Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

Writing isn't easy. And business writing has its own set of unique challenges, as you know. It's not enough to just be a talented writer, you have to know what it takes to reach people and make sales. But there's something you might not have considered in your writing.

Copywriting is a specific term used to describe sales writing. But in your business, you're probably doing another type of writing that you might think of as copywriting: content writing. They're both related in that you need to make use of them to run a successful business, but they're not the same in any sense.

That's because content refers to educational writing, things that aren't meant to sell but to inform an audience. That's in contrast to copywriting, which is focused on generating sales. This distinction has to be made because you have to write for a specific audience in order to get any results. Someone who's aware of your offer and is considering a purchase isn't the intended reader for something like an article, but someone who wants to find out about your offer is the perfect candidate.

And keep in mind that content writing is basic writing that anyone can do. It's all about information that anybody can assemble into something like in a blog post. Copywriting has a much steeper learning curve because it involves trying to get someone to take action. And that requires a deeper understanding of psychology and what compels someone to do that.

So let's clear things up and find out what the actual difference is between copywriting and content writing, where they're effective, and what each of them looks like.

 

What's Copywriting?

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

Copywriting is focused on sales. That's the point of all copywriting, and that's what makes it different from content writing. It can be, but not always, written in hopes of a direct response, hence direct-response copywriting being so desirable.

The goal is to sell a product or service by tying it together with the problem you're solving. But you also need to make sure your offer is better than any other solution that your competition is offering. You're probably aware by now that it's impossible to be the only business to do one specific thing, so you have to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd.

This means you will use emotions to appeal to your audience, so it doesn't seem like you're a stereotypical salesman using outdated tactics. That's not to say being in sales isn't an excellent thing, but it's important to connect with your audience on a psychological level

Which means understanding their problem and how it affects them.

Because when you can do that, you can present your offer in a way that appeals to your audience. Even if they need your product or service, they have to be convinced why they do, and nobody can do that besides you or your copywriter.

 

Types Of Copywriting And What They Do

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

Copywriting comes in many forms, but the one thing that ties them all together is sales. You know your audience is right at the tipping point, they just need a little push to convince them to take action. And that's what excellent copy does. It's persuasive and conversational and it plays off of emotions and psychology.

And there's a big emphasis on emotions and psychology. That's what separates copywriting from most types of writing, it aims to make the reader take action. Anyone can write, and you need that foundation for copywriting. But once you have that foundation you have to learn what makes people tick and how to make them want what you're selling. And that's difficult because people get savvier and savvier by the day and your marketing tactics have to reflect that.

Each of these types of copy serves a different purpose, but they all have the same goal of selling. So it's important to be familiar with every type and where it's used, just like where copy and content should be used. Chances are you've used these before, and if not you probably will.

 

Sales Pages

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

A sales page is exactly that, a page with the goal of selling. But it has to shy away from typical sales tactics used in the past and embrace all the facets of good copywriting. These facets include formatting and all visual elements, like pictures, colors, and use of negative space.

The goal is to drive conversions, so the copy has to be interesting and images need to be strategically placed. It's at the end of the funnel and focuses on prospects that already know about the offer and need that last push to decide. Since it's at the end of the funnel, it can be a little pushy, because your prospect needs that little push. And good sales pages do that by explaining why the prospect needs the offer and what it can do for them.

Everything about the sales page needs to compel the prospect to take action because it's the last step before they convert. So a good sales page gets deep into detail, illustrating what an offer does and how. Not only that, but a good sales page goes into what that can look like for a prospect and why you're the best choice. Everything that makes your offer the ideal offer for the reader.

They can be long-form or short-form, where long-form sales pages are suited for offers that need to be detailed more. Know that long-form sales pages are tricky and can end up looking like content, which isn't what you want when you're trying to engage a reader and get them to take action.

Sales Letters

Sales letters use a fresh angle in that they target "colder" leads than a sales page does. Chances are if a lead is on your sales page then they're at least close to becoming a prospect. But if not, you need to get them there or to generate a sale in another way.

As a note, it's easy to mix up prospects and leads but it's an important distinction. A prospect is thinking about buying and a lead is someone who isn't but is interested in some way or fits your target persona. So sales letters are more suited for a prospect who's less aware or earlier in the buyer's journey, but that doesn't mean they aren't a prospect.

Sales letters can also be in the form of a video sales letter, which is becoming more and more popular. So the copy would be the script used in the video sales letter. Video sales letters take a lot of the guesswork out of the buying process because you highlight whatever you want. That means that your prospect doesn't have to look for any information, saving them time.

 

Ads

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

Ads are one of the most fundamental and widely used forms of copywriting. Advertising is all about sales and so is copywriting. But they can be hit or miss if you don't have strong copy or optimize them for the right audience.

They can range from Facebook ads to Google ads, and everywhere in between. It all depends on what your business does, who you're trying to target, and where your copy excels. For example, you might be focused on bananapreneurs or you might be focused on amateur banana-flippers. Your ads have to reflect that and give appropriate information through appropriate language.

Ads don't have to be targeted, but chances are that yours will be. When your business exists in any kind of niche, you can't afford not to target leads within that niche. That's saying, your money is wasted when you're just throwing ads everywhere. Make sure the right people are seeing them because your offer is only relevant to certain people.

 

Landing Pages

A landing page can be easy to mix up with a sales page. In the end, the ultimate goal is to make a sale. But landing pages take the fact that your lead might not be ready to buy into consideration. That means that landing pages inform the reader about your offer and focus on emotion.

Sales pages and landing pages both push for sales, but a landing page tries to get the lead to take a different action first. This means that a lot of times you're trying to get them to sign up for something free for the first CTA, like an email list or some other incentive. Think of it as an introduction to your offer, so you're trying to appeal to your reader with emotion and information. From that introduction you want to build pressure for at least two other CTAs, getting more specific with each one until you get to "Buy Now."

You're trying to lead them to a sale without pushing it on them. So landing pages are useful in the buying journey and play an important role. Without them, you would just have to push for a sale up front and hope for the best. And chances are that you wouldn't have much luck trying that.

Landing pages start with giving some information on your offer, things like what it does and how it works. Then it relates to the reader. It focuses on their problem and how important it is, eventually leading to why they need to solve it and how you can help them solve it. The major focus is what they desire, where a sales page focuses on how good your offer is.

These are just some of the most popular applications of copywriting, and you're bound to see a lot more. Copywriting can be applied in many places but chances are these are the places you'll use it most. This should just give you an idea of where else it might be applicable.

 

What's Content Writing?

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

Content writing differs from sales copy because it isn't intended to make a sale. It's written with the understanding that a sale is unlikely for the intended audience. Instead, content writing focuses on educating and informing your audience.

Maybe they're not even close to buying anything from you, or maybe they already have bought from you and want to keep getting information from you. Either way has the intention of building them up to an eventual sale (even if they've already converted), where sales copy comes into play.

It has the effect of strengthening your brand and helps you appear as an authority in your market. It's also appealing because it's free and accessible to anyone who ends up finding it. And you know everyone loves free stuff.

But it doesn't focus on what your business does, it's more about the industry itself. It's all about telling what you do without making it about your business. And that can lend some authority and trust to your business because you show that you know what you're talking about.

But it's also about branding, where you can use your content to establish things like your tone, values, style, etc. So keep that in mind when you're deciding what type of content you want to write and how you want to write it. It's a great opportunity to make a good impression on your audience and hopefully nurture them along to a sale.

 

Types Of Content And What They Do

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

When you're writing anything for your business, it's going to either be copy or content. And just like with copy, there are several unique forms of content formats. Naturally, they all have their own time and place.

But they all have the same goal in mind. That goal is education. There's a deeper purpose, though, and that's nurturing leads along the buying process. You know they aren't ready to buy so you want to lead them to that point.

That's the major difference between content writing and copywriting. We can think of content writing as something like a bonus, free information for your audience. And it doesn't even have to be about your business, just in the realm of what your business does. If your audience can get useful information for free, then they can imagine what your paid offers can do for them.

 

Blogs

Blogs are very similar to articles in that they aim to inform, so like some other forms of copy and content, they are sometimes used interchangeably. But there are some key differences that you should be aware of. The first of which is the importance of SEO.

SEO optimization is key to a blog post so a relevant audience can find it. They should be led to your post by several keywords, which lets you reach the most people possible. Adding links within blog posts can also keep people engaged for longer, resulting in better lead generation.

Another key difference is the tone of blog posts. Blogs are typically written in a more personal tone, where the author comes across as a single person representing a business, not just a business. They incorporate more views and opinions rather than just raw facts.

Blog posts also tend to be shorter than articles and they're only posted on blogs, and blogs are purely digital. Articles can be posted to a number of different places, just think of all the places you see articles to get an idea.

 

Articles

Where blogs aim to incorporate more personality, articles are aimed more at informing. Because of this they usually end up longer. The intention of articles is to establish authority and relay information to your audience.

So as far as tone they take a more formal approach. That's not to say that they don't incorporate any type of personality in the writing. Just that you don't want to use the same tone in an article that you would in a blog post.

Articles are subject to heavier editing because they're meant to place the author as an authority figure on a subject. As I said, an article is a way to relay information about your industry, not necessarily your business in specific.

Articles can be published just about anywhere, but a business owner, for example, would post them in a certain section on their website most of the time. A bananapreneur might use them to detail certain topics regarding their business, things like ways to read the market, the benefits of getting into the industry, and a number of other things. This gives them an edge because if they can demonstrate that they know what they're talking about then their audience is likely to trust them.

 

Interviews

Interviews aren't the most popular form of content writing. And while that may be true, they can be very useful.  But you have to decide whether they'd work best in a copywriting or content writing capacity.

If you want to take the angle of copywriting, a testimonial might be a good way to distill an interview. A testimonial looks great on a landing page, case study, or just about anywhere you want to establish some trust. You can't always count on your audience to trust you, but they're a lot more likely to trust one of their peers.

But a long-form interview might suit your needs better. You can do this in a question-and-answer format or the conversation can be written into a more cohesive piece. It depends on your business and what would fit with your current branding.

Either way, an interview should focus on what you've done for a client. That, or someone in your business (including yourself) can tell about what you and your business do. You want to inform your audience of something but put a more personal spin on it.

 

E-Books

E-Books are one of the most niche types of content writing. They take a lot of effort to create and a lot of attention for anyone to read through. So they might not even be useful for you.

But they're versatile, so you can count on the fact that there's potential there no matter your market. E-books take a lot of research because they're all about information. So there's a lot of effort that goes into them.

And it's not that they have to be a certain length, but the idea is that the information can't be relayed in a shorter format. So it's a matter of knowing your audience and whether they would even want to read something at that length. And you also need to decide if you have enough information to write a full e-book.

Free e-books are probably the most useful for any business though. That's because they can generate leads easily just like anything that's free. Think about it this way: you offer a free e-book and all the lead has to do is sign up with their email. Well, then they're signed up to your email list and they're going to be receiving more content from you which is always good.

Guides (How-Tos)

You might find that guides aren't just useful but necessary for your product or service. Depending on your target audience and what you're offering you'll often find that you need to explain how it works.

If you're selling a guide to banana-flipping you probably won't need to explain how it works because the guide itself does. But if you're offering software to optimize a bananapreneur's business you probably want to explain how it works.

Your audience might be in the know, but you can't assume that they know how it works. Of course, you don't want to pander to them. But you want to make sure that you're not turning anyone away.

And that can happen if your product or service looks complicated or inaccessible. You're not going to be selling to everybody but you have to account for different people who might be interested.

Just like the types of copywriting we went over, these aren't the only types of content you might use. But they are some of the most widely used. And you might not ever use some of them, finding that some other forms work better for your business. But hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what content writing looks like.

 

When Copywriting Meets Content Writing

Copywriting Vs Content Writing: Business Writing Demystified

Copywriting and content writing can seem like they overlap, so it's easy to mix them up. But it's important to make the distinction when you're running a business. They couldn't be any more different, and the only thing they have in common is that they're both forms of writing for your business to use.

Copywriting is what you use to sell. Content writing focuses on informing your audience, moving them toward a sale. And if you mix them up, you might not see the results you want. If you try to spring a sale on someone who's just learning about your offer they probably won't feel compelled to take action.

That's because not everyone is ready to buy yet, and not everyone needs to know more about what you do. Everyone's in a different stage of awareness and in a different part of the buyer's journey. So account for everyone and angle your writing the right way. That's the biggest reason you want to use both copywriting and content writing. But you can't use them effectively if you're getting them mixed up.

But with some practice and some research, you're likely to see some results. It's never a bad idea to hire a copywriter if you just don't have the time to spend on writing yourself, though. So never hesitate to reach out when you need help.

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About the author

Daniel Doan is a veteran direct-response copywriter with over 10 years of expertise leading copywriting teams and writing copy for some of the largest brands in America.
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