When it comes to marketing and advertising, copywriting is such an invaluable and essential skill. Unlike other forms of writing, copywriting is all about persuading the reader to take action and buy your offer.
While there are many types of sales content, the most profitable remains to be direct response copywriting.
If you’re interested in this craft, then here’s everything you need to know about being an effective direct response copywriter.
What is Direct Response Copywriting?
This type of content is specifically made to elicit an immediate positive response from the client. Because copy makes on-the-spot sales possible, copywriting is considered to be a very lucrative niche.
Anything that makes the customer purchase on the spot is called direct response copy.
Here are some of the most common examples:
- product descriptions
- magazine ads
- pay-per-click (PPC)
- email newsletters
- sales pages
- landing pages
Direct response copy often takes long form. That’s because it’s important to provide in-depth information to help the reader decide. If you only have a few words for the product for a buyer who isn’t familiar with it, then you’re less likely to convince him or her to purchase it.
The benefit of long-form copy is no mere claim as it has proven itself time and time again.
Neil Patel, one of the top digital marketing entrepreneurs of this generation, once ran a split test of two forms of content (1,292 words vs. 488 words). Unsurprisingly, his long-form content generated 7.6% better conversions than the shorter one.
The same result was seen in a Crazy Egg study—the long-form copy was a whopping 30% more successful than the short form page.
This goes to prove what the legendary ad maker David Ogilvy had once said: “The more you tell, the more you sell.”
With the help of much (but not excessive) information, the buyer feels that he is making an informed decision. More often than not, this leads to an immediate positive response and the customer buys the product or service, which is the usual endpoint of direct response copywriting.
What Does It Have to Do with Direct Marketing?
Think of the big billboards in Times Square or the ads you’ve already memorized because you see them all the time. These all belong to powerful brands, the businesses that dominate their respective industries.
And while it can be tempting to dream about advertising in Hyde Park, spending a boatload of money on a billboard or a 15-second commercial isn’t going to deliver the kind of success you’re after.
If anything, as a faceless startup or small business you’ll just lose money. A better way to market your business is using direct marketing.
Direct marketing works for small and mid-size businesses because:
- It’s written for or focuses on a specific audience so marketers. to reach customers faster.
- It promotes personalized messaging and delivers value upfront.
- It’s compelling so leads are more likely to take action.
- It’s a cost-efficient marketing strategy.
- It has a high success rate than any other marketing strategy.
Unlike the previous example that appeals to a wide range of people, direct marketing aims to promote a product or service directly to your target audience—who will likely buy or build a relationship with your business.
Direct Response Copywriting: How it Came to Be
This lucrative field is made possible by David Ogilvy, who is largely considered the father of advertising. He is the brains behind timeless ad pieces, including Hathaway, Rolls Royce, Dove, and Shell, to name a few.
For Ogilvy, a direct response copy is more than just talking to the customers. It’s all about appealing to them on a personal level.
As the late ad master once said: “Tell the truth but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people into buying your product. You can only interest them in buying it.”
The 7 Essential Things a Direct Response Copywriter Must Do
If you want to be successful in the field of direct response copywriting, then you need to do the following:
1. Master the Market
The first thing a direct response copywriter should do is master the target market.
You can do this by researching everything you need to know about your target audience, product or service, and even your competitors.
It would be best if you also studied the company’s value proposition—the reason customers should do business with them. While talking to marketing directors and product designers is not mandatory, it can help you with your research.
Although the client has given you a wealth of information, you should not settle for this as a copywriter. You need to do as much in-depth research as you can.
That means scouring the web for white papers (authoritative report or guide), case studies, and market reports, among many other documents. That way, you get to know more about other things: consumer behaviors, industry trends, and the company’s competitors.
2. Study the Buyer Persona and the Product
As a copywriter, studying the buyer persona is incredibly important.
You need to analyze the demographics, as well as their questions, pain points, and objections. You can do this easily by sending surveys or participating in forums (learn how to infiltrate your industry now). You can also navigate the company’s social media pages and read through most of their product reviews.
By knowing the buyers on an almost personal level, you can create a customer avatar and come up with more relatable content for them. Understanding their problems will help you write copy that stirs emotions—the very element you need to make sales.
Apart from studying the buyer persona, you must do an in-depth study of the product as well. You should scrutinize the item’s features, benefits, and price points to address the clients’ pain points.
3. Craft the Best Headline Possible
Ogilvy once said that headline creation comprises 80% of the copywriter’s work. This is 100% true, as most people don’t read beyond the headline.
And, if you don’t manage to captivate their attention from the get-go, there’s a possibility that they won’t spend time looking into the smaller details.
While writing such is a trial-and-error process, several pointers can help you nail the perfect direct response copywriting headline:
- Keep it simple. There’s no need for fluff or flowery words. As Ogilvy puts it: “Good ad: all facts. No adjectives. All specifics.”
- Be unique. Avoid going for overused headlines. You’d want to write something intriguing—so much so that the client decides to read about the product even more.
- Be specific. Nobody likes vague information. You need to be precise. Include numbers and other pertinent information in the text.
- Ask a question. For your headline, try to make use of the questions you have collected during the buyer persona analysis. Doing so will pique your clients’ interests. You’re addressing their concern, after all.
- Create a sense of urgency. If you want to convince the person to do the action you want in your copy, you need to exploit the fear of missing out. Lines such as “Limited quantities available!” or “Only 2 left in stock!” are sure to get an immediate positive response.
4. Write Captivating Copy
In the world of direct response copywriting, you should address the reader directly. It’s all about the client, and you could make this so by using the word “you.”
Apart from using a second-person voice, it’s also essential to make your content easily understandable. Keep it simple, but also find the right balance. You don’t want to end up writing copy for a grade-schooler if you’re addressing a group of executives.
Here are some tips that can help you create well-balanced copy:
- Be direct and to the point. Tell how the product resolves the user’s pain points and what other people think about it. Don’t languish on fancy features. Avoid over-explaining.
- Everything should be clear and logical. While it’s essential to tell a story, it should progress well. Your copy should be logical—meaning it should move from point A to point B with ease. People don’t like reading something that’s all over the place.
- Use legit facts. Use statistics that are supported by the case studies and white papers you’ve read. Embellishments and false info will eventually be detrimental to your product and sales.
Check out these top tips for writing with influence.
5. Make an Irresistible Call to Action
A CTA is what its name suggests – it calls the reader to act upon your ad. It tells your customer what they should do next.
If you want a client to act right away, then your copy should end with a bang. That means you should have a CTA that’s persuasive, actionable, and concrete.
For example, while writing “Submit” is fine, it’s not as convincing as it should be. In this case, it’s a must to use more powerful text. For example, CTAs with phrases like, “Give me a discount” or “Get me free access,” are more likely to elicit an immediate, positive response from the reader.
6. Edit, Revise, Repeat
A good direct response copywriter knows that each copy entails hours of editing and revising until it’s almost perfect.
While capturing the gist with the first draft is the ultimate goal, it’s not always the case. It requires hours and hours of writing, editing, and revising until you come up with a direct response masterpiece!
If you wish to ease the pain of editing, know that a readability checker tool is your friend. This can help you check the grade level and readability of your direct response copy. The higher the score, the better.
Remember, you want something that consumers will find easy to understand, even if the product you are presenting is fairly complicated.
Editing and revising are just the tip of the iceberg, though, as you need to submit your draft to the client for further scrutiny. This brings you to another round of edits and revisions until it’s flawless.
7. Take it to the Test
Before you publish the copy you’ve worked so hard for, there’s another thing you need to do: testing.
Claude Hopkins, another renowned personality in the world of direct response copy, is a firm believer in testing. He said, “Tests are important and help us to understand our customers. Good selling is based on good testing.”
Testing is an opportunity to iron out the smallest wrinkles of your copy. With this, you can publish the best direct response ad that works for your readers.
How to Become a Direct Response Copywriter
Think you can do the seven vital things stated above? It’s a good start! However, it takes more than just the basics to succeed in direct response copywriting.
If you want to prevail and make the big bucks, you need to do the following:
1. Study, Study, Study
In copywriting, as with all other things, practice makes perfect. You can’t be a David Ogilvy overnight without burning the midnight oil and polishing your craft.
That said, you need to read as many direct response copywriting books as possible. These include books such as Confessions of an Advertising Man, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, Breakthrough Advertising, Scientific Advertising, and The Boron Letters.
With these, you can learn more than just writing strategies. These books can give you a good understanding of the psychology behind marketing as well.
You should also read and study as many copy samples as possible. The most diligent copywriters usually keep a swipe file of the best copy pieces they’ve encountered and explore their techniques.
In fact, many copywriters even recommend hand-copying these pieces to really immerse themselves into the text and get into the mindset of being a direct response copywriter. Then, they create their own versions of these pieces of copy.
2. Put Up a Portfolio
Do you feel like you’ve already improved your direct response copywriting skills by reading books and copy? Then it’s time for you to create your personal compendium.
Collate all the content you have written during your free time in your Google Drive or Cloud account. If you have a website, you can post sales copy samples there too.
If you don’t have much to show for, then it’s time for you to do as much as you can, as often as you can. For starters, you can create a landing page, write a blog, or sales letter for a fictional company.
Think of it as on-the-job training for when you do the real thing.
3. Sell Your Skill
Now that you have a portfolio, you can finally put your direct response copywriting skills to the test.
You can try and pitch your services to freelance job boards. If you want to join the big leagues, you could directly promote your copywriting prowess to publishers.
So how do you find these big-shot publishers? You can try searching Google for industry advertisers. Once you have a list, send an email of your personalized pitch.
When doing so, you don’t need to create a complicated letter. In most cases, the simpler, the better.
Just tell the advertiser that you like their promotions and that you can assist them with your skills. Of course, remember to include a link to the direct response copywriting portfolio you have just completed.
Tying it Up
Direct response copywriting is a must for every company. Its ability to evoke an immediate positive response can help convince readers to take a specific action—it could be to opt into your mailing list, visit your website or call your landline and request a consultation.
Whether you’re a seasoned copywriter or an aspiring scribe, following the tips above can help you excel in the field of direct response marketing.