Direct Response Copywriting

If you’re looking to boost your content marketing game and learn direct response copy to increase conversions, stick with us.

In this post, we will guide you through the whole process and cover what direct response copywriting is, how it works and why you should care about it. Plus, we’ll provide five actionable examples of effective direct response copywriting.

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What is Direct Response Copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is a content marketing technique that focuses on creating copy to inspire a user to complete an action, in order to convert. This action can vary across industries. Examples include purchasing an item, downloading a paper, subscribing to a newsletter or signing up for a free trial.

The goal of direct response copy is to encourage a user to take action right after reading your content — in other words, to get a direct response from them.

Unlike indirect copy, which aims to get your message out there and increase brand recognition, direct response copy encourages immediate action.

How Does Direct Response Copywriting Work?

The next important factor of direct response writing is appealing to your audience’s emotions, needs and wants. If you can identify their pain points and offer a solution, you can use this to connect with them and inspire them to act.

Direct response copywriting is commonly used for:

  • Landing pages
  • Blog posts
  • Product pages
  • Email newsletters
  • Pop-up banners
  • Advertising campaigns
  • White papers
  • E-Books

How To Excel At Direct Response Copywriting

Direct response writing is one of the best content methods to increase conversions but only if done right. There is a set of steps you need to follow to drive results with your direct copy.

Here’s a 10-step guide to direct response copywriting:

1. Define Your Goal

The purpose of direct response copy is to inspire immediate action from readers. What is the goal you want to achieve with your direct copywriting?

This is the first step of developing effective copy, so it’s essential to figure out the specific action that needs to take place in order for your audience to engage with your brand.

Do you want them to sign up for a free trial of your product/service? Do you want your audience to subscribe to your newsletter? Purchase your product? Request a quote for your service?

Whatever your goal is, this will define the rest of the copy because it will shape your writing to increase the chances of achieving that specific goal.

2. Know Your Target Audience

In direct response copy, you’re speaking directly to your audience so knowing who they are is essential. Know your target market, their pain points and offer solutions to their problems.

Who is the person you’re talking to? What are their problems and interests?

If you know your target audience well, you can connect with them on an emotional level. If you connect with them and gain their trust, you can inspire them to take action.

This is why creating fictional buyer personas is important because it allows you to better understand your audience, including their needs and wants.

Segment your audience into different groups based on age, interests, goals, challenges, and other demographic info, and create fictional characters that you will speak to.

3. Write a Compelling Headline

A great headline is half of the job.

The headline determines whether your audience will read your content or not. Write a compelling headline to grab your audience’s attention and to highlight what they’ll find in your copy.

Dedicate the same effort to crafting a great headline as you do to creating the rest of the copy. The headline should be:

  • Simple
  • Useful
  • Benefit-driven

If you find that writing an engaging headline is difficult, you can take advantage of the numerous tools available for generating headlines and many of them are free.

4. Apply AIDCA

AIDCA stands for attention, interest, desire, conviction, action.

It’s a copywriting formula that serves to help you create effective, engaging copy.

  • Attention: Grab your audience’s attention right away by understanding your audience and what they care about, then crafting a statement that speaks to them.
  • Interest: Once you have their attention, keep your audience interested by presenting relevant information, interesting statistics or engage with them by asking questions throughout your copy and making them think.
  • Desire: Spark desire in your audience by presenting your product’s key benefits and the value it will bring.
  • Conviction: Reassure your audience that they can trust you, for example, by offering a money-back guarantee, reviews or testimonials.
  • Action: Be clear about the action you want your audience to take, whether it’s signing up for your newsletter, making or purchase or something else.

5. Highlight The Benefits Of Your Offering

When writing direct response copy, focus on the benefits of your offering. How will your offering solve their pain points and make their lives easier? What would they gain by purchasing your offer?

Highlight the value that your offering will provide whether it’s saving time, money or something else. Remember that the goal is to inspire immediate action and you can only do this if your offering is beneficial for your audience.

6. Create a Sense of Urgency

The goal of direct copywriting is to inspire immediate action. For this purpose, it’s important to create a sense of urgency. You can do this by using terms such as “limited time offer,” “last chance” or “today only” to create a sense of scarcity and inspire your audience to convert.

7. Include an Effective Call-To-Action

Direct response copy must contain a call-to-action (CTA) button to guide your audience towards conversion. In fact, you should have at least two CTAs in your copy to remind them of the idea.

Your CTAs should be clear and should contain actionable verbs such as “buy now,” "subscribe” or “sign up.”

8. Write Easy-To-Understand Copy

Avoid long sentences and complex terms. Your copy should be simple and easy to understand.

Remember the language your audience uses and use the same language to write your copy. Do not overcomplicate things or use jargon that they won’t understand.

Instead, use everyday speech and short sentences. For example, instead of a term like “onerous,” just use the plain and simple “difficult” if it conveys what you want to say.

9. Use the Second Person

Direct response copywriting focuses on your customer. This is why you always write in the second person because you’re speaking directly to your customer and you want to engage with them on a personal level.

You know their challenges and pain points and you know what they need. Always prioritize the use of “you” in your copy.

10. Edit Your Copy

As a direct response copywriter, you first write a draft to express your key points and your message. Don’t linger too much on grammar and content style in this stage, just focus on your audience and the goal of your copy.

When your initial draft is done, go through your copy and remove any excess words, fluff, grammar issues and polish your direct copy. Go through your copy multiple times until you’re sure there are no mistakes.

It helps to look at your copy with fresh eyes so you should consider writing the copy and leaving it for a while (or overnight) and review it again later.

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Why Should You Care About Direct Response Copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is an effective and widely used content marketing technique. Here’s exactly why you should care about it, and why you should consider using it:

It’s Measurable

One of the reasons why direct response copywriting is so popular is the fact it’s measurable. You can easily test the effectiveness of your direct copy and measure its success.

There are many tools that generate valuable data you can use to track your direct response copywriting efforts, such as Google Analytics and Semrush. Some of them are even free so you can choose a tool that you find suitable for your content marketing efforts and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to track such as the click-through rate, conversion rate, etc.

If you’re sending out a newsletter, you can easily track how many subscribers are opening and reading your email so you know if your copy is effective or needs improvement.

If it’s a paid ad such as PPC, you can track how many people click on your ad. If it’s a long-form blog post with a CTA, you can track how many people actually complete the action you want them to, whether it’s to sign up for a free trial or to purchase your product.

It Helps You Target Specific Audiences

Direct response copywriting helps you target and engage specific audiences. Direct response writing is backed by data, which lets you create more targeted campaigns.

Instead of writing for everyone and hoping your message gets noticed, with direct response writing you can focus on a specific group (based on your buyer personas) and create customized content that speaks to them and their challenges, interests, etc.

Direct Response Copywriting Examples

Now that you know what direct response copywriting is and how to excel at it, let’s see how others are using it to drive conversions.

Here are five effective examples of direct response copy:

ConvertKit

ConvertKit
[Source: ConvertKit]

ConvertKit uses very straightforward language to address their target audience without wasting any time. The headline “Free landing pages for your next idea” highlights the benefit and leaves no room for confusion regarding the benefit of conversion.

The CTA is also clear and specific, and the brand also uses the second person to speak directly to its customer.

Zendesk

Zendesk
[Source: Zendesk]

Zendesk is another good example of direct response copywriting. It uses everyday language to simplify its message for target audiences. Two clearly visible CTAs are specific so the audience knows exactly where it takes them.

MeUndies

MeUndies
[Source: MeUndies]

This is an example of a pop-up form on MeUndies that uses the direct response copywriting technique. The headline grabs attention right away, because who doesn’t love discounts? The email subscription checkbox and the CTA are clear and to the point and the language is simple throughout the copy.

CoSchedule Headline Studio

CoSchedule
[Source: CoSchedule]

CoSchedule’s Headline Studio highlights their main benefit right in the headline using simple, easy to understand language. They know what their target audience wants and they get right to the point.

In this case, CoSchedule identified a pain point for many content marketers and copywriters — creating compelling headlines — and it offered a solution.

Once they grabbed the users’ attention with this benefit-driven headline, CoSchedule placed a very simple form that the audience can fill out to start using their headline creator for free.

Fizzle

Fizzle
[Source: Fizzle]

Fizzle created simple, targeted copy that speaks directly to its audience: Independent creators looking to earn money while doing what they enjoy, outside of the constraints of a 9 to 5 job.

This short copy makes the benefit of the product crystal clear so the audience can take immediate action by clicking on the CTA and trying their product for free.

Wrapping Up On Direct Response Copywriting

The purpose of direct response copywriting is to connect with your audience and inspire immediate action. It's one of the most effective types of copy that can significantly boost your conversions.

To create direct response copywriting:

  • Define your goal
  • Know your audience
  • Write compelling headlines
  • Apply AIDCA
  • Highlight your product’s benefit
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Use effective CTAs
  • Write easy-to-understand copy
  • Use the second person
  • Edit your copy

Direct copy is measurable, it helps you target specific audiences and enables you to form an emotional connection with them.

Now that you know the key steps of creating compelling direct response copy and you have seen a few selected examples, you are ready to start crafting your own direct copy.

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