Direct Response Copywriting: Top 2020 Guide

Direct response copywriting converts your readers faster than a cheetah hunts its prey. Leaving your readers at the door, drooling for more. This form of sales copy is so powerful:

  • It’s what makes you click that link with guilt, knowing you’re about to pull out your wallet.
  • It’s what makes your clients sleepless at night.
  • And, it’s what makes you wonder why your bank account is quiet as crickets if you don’t use it.

🍕Pizza anyone?

Picture this scenario.

A copywriter charges a pizza business $500 to write a social media post. Within the next 24 hours of the post going live, the pizza business generates $50,000 in profit. Not only is that a lot of pizza sold, but that’s direct response copywriting that scales.

So, if you’re interested in making bank with direct response copywriting, keep reading.

“Nobody should create general advertising until he has served his apprenticeship in direct-response.”

– David Ogilvy

Table of contents – Direct Response Copywriting

What is direct response copywriting?

Sales copy that prompts your readers to act the moment they read their last word.

Not in a week’s or a year’s time. But, as fast as possible.

Whether they fill a form or download a file, the ultimate goal is to have them pull out their wallet.

In a nutshell, it’s what makes consumers buy. With the goal of converting prospects into customers, and customers into a fanbase.

There is a difference between traditional copywriting and direct response copywriting.

The latter of the two writing styles focus on:

  • The present moment as opposed to the future.
  • Scaling your marginal profits.
  • Tapping into your reader’s minds through psychological triggers.
  • Taking a larger piece of the pie in the market.
  • Seducing your readers through persuasion.
  • Ensuring you stay on top of your competition.

That’s right, direct response copywriting is amongst the most profitable writing styles.

Let’s see how it’s done.

What do direct response copywriters do?

They harness headlines as their secret weapon

This is where it all begins, the headline.

Direct response copywriters are masters of headline copywriting. And they need to be for good reason.

Why does it matter?

Put it this way. If no one clicks your headlines, your amazing content is non-existent. Whereas headlines with high click-potential are what convert your viewers.

For that reason, some argue that headlines are more crucial than the product itself.

In context, have you ever met someone for the first time by shaking their hands? And their handshake left a poor impression on you. You likely had no interest in interacting with them again.

It’s safe to say headlines behave the same and are important in leaving a first impression.

There are many strategies on how to write an effective headline that converts. Here are some proven techniques to try:

  • Numbers – Numerical facts justify your reader’s logic in making statements more credible.
  • Urgency – Readers react in fear when they feel they are missing out on an opportunity.
  • Value – What good is a statement that provides no value or benefit? Provide the opportunity to solve a problem your customer may have.
  • Concise – You have a limited string of words before it gets cut off. This means choosing the most optimal words in your strategy.
  • Simple – Cut out the non-sense that serves no value.
  • Power words – These words entice your readers that enhance your call-to-action.
  • Questions – Spark interest that puts your reader in a position of curiosity.

Take a look at this headline that leaves you in shock.

student loan debt news article showing numbers in headline copywriting

The goal is to leave a worthy impression, prompting your reader to click through.

Some copywriters create their headlines at the end of their copywriting process. You’ll find you have a clearer understanding of your copy when doing this.

Crafting the right headlines that convert readers is a process. Your first headline most likely won’t be your last. This means you will have to test your headline on a regular basis to see if it’s driving results.

They know your audience more than your audience knows themselves

If you don’t know who you are writing for, you are writing to fail. Because copy written for everyone serves no one.

Direct response copywriting dissects your readers and studies them from head to toe.

This is where research plays a big part in the process.

And it’s called user-centered copywriting. Writing for the sole purpose of the reader in solving their problems.

Your research should well-equip you in understanding:

  • The goal of your readers.
  • What gets them up in the morning.
  • Their lifestyles and habits.
  • Who their competitors are.
  • Their pain points, wants, and desires.
  • A solution they seek.
  • Potential objections they may have.
  • Why your solution is a fit for their life.

At the end of the day, you don’t write sales copy for you.

Hell, it’s not even about you.

You write sales copy for your readers. Period.

Your readers are the sole purpose of what should drive you to be the best writer you can be.

You got that right… for them.

This means you need to know your readers better than they know themselves.

They persuade readers through long-form copy

“The more you tell, the more you sell.”

– David Ogilvy

Think long-form copy is dead because people don’t like to read? Not exactly.

Long-form copy will exist for as long as SEO is alive. In fact, search engines place emphasis on websites with engaged readers. And long-form copy has a strong positive correlation with engaged users.

In truth, readers engage with long-form to seek the best possible outcome for their goal.

Ask yourself this. Would you spend a couple of minutes researching a topic you’re passionate about? No way, even college degrees aren’t achieved overnight.

Put it this way. If your long copy engages your readers, they will take the time to grace themselves with your content.

These are some reasons to why long-form copy works:

  • Decreased bounce rates.
  • Content is king. Long-form generates more traffic.
  • Long-form offers more information to readers.
  • Readers engage with it when seeking a solution.
  • People love storytelling and a connection.
  • Search engines place a significance on websites with long-form copy.

Now, long-form copy should be no excuse to overwhelm your readers.
When writing long-form copy, be mindful of:

  • Writing simple conversational copy.
  • Ensuring content readability.
  • Answering your reader’s questions and goals.
  • Deviating off-topic with irrelevant information.
  • Writing copy for the sake of having content.
  • Continual testing if long-form copy drives results.

What do you think is more compelling to a reader?

One sentence that states why they should buy your service?

Or, on the otherhand,

One page of copy that covers all reasons to buy your service?

They never stop testing

In the fast-paced digital world we live in, change is inevitable. It seems there is always something new popping around the corner.

With that said, what works now, doesn’t mean it will work in the future. This involves ruthless testing of your copy based on driving performance and results.

Direct response copywriters leave no stone unturned.

Why would you risk profits going to another contender because you weren’t up to date on trends?

They revolve their lives around writing

How can you be a master at something without putting in the hours and dedication? Direct response copywriters are passionate about what they do.

This involves:

  • Being a match-maker in solving your reader’s problems to your solutions.
  • Doing research, a lot of it. Actually, a massive amount of it.
  • Helping people around the world through purpose-driven copy.
  • Being excited to write copy and share your ideas with people.
  • Living a fulfilling lifestyle that involves long hours and hard work.

Direct response copywriting tips

1. Make your content readable

How can you convert your prospects if your content isn’t easy to understand?

Readability measures the ability for readers to comprehend copy. The goal is to have your copy understood by anyone regardless of comprehension level.

Some factors that contribute to readability are:

  • Number of characters per word
  • Word count per sentence
  • Sentence length
  • Sentence count per paragraph
  • Syllable frequency
  • Complexity of words
  • Clear and logical copy
  • Visual design

You get the idea. So, when your content is readable, your viewers are more likely to engage and prompt action.

There are many effective editing and testing tools that analyze a copy’s readability. These tools measure readability based on scientific scores.

Useful tools that measure your readability scores:

Checking your content’s readability is simple. All you have to do is copy and paste your copy into the form and the tools give you a readability score.

If you put in the time to check your grammar and spelling, it wouldn’t make sense not to check readability.

2. Go back and edit your copy. More than once.

You won’t nail your copy on the first shot.

Editing is another piece of the puzzle, as you should never overlook the rule.

Go back several times.

In fact, have at least five drafts until your polished copy is ready to go live.

Fix the run-on sentences. Find the spelling and grammar errors. Make sure you’re speaking the language your readers resonate with.

If you can shorten your content, even better.

3. Use words that pack a punch

You can’t have copy that packs a punch unless you’re using power words or sensory words. These killer words are no ordinary words. In fact, these should be your bread and butter for any copy you write.

They have the capability to:

  • Persuade your readers
  • Prompt action
  • Bring life into your copy
  • Stimulate your reader’s senses
  • Implement the power of imagination
  • Keep your readers engaged

Power words are words that take your copy to the next level for your readers to focus on your message.

Whereas, sensory words stimulate your reader’s senses by painting a visual imagination in their heads.

Power words example:

  • With power words: “Copywriting services guaranteed to bring in massive profits.”
  • Without power words: “Copywriting services that bring in profits.”

Sensory words example:

  • With sensory words: “Copywriting services that leave your readers drooling for more.”
  • Without sensory words: “Copywriting services that leave your readers wanting more.

See the large difference by adding one or two words that change your reader’s impression?

These words are a must for every successful copy.

Final thoughts on direct response copywriting

Direct response copywriting is fail-safe when used as a way to secure action from readers.
To recap direct response copywriting that converts your audience:

  • It all starts at your headlines. If you are writing bad headlines that don’t prompt readers to click, you will convert no one. Use proven headline copywriting methods like power words, urgency, and numbers to optimize.
  • Understand exactly who your audience is by researching them in great depth.
  • Long-form copy works. If a visitor finds content that aligns with their goals, they will take the time to read.
  • Continue testing and analyze what isn’t working.
  • Keep mastering the art and science of copywriting. It’s a skilled craft.
  • Make sure your copy is readable.
  • Copy that sells requires multiple edits. You don’t get it on the first shot.
  • Use power and sensory words to captivate your readers.

Direct response copywriting is nothing new to the world of writing. The art and science have been practiced for decades and will continue to thrive because it works.