As a direct marketer, you may have come across the term “direct response copywriting.” But do you know what it means?
As a professionally trained direct response copywriter, I have found two articles that answer the question, “what is direct response copywriting?”
The first article, titled “What Is Direct Response Copywriting? 6 Real-Life Content Lessons from This Form of Copy,” written by Julia McCoy for expresswriters.com, focuses on how direct response copywriting looks for people to act immediately. Julia presents in her article six lessons she had learned from dealing with direct response copywriting. Among the lessons Julia has learned, there’s the importance of understanding your audience, why you should keep things simple, and how you can create a sense of urgency for your offers. The article also has examples of the application of real-life long-copy by large corporations – like Apple and Adobe.
Neil Patel wrote the second article for The Crazy Egg, and it’s titled “5 Things to Learn from Direct Response Copywriters”.
In this article, Neil goes over the longevity and effectiveness of direct response copywriting – going back to Claude Hopkins and toothpaste.
Among what Neil covers in this article, testing is essential, why you should use long copy, and how to make your advertising appealing right from the get-go. Neil also presents real-life examples of direct response copywriting for products like Dove and Palmolive.
Drawing from these two articles, as well as my experience as a direct response copywriter, I have listed three things direct marketers need to understand about direct response copywriting:
For direct response copywriting to be effective, it must grab the interest of the reader at once. In his book How to Make Your Advertising Make Money, John Caples writes, “If you can come up with a good headline, you are sure to have a good ad.” That’s because grabbing the attention and interest of the reader is the job of the headline.
Neil Patel talks about the importance of headlines in his Crazy Egg article. Neil goes over how advertising extraordinary David Ogilvy was able to sell so many products by presenting headlines that would blow readers away. Neil even shows an image from Referral Candy with the quote, “If you want to craft headlines that sell, you better study David Ogilvy.”
But how do you create a headline that is appealing to your market right now? Simple: present the reader access to something they’re craving for. That’d be access to valuable information, the solution to a constant problem, or the chance to get something they love.
And you can craft a compelling headline in so many ways:
- by asking a question
- offering a list of things readers must do or achieve a goal
- or introducing them to a new product or service
Just to name a few.
Once you get the attention of the reader, you can present to them what your business, product, or service is about. But CAUTION: you can quickly lose the interest of your audience by trying to over-sophisticate your presentation.
Therefore, your brand message should be as easy-to-read and straightforward as possible.
And there’s where many marketers and copywriters make a mistake and lose customers. Because when it’s time to present the offer, they try to make themselves sound extremely cool or super smart. They start talking about the many features their offer has, often using vocabulary that seems to come from a Harvard Ph.D. textbook.
But readers don’t care about your accomplishments or your level of education. They want to know what they get out of your offer. And if you don’t let them know, they’ll drop you and march towards someone who does.
To send a brand message that is clear and concise, use Julia McCoy’s K.I.S.S. philosophy – focus on the benefits you generate with your offer and paint a picture of what life could be for them if they buy your product or service. And always keep your customer in mind.
Oh… and keep your vocabulary to an elementary school level for effective communication. Don’t make your reader think about the meaning of words – make them think about getting your offer.
Direct Response Copywriting Asks for An Immediate Course of Action
The keyword in the term “direct response copywriting” is “response.” Because that is what you aim to get – an immediate response to your offer. And to make that response happen, you need a reliable and appealing call to action.
Both Julia McCoy and Neil Patel (in their respective articles) highlight the importance of having a call to action attached to your offers. Julia emphasizes why you should add urgency to your CTAs, while Neil quotes experienced direct response copywriter Scott Martin on how CTAs make advertising measurable.
And being measurable is what separates direct response from brand copywriting. Because while brand marketing focuses on keeping a product or service fresh in your mind for later consumption, direct response copywriting looks to persuade the reader into taking a course right away.
And all you must do is ask.
Ask the reader to fill out a form, send a check, or click a link. Whatever you need the audience to do to move forward in the sales process. Of course, you can always take your CTA to a higher level of persuasion by restating your promise, introducing new benefits, or creating a sense of urgency.
If you have done an excellent job explaining to the reader what you offer and giving reasons why they should get your product or service, they will follow your instructions to buy your offer.
Starting today, you need to make sure your copy has an attention-grabbing headline, sends a clear and concise brand message, and presents an irresistible call to action. That’s how you make direct response copywriting work for you.