples of content marketing include:

  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Viral video

Content marketing is essentially the creation of valuable content that has a marketing purpose but is not overtly ‘salesy’; that is, it exists to educate and inform the reader above all else.

The most important bit…

It’s essential that you combine the most powerful elements of each going forwards, as neither concept is likely to work very well in isolation.

Use elements of both copywriting and content marketing to initiate a powerful, integrated marketing plan in 2015.

Most of us fall into one of two categories (a copywriter or a content marketer) so here’s how you can identify where you sit, why you’ve been missing out on customers, and how you can weave ‘the opposition’ into your work for maximum impact.

“I’m a content marketer and I’ve got loads of top notch content but very few readers – what am I doing wrong?”

Enter copywriting.

1. Address your headlines

Are your headlines punchy, enticing and rife with consumer benefits?

Even if you’re taking a more passive content approach and want to leave out the ‘salesy’ bit, you need to identify and promote a benefit to the reader. Writing killer headlines can be tricky and this is where copywriting skills come into play.

2. Actively build an online presence

To get more readers, you’ll need to build an online presence and the only way to do that is to take a more direct (copywriting) approach.

Leverage social proof in a subtle and informative way. Encourage comments on your blog, either by asking for them or including a thought provoking question at the end.

Psssst! You could even buddy up and ask a fellow blogger to get the ball rolling. Offer to return the favour by commenting on their next post.

It’s always worth mentioning any references from your PR activity to maximise leverage, e.g. “As mentioned / recommended in the Broxbourne Weekly” to help you build trust through association.

3. Call to action (CTA)

Is it clear what do you want your readers to do?

Make sure you include clear CTA’s so that your readers can subscribe to future posts or share content – fail to do this and you risk being lost in the sea of online content.

The careful integration of copywriting techniques into high quality content marketing can help you build a large, loyal audience and secure those desired conversions.

“I’m a copywriter and there’s not much I can learn from content marketing – I’m already good at getting people to read my stuff.”

Oh how wrong you are copywriter. How wrong you are.

You might be a dab hand at convincing your readers to take action but your victory will be short lived if you don’t address human interest and relevancy in your content for longer term brand building.

We’re becoming less and less of a transactional marketplace and those willing to change and adapt are the most likely to survive.

As a rule of thumb, your content should be entertaining, informative and subtly salesy – limit or eradicate self-promotional content; it’s old hat.

Here are some tips for injecting some content marketing into your copywriting:

  • Give something valuable away, just because… Build trust through the delivery of consistent, ‘precious’ information and advice in the form of free downloadable guides or articles.
  • Tell a story – an emotive approach will capture the attention of your audience and if executed purposefully and strategically, should compel them to take the desired action and stick around in the longer term
  • Don’t write ‘advertising’ copy if you want your content to be taken seriously and read thoroughly. Consider native advertising if that’s the approach you want to take.
  • Whatever you do, don’t write for search engines! Write for people. Even the search engines will ignore you if they suspect you of favouring them over your customers.
  • Make sure your content does what it says on the tin. Don’t promise an answer to a question with a cleverly constructed headline and then deliver an irrelevant, self-promotional piece. This will damage relationships.
Basically, don’t publish rubbish.

‘Stickable’ content depends on a healthy marriage of the two concepts; copywriting and content marketing.

We want to see strategically built, high quality content with a clear goal and purpose, that informs and educates – and so do your customers for that matter.


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