Today content and copy are intrinsically understood to be important parts of the marketing chessboard. Many brands use content to connect with their target audience to generate influence and ultimately gain more sales.
However, there is also an increasing number of roles that are closely related to one another and occasionally (often?) used interchangeably. This is not a surprise, seeing as they all provide content for their clients, and they all seek to nurture people in their target audience from a first-time visitor to a sales conversion.
While these similarities abound, there are some subtle differences between these roles. Each has its unique requirements, challenges, and objectives, as we will see later in this article.
Therefore, when looking for content for your marketing plans, it is helpful to know how these roles differ, so you can make the right choice for your business.
What is a copywriter?
Remember those unique recurring phrases in your favorite TV commercial that you love so much?
Yes? That’s the work of a copywriter.
A copywriter specializes in creating content that persuades. He/she combines the brand’s ideology with how the products/services benefit the user to create branding.
A good copywriter has great writing skills, a good understanding of human psychology, and a streak of creativity. They can combine these three characteristics to create content that’ll compel readers to take action, such as subscribing to a service, buying a product, filling an inquiry form, and so on.
A great copywriter, especially in a marketing campaign, will also understand the clients’ marketing and sales funnel, what point in the funnel he/she is writing for, and who the target audience is.
Copywriters usually handle a wide variety of marketing materials, such as landing pages, website content social media posts, blog posts, and more.
However, some choose to specialize further. Some examples of copywriting specialties include SEO, B2B or B2C, product, direct response, and so on. Read more about copywriting for B2B tech here.
What is a content writer?
If you’ve read Apple’s article on its latest iOS update, then you’ve seen the work of a content writer.
Content writers are great storytellers. They aim to engage their audience while also providing value, by educating, informing, and so on.
Good content writers understand and adapt the brand’s voice into their deliverables. Their main focus is on the structure and flow of the information. They’d want to make sure you remain interested enough to want to read through to the end.
Content writing deliverables are often long-form content and can be seen at different points in the sales funnel. For example, white papers can be used to generate leads at the top of the funnel, or also be relevant for best practices after conversion.
Some examples of content writing include editorials, white papers, blog posts, news articles, eBooks, and so on.
You will notice there is an overlap between copywriting and content writing. In fact, the differences are more of focus and specialization. Content writers do possess good copywriting skills, which, for example, they use often in blog content that is designed to trigger an action such as getting in touch or downloading content.
Like copywriters, content writers may specialize in a specific niche or industry. Some examples include financial, marketing content, technical, B2B, SaaS, and so on.
What is a content marketer?
While the term content marketing was coined in 1996 by John F Oppedahl, at a discussion, for journalists, a content marketer as a discipline is a newer phenomenon.
Content marketers are, as the name implies, marketers through content. In other words, they help brands achieve their marketing goals using content. Read more about content marketing for B2B tech here.
This is a discipline with sub-disciplines. What does this mean?
While a writer (of any kind) creates compelling content, a content marketer does that plus the planning, publishing, and promotion of the content. He or she also creates KPIs (key performance metrics) to measure the content’s success and ultimately calculate ROI.
That said, content marketers’ deliverables are not limited to written content; they can come in different formats, for example, images, infographics, videos, memes, gifs, ads, blog posts, and so on. These pieces of content are then published on different channels depending on the marketing strategy in place.
But there are so many content formats and different channels to promote content. How does a content marketer fit, deciding what content to create, what format, and the right channel, in his/her schedule?
Well! It’s not their job. Then whose is it?
What is a content strategist?
A content strategist is the first touchpoint in content marketing. They work to define; what content should be created, the content’s purpose, as well as the vision and direction of the content. In other words, he/she is responsible for deciding what content should be created, the format, and what channel it should be promoted.
A good strategist doesn’t stop there. He or she ensures that the content remains valuable to both the business and its readers over time. Overall, a content strategist works to create a better experience for the users while preventing content problems that can waste time and resources. Read more about content strategy for B2B tech here.
How they are different from one another
We’ve seen that a copywriter writes to persuade, a content writer writes to engage the reader, a content marketer creates, publishes, and promotes content. And a strategist defines the content’s vision, purpose, and direction.
One might argue that these are the same people.
Well! Sometimes. Sometimes not. There’s a large world of writers, marketers, and strategists out there - and everything in between.
The greatest distinction between these roles lies in their overall goals. A copywriter’s goal is to convert a reader into a sale or a lead. A content writer aims to deliver valuable content. And a content marketer aims to convert prospects into customers and customers into repeat customers.
A content strategist comes in before the content creation begins. He/she decides what content is needed, can sometimes oversee the process, and also maximizes results over time.
In reality, a lot of people who call themselves by these different titles have a significant overlap of skills, but it helps to know what you are asking for. That said, before you delve into your next content projects, keep these differences in mind. Maybe the question is not who you want, but rather what kind of skills. Knowing what to ask for in your project will ensure the achievement of its objectives.
Looking to hire someone for your B2B content project?
The Content Flywheel specializes in content marketing, strategy, and writing for B2B tech. We also work with freelancers who can provide copywriting and related expertise. Find out more.