Content, as they say, is king. With carefully stitched words, writers can inform, educate, inspire, and entertain. They can also make believers out of sceptics, making content writers an essential component in marketing.

In this highly competitive business landscape, a company’s unique value proposition isn’t enough to convert customers. Your target audience should clearly understand why they must choose your brand, products, and services over others. And that’s where content writing and content marketing come in.

According to estimates, the value of the global digital marketing and advertising sector has reached USD$476.9 billion this year. With an estimated 13.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), it’s expected to rise to USD$786.2 billion by 2026. Indeed, the more stories to tell, the more opportunities to sell.

Before diving deeper into the differences between content writing and content marketing, it’s crucial to understand the definition and fundamental concepts. So, let’s get started.

What is Content Writing?

Content writing covers the processes involved in crafting written content based on a specific brand’s target market. These processes include researching the subject, keywords, and audience, looking for accompanying images or videos, interviewing experts, and incorporating search engine optimisation (SEO) practices. Writing content is one of the many essential components of offline and online marketing, which aims to draw organic traffic and generate leads.

Content Writing Examples

Whether increasing brand awareness, boosting organic traffic, introducing new products and services or providing solutions to common problems, writers create digital content in different formats, including:

  • Blog articles: Most businesses rely on blog articles to reach out to their customers. In a 2020 survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of marketers used blogs and short articles in their strategies. As the most common form of content writing, blogging can be used in many ways to align with the company’s marketing objectives. From creating awareness to establishing brand authority and ranking highly on search engines, an optimised blog article is the primary contact point for potential and current clients. Blogs are responsible for increasing company site visitors by up to 55%, while 70% of consumers become aware of a brand through reading blogs, according to Social Media Today.
  • Newsletters and e-mails: These content formats enable businesses to send personalised information to existing or potential clients. That said, newsletters and e-mails help persuade new clients and retain consumers, who feel more valued after receiving content with inside information, such as discounts and offers not available elsewhere.
  • How-to guides: This content type can help comprehensively answer your clients’ concerns or queries about your products and services. With how-to guides, prospects can understand your offers, including product features and their added value – making them more inclined to purchase from you.
  • Website content:Businesses aiming to attract new users and keep existing clients must prioritise their website content. A website is often the company’s first point of contact, and 40.7% of businesses use it as the main channel for their content marketing strategies – from uploading blogs to publishing other valuable resource, landing, and call-to-action pages.
  • Infographics:By showing graphs, tables, and numbers with minimal accompanying words, readers can easily understand what you’re trying to say without wasting too much time. Using infographics is a good idea in comparing your product or service with your competitors.
  • Case studies: Case studies show how your product or service addresses common customer problems. As long-form content, it shows detailed information discussing why prospects should choose your brand. Doing so validates their purchase choice and further cements your brand authority even better than linking to authoritative sites for an SEO boost.
  • E-books: E-books contain useful subjects subtly related to your products and services and more about your customer’s challenges. Besides cementing your brand’s authority and reputation, e-books are useful in getting leads. You can ask for a potential customer’s contact details in exchange for more valuable information.
  • White paper: Like e-books, white paper presents your brand’s authority by identifying a solution that best addresses a specific problem. This content type is meant to sway prospects to pick your brand over that of your competitors, making it a powerful marketing tool.
  • Video and podcast scripts: According to a survey, 74% of adult users aged 18 to 49 have increasingly used the world’s most popular video platform since 2015. Separate research found 41% of Americans older than 12 have listened to podcasts a month before the 2021 survey. Unsurprisingly, these emerging channels have caught the eye of marketers, tapping them as marketing platforms. As such, content writers are needed to create scripts to accompany video and audio content.
  • Social media posts: There’s over 4.5 billion social media users worldwide, making it a goldmine for online marketers. A curated list of social media marketing statistics published on Hubspot revealed that 82% of marketers repurpose their content across social media platforms. Additionally, 77% of those surveyed said these channels have been somewhat effective for their business in 2021. Unlike the typically long-form digital content, social media posts are often short and are most effective for companies that target millennial consumers.

What Makes Content Effective?

Rating effective content can be subjective, but tools are available to measure their impact. Generally, online content must be high-quality, relevant, updated, and valuable to hook potential clients and turn them into loyal customers.

Content writers must know the customers’ pain points and offer solutions engagingly and compellingly. Similarly, content writing is part science and art, and writers must know how to balance keywords, content structure, and great writing skills.

To spread brand awareness and stir interest effectively, all forms of digital content must rank highly in search engines, especially since 53% of consumers search before purchasing. Content writers must be familiar with search engine optimisation practices before creating content.

Effective content should be:

  • Relevant to your target audience
  • Visually appealing
  • Shareable
  • Unique
  • Timeless
  • Updated
  • Grammatically correct
  • Contain links to your site, as well as authoritative external links
  • In the right format and on the right platform
  • Engaging

In the long term, content writing must help establish a brand reputation and authority to earn readers’ trust. This helps convert potential leads to prospects and actual customers.

But educational and informative content must be complemented with more sales-y material to sell your brand and persuade your audience to convert. Such type of content writing is called copywriting.

Copywriting Basics

This specialised form of content writing entices potential clients to convert or perform specific actions that benefit your company. Copywriting is valuable in creating content intended for the following marketing and sales-related campaigns:

  • Sales pages
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • PPC landing pages
  • Call-to-action pages
  • Social media ads
  • Product pages
  • Sales e-mails
  • Informercials
  • Short Message Service (SMS) ads

A good copywriter’s success is measured by how well they can convert leads to actual clients or respond positively to sales campaigns.

Now let’s move onto content marketing.

What is Content Marketing in Digital Marketing?

Content marketing encompasses activities that promote the brand using content to achieve specific business goals, providing value to your audience, attracting qualified leads, and gaining their trust and loyalty. Most of the valuable content can be accessed for free, driving your audience to want more and eventually use your paid products or services.

This fundamental marketing strategy involves content planning, creation, and distribution, targeting audiences and ushering them toward marketing and sales funnels. It’s a tool that can generate leads and turn them into prospects and clients into repeat customers.

5 Key Stages in Content Marketing

A curated list of content marketing facts and statistics for 2023 revealed that content marketing works in three primary ways: boosting sales, building customer relationships, and increasing brand awareness. The list also stated that content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing yet generates leads more than three times the latter.

However, a good content marketing strategy doesn’t magically happen. It’s a culmination of activities that require effort to fulfil these stages.

  1. Customer and Competitor Research
  2. Your content marketing strategy greatly depends on your target market, business goals, and niche. Research is fundamental in content writing and marketing because it lets you understand how to get the audience’s attention and persuade them to convert.

    Using the following tools might help:

    • Site analytics to determine how visitors use or interact with websites and social media platforms
    • Surveys and polls to know their preferences and reactions to specific content, products, or services.
    • Customer relationship management (CRM) software
    • Reviewing customers’ posts, reviews, complaints, and feedback
    • Understanding users’ search intent to create in-demand content
    • Studying competitor strategy to find unexplored topics and impactful methods

    Creating a customer journey map – a visual representation of a customer’s experience with the company – is also useful to cover all potential and current clients regardless of which stage they are in their purchasing journey.

  3. Content Planning
  4. Researching information allows content marketers to analyse the content that suits prospects at every stage and the channels to publish them. At this phase, marketers must set the type of content needed, the topics to be discussed, the tone, and the distribution schedule and platforms involved.

    Research has found that leading business-to-business (B2B) companies identified short articles of less than 3,000 words and virtual events, including online courses, webinars, and videos, as the most used content assets in 2021 and 2022.

    Marketers must ensure that these strategies align well with their goals and establish key performance indicators for measurable results. This way, content marketing analysis and revision become easier.

  5. Content Creation
  6. Content creation is dependent on the established marketing plan and strategy. Desired outcomes may include boosting brand recognition, authority, and revenue opportunities. Regardless of the goal, content creation and marketing aim to attract new clients and establish brand loyalty.

    Looking at the discussion above about what makes content effective can help content writers and marketers generate valuable outputs that appeal to your audience. But besides capturing audience interest, the content must be engaging and compelling enough to sway users to react positively to sales and marketing campaigns.

    Additionally, the following activities can help streamline the content production processes:

    • Establishing workflows
    • Listing the topics according to priority
    • Creating a content calendar
    • Using tools and software to make the process more efficient

    It also helps to train content and copywriters with the latest SEO techniques and keyword research to optimise content, making it easier to get analysed by search engines and found by readers.

  7. Content Distribution and Promotion
  8. No matter how relevant, valuable, and evergreen your content may be, it won’t matter unless it gets read by your target audience. Several marketing strategies can be used to spread the word about your brand effectively, most of which overlap with content marketing activities. These include social media marketing, SEO, and search engine marketing.

    Content distribution platforms will depend on the touch points your business utilises and the channels in which your audience is present. Creating blog articles for the company site and repurposing them for social media is a common and often successful practice. So is embedding content links in communities and forums, using video style platforms, and working with influencers or famous brands. Moreover, a content management system will make your work easier at this stage.

  9. Content Performance Analysis and Revision
  10. An impeccable content marketing strategy is only part of the equation. Consumer behaviour and preferences can change abruptly, partly influenced by online trends, market movements, and other industry-disruptive situations. For instance, 3D content formats are gaining ground in advertising because they can sell the experience and the product in one go.

    Emerging trends aside, it’s crucial for content marketers to monitor content performance and measure success to know which strategies to keep, enhance, or ditch. Calculating each content type’s investment return is a good way to start. So is comparing the actual metrics to those set during the planning stage.

    At this stage, the strategies and content can be tweaked and amended. For instance, a medium-ranking blog article can be updated and repurposed to boost SEO performance. An effective content writing and marketing strategy gives your audience endless reasons to return to your site and other touch points.

Differences Between Content Writing vs. Content Marketing

And so, we’ve come to the most exciting part: learning the difference between content marketing and content writing.

To summarise the discussion thus far, content writing involves crafting content that informs, educates, and engages your target audience. Comparatively, content marketing is a strategy that ensures the generated content effectively promotes a brand.

In short, content writing is only one of the components of content marketing. Hence, if content marketing were a triathlon, content writing is just one of the sports disciplines involved, like swimming or cycling.

To make it easier to understand, we’ve prepared this table to illustrate the differences between content marketing vs. content writing.

Concluding Thoughts

There should be no contest between content writing and content marketing. Both disciplines can help fine-tune a company’s marketing strategies. Content marketing identifies the audience’s issues, preferences, and what they find valuable in an online resource. Meanwhile, content writing produces these valuable, shareable, and engaging resources.

Content marketing improves a business’s digital reach by planning and sharing engaging content that can translate to revenues. On the other hand, content writing is crafting content that supports and boosts content marketing objectives. It’s responsible for generating various online materials that drive lead generation and sales increase.

In other words, one can’t work without the other. That said, content marketing success isn’t possible without great content. And strategic content writing can only happen after establishing an excellent content marketing strategy. Their interdependence is so consequential that neglecting one over the other can lead to significant revenue opportunity losses.

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