comparing content marketing and copywriting

You want to get your message out to consumers or a target audience, but do you know what type of service your business needs to get that done? You might think you need to hire a copywriter (and that may be true), but copywriting isn’t the same thing as content marketing, so it’s important to understand your true business and marketing needs and how to fulfill them.

We’ve defined what content marketing and copywriting are in depth below and discussed how to tell which one you need.

What Is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the act of creating (or writing) copy, typically for use in marketing or advertising purposes. The act of writing a description of a product for a catalog or Amazon page is copywriting. So is the act of writing a blog, a social media post or even a press release.

Good copywriters may have some marketing savvy or experience, but copywriting itself isn’t about strategy. It’s about creating a piece of content that meets certain guidelines. For example, you might ask for a blog post of 500 words on a specific topic. You might even request that certain keywords, links, and calls to action be included, and even though all those are attributes of content marketing, the act of writing the post is still just copywriting.

In short: Copywriting is simply one part of the content marketing process if the process in question calls for text-based content to be created.

What Is Content Marketing?

In contrast, content marketing is the entire strategy and series of steps that gets your message out online and engages your audience. It’s the act of planning for, producing and distributing any type of content for a marketing or branding purpose, including text, images, video, and audio.

Common Components of Content Marketing

Content marketing has many components, and you won’t necessarily use them all for every online branding effort you make. Planning and strategy play a critical role in setting up for a successful content marketing campaign and using data and experience to decide which components to include and how to use them builds a strong foundation for any campaign.

Here are some common components of content marketing, other than copywriting.


Most business decisions, of any type, turn out for the better when they’re backed by solid data, and that’s definitely true in content marketing. Analytics involves gathering data about marketing campaigns, audiences or trends and using that information to help inform your next actions.

If you’re starting from scratch with no previous campaigns (or no previous campaigns with usable data), you gather general information to help you make decisions. That data might include marketing research, demographics, information about the competition, benchmarks and keyword research.

If you have data from previous marketing campaigns about what worked well — which ads, links, content and other factors contributed to success and which didn’t seem to work — you can use that information to make decisions about your next campaign. In this way, marketers try to continuously improve performance.

Editorial Calendars

Editorial calendars are a big part of any content marketing strategy. They involve planning content to be published for each of your channels. Content marketing channels might include:

  • Blogs
  • Landing pages or other web pages
  • Decks or slide shows via sites such as SlideShare or on your own site
  • Marketing collateral such as white pages and ebooks
  • Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and others
  • Video sites, such as YouTube
  • Audio properties, such as podcasts

It’s a good idea to plan editorial calendars at least once a month, thinking ahead to relevant content on various channels. This lets you ensure a steady stream of content on all channels, integrate timely content around holidays and other special days and ensure you’re not repeating the same content within a short timeline.


Design is the work that goes into making your content marketing components presentable in the most appropriate, visually appealing and brand-centric way. Design can actually be broken into two major components: graphic design and web design.

Graphic design involves the look of a particular image, infographic, slide, webpage, ebook or another marketing asset. Designers may work with the color, size, type, and placement of fonts, develop and integrate images, and otherwise make these assets visually appealing. Graphic designers may also create images from scratch, including logos.

Web design is usually about the architecture and the look of websites and pages. Web designers may do some of the things graphic designers do, such as the arrangement of fonts on a page, but they don’t tend to develop images or components from scratch. Web designers also work with the infrastructure of the site, ensuring it’s easy to navigate and that menus and other components work well.

Video Work

Content marketing that involves video channels means video work: recording content and editing it to create a cohesive message that can be shared with others. Content marketing videos run the gamut from self-recorded testimonials or talks to full production videos that share how to do something or provide an entertaining story.

Some people mistakenly believe that you need a big budget to include video in your content marketing. In reality, all you really need is a smartphone, a message and someone willing to share it. Instagram and Facebook offer ideal channels for sharing short, self-recorded videos, and many people also create YouTube messaging with few resources.

Self-recorded videos don’t work for every brand, though, and it’s important to understand how your target audience, brand culture, and voice, message and products will play out via different types of video before you begin recording and sharing content.


Research is critical for any type of content marketing. First, there’s the market research that helps you understand who your target audience is and how you might best engage with them. Keyword research lets you understand how your target audience is searching for products or content like yours so you can ensure the right people can find your content. General research provides the facts, figures, and context for the content you’re going to publish.


SEO, or search engine optimization, is the act of integrating keywords, links and other components into content to ensure your pages appear in the search engines when people search for specific types of things. SEO is critical to the success of your content marketing; without it, you may be spending valuable resources creating content that no one will see. And content that’s not seen can’t convert.

Project Management

Project management brings all the above components (and other factors of content marketing) together. You might use a system for project management such as Basecamp, Podio or Trello, and you might assign someone to lead each campaign or channel with an overarching project manager, who ensures everyone is on the same page.

There are many ways to manage your content projects, and finding a way that works for your team is important.

Do You Need Content Marketing or Copywriting?

You need content marketing if you want to be found online. Likely, if you need content marketing, you’re going to need copywriting at some point as part of the overall suite of services involved in that marketing.

Working with an experienced agency such as Lead to Conversion helps you understand exactly which components of content marketing are important for your brand.