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Arun Chattopadhyay
by Published on April 16, 2021

Difference Between Direct Response Copywriting and Content Writing


If you’re running an online business, you might have wondered whether to hire a content writer or a copywriter. 


The dilemma is natural. Whom should you hire to write your blog posts? Your newsletters? Sales letters for your high ticket products or services?


There’s a big difference between content writing and copywriting for online visitors. 


Both types of copies have the same purpose of making sales. You need both of them. But their primary intentions are different.


Content Writing


Content writing aims at offering value. Making prospects aware of your products or services. Engaging them and exciting them. It’s a gradual process of guiding clients through a value journey and making them your loyal customers over some time. The intent is to form a long term relationship.


Carefully watch TV commercials. Catchy slogans; musical jingles; star-studded visuals; repeated airing of the same ad at commercial breaks. 


You don’t buy those products or services right away. You remember the ad, and it comes to your mind when you see the product on supermarket shelves. 


A life insurance advisor, for example, could have a blog where he writes about the benefits of different life insurance plans and mitigation of risk levels. He positions himself among his readers as an expert in his field. The readers will trust him more and more. A reader may decide to buy a policy. She may hire the expert she already knows and trusts.


Therefore, content writing also can generate sales but in an indirect way. Its results are not as predictive as copywriting.


Content writing, like copywriting, is like one-on-one communication. It needs to be informal. For this reason, academic writers often face challenges when they want to write online content.


Experts say that if you’ve been an academic writer before, you’ve to unlearn the academic language before you start writing useful content.




Copywriting, more specifically, Direct Response Copywriting, on the other hand, inspires the reader to take action immediately after reading the content. It cuts short the customer value journey. That’s why direct response copywriting is a much sought after marketing activity.


Copywriting is about persuading the reader to take action immediately. 

It may be signing up to your mailing list in exchange for a gift, or making an immediate purchase, or booking a ticket for an event, or clicking an outbound link.


Copywriting is different from what they teach in schools and universities about writing. Most people make a mistake. They think copywriting has to be more formal. It’s the opposite. 


Copywriting is an art of writing like you’re in a personal conversation with the reader. It’s informal.


That is true even when I write on highly technical topics. Technical people like doctors or engineers have a short attention span. When the sentences are smooth, captivating (and sometimes humorous), you can grab their attention.


Copywriting is about knowing the emotional triggers that persuade your readers. And it needs way more research and testing than informative content writing.


No discussion on Direct Response Copywriting can be completed without mentioning David Ogilvy, the legendary copywriter and founder of the iconic advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, established in 1948.


Ogilvy’s lessons are still relevant today. He understood the role of marketing and advertising to the point that he explained with a simple quote:


“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want to tell me that you find it “creative.” I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” 


Direct response copywriting draws the attention of potential customers and induces them to take immediate action.


Summing Up the Main Difference


As I mentioned earlier, the main difference is their desired outcome.


You write content to create a long-term relationship with the reader. Blog articles and emails are two good examples of content writing.


You choose to copywrite to make a sale or take action. Its sole purpose is to persuade the reader to make an immediate decision. A landing page and a sales letter with attractive offers are two good examples of Copywriting.


But there’s something more to the subject...


They’re Not Very Different Than Each Other!


There’s a fine line between content writing and copywriting that often merge somewhere.


A blog article can also have a CTA (Call to Action) somewhere at the end of the post. Like giving feedback, or opting in for a newsletter.


You can write a killer Landing Page in a way that relates your reader with you.


It’s sometimes content like a blog post can give an indirect effect of making a sale. But that’s an indirect effect. The primary purpose is building a relationship. 


Content writing is a little more strategic. Every word and every sentence guides the reader along a slope to get them to act. You may ask the reader to opt-in or something like that. Or you may make an outright sale a high-ticket product with copywriting.


So, an effective campaign should use both copywriting and content writing to work together. Those can have a remarkable impact when those are used in a synergic way.


Signs of A Great Direct Response Copywriting


A killer copywriting is conversational and captivating. The headline attracts you. It’s so exciting that you want to read the next line. Then the next line… even if it’s a long sales copy.


Great copywriters know their readers well. They know their problems and pain points — all as a result of doing extensive research. In the end, the copywriter shows them how the product or service can solve their critical problems.


Signs of A Fantastic Content Writing


Great content is exciting and offers real value to the reader with facts and figures. Its tone is informal, but it shows the authority of the content. 


It inspires the reader to ask for more information, and they remember the content as a valuable resource of knowledge.


Examples of Copywriting Projects


Typical copywriting projects include: 


Landing Pages, Social Media Ads, and Sales Letters.


Sometimes copywriters are entrusted to write blog contents for high-value products and services with persuasive calls to action.


Examples of Content Writing Projects


Typical content writing projects include:


White papers, blog posts, LinkedIn articles, Facebook and Instagram posts, and video scripts.


Advantage of Hiring an Experienced Copywriter


A great copywriter can play with the words to tune in to the emotions of the readers. So he or she can write excellent content and great copies as well, with ease. That’s why good copywriters, particularly Direct Response Copywriters, are always in high demand.

If you have found this article useful, please leave your comments in the comment box below. For more information, please email me at arun@arunchattopadhyay.com.

Like (7)
Thanks Arun
April 19, 2021
Bala R
nice one aC
April 30, 2021
Sumit Roy
Great article A.C.
May 29, 2021
Thanks for this wonderful article.
August 3, 2021
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