THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONTENT COPYWRITER AND SALES COPYWRITER

“Yeah, I’m a runner,” she said as she laces up her Nikes and heads to the treadmill for her daily two-mile jog.

“Yeah, I’m a runner,” he said as he slips on his Vibram 5-finger runners and hits the trail for a ‘short’ 20-mile loop.

Are they both runners? 

Heck no! She’s not a runner. She couldn’t handle a hardcore ultra race.

He’s crazy! That’s not running. That’s torture to the extreme!

In the general sense of the word, sure, they’re both runners. But when it comes down to what they actually do and how they do it, the word “runner” seems to have multiple meanings depending on the circumstances.

The same can be said for the term “copywriter.”

Two Types of Copywriters

There are two main types of copywriters – content copywriters and sales conversion copywriters (sometimes called direct response copywriters). People outside the copywriting industry tend to group all public-faced writing under one umbrella and often don’t recognize there’s a wide gap between the two types. 

Let’s break down the two types of copywriters, what they do, what they accomplish for their clients, and where you might see examples of both types of copy.

CONTENT COPYWRITERS

What they do:  Content copywriters write the words that fill the spaces target audiences go to for information about their clients (hence the term “content”). Don’t let this definition of content fool you – content copy isn’t just throwaway copy, not by a long shot. Quality content copy makes a huge difference.

What this does for their clients:  The main purposes of content copy are to engage and entertain the client’s audience, keep them visible and top of mind, and educate and indoctrinate the audience about the client’s mission and vision. Content copy also helps drive search engines by providing the SEO-based keywords needed to attract Google’s attention and push traffic.

Where you’ll see content copy:  You’ll see content copy on websites, blogs, social media profiles, and everyday emails.

SALES CONVERSION COPYWRITERS

What they do:  To put it in really simple terms, sales conversion copywriters write the words that sell the things. They write super targeted copy that urges readers to take a specific action.

What this does for their clients:  The copy that sales conversion copywriters create accomplishes five objectives: 

  • Captures the target market’s attention, making them aware they’re in pain.
  • Connects with the audience to create trust and goodwill, making them aware that the client understands their issue and cares about them as a person.
  • Communicates with the audience about what’s being offered, making them aware of what the cause of their pain is.
  • Converts the audience into buyers by showing them the solution to their pain and urging them to take action.
  • Brings the audience to the next level through continuity offers that keeps buyers ascending the value ladder.

Where you’ll see sales conversion copy:  You’ll see sales conversion copy in ads, sales emails, sales funnels, direct mail sales letters, and sometimes in social media content.

“VS.” OR “AND”?

Is one type of copywriting better than another? No way! Content copy and sales copy are both important, they just accomplish different goals. The truth is, clients need both types of copy in their businesses. Why?

Because nobody likes to be communicated with in the same way all the time. 

If all a business did was entertain and engage their audience, it wouldn’t be a very profitable business, right? On the other hand, if all a business did was sell, sell, sell, the audience would quickly tire of it and feel used. 

A healthy mix of content copy and sales conversion copy helps balance both sides and give the target audience an enjoyable customer experience. When it comes to business growth, it’s ALL about serving the customer and nurturing the customer experience.

SHOULD COPYWRITERS SPECIALIZE?

If content and sales copy are so different, what does that mean for copywriters and business owners? Should a copywriter specialize by choosing to focus on either content or sales? What’s important for the business owner or entrepreneur to know as they search for the right copywriter to support them?

The longer I serve clients as a copywriter, the more convinced I am that you can get better, more consistent results for clients if you specialize. Can one person write both types of copywriting? Yes, but it can be a challenge. As you switch back and forth between the two types of writing, you’re constantly requiring your brain to go back and forth between sales mentality and content.

Specializing allows you to stay in one zone for your clients. When you can devote more time to one type of copywriting, you grow those skills faster and can more quickly become known as an expert in that area. 

As for the business owner or entrepreneur looking to hire a copywriter, understanding the difference between content copy and sales copy and which type they need is really important. Hitting the market with “I need a good copywriter. Anybody know one?” will send a mixed bag of recommendations to their inbox. They may end up having to wade through a bunch of copywriters who don’t have the expertise they’re looking for. Bummer. 

WORKING TOGETHER

Does that mean sales copywriters and content copywriters can’t coexist? 

Are they destined to live on separate planes, never crossing paths like two ships in the night? 

Not at all! Copywriters all have the same bottom-line goal – to support the client. When content and sales copywriters work together to present a unified and cohesive messaging across all channels, it’s SO powerful. Campaigns are enhanced (and so are conversion rates!) when the content copy messaging matches the sales conversion messaging. The best-performing campaigns I’ve ever worked on had content and sales copywriters to cover both the engagement and sales spectrums simultaneously. 

THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT

Will our two runners ever run the same way? No, probably not … and that’s okay. They don’t have to, because they’re doing two different and equally valuable types of running.

Content copywriters and sales conversion copywriters are in a similar position. Will they ever write the same way as each other? No, and they SHOULDN’T. This can be a tough one for the client to understand sometimes.

“Why doesn’t my sales page sound more like my website?”

“Why can’t my blog be used as my Facebook ad copy?”

Just as our runners in the example above wore different kinds of shoes for different kinds of running, so copywriters must use different strategies and techniques for different types of copy. 

It’s a GOOD thing. 

More About Christa Nichols

So what about me? What do I specialize in? I’m a sales conversion copywriter – I write the words that sell the things. Want to learn more about being a sales conversion copywriter? 

Download my FREE 8 Must-Ask Questions For Copy That Connects & Converts PDF Guide. It gives you eight of the questions I ask every client before I ever write a word. These questions are so foundational, and no one ever talks about Question #2!

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