It’s a pretty common mistake for marketers to confuse copywriting with content marketing. We forgive you: often when we speak about content, the first thing most people think of website and blog content, written by your friendly neighbourhood copywriter.
Copywriting and content marketing: two pieces of the same puzzle
Yes, blog posts, articles and marketing copy are considered web content marketing. But content marketing goes a lot deeper than SEO copywriting — it can be any kind of content used to attract and convert your audience — events, video, photography, infographics, presentations… even music.
So what, exactly, is copywriting?
Similarly, not all copywriting is content marketing. Copywriters are professional writers whose names are not directly associated with their work. Unlike journalism or literature, copywritten content has no byline or author. (However, a copywriter may be recognized or famous for his or her work with a particular agency or brand.)
A copywriter may work on content marketing projects, but she could also create ad copy, instructions, transcripts, web copy, packaging, and so on. In other words, a professional content writer may produce a lot of content marketing material, but content marketing is not the sole work of a copywriter.
How is content marketing different from copywriting?
Content marketing spans a range of mediums and practices – it could be a YouTube video, a conference, a white paper, or a podcast — but it’s much more than the content itself. It’s a practice, and a process that oftens involves a team that may include strategists, designers, writers, videographers and ad planners.
However, content marketing is not advertising. How is it different? Advertising is paid placement — whether it’s a billboard, digital advertising network, search engine or TV channel, the advertiser has created a promotional piece to attract and convert its market.
Content marketing is a piece of content created to educate or entertain with the goal of marketing a brand, product or service. It doesn’t directly sell, though it may recommend or feature the brand, product or service. As such, content is often longer and more complex than a straight up advertisement; it may be featured on a brand’s channel or media website, meaning marketers don’t necessarily pay to place it.
The process of content marketing involves more than content creation — it requires strategy, planning, content creation, distribution and measurement.
Step 1: Marketing content strategy
Before deciding what kind of content you’re going to create, a content marketing project begins with strategy. In fact, the content strategy phase is as critical as the content itself. During the strategy phase, a content marketing team takes time to understand the objectives of the project, who the audience is, and how we can motivate an audience to meet our objectives. Key to this phase is determining what kind of content will appeal to an audience — how to speak to it, and how to measure any response.
Need an example: perhaps you’re targeting a new soft drink to young adults. You decide that the best way to reach them is through a video game app that people can download via app stores. You’ll measure results by correlating the number of downloads with an increase in soft drink sales.
Step 2: Planning
Once you define who you’re speaking to, you need to plan your content: how many pieces are you going to create? How are you going to distribute them, what is the timing, and how will you promote your content? What is your budget, and what resources will you need to create and distribute your content?
For example, maybe you want to create two small video games, distributed via app stores over the course of one year. You’ll promote the video games on social media. Your budget allows you to outsource the project to a small game development agency; you’ll then promote the game in house, using Snapchat.
Step 3: creation
The planning and strategy team create a brief that outlines exactly what you’re creating and why. It profiles the audience, and delivers the key ideas, objectives, specifications and timelines for the project. Then you hand the brief over to your creative team, who creates the content management piece: words, storyboards, images, code… and so on.
Using the same example, this is when you would brief your game development agency on all the details of the project and leave them to work their magic, creating the game script, storyboard, design, animation and code.
Step 4: Distribution
It’s one thing to create a strong piece of marketing content; it’s a whole other thing to get your audience to notice and enjoy it. While your content is being created, the planning team goes back to work determining how and where the content marketing piece will be distributed. This process is equally relevant whether you’re producing a blog post, cartoon, video game or YouTube video. Perhaps your blog post will live on your corporate blog, but you will promote it using social media. Or maybe you will buy advertising to generate interest in your video. Research done during the strategy phase will help you understand how, where, when and how much you want to spend distributing your content.
For example, you may reach out to gaming review blogs and buy digital display ads to generate traffic to your content marketing video game. As always, it depends on where your target audience spends time, and what kind of resources you have for activities such as advertising, influencer and social media marketing.
Step 5: Measurement
Once your content marketing piece goes live, it’s time to measure and optimize its traffic and performance. Your content strategist will have identified some key objectives and the metrics you can use to measure how well your content is meeting these objectives. During this phase, you will want to watch and measure where your traffic is coming from, how many people consume your marketing content, and how your content is contributing to brand recognition and/or your bottom line. And of course, you’ll want to optimize, tweaking ad campaigns, landing pages and any other distribution channels that contribute to the content’s success.
Going back to our content marketing video game example, you will be able to gather download data, then correlate it with brand searches and product sales. By watching traffic from game review blogs and ad campaigns, you’ll learn which traffic sources contribute to more downloads, enabling you to focus your ad spend and outreach on websites and channels that drive more results.
Copywriting: just one piece in the content marketing puzzle
In other words, a copywriter may contribute to the creation of a blog post or a game, but many content marketing projects involve a larger team of contributors — from strategist to coders, ad planners to graphic designers. It’s a team effort. Many of the videos and stories you share on social media started out as strategic content marketing projects with you as their target market, whether you know it or not.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEO Analyst @ Bloom