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Copywriting vs Content Writing: Differences & Similarities

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The difference between copywriting and content writing is simple. Copywriting is short-form copy with the goal of persuading a customer to act (i.e. buy, sign up, etc.). Content writing is longer and more informational, relying on SEO tactics to drive more viewers to a site.

Table of Contents

What Is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the practice of using words to promote a product or service. Behind any successful marketing campaign is messaging rooted in a deep understanding of target audiences, their pain points and what matters most to them. It’s a fine balance between the art of language and the science of persuasion. 

From B2B organizations to nonprofits, captivating messaging is crucial in any field.

Required Skills

Voice and Tone

“Salesy” copy doesn’t cut it in the modern world. An effective copywriter knows how to leverage emotional intelligence and creative writing to craft a powerful message people can trust. Aggressive sales tactics are a massive turnoff to the majority of customers.  

That’s why understanding buyer personas, voice and tone is an essential piece of copywriting. What language does your audience trust? What do they care about? 

Copywriting Formulas

If you want to improve your copywriting skills, begin with formulas to guide you. AIDA and PAS are two of the most popular, and understanding how they work can give you a solid foundation on which to build your writing.

AIDA

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It's a simple formula that reminds you of key steps to write high quality copy.

  1. Grab your reader's Attention
  2. Build Interest by providing information. 
  3. Create Desire with strong benefits.
  4. Seal the deal with a clear call to Action.

Here’s an example from Propeller Industries, a financial consulting firm.

Propeller is on a mission to help great entrepreneurs build great companies. We seek out ambitious leaders looking for a battle-tested partner that can help bring their business to the next level.

If your company has hit a growth spurt, a point of resistance, or is confronted with the need to professionalize, we are for you. Talk to one of our experts about elevating your finances to scale smart. 

PAS

PAS stands for Problem, Agitation, Solution. To use it, follow this process. 

  1. Identify your reader's Problem
  2. Agitate or stir emotion. 
  3. Provide a Solution

E-commerce business Thompson Tee uses it in the example below:

Fear of sweat keeping you off the stage? Thompson Tee’s sweat proof shirt keeps you protected from dress rehearsals through curtain call so you can own the spotlight.

To quote Captain Barbosa, these formulas are more like guidelines than actual rules. They’re a good jumping off point, but you'll define your own creative process as you write more copy.  

7 Examples of What Copywriters Do

  • Ads
  • Slogans
  • Product descriptions
  • Landing pages
  • Email newsletters
  • SMS campaigns
  • Web page content

Goal of Copywriting

When it comes to copywriting vs. content writing, the defining difference is the goal. The goal of copywriting is to sell.  Whether it’s selling a product or capturing leads, copywriting propels business goals forward. What makes high quality copy isn’t just wit and a way with words. It's the results. 

What Is Content Writing?

Content writing is long-form writing that informs, educates or entertains readers. Think blog articles or eBooks. A well-rounded content strategy attracts new customers and builds brand loyalty. It builds trust with your audience by highlighting topics they care about.

Required Skills

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

Anyone can string a few sentences together. But it takes a combination of creative and technical skills to be a successful content writer. Besides strong writing ability, content writers are well-versed in SEO techniques. Keyword research and organized content structure ensure articles are search engine-friendly.  

It’s also important to analyze search trends and how it fits into the bigger picture of your business goals. Content that might have been viral even a month ago may no longer be as impactful.

5 Examples of What Content Writers Do

  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Social media posts
  • Meta descriptions

Goal of Content Writing

The goal of content writing is to capture the attention of the reader and keep them engaged. A well-written piece of content will hold the reader's attention from beginning to end, and leave them wanting more.

Summary of Differences and Similarities

Content writing vs. copywriting. Which should you use? Short answer: both. 

Though they have their differences, each plays an important role in effective marketing. Content writing attracts potential customers and leads. Copywriting makes the sale. When used together, the result is a well-rounded strategy that wins the hearts of your audience.

Are you ready to create an unforgettable brand? Contact our content experts at Human!

Topics: Content writing tools