Difference Between Copywriting and Content Marketing

English is an incredibly powerful and often complex language. It’s estimated that the average number of English words a person knows is 10,000-20,000. To put that into perspective, there’s over 470,000 English words. That means most English speakers only use and/or know only 5% of the English language.

Then beyond just the numbers, there are different dialects of English. While I grew up in Texas, I also grew up as a European. You see, my parents are British and raised us up with the British dialect. You can imagine mixing the Queen’s English, American English, and a Texan twang. One thing that I learned growing up is that words – when strung together strategically – can be incredibly effective at convincing someone to do something.

Whether it’s convincing someone to click the button to buy or creating an emotional connection…


One thing that many people mistakenly use interchangeably is copy and content. So… I’d like to share the difference between copywriting and content marketing AND why your company needs to have two separate strategies.

Difference Between Copywriting and Content Marketing

Difference Between Copywriting and Content Marketing

The main difference between copywriting and content marketing is the answer to this question… 

“Is my purpose to sell?” 

If the answer is “yes”, then it’s copywriting. 

If the answer is “no”, then its content marketing

Ideally, all content marketing would also be copywriting

Not all copywriting is content marketing though.

Definition of Copywriting

The definition of copywriting is… “the act of writing material (copy) to persuade the intended audience to take a requested action”. In other words, copywriting is persuasive writing. Typically, its goal is to sell something or to take a specific transactional step; however, it could also be to convince (i.e. pitch and sell to) your employees to buy-in to your vision and brand.

Copywriting is unique in that is does not always have to be presented in a written text. It could be behind a video sales letter, a webinar, commercial, or an image.

In addition, copywriting focuses solely on how the product / service / idea is going to benefit them.

Each piece of copy includes a hook or attention grabber. This is something that makes the reader move from the first line to the second line. Then comes the pain the customer is experiencing… This is key because without a pain point, the product isn’t really solving anything. Then the copy moves into the solution – your product or service – and how it benefits the reader. Most copy also includes a guarantee, a sense of urgency (i.e. registration is closing soon), and scarcity (i.e. there’s only 100 seats open).

Difference Between Copywriting and Content Marketing

Definition of Content Marketing

Conversely, content marketing is the publication and promotion of content (blogs, videos, social media, etc.) that attract a target audience but does not explicitly ask for the target audience to take a specified action. Moreover, content marketing creates brand awareness, allows the site to be search-able, and moves the company from just another option to an authority.

Most content teaches, enlightens, or brings awareness to a specific topic. It usually includes an intro (like the hook), the content, and then a conclusion. Good content will also have copy inside of it – call to actions.

When I first started in my marketing journey, I loved content marketing – still do. There are so many ways you can splinter off topics into mini lessons, stories, and ideas. It came very naturally to me. However, effective content needs to have a strategy that includes copywriting.

Content Marketing Strategy

Because there is so much content out on the Internet, it’s critical that you put together a content marketing strategy that differentiates you from the crowd.

For example, there is a consulting firm that offers accounting services. An obvious topic to discuss on a blog is cash flow. BUT there is no way that you can effectively talk about cash flow in 1,000 words. They splinter the topic a little further into cash flow reporting. BUT they could talk about daily cash reports, 13-week cash flow reports, cash flow forecasts, etc.

Steps To Build Your Copywriting Strategy

Building your copywriting strategy starts with…

1. Initial Prep-Work

Before you start writing, you need to start with the prep-work.

What are you trying to accomplish? Lead generation, acquire contact information, sell a $100 product, set up a meeting for a $20,000 contract, etc…. Whatever it is, write down the intended goal for your copy.

Then identify the intended customer. Most likely, you have already done this. BUT this time go into depth about your customer. Give them a name. What are they experiencing? What is their life like? How do they feel? What are their concerns, Why do they want to talk to you?

Finally, answer these questions… 

What are the benefits of the product/service and how will the customer benefit from taking the requested action? 

What are the benefits of the benefits? 

And the benefits of those benefits? 

Another question we ask during our prep-work session is… 

So what? 

Ask that several times to get the real benefits to your customer’s customer (i.e. the people they are trying to sell to).

2. Figure Out How You Are Going to Distribute the Copy

Then you need to figure out how you are going to distribute the copy. You can do it through…

  • Videos
  • Sales letters
  • Long-form social media
  • Voice or audio (think radio or podcast)

All are totally valid and effective forms of copy distribution.

3. Start Writing For The Intended Distribution Method

You get all your information and how you are going to distribute it. Now, it’s time to start writing.

Start with identifying your tone – rebellious, sarcastic, professional, vulnerable, dry… Carry that tone throughout the entire copy.

Depending on your intended distribution method, you may format your copy a little differently. But the general format is…

  1. Hook / Headline
  2. Problem
  3. Solution
  4. Benefits
  5. Benefits
  6. Price
  7. Benefits
  8. Buy Now
  9. Benefits

Have I said benefits enough? That’s the real difference between contenting marketing and copywriting.

4. Proofread

Before you publish, proofread, and then proofread again – use different people and get them to read it out loud. Strangely, reading copy from the last word to the first word also catches a lot of errors too! 

You do not want to have your sales letters riddled with typos or nonsensical language.

5. Test and Retest

Just when you think that you’re done, it’s time to test your copywriting strategy and retest. It’s important for you to track how effective (or ineffective) your copy is. First, you need to drive enough traffic to the piece of copy to be able to test it. Get a baseline conversion rate – conversions / traffic = conversion rate %. Then test different variables like distribution methods, button color, headline copy, etc. Be sure to only test one variable at a given time. Think back to your 6th grade science experiments!

If the conversion rate increases, keep the change and test something else.

If the conversion rate decreases, go back to the original copy and test something else. 

Next Steps…

So, what are your next steps? Evaluate your current copywriting and content marketing strategies. Does your company have a strategy? Is it as effective as you want? If not, contact us. We can help you improve your sales and sales potential by working on your strategy. Reach out to us today to schedule your free consultation.