What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting?

What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting?

Reader Comments (111)

  1. Sonia

    Cool post – one of the things that I find helps to both engage readers and then get them to take an action is to pay particular attention to the top and tail of the content. The heading should invite them in to read (or listen…or watch)… and then at the end of the content you should give them a clear and defined call to action or next step.

    There’s one exception that I’ve found to this – and that’s with video. Especially if you’re using video on sites like Youtube as a strategy to attract potential clients and readers to your website and blog. With video it’s important to put the Call to Action right up in the intro to the video – otherwise people will watch the video and often click away to something else when they get to the end of the ‘content’ part of the process.


    • That’s an interesting difference, Paul. I think you’re on to something. I know my attention vanishes once a video switches gears. I wonder if this because it’s so much like the way I tune out commercials when I’m watching television.

      Are you suggesting doing the whole call to action at the beginning, or just doing a teaser for it so people know they have to keep paying attention?

      It also seems like with video you’d need to give away, as Sonia says, content that’s so good it makes you uncomfortable. You’ve got so much competition with that next shiny video they could be watching.

      • Joe

        If you use YouTube as an attraction strategy you’ll find when you dive into the analytics tools that YouTube has that you see where people in your video are actually leaving and clicking away.

        In all the videos I’ve tried you can hold most viewers for approximately the first 10-15% of the video, and then they start to tail off. So if you don’t get your Call To Action in early most ‘viewers’ as YouTube defines it won’t actually see the Call to Action.

        Hence the need for it to be upfront in the ‘introduction’ section of the video.

        Bear in mind that this situation will be different if for example you’re using video to deliver content to your audience via your blog or website. Presumably these people are already part of your ‘tribe’ – I’m specifically referring to when you use Video Content Marketing to try and attract people who haven’t encountered you before.

        Hope that makes sense!


          • Your articles denote your authority on the web and I simply like that. Your website is a clean proof of your writing and social relationship skiils. Simply wonderful. Definitely one of my favorite websites!

        • 10-15% of the video? Brutal!

          But probably not that dissimilar to people reading blog posts. Headline gets them started. They read the first paragraph. 80% of them stop.

        • @ Paul , are you saying Youtube only attracts viewers with valuable content at the beginning of the video? Or in order to keep viewers you need valuable content? I have my own youtube page myself need feedback before i start making videos

          • Larry

            What I’m saying is that IF you are using YouTube Videos as an attraction strategy you need to put the Call to Action somewhere near the front of the video. Because if you put it at the end of the video it will be missed by a good proportion of people who view the video.

            The Call to Action should clearly tell the viewer what to do (e.g. go to your website, or click on the link to your website under the video) and also what’s in it for them (if you take this action you will get….a great free report…a series of great videos…a great interview on MP3….or whatever it is).

            I repeat this is ONLY if you are using YouTube and other video attractors as a strategy to attract potential new subscribers/clients/customers.

            If you are creating videos that are going to be viewed by your existing ‘tribe’ THEN in those situations you can leave the call to action to the end of the video.

            The kind of content you should put in a YouTube video is a whole ‘nother ball game. That would be worth a series of posts on its own!

        • @Paul,

          Excellent information & tips for YouTube. Also, great point on differentiating on content that is meant only for YouTube and content (video) that will be on your site.

          Makes me think that some videos should be recorded twice:
          1. To be put on the intended site (assuming you are not using Flowplayer)
          2. Videos meant only for YouTube content marketing

          And you would need to put a slight twist in the message, just in case the same person caught both. Any thoughts??


          I’m currently on Module 1, Part 11 (started late due to the holidays) of Teaching Sells and this post ties in so well. You all (@Brian @Tony) provide great, great info!

          Thinking about YouTube and the call to action early on…following the
          ‘tell them what your going to tell them’,
          ‘tell them’, and then
          ‘tell them what you just told them’
          approach would/could help you get viewers to watch more, if not all the video, no?

          If they click off, then maybe they are not your target market.

          I’m going to go think about this more…

          Thank you for the great info – Theresa

          • @Theresa

            Very perceptive question. Here’s two ways you can do it.

            1. When you record the video you can record two separate introductions – you use the first version with Youtube and it has a call to action in the intro.

            2. The introduction to the section version is just an introduction, doesn’t have a call to action in it, and you can load this on your website for your subscribers and members of your tribe who already like your content. You can either host this on Youtube and make the video unlisted (that way it won’t be found on YouTube), or you could host it somewhere like Amazon S3 and use Flowplayer. OR you could create a high def version and give your tribe the opportunity to download it.

            But you should be thinking of taking a different approach depending on intended audience and intended purpose. Knowing where the video sits in the sales cycle is critical – is it for attraction, conversion or consumption?

          • @Paul

            You are hitting ’em out of the park today!

            Yes, the sales cycle – thank you – I need to plan out my projects, so that my videos have the proper content for the place they will be positioned in the sales cycle.

            I’ve got my head around intended audience, sometimes tho…it blows up.

            I appreciate the tip on Amazon S3, I haven’t gone there yet.

            Also, thanks for the YouTube “unlisted” suggestion. I will go check that out too.

            I am just getting started, and there are tons of tools I haven’t dissected yet – soo much to learn – but I love marketing and appealing to what markets are after.

            So off I go…to learn more of what I don’t know, I don’t know.

            Thank you for replying – Theresa

  2. Hi Sonia!

    Thank you for making the distinction and the connection.

    I strive to incorporate strong copywriting and content marketing in all of my content,
    not only because it converts better but because it’s how I establish trust with my readers.

    Generosity, quality content, and non-sleazy persuasion result in trusted relationships
    with my audience. At the end of the day, that is what sells my (or my affiliate) products and

    If you’re going to put the time and effort required into making quality content, then you might
    as well let it work for you too by applying tried and true copywriting principles.

    And as with all things, the more you practice the better you get. Because I incorporate copywriting
    in my content regularly it’s become second nature. Not having to “think” about it so much
    makes it that much easier to do.

  3. Sonia:

    Thanks for defining content marketing and copywriting. It helps the readers out. For those who want more info, they can look up “content marketing” and “copywriting” on Google and find the informative Wiki articles.

    Legendary copywriter John Kennedy called copywritingt “salesmanship in print.” Wiki says,” Content Marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.

    Great post and clarification for the readers today.


  4. Sonia, a question for you:

    I agree with everything yo have written, and I highly suggest bloggers (myself included) realize this is an evolutionary thing. You don’t just wake up one day and be good at it. However, many of us see our online activity, particularly with blogging, as a way to increase our personal brand, therefore we are marketers as well. In terms of marketing and advertising ourselves, where do you think content and copywriting fit?

    Just curious about your thoughts.

    Thanks, Sonia.


    • I like Godin’s definition of a brand (except I can’t find it anywhere, so I suspect maybe I hallucinated it and it’s not really his), which is “a promise made over time.” The content side of things is where you’re going to make that promise (along with what you actually deliver as a product, if that isn’t content). Copywriting in this context would be the techniques you use to encourage people to consume your content in the way you want, and take the actions you want them to take (get on your list, buy stuff, share posts on twitter, etc.)

      • Interesting that you mention Godin in your response Sonia, because I’ve always said Seth’s books are 200 page sales letters — for his ideas. He uses content and copywriting techniques to keep you engaged and sell you on adopting a way of thinking.

        In other words, it doesn’t matter what you’re “selling” — products, services, ideas, a cause, or yourself — content + copy gets the message across.

        • Thank you both. It dawned on me this morning that content is more marketing, and copywriting is more advertising, with both crucial and complementary to each other to be successful. (That’s a big brush stroke over this.) Sonia, you aptly name content that way above.

          BTW – Godin is one brilliant dude.

          For me, the challenge is the mix. Video, tweets, 1,000 word blogs. And the key is editing. I don’t think I have ever posted anything without reading/editing a few times. There’s a secret sauce mix in there that makes this work.

  5. I use free eBooks to show my readers value and get them to see what I’m all about. I give away lots of free stuff and sometimes I can’t believe I’m not charging! I know it works for attracting people so I’m always working on something valuable that others can share with their team members.

    I do need to work on my headlines for Twitter and Facebook to get more viewers to my blog so I’m definitely going to check out those tutorials.

    Thanks for clearing up the differences 🙂

    Lark Miller

  6. “How about you? How are you using content and copywriting on your site to build more traffic, and to convert that traffic into fans and customers?”

    Lately I’ve been bringing my own story into the mix. I’ve added my blog to the website and started giving away a little more information about myself as well as the services I offer. I’m trying to steer clear of sales and keep my customers and readers interested in my ‘story’. Hopefully, if I tell my story well enough, more writers will recognise me and know that I am capable of helping them edit or sell their own ‘story’.

    However, I’m only just beginning to write blog posts that contain useful information for my readers. Perhaps I should have begun with helpful guides and step-by-step benefits like those that keep me coming back to Copyblogger? Perhaps I should have put myself to one side for a while?

    Then again, I know that my customers often feel insecure about handing their work over to editors/proofreaders, especially without the reassuring presence of a publishing company in the background. I imagine it’s a bit like letting a stranger hold your baby.

    I think that if I let my readers get to know me a little then they’re more likely to trust me with their work and become customers. That said, I am working on the useful content too 🙂 It’s hard to follow Copyblogger and not realise the importance of copywriting.

    • I think it’s great to have both. I agree that proofreading is a very personal thing, and you need to build trust. But my bet is that if you add more of the “helpful guides and step-by-step benefits” as cornerstone content, you’ll build even more trust. It’s that combination of “I’m a nice person and I also know how to help you with your problem.”

      • Thank you these thought Sonia.

        I like to add more helpful guides and step-by-step benefits too. I have realized that people go to my website not because they like me. They are looking for solutions to their problems. And they think I can provide that.

      • This last remark plus the reminder that content marketing should pair with copywriting looks like a good mantra for my cornerstone page I’m doing in #CBChallenge

  7. Having just started my new blog last December, I’ve been concentrating solely on content. I guess I need to sprinkle some copywriting in there (mostly calls to action) in order to grow my subscriber base. Thanks for the great post.

  8. Thanks Sonia!

    This is a wonderful sum-up of what you, Brian and other authors are trying to teach us here on Copyblogger.

    Personally, I try to mix as much as possible copywriting and SEO with useful content that can teach people something valuable.

    When I write articles, I am careful to add an optimized title and meta description to them and make sure that the copy I am writing will help me get some good rankings for the keywords I choose.

    As for the content, I added a free Google Analytics course to my blog and I am strictly following the first rule of Copyblogger. I prefer to skip publish something that will not add value to my audience.

    Thanks again for all your valuable advice!


  9. Content writing combined copy writing should go hand in hand to serve the purpose of good marketing. Copy writing should be an element in a useful article written by a content writer.

  10. If you’re doing it right, there’s virtually no distinction. Great writing (in the context of garnering a sale, providing information or inspiring an action) has two distinct qualities: Emotional resonance and technical excellence. (And by “technical excellence” I mean everything from structure to diction to grammar.) Very simply, you can’t bore or confuse anyone into doing anything.

  11. Sonia–

    Great article; though I’m forcing myself into the habit of reading these Copyblogger articles from start to finish, and THEN going back and clicking on the hyperlinks. The fact that I’m resisting said urges is evidence of good, compelling copy.

  12. Ideally, finding the right balance so that they both achieve the same purpose would be great, but that’s a hard task to achieve. The distinction between the two can definitely get blurry as people often use them interchangeably.

  13. What incredible content … and resources. Thanks Sonia. These are the kinds of posts I aim to write myself. Moving forward, I plan to read this prior to developing new posts, as I’m sure it will make a big difference in the quality and effectiveness of my writing. I know for me, far too much sales emphasis was put into my early posts, and I’m working on providing more true value first … thereby gaining my visitor’s trust. Your suggestions above will greatly help – thank you!


  14. Sonia, what a fantastic post!

    I’ve bookmarked the post for future reference, and sent out a message so that others can read it too.

    thanks so much

  15. Sonia, I just have to say…YOU ROCK!

    I have never heard it explained quite like this and now that I have, it makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for such awesome material and valuable tips.

    Deb 🙂
    PS…thanks to Kathleen too, she sent me an email to get over here and read this ASAP.

  16. Sonia,

    First time reader, but now a long-time one! One of my most common problems is getting clients to stop writing for search engines and write for their users instead. It’s so hard to convince them that writing the right kind of copy/content for the visitors will go a long way to getting the search engines’ eyes on it too!

    As marketers, it’s sometimes too easy for us to focus on cramming those “SEO Magic” keyphrases into our content as densely as possible, and to forget that there are real humans with real problems that need to read and use this stuff, too!

    • And I have yet to meet a Google spider that has a credit card it will use to spend money on my stuff. 🙂 Check out the SEO Copywriting report in the SEO link in the post — it may give you some ammunition you can use with clients!

  17. I’ve learned that everyone has to have a call to action at the end of every post.

    It doesn’t matter if you have a link to your facebook or twitter on your side bar and in your about page, and in your contact page–your content is what most of your readers will be focused on, and the best place to get them to connect with you outside of your blog is at the end of giving them GREAT content. I did this with a recent post of mine that I knew was going to be very popular and I knew was going to be valuable to my readers and so I made sure to include a call to action to subscribe to my blog if they wanted more similar great content.

    I GOT AT LEAST 80 new subscribers! Okay, not as much as the big boys, but see how much a difference it makes?

    Put a call to action at the end of each post, you won’t regret it!

  18. 10 out of 10 on this post Sonia – I usually put relevant points from articles in my *remember this book but this article is so good I’ve printed the whole thing and will reread the linked elements.

    Often timely always perfectly written and greatly appreciated , thank you Sonia.

    Now I just need to ‘get’ the way in which websites-articles- newsletters- and blogs all work together and I’ll be off and running.

    la la lah I love copyblogger….

  19. Hey there. I believe the best copywriting captures attention by exposing a truth about a product, a company, a category or culture. Following this one simple rule has saved me countless hours of pain and self-loathing (when the words just won’t flow) trying to write that one great line. I find “truths” make the best copy, especially at headline level, because they come out as insights, turns of phrases that are both surprising, and more importantly, believable. They don’t sound like sales pitches or marketing muck. They’re appealing because they sound the way you’d speak at a cocktail party recommending a product or service to a friend—honest, colloquial and imbued with your own personality.

    But it’s true. Copywriting without content to deepen the engagement in some way, to educate or entertain, is a let down. These days you have be what your audience is interested in. Video, white paper, game, demo, app, whatever, your copy has to drive to something that’s relevant to them, not you or the company you’re writing for, and delivers some value (more info, a different perspective, maybe just a bigger laugh).

    Use the copy to get people pay attention. Use the content to keep them asking for more.

    Nice post.

  20. You know, I’m sat here having a little bit of a blue screen moment, wondering if there’s any other way I could say how great I thought this was.

    Have I heard it before? Yup. Probably more than I, um, should have.

    And you know what? Probably need to hear some of it again too.

    But the best bit is this. Although I make more mistakes that I would easily admit, and think I know more than evidence would bear out, I really, really do like how you guys write stuff that never makes me feel useless or belittled.

    So, thanks for not being condescending.

  21. I like how you said, “generosity is sexy”. Thanks for this wonderful post. Copy writing and content marketing as one, builds traffic and readers.

  22. Hi Sonia!

    This was a simple written piece but it punctuated all the important points everyone should know about content marketing and copywriting. These subtitles summed it all up!

    Content without copywriting is a waste of good content.
    Copywriting without content is a waste of good copy.

    AMEN to that!

  23. Great post! Especially point 1 (Content without copywriting is a waste of good content) is a great one. Sometimes I feel that some blogs are written for Google only, stuffed with high potential keywords, but hard to read. Why would you do this? Great content can be combined with good SEO-tactics and copyrighting, which may lead to much more conversions…

  24. What I really love about Copyblogger is the fact that the information is laid out in such a way that it’s impossible not to understand it, added to this the advice is always something you can actually takeaway and implement immediately in your own work. Thanks Sonia, and thanks to those that also added their valuable opinions and ideas in the comments.

  25. I realised that my initial thought of what I thought content marketing and copywriting was turned out to be wrong. I always thought copywriting was rewriting someone else’s work for them. Boy is my face red!

  26. Fantastic article, as others have said. You’ve definitely put a new spin on a debate I’ve been having with myself about the definitions of content and copy. Food for thought.



  27. Very impressed with your definition/explanation of content marketing and copywriting. I’ve occupied the same soap box, but you included more value ideas than I preached. I’ve already shared this post with a few of my clients. Much appreciation for your thinking.

  28. Great post! As publishers in the digital landscape we must think like copywriters. A good headline is one thing but a good headline with even better content is golden.

  29. Another awesome post, Sonia. Thank you.

    I’ve been struggling with trying to get the right mix down and translating it into something of value for my readers. I’ve purposely kept my blog varied because my goal is to attract potential clients to my freelance writing business, and I do not have an established “specialty” thus far, so I want to give away valuable information on several different aspects of what I do.

    But I have found my approach can be confusing for people and they have a tough time engaging. I’m experimenting now with blog commenting and guest posting in various niche blogs with links to landing pages unique to the kind of audience I’d expect to be interacting at those sites. I’m hoping this narrows the focus a bit for my audience, giving them more value for the average of 7:36 they hang around on my site. 🙂

  30. Sonia:

    I’m a fairly new subscriber but already I’m learning a lot from you and from Copyblogger. Also, some of the comments contain valuable information.

    I wish I had known/read all the information you offer before/when I first started to blog as it’s been a very up and down experience for me. After taking what I call a crash course in blogging, e.g. reading every good blog post I could manage during the last two months, I began to see this pay off with my last post – “I’m Mad as Hell!”

    I still have a way to go but a post like this one is how I will get there as I’m determined to stay the course and become a first-class blogger.

  31. You’re right. Basically for us to sell anything at all, we first have to generate interest, then ultimately to keep that interest in the product. I believe the best way to go about it is to realize that while Content Marketing is different from Copywriting, combining the two will elicit interest as well as maintain interest in a particular product you are selling…nice one, thanks for sharing.

  32. I love that you made this distinction and gave me something to share with my fellow local bloggers. I have some great local writers on wonderful, interesting topics, but there is nobody in the forest to hear their tree fall! Sharing this with them is the next thing I do this morning!

  33. This was a very helpful post Sonia, the way you pointed out the differences was very clear. In the end, I was able to learn that it is better to write action driven contents with a marketing intent by combining both concepts.

    Thanks for sharing.

  34. Sonia, thank you for your insight. Content marketing is so important for business nowadays, but I think it is hard for some people to understand why or how they should be doing it. This post is a brilliant explanation of how content marketing (information that readers actually want) + copywriting (direction on what to do next) can help businesses succeed by growing their readership, developing relationships, and finally selling a product or service as the result.

  35. Thanks for summing up so succinctly what I’ve been trying to express for a while. this is giving me fresh motivation to tweak my services page!

  36. Hey Sonia,

    Thanks for this great distinction between copywriting and content writing. For a long time I thought they were both the same and now I see they are much different! Much Props to you!


  37. Great article – I’m an “ad man” trying to get my head around the new game of content marketing. I think that content without copywriting is just a case of dancing around your handbag. But copywriting without content is like suggesting sex in a way that can only lead to a slap in the face. Content marketing opens up a whole new range of possibilities for copywriters with imagination (not those who keep harping on about “the good old days”. Exciting times…

  38. I completely agree about not writing for search engines. Providing information for your readers is always key. Search engines may help new people find you but they won’t spread your content to other places and people.

  39. Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees. I’ve been doing both for so long I’ve forgotten how to explain the difference between the two. We all need to at times go back to the basics and look at the 101 to help explain to the client what we’re actually doing… Thanks Sonia

  40. “Building traffic” is such an odd mixed metaphor. I assume “traffic” is a metaphor for people loading up pages on your web site based on the similarity to cars driving to a physical business. Building traffic doesn’t make sense. Building highways, yes. Building parking lots, sure. But traffic?

  41. I really liked this — a very articulate and well-thought-out explanation of the difference between content and copy as well as how they work together. My only nitpik with the definitions is that not all copy drives a specific reaction; some brand marketing just builds awareness and image. There is no offer, for instance, in the commercials for Farmer’s insurance.

  42. Excellent post. As someone looking to get into copywriting, this post helped me clarify the difference between the terms content marketing and copywriting, which I had been getting confused distinguishing between. The tips for utilising both effectively were also helpful.

  43. Hi,

    All I have is a clarifying question. Isn’t copy-writing the way we write and content marketing more about marketing the written stuff?

    • We all have our definitions, but the ones I’ve set out in the post are shared by a fair number of marketing folks. But both terms are used by different writers to mean different things in different contexts.

      To talk about “the way we write,” I’d probably go with “style” or even just “writing.”

  44. Wow Sonia! This blog post is spot on. I have to admit that for the longest time I didnt understand the difference between the two. Thanks for breaking them both down to make it a lot easier to understand. Sharing as we speak.


  45. That is a fascinating contrast, Paul. I believe you’re on to something. I know my consideration vanishes once a video switches gears. I think about whether this since it’s so much like the way I block out plugs when I’m staring at the TV.

    Is it accurate to say that you are proposing doing the entire suggestion to take action toward the starting, or simply doing a teaser for it so individuals know they need to continue focusing?

    It likewise appears like with video you’d have to give away, as Sonia says, substance that is so great it makes you uncomfortable. You have such a great amount of rivalry with that next sparkling video they could be watching.

  46. This post has cleared my idea now about these two among these two terminologies, In fact, I ‘m newbie in Content writing, and begin composing articles and posts as freelancer, due to my minimal knowledge about writing, I stirred up these two. Much appreciated Sonia for sharing this information!

  47. Great article. I have to admit that for the longest time I didnt understand the difference between the two. Thanks for breaking them both down to make it a lot easier to understand.

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