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Everything You Need to Know About Direct Response Copywriting

You might be well aware of advertising and marketing and why it sits at the core of a business’s success. However, what you might not know is that direct response copywriting is the true heart of all marketing and advertising campaigns.

Investing in effective advertising and marketing means investing in effective direct response copywriting. And according to recent research, companies are not sparing a dime to stay on top of the competition.

For instance, the research shows that SalesForce, an American cloud-based software company, spent nearly half its revenue on marketing campaigns. The payoff was huge, with the company noting an increase of about 30% in revenue over the year.

You should not be taking direct response copywriting lightly.

Here’s all you need to know about direct response copywriting, what a direct response copywriter will do for you, and the six key elements your copy must have.

What is Direct Response Copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is a form of copywriting that persuades the reader to take action immediately than later. The copy uses a persuasive tone, customer-focused language, a strong call to action, and a sense of urgency to inspire the customer’s immediate action.

The requested action varies depending on your primary goal. It may be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, following the business on social media, or downloading a freebie.

You can spot direct response copy by looking at the differences between a typical TV commercial and a Facebook ad.

TV commercials are typically for raising brand awareness. Therefore, they only get the customer thinking about a particular product or company instead of making a purchase decision immediately.

Their primary goal is to introduce the customer to the marketing and sales funnel. That’s because TV commercials are very short, providing little time for the customer to learn anything significant about your brand.

Facebook ads accomplish something different. Since you have more time with the customer, thus more of their attention, you use direct response copywriting to pitch your product or service and persuade them to act immediately.

Direct response copywriting traces its roots to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Respected direct response copywriters such as David OgilvyGary HalbertClaude Hopkins, and Eugene Schwartz powerfully used it to drive sales for big brands such as Rolls Royce, Shell, and American Express.

Long-form copies were the ideal choice for direct response copywriting, with the copies published in popular publications. Today, direct response copies are written for landing pages, social media ads, sales funnels, and other modern marketing channels.

What Does a Direct Response Copywriter Do?

To create compelling direct response copy, you need the services of an experienced direct response copywriter. Typically, they’ll perform three primary duties.

1. Understand Your Market and Customer

For the copy to be persuasive, it must touch on the customer’s most intimate needs, emotions, and fears. Therefore, the copywriter has to take considerable time carefully studying your market and customers.

For instance, they may interview you to learn about your target audience, product, and value proposition. This interview may be through a single discovery call before they proceed with their research.

The copywriter may also interview several other people within the company, such as product designers and marketing directors, and use case studies, white papers, market reports, and similar resources to learn about the industry and its market.

They’ll also study the buyer persona to understand their pain points, demographic, objections, and questions.

With this information, the copywriter can draft a unique value proposition telling the customer why your product is worth the price, its benefits, features, and more.

2. Write Drafts, Make Edits, and Revisions

The copywriter will deliver a draft of the direct response copy and make any edits or revisions necessary to sell the product or service or persuade the customer towards the required action.

They’ll also check the copy for readability. Direct response copies should be understandable to your customers to drive the point home quickly and make the messaging more effective.

A direct response copywriter will use various readability checkers to ensure your copy passes the readability test. These checkers rely on the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Ease formula that grades the readability of a piece of content based on the total ratio of words to syllables to sentences.

The copywriter focuses on the two basic scores – readability and grade level. The readability score scales from 0 to 100, with zero being the hardest and 100 the easiest.

Some of the most popular checkers include:

3. Find the Perfect Headline

80% of your direct response copy is your headline. No matter how persuasive the body may be, you’ll lose or win customers based on how well your headline reads. A copywriter can spend up to hours drafting headline ideas and searching for the perfect one.

The Six Elements of Direct Response Copywriting

What makes excellent direct response copy? Typically, it should have the following six key elements.

1. A Great Headline

A direct response copywriter will spend hours searching for the perfect headline for your copy. But what are they looking for specifically?

A great headline for direct response copy should have the following:

  • A sense of urgency – The customer should feel like they need to act immediately, or they’ll miss out on a great deal.
  • Uniqueness – The headline should be intriguing and stand out from the crowd.
  • Specificity – Vague headlines don’t communicate anything meaningful to the reader. They need precise information and numbers to know what to expect in the copy.
  • Cleverly hidden benefit – As counterintuitive as this may sound, you don’t want to outline the product’s or service’s full benefit within the headline. It should be cleverly implied and then expounded in the body.
  • Exciting and provocative – The headline should capture an apparent problem or need to draw the reader’s attention.
  • Sparking curiosity – From the headline, the reader should have questions that can only be answered by reading the rest of the copy.

2. Persuasive Tone

The primary goal of direct response copywriting is to trigger immediate action, which can only be done if the copy is highly persuasive. It should tug the reader’s emotions and address their fears, worries, immediate needs, and pain points.

The copy should show the reader what they lack and present your brand’s products or services as a way to fill that gap. Emotional arguments add significantly to the persuasion, turning the reader’s decision into a more personal than quantifiable or monetary one.

For instance, direct response copy for a sneaker company may associate owning the sneakers with breaking barriers and showing personal strength instead of simply having the market’s most affordable or best-spec sneakers.

This hunt for persuasion leans most direct response copies to long-form content. Persuasion needs much information to address fears, tap into emotions, and make the product or service worth it to the reader.

Research shows that long-form content can convert up to 7.6% better than short-form content.

3. Strong Call to Action

The call to action (CTA) is the climax of direct response copy. A poorly designed and placed CTA can render all the content within the copy ineffective. That’s because the CTA gives the reader direction on what they should do next.

This direction varies based on the copy’s goal. For instance, if the goal is to sign the reader up for your newsletter, the CTA should link them directly to a sign-up form. If they should make a sales call, the CTA should link them directly to a calendar to schedule the call or their phone dialler to make the call immediately.

A compelling CTA is actionable, concrete, and persuasive.

4. A Customer-Focused Language and Layout

The focus of direct response copy is the reader. The entire copy should maintain a second-person perspective, using the second-person voice to frame the campaign on the reader’s experience as an individual.

Therefore, your copy should not be a write-up about why you’re better than the competition. Instead, it should be about solving customers’ problems and helping them achieve their goals.

To do this effectively, direct response copywriting relies heavily on consumer psychology. You should know what the reader looks for immediately when they land on your copy, address their pains and concerns, and have the call to action lead to the answers or comfort they seek.

Having customer-focused direct response copy also simplifies your marketing campaign and makes it more relatable to your customer.

5. Simplicity

Your direct response copy must be understandable to the customer, with the writing to their level, albeit not under it. Despite seeking simplicity, your text should not sound like one meant for first-graders.

You can maintain simplicity by following the K.I.S.S. principle that provides these three rules.

  • Don’t overexplain – Your explanations about the product or service should be concise. Tell the customer how it solves their pain points with reviews from others who’ve used it. Avoid taking too much time on one feature or aspect.
  • Have trustworthy content – Customers want honest guidance. Therefore, to win them over, you should present well-researched content with well-cited reputable resources. You should include statistics and facts that show you can be trusted as a guide.
  • Have clear and logical stories – Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool. However, your tales should have a flow and a point. The reader should move from point A to B to C logically and clearly.

6. Sense of Urgency

The end goal of direct response copywriting is to trigger immediate action. You can only do this effectively if the reader senses a strong urgency.

For instance, if your goal is to have the reader purchase a product or service, you can create urgency by showing imminent deals and savings. The copy can include time-sensitive offers that clearly demonstrate the advantages of acting now over later.

However, this tactic, referred to as scarcity marketing, may not lend itself well to customers in the long run. Ideally, robust direct response copy should rely on strong communication to create a build-up that drives urgency without relying on additional impulses to trigger the reader.

The interest in the product or service should be organic and based purely on the brand’s image, reputation, and usefulness to the customer than special one-off sales and savings.

For instance, the copy can pile up benefits of the product or service to the customer and how it solves their problems. As they keep reading, they build a compelling interest in it. When they get to the CTA, they’re convinced they need to make a purchase.

A great example of this tactic in action is Apple’s direct response copy for its Apple Watch Ultra.

Only Get Your Copy from the Best Copywriter

Direct response copywriting will transform marketing and advertising for your brand. It will yield higher conversions, better sales, and improved brand reputation since the customer finds your business relatable. 

Get in touch with an experienced copywriter and start creating copies that’ll bring your business more revenue and yield better sales and marketing ROI.

Over to You…

Do you agree with Everything You Need to Know About Direct Response Copywriting? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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