Does your business need a copy writer or a content writer? Both copy and content should be essential elements in your digital marketing strategy and on your website, but there is a difference between the two. Actually, several differences exist between copy writing and content writing.
Many businesses think that content writing and copy writing are one and the same. This confusion can cause problems when looking for a content writer when you actually need a copy writer and vice versa. Fortunately, it's easy to learn the differences between these two types of writing.
Both copy writing and content writing share the ultimate goal of improving your business' bottom line. The two diverge in short-term goals and methods used.
See also: 5 Ways to Make Your Content More Original
What Is Copy Writing?
Copy writing, in a nutshell, is the writing of advertising copy. It is any type of written content that is specifically geared toward coaxing a reader to take action. It is a term used in advertising to mean any text that is intended to sell a product or service. Effective copy writing immediately grabs the reader's attention, clearly promotes the product or idea, and convinces the reader to take action, such as clicking a link or making a purchase.
Examples of Copy Writing
For example, the text on a landing page that encourages the visitor to sign up for a free report is considered copy writing. There are many other examples of copy writing:
- Conventional forms of advertising are classic examples of copy writing.
- Website funnels are designed to draw a visitor through a landing page, inform a person about a product and sell the product, all in one page of copy.
- Sales emails are sent to people already subscribed to a company's mailing list (see also: How to Send an Email That Doesn't Sound Like Spam). These emails are crafted to entice the recipient to click on a link that will take them to a product or information page.
- Direct mail encompasses sales fliers, postcards and sales letters that are sent through traditional mail systems.
- Brochures with the intent of selling a product also fit in the copy writing category.
- A paid Facebook ad that appears in a user's feed is copy.
- Taglines are examples of copy. "Scripted makes it easy to make great content" is an example of a tagline.
- Even the text on a call-to-action button can be an example of copy writing.
See also: Engage Your Facebook Followers With These 5 Word Games
A Copy Writer's Goals and Skills
The goal of copy writing is to persuade. A copy writer uses emotion to compel the reader to action. Are you hoping to sell something on your website through advertisements, email or direct response materials? Then you want a copy writer.
A copy writer understands sales psychology and human behavior, using this understanding to craft copy that highlights the features of a product to create a unique selling proposition that addresses the consumer's need. Copy writers use emotion-based, short-form text that grabs attention and directs consumer behavior.
Copy writers must master the skill of brevity. Marketing copy must be concise, using a limited number of words to convey the point as well as convince the consumer to take the desired action, whether that be to click a link or make a phone call.
What Is Content Writing?
While copy writing is pretty blatant in its sales tactics, content writing is a little bit sneakier. Its purpose is still to provoke an action, but the big difference is that the text is informative and useful to the reader. Effective content engages the reader, entices the reader to learn more and educates readers to help them make informed purchasing decisions.
Examples of Content Writing
For example, a white paper on current technology in the CPAP machine industry may have the intent of selling and promoting a specific company's CPAP machines, but it does so by providing useful and actionable information a consumer might desire. Sales are the end-goal, but content writing intends to create sales by the exposure and consumer trust that often comes with good content writing.
See also: How to Measure the ROI of Your Blog Content
By creating useful information people can use, a company can use content writing to draw in a targeted audience made up of potential buyers. In addition to white papers, there are many other types of content writing:
- Advertorials are often placed in magazines or on websites. These are articles that are written to inform readers on a certain subject while simultaneously selling a product. There is a good example of an advertorial at The New York Times site.
- Blogs created to draw visitors to a business site and convert sales walk the line between copy writing and content writing. If the blog specifically posts content to inform the reader, then it is content writing (see also: Essential Ingredients to a High Quality Blog Post). If each post is simply an ad for a new product, then it qualifies as copy writing.
- Website articles lure traffic to a site, but their purpose is always to inform or entertain a reader.
- E-books are another good example of content writing. They can inform the reader on longer subjects that can't be covered in an article or blog post.
- Social media posts provide an example of content writing, working to generate leads at a targeted audience.
See also: Content Marketing 101: What Is a Content Writer?
A Content Writer's Goals and Skills
The goal of content writing is to engage, inform or entertain. A content writer uses education to connect with the reader and build trust. Six out of 10 consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site. Are you seeking to raise brand awareness, create educational materials for your customers or establish thought leadership or industry expertise? Then you want a content writer.
Content writers craft long-form, rich content that is search engine optimized. They tend to be skilled researchers as well as excellent writers. Content writers are storytellers, weaving words into compelling and relatable content designed to connect on some level with the reader.
See also: Skills Common to Creative and Content Writers
Writing Copy and Content
Can a content writer also craft effective copy, and can a copy writer create useful content? Yes, a writer could be capable of writing both copy and content. Having the ability to do both expands a writer's options for assignments, especially when the assignment combines elements of both marketing techniques or the client is unclear about the type of writing required. Freelance writers can find both copy writing and content writing assignments on platforms such as Scripted. For example, an assignment might call for a content writer to write an informative article about physician recruiting challenges generally, but the instructions specify a required call-to-action closing intended to persuade the reader to contact a specific physician recruiting firm for a solution to those challenges.
Choosing Content vs. Copy
While there are similarities and overlaps between copy and content, website owners should know the differences and, more importantly, know when to use one over the other. Content is a growth tool for businesses. Well-written, relevant content expands an audience. Good content keeps readers coming back to the website or blog, even when they do not have an immediate or known need for the product or service. Copy pushes the reader to take an action at that moment, and copy's relevance is more time-limited and specific. Content brings an audience to the website, and copy converts some of that audience into consumers.
Overall, the key to identifying each type of content is by asking, "What is the immediate purpose of this content?" Content writing offers some benefit to the reader. Copy writing is focused on a specific result.
This article is an example of content writing. It is meant to be informative, educating the reader on the distinctions between copy writing and content writing. Hopefully, the content helps establish the Scripted platform as an expert in the marketing writing industry.
Though these two types of writing can and should be used together in a successful marketing plan, knowing which is which is the key to finding someone who can help create stellar content appropriate to your needs.
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