Copywriter vs. Content Writer vs. Digital Marketing
Copywriting, content writing, and digital marketing are often used interchangeably by people outside of the writing and web design industry; however, they each have nuances that you should be aware of.
The term copywriting pre-dates digital marketing. It used to be it’s own, dedicated branch within large advertising firms, such as Ogilvy. You’d often have a team of copywriters tweaking words and titles on ads creating long-copy in magazines to sell watches, cars, and soap.
Now, a copywriter’s a persuasive writer. This often has to do with its very conversational approach to writing. They aren’t too worried about a piece of content being too long or too short. Instead, they want to make sure it’s interesting, engaging, and personal. They’re talking with you, rather than talking at you. If it’s done right, you’ll find yourself reading the entire article, top to bottom. After all, the more you read, the more invested you become; the more room we have to win you over.
The formula and thought process go a little like this: if the title (headline, nowadays) is relevant to you or interesting enough to get your attention, you’ll read the first few sentences. If the next few sentences are as engaging as the introduction to the copy, you’ll keep reading … and so on, until you’ve read the entire article.
Here’s an extremely important thing you need to remember: Avoid click-bait titles that have no substance or relevance to the content body. If you read the headline and feel fooled by the time you get halfway into the article because the content’s miss-leading or irrelevant, you’re doing it wrong.
Ogilvy said it best: Don’t bullshit people (I paraphrased that).
In the era of digital marketing, copywriting has its lines blurred. Now, many copywriters have the option to go beyond magazines and specialize in writing for the online world, otherwise known as SEO Copywriting. This is because if someone’s a skilled copywriter, they’re also pretty good at weaving keywords into their content to better rank the articles they’re creating.
What Makes a Good Copywriter?
A good copywriter does their research before they write their copy. This enables them to understand their target market. They will often adjust the tone of their article to appeal to different crowds and will research the jargon and style of writing to that market.
- Understand the needs of the target audience.
- Inspire confidence in a brand.
- Create and maintain the brand “voice”.
- Research a business to understand its value propositions.
- Write plain-English, free of jargon, and never boring.
- Break-down complicated ideas.
- Take the long route of writing: (my friends call it storytelling).
- Now a days it’s best to understand SEO writing.
- Create long and short-form copy that’s highly engaging and persuasive.
- Work within deadlines.
- Content Writers.
Content writers also often specialize in niches. You see them everywhere within popular blog websites that are heavily separated via industry-specific topics: technology, beauty, car, video game, medical, and pharma.
Like copywriters, they might be associated with an agency. But content writers aren’t usually tasked with copywriting because of its style of writing.
That being said, niche-based content writers are often extremely amazing at their job because they know so much about it. This heavily cuts down the time it takes to perform research, understand the audience or the market. For example, I love philosophy, so, if I have to summarize an article or create something off the cuff about Aristotle, I won’t need to go out and research my target audience, the style of writing they prefer, or much of the material itself.
Many times, what content writers write about and their hobbies are one to one.
Content writing also is a bit more of a stickler when it comes to rules of grammar. Copywriting will often forgo stricter rules of grammar because of the often conversational style of writing.
Digital marketing is the biggest bag of worms to write about. Sometimes it’s just content writing. Others it’s paid advertising, SEO, social media advertising or blog post creation, etc. A digital marketer may be specialized, or a generalist. Either way, it’s tough to pin down what their skill sets are in a general sense. You’d have to ask each person advertising themselves as a digital marketer for the skillset(s) they provide.
I like to think of digital marketing as a near carbon copy of the term digital agency. Saying this will definitely irk some readers, but if looking at how many services digital marketing websites have on their list, it’s tough for me to think of them as anything other than an agency or catch-all term.