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What is direct response copywriting? The Ultimate Guide

What is direct response copywriting

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Table of Contents

When I started learning direct response copywriting in 2009, it was a frustrating and confusing time. Much of what I was learning didn’t make sense, and there seemed to be a hundred different opinions on what constituted good copy.

So let’s keep it simple.

What is direct response copywriting?

As a direct response copywriter, you will understand the art of writing copy that will directly lead to action. 

The history of direct response goes back to when advertising was first invented, where advertisers would provide their customers with a coupon to entice them into buying the product or service they were offering. 

Today in the digital marketing world, this technique still holds true as one of the most effective ways for marketers (or anyone else) to get what they want by using words and persuasive tactics like scarcity and urgency.

In short, it’s a marketing technique used to convert the viewer into a customer. 

Copywriting can be traced back to the late 1800s when direct mail advertising was developed and has been evolving ever since as more techniques are created. 

It’s important for every marketer because it helps convert a visitor into subscribers or customers by focusing on one action that your audience has to take. 

It has three elements: a headline, a body copy, and an offer (or call-to-action). Using the right words in each of these elements will increase conversions or get your desired action. 

Copywriting is also about testing what works best for each situation with the goal is getting people to act on something – whether it’s to buy something, give an opinion on social m to research the best practices for your audience. 

How to write high converting copy

The AIDA formula is the main starting point of any copywriting project.

AIDA is a formula developed in 1898 by St. Elmo Lewis to describe how people often respond to presentations and speeches. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. 

Attention Grabber: It’s important to grab your reader right away. You can do this by creating a problem or situation they have and emphasizing how it makes them feel, for example, “Do you want more money?”

Interest Relating Statement: Keep the reader interested in the article and get them to connect with it. 

Desire Statement: Give readers the opportunity for what they want right now, “Get your free report.” 

Action Prompt: Tell your reader exactly what action you want them to take while reading this. For example – buy a product or opt in to an email list.

Each of your marketing messages should follow this formula to help you get your desired response.

12 elements of a high converting sales page

It’s all well and good giving you this information, but unless you know how to implement it, then it becomes useless. 

So I will give you a detailed structure to use for your sales pages or video sales letters. 

Headline 

The headline is the most important aspect of the page. It will grab the immediate attention of your audience and motivate them to continue reading. 

An effective way to engage your audience at this stage is to use curiosity. 

The only purpose of the headline is to make them read the sub-heading. 

Sub-heading

The sub-heading should be a single sentence that explains the contents of your page. They will convince people to read more and make them feel like they are in the right place.

The main purpose of your sub-heading is to make them read the hook. 

Hook

The hook is your introduction, but it needs to instantly draw all their focus to your message. It gets their interest and attention. 

The hook should be a single sentence that is intriguing but not overly long.

Ideally, the hook will have an emotional connection with your audience, and they are given enough information to decide whether or not they want to continue reading. At this stage, if you’re communicating to the right people with the right message, they will consume the rest of your message. 

Problem 

Acknowledging your audience’s problem early in your messaging is a great way to build rapport and motivate them to continue reading your sales page.

This is your chance to empathize with their struggle by reflecting on how it feels. 

Once you’ve established the problem and your audience is invested in your message, it’s time to agitate. 

Agitate 

Now they are reminded about their problem, we, in a very mild way, rub salt into the wound. We focus on how bad the problem is right now, how bad it might become in the future, and the end results if they don’t take action to solve it.

At this stage, they will be seeking a solution. 

Solution 

This is where you introduce the solution; your product. You want to introduce it in a way that’s appealing and easy for your audience to understand. 

You mustn’t try to sell the product too hard. Letting them know it exists and what the benefits are is enough at this stage. 

Benefits

Now they’re likely to be considering your product as a solution, and it’s time to explain the benefits. 

Share what life is like once they’ve solved the problem. Focus on the emotional aspects, how it feels, and the long-lasting impact of the solution.

It’s tempting to focus on the features of your product, but we need a mix of features and benefits. 

Human beings think in two ways; logically and emotionally. 

You need to appeal to both.

Use features (what the product does) to appeal to logic. But use benefits (why it’s good) to appeal to emotions.

Credibility 

So far, you’ve reminded them of the problem, agitated, suggested a solution, and explained the benefits. 

But they are probably still on the fence. They don’t know you or know why they should trust you. 

This is where you explain who you are and why you’re qualified to help them. 

Explain what separates you from everyone else who claims they can help. 

Social proof 

It’s one thing to say you can help, but it’s another for other people to vouch for you. 

This is where social proof comes in.

Social proof is a powerful sales motivator. Use testimonials, case study’s or before and after pictures to show how you’ve helped other people.

This will build trust in your and your offer. 

CTA

Now is the time to ask them to take action. 

CTA stands for Call to Action. Now you will ask them to buy your product, sign up for a newsletter or contact you.

Your CTA is what will take them from browsing around on your site to making an impulse purchase and becoming a loyal customer who trusts you with their email address and credit card number. 

The CTA can be as simple as a “buy here” button. 

Urgency 

This is the final stage of the sales process.

Urgency is another powerful way to increase your conversion rate. It taps into FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.

Make your customers feel like they need to buy now, or else the opportunity will be gone forever. They could miss out on a limited time offer, run out of inventory, and so forth.

For example, urgency can come in many forms, “Only three left in stock” or “Offer ends tomorrow.” 

But it’s also important not to overdo it.

You don’t want to use urgency in all of the marketing materials on your site because then customers won’t feel any sense of urgency, and they’ll just buy at their leisure. 

What are the different types of copywriting?

There are many different types of copywriting, and it’s essential to understand each of them. 

* Story-driven copy – tells the story behind your product or service for branding purposes.

*Writing headlines – in media articles and blogs, which can be used to capture attention from viewers before they read the article.

*Educational copywriting helps potential customers learn about a product or service by answering customer questions. 

*Promotional copywriting is typically used for marketing purposes like ad copy or email blasts.

*Direct mail, which originates from postcards and direct mailing. This is when you send a letter in snail mail to an individual person at their home address as opposed to sending email blasts.

Most long-form sales pages tend to use many of these elements. 

How to get started with copywriting?

You don’t need a degree to get started with copywriting, but it does help open the door with some agencies. 

With that said, proving that you can deliver results is more important than qualifications. Some of the best copywriters I know are high school dropouts with no education. 

I myself have no education but can write high converting copy. 

But a strong grasp of grammar and vocabulary is key to succeeding in this field as well. 

The best way to start is by reading blog posts or books about copywriting to get a feel for things. 

Then just start writing. Doing is better than reading. 

Choose a product or service you like, something you believe in, and write a page of copy about it. Do this quickly without too much thought. Just get into a state of flow. 

Nobody else will read this version, so write whatever comes into your mind. 

Then sleep on it. 

Give yourself a good night’s rest before going back to your first draft. 

Then re-write it.

Remove the bits that make you cringe, add new ideas as they come. 

Repeat until you are happy with the piece. Doing this will get your copy nice and tight. 

Copywriting is like every other skill; you need to practice to get good at it.

Some copywriters insist that you need to re-write other people’s copy by hand. While I agree with this to an extent, I don’t believe it needs to be handwritten.

For me, it’s more about the process of getting inside the copywriter’s head, understanding why they chose one word over another and seeing how all the elements connect together. 

I actually started my journey into copywriting by transcribing a Video Sales Letter (VSL). I’d download the videos to my computer and manually type out every word. 

It was a slow and painful process, but it was very rewarding in the long run. 

What are the benefits of direct response copywriting?

Copywriting can help you generate more sales, leads, or customers by focusing on one action.

By communicating with your target audience in a clearer and more direct way, you will establish a connection, build rapport and create trust—all essential components for a successful relationship.

Know your audience

To start copywriting, you must first identify your target audience and establish what they want to buy. 

You need to know both their demographics and their psychographics. 

Demographics 

Demographics are part of the key to copywriting success. 

Demographics are the ‘who’ and ‘what.’ 

They are things like the customer’s age, gender, location, and profession. 

You need to know who your target audience is so that you can tailor your message accordingly. 

For example, if you were a company selling women’s clothing online, then knowing the average age of their customers will help create copy that resonates well with your audience. 

If you were a company selling office furniture, then knowing the average income and profession will be important to create copy that resonates well with your target customer.

“Who are they?” is often one of the first questions marketers ask themselves when starting their branding process, and it’s no different for direct response copywriting.

The best copywriters will always strive for this type of personalization and use their knowledge of human behavior and psychology to find out what drives their customers’ decision-making process.

This is accomplished by studying your customer base as a whole as well as individuals. 

Demographics help you discover who they are and what they want to buy.

You can then break down who this person is: age group, gender, where they live, etc. It’s important that the person reading your content feels like it was written for them personally or in their language.

With these demographics, your target audience will be more receptive to the information they’ll find on the Internet or in print advertising. 

Psychographics 

Knowing what makes your customers tick and finding out how they like to be communicated is essential. 

Psychographics will help you to understand the core motivation behind the purchase; the why.

When you know why someone wants to purchase, you can communicate in a more meaningful way. Your copy can connect with them in a deeper way and reflect back on their values. 

The more personalized you can make your message for the individual reader, the better chance of getting them to take action and purchase.

To discover the psychographics of your market, examine their media sources. Look at the websites they read, the communities they’ve joined, the people they follow. 

This will provide you with an insight into your customers’ values and give you a good idea of where to start. 

Direct Response Copywriting Vs. Traditional Marketing

Compared to more traditional forms of marketing, direct response copywriting is much easier and cheaper. 

It also provides marketers with a variety of techniques that they can use in order to make their message as compelling as possible. 

In addition, there are many benefits associated with this type of copywriting: it leads to higher conversion rates, it’s less expensive than other forms of marketing, and it leads to great customer satisfaction.

One major benefit of direct response is the ability to directly track and monitor the performance of adverts. 

Claude Hopkins innovated this. 

He is responsible for the “Scientific Advertising” strategy that was published in 2023. 

We still use this approach today. The technique involves testing and measuring results from adverts to find out what works. 

Claude Hopkins decided to color-code coupons, then examine the headlines for each one to see which performed the best. 

This technique has led to a much higher conversion rate and laid the foundation of modern direct response copywriting.

Of course, with the advent of the Internet, we can execute, monitor, and analyze results in near real-time. As such, direct response copywriting is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal.

It can provide near-instant feedback and allow you to track your progress with accuracy. 

Adopting this approach will lead to more sales, higher conversion rates, and greater customer loyalty.

Conclusion 

Effective copy should make your message as clear and as compelling as possible. It benefits not only you but also the buyer. 

Direct response copywriting is an excellent way for marketers to get results, and it’s relatively easy to learn. 

To start direct response copywriting, you need only one thing: the willingness to learn how this form of marketing works.

Direct response copywriting is a type of marketing that requires you to get straight to the point and elicit immediate action from your audience. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped you get started, and you are now ready to take a look at the next step to increase revenue and grow a stronger business.

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