Copywriter or Content Writer – what’s the difference?

Does your marketing strategy need the services of a copywriter or a content writer? If you didn’t realise there was a difference, you’re not alone. Many businesses believe that they’re just two names for the same thing – but they’re wrong.

When it comes to hiring a writer for your online content, it’s important to understand that the role of a copywriter and that of a content writer is actually quite different. In order to fulfil your marketing objectives, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job.

The Art of Copywriting

Copywriting predates the digital world by several decades. Firmly rooted in the world of old-school sales and marketing, copywriters are masters of persuasion. Their huge commercial value came to be increasingly recognised by sales hungry companies and advertising agencies whose influence on consumer behaviour started taking on a new intensity from the 1950s onwards.

The fundamental skill of the copywriter lies in being able to use words and language to convince the reader to take an action, whether in the shape of sales copy, marketing emails, print advertising, brochures, digital ads or landing pages. Short form or long form, essentially it’s sales oriented writing with one ultimate goal in mind: to get the customer to make a purchase.

Here are three great examples:

Porsche ad

Image source: Auto Evolution

Innocent smoothies

Image source: Inner Media


Image source: Web Designer Depot

In terms of online copy, a copywriter will use his writing skills to produce landing pages, product pages, services pages, brochure downloads, checkout pages… in fact any web page that constitutes a touch point where the user is urged to respond to a call to action, or that helps to usher him towards a purchase. This is where a great copywriter can make all the difference to increase conversion rates and drive sales.

Choose your copywriter carefully. Do you need someone who specialises in product copy, direct response advertising or SEO copy? Are you looking for specific industry expertise? A good copywriter should understand your marketing goals, take your brief and turn it into a creative solution that connects with the target market, using emotion and humour as necessary to persuade them to take action.

So, what does a Content Writer do?

The job of content writing has evolved along with the growth of digital marketing, ‘content’ being what a web page is filled with. More than that, in addition to writing content for specific sites, content writers are also responsible for 90% of what you read online, through social media marketing, online magazines and blog posts.

In contrast to sales focused copywriting, content writing is aimed higher up the sales funnel, aimed at increasing brand awareness, maintaining brand image and generating customer engagement through informative and entertaining content. The writing is subtly positioned in such a way as to strengthen the relationship between the reader and the brand.

Rather than majoring on the features and benefits offered by a particular product or company, a great content writer will instead develop strategies that tap into the target audience’s concerns and requirements. The trick is to provide the information and advice that people are actively looking for, in an easily accessible way. Content can be created for many channels including websites and blogs, email and social media.

History of Hacking

Image source: Redscan

The skill of a content writer goes beyond that of being an excellent wordsmith – that’s a given. In order to execute successful digital marketing campaigns, the writer must also have a keen understanding of what drives online search behaviour, including how to use keywords and phrases and linkbuilding campaigns to enhance SEO performance.

It’s a mixture of a highly creative and analytical approach targeted at engaging online readers with notoriously short attention spans. Success, then, is measured in terms of how long readers stay on the page and the extent to which they comment on and/or share what they’ve read online.

Don’t you need both?

In a word, yes. You would be hard pressed to find a business environment these days that doesn’t rely on both copywriting and content writing to get their marketing messages across. Good content writing lies at the core of producing quality blogs posts, articles and website content to drive customer engagement. Copywriting tactics should be applied to intensify and convert this engagement and drive sales.