Difference between Copywriting and Technical Writing
COPYWRITING VS TECHNICAL WRITING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
It is important for marketers to understand the difference between technical copywriting and technical writing. First, let’s delve into the murky role of a technical writer.
When we describe writers working for a company dealing with technology or software, we usually call them “technical writers”. But “technical writer” is most often a misnomer because it doesn’t accurately reflect the writing they actually do.
In most cases, when a company wants a “technical writer”, it usually means they want a copywriter who is well versed in the type of technology that the company is selling. Unfortunately, very few copywriters have enough background in technology to truly understand how to market the company’s technical products in a compelling way.
“Technical copywriter” is the best term for a copywriter who specializes in selling software or technical products and services. It can be thought as an overlap between technical writing and copywriting, with a lean towards copywriting albeit subject to some special rules for marketing technically-oriented products.
In a nutshell, these roles can be defined as:
- Copywriters write to sell.
- Technical writers to write to explain.
- Technical copywriters do both.
Sales and marketing of technical products follow a special set of rules because, anytime technology is involved, clarification is just as important as persuasion.
With non-technical products, persuasion alone is often enough as the “how-to” is straightforward. However, with technical products, it is important to clarify how they work before attempting to persuade the buyer of their benefits. Attempting to persuade a confused prospect to buy your product is futile.
For this reason, technical copywriting is one of the most difficult forms of copywriting, but also yields the most value for sellers of technical products and services.
What Do Technical Copywriters Do Exactly?
To distinguish between technical copywriters and technical writers, one needs to first understand what a technical writer does.
A technical writer explains what a product does and how to use it. In the work of a technical writer, there is neither any sales writing nor any use of marketing strategies. Although user manuals, product specifications, and how-to articles are dry and boring, they are never meant to be read in entirety before a sale is achieved. They are used as reference guides for users who have already bought the product.
The Rules of Technical Writing
- Use clear and unambiguous language explaining how to use the product.
- Write at a level appropriate for the target audience.
- Create a table of contents to organize the document’s content.
- Use headings and subheadings to help the reader find the relevant parts they need.
Deliverable From Technical Writers
- User manuals
- Product specifications
- Industry documents
- Reference guides
The Goal of Technical Writing
To encourage post-sale self-support: show how the product works and how to use it after a customer buys it.
Technical copywriting, especially B2B copywriting, is a special subcategory of copywriting with its own set of rules not applicable to selling non-technical products. Generally, copywriters write persuasive copy to promote the benefits of products and services rather than emphasizing their features.
All types of copywriting, including technical copywriting, involve emphasizing unique selling points to set oneself apart from competitors. The goal of all copywriters, including technical copywriters, is to help potential buyers overcome real or imaginary objections while using a powerful Call-to-Action persuading them to buy or subscribe.
The Rules of Technical Copywriting
- Write persuasive copy specifically to promote software and technology products.
- Identify target audience with market analysis and SEO keyword research.
- Assess technical knowledge within target audiences and match writing style to it.
- Use technical acumen with copywriting to more effectively persuade customers to buy.
- Use descriptive technical writing where necessary and simplify until the message becomes clear.
Deliverables From Technical Copywriters
- Sales letters
- Case studies
- White papers
- Email marketing campaigns
- Landing pages
- Press releases
- Advertisements for technical products, brands, and services
Goals of Technical Copywriting
To educate and to sell. In other words, to clarify how the product benefits the customer and to persuade the customer to buy.
For corporate and business communication material and B2B communication, technical copywriters are especially valuable in giving these companies the most bang for their buck. They understand how to describe technical features of a product while maintaining a clear sense of sales and marketing objectives. Technical copywriters may also have experience in technical writing and thus offer both services depending on the needs of the company.