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direct response copywriting

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Direct Response Copywriting with Eddie Shleyner

Are you familiar with direct response copywriting?

Would you like to learn more about it?

Well, you’re in luck! That’s exactly what we discussed during this week’s #ContentWritingChat!

We talked about how you can apply direct response writing principles, a simple formula you can follow for writing copy, and shared some great resources to learn from!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Direct Response Copywriting with Eddie Shleyner

Our guest host for this week was Eddie Shleyner. He’s a direct response copywriter and a content marketer. And Eddie is the founder of VeryGoodCopy. He shared some great tips during the chat, which you’ll want to check out! So, let’s go ahead and dive into our recap!

Q1: What is direct response copywriting?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share what direct response copywriting is. Some of our participants were familiar with it, while others were not. It was a great opportunity to see who was new to the world of direct response. Here are a few responses we received:

As Eddie said, direct response is when you create copy that speaks directly to your target audience. He mentioned you need to grab attention, keep your readers engaged throughout your message, and persuade them to take immediate action afterwards.

Lexie know direct response copywriting is a way to get a swift reaction from your reader. You may push them towards making a purchase or something else.

Sarah agrees that it’s all about causing a direct response in the reader, which is typically done by tapping into their emotions.

As Julia pointed out, the action is immediate when it comes to direct response. There’s no waiting around here!

It’s going to eliminate the fluff and get straight to the point, which is a time saver for your readers.

Marijana said the purpose of direct response copywriting is to get people to take an action, which will be based on a goal that’s connected to your business objectives.

Q2: So is Don Draper from Mad Men a direct response copywriter?

Many of us are familiar with the Don Draper character from Mad Men. But was the work he did also direct response copywriting? Check out these answers:

Eddie said Don Draper was more of an in-direct response copywriter. His goal was to create copy that lingered in the mind until the consumer was presented with a buying decision.

Julia agrees with Eddie when it comes to Don’s work. He certainly knew what he was doing when it came to the campaigns he created.

Terry said Don was able to tell a story that made customers think they couldn’t live without a product. When it came time to buy, they recalled the copy he’d crafted.

Q3: What’s the greatest advantage direct response copywriters have over their in-direct counterparts?

Direct response copywriting can certainly have its advantages. But for those who aren’t familiar with it, they might wonder what those benefits are. Here’s what you need to know:

Eddie knows that those in direct response can easily measure an ad’s effectiveness through trackable actions. Being able to see those results come in is a great feeling!

He also encourages A/B testing on a single variable to see which one performs the best. You can tweet headlines or CTAs to determine which leads to the best conversion rate.

As Lexie pointed out, you’ll be able to tell right away if your efforts are working because your copy should lead to quick actions.

Although your content strategy is crucial, it’s more challenging to prove the success of a long-term campaign. As Marijana pointed out, you’re going to see results much sooner with direct response.

The immediacy of direct response means you’re going to see those sales coming in much sooner.

After all, there’s nothing better than meeting and exceeding your goals!

Q4: Can direct response WRITING principles be applied to an article, for instance, or another piece of business content that is not intended to drive immediate action?

Now that you see some of the benefits of direct response copywriting, you might be wondering if you can apply those tactics to other copy you’re creating. Here are a few responses that will guide you in the right direction:

Eddie’s advice is to be clear, be concise, and be compelling. This is always important to remember, no matter what kind of copy you’re creating.

Cut the fluff and get straight to the point! Don’t waste your time or your reader’s time.

Danielle pointed out that you need to know your audience in direct response copywriting, as well as their paint points. That’s going to be important no matter what you’re creating!

Lexie agrees that knowing your audience is crucial!

Using a compelling call to action is important, whether it’s direct or indirect copywriting.

As Terry said, you can apply the principles to anything. You can use direct response to trigger emotions or bring up a pain point. And that’s something you can use in a variety of formats.

If the copy doesn’t grab attention, it won’t read, understood, or revisited.

Q5: What’s a big mistake writers who are new to direct response often make?

If you’re just getting started with direct response copywriting, you’ll want to avoid making some big mistakes! These are ones to be aware of so you can make sure you don’t do them:

Eddie said writing in the first person is definitely a mistake. you want to write in the second person to allow your prospect to see themselves in the copy.

Cheval knows that failing to know and understand your audience is a big mistake.

Lexie agrees with Cheval. Knowing your audience is crucial, no matter what. You have to understand their needs in order to create copy that resonates.

As Julia pointed out, failing to educate yourself is a bad move. You always have to learn and improve your skills if you want to become better at what you do.

For Sarah, using clickbait headlines is a big no-no!

Telling your audience to buy something without making it clear what’s in it for them won’t get you very far.

Felicity knows subtly is key instead of shoving your product in your reader’s face.

Q6: What’s an effective, yet simple, direct response formula for beginners?

If you’re looking for an easy formula to help you get started with direct response copywriting, you’ll want to check out these responses!

Eddie recommends following the PAS formula by covering the problem, agitation, and the solution.

Marijana recommended a formula she learned through another business owner. It’s all about painting a picture of where the consumer is and where they want to be.

Know how you can help your audience and how their situation will improve with your offering. That’s a great way to secure results with your campaigns.

As Cheval knows, you can do any of these steps without first knowing your audience. Spend time researching them to see what they’re talking about and what they need help with.

Address their pain points and offer the solution you can provide to them.

Make sure you keep it simple and highlight the benefits your offering provides to your audience.

Q7: Besides Ogilvy, who are the best direct response copywriters to study?

There are plenty of people you can learn from to brush up on your skills! Here are some great copywriters to check out:

Eddie has a few recommendations that are definitely worth checking out.

As Sarah said, Neil Patel knows what he’s doing!

These are some go-to people for Terry to learn from. Add them to your list to check out!

For Julia, she loves reading content from Copyhackers.

Q8: What’s the fastest way to internalize a master copywriter’s voice, ton, style, and overall approach?

To wrap up the chat, here’s some final advice for you to take along on your direct response copywriting adventure:

Eddie suggests transcribing a copywriter’s work word-for-word.

Felicity has also been taught to use the same technique of writing their work over and over.

Lexie’s advice is to set some guidelines based on what you know about your audience. That will really help you and other writers on your team when you’re crafting copy.

Marijana said to learn from the building blocks within another copywriter’s work. You can review both direct and indirect response copywriters to better your skills.

Never stop learning, so make it a priority to ready copy from some of the masters out there. Don’t forget to test and experiment to see what works best for you.

Annette knows how important learning is, as it’s the best way to help you develop your own voice.

Do you want to join the next #ContentWritingChat? Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest! And be sure to hang out with us on Twitter every Tuesday at 10 AM Central.

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direct response copywriting

What Is Direct Response Copywriting? 6 Real-Life Content Lessons From This Form Of Copy

Direct response copywriting is the antithesis of the ad copywriting you see on TV.

Those TV ad copywriters are working a long-term game.

They want you to remember their product at some point in the future, when/if you see it on supermarket shelves.

In contrast, direct-response copywriting focuses on the immediate moment. This is copy that’s about inspiring the buyer to take action as soon as they’re finished reading.

In other words, when you use this method, your goal is to get a direct response from the reader as soon as they have digested your words.

You’re trying to get them to complete an action like:

  • Making a purchase
  • Signing up for your newsletter
  • Downloading a freebie
  • Following you on social media

To do this, you have to craft copy that tugs at your reader’s emotions, and, most importantly, addresses their worries, fears, pain points, or immediate needs.

direct response copywriting tips

The Art of Deeply Understanding Your Reader

You can’t talk about direct-response copy without also mentioning David Ogilvy, who is routinely cited as the father of modern advertising.

This ad man headed up uber-successful and memorable campaigns for American Express, Rolls Royce, Hathaway, Shell, Dove, and more during his heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Ogilvy knew that the most effective direct-response copy doesn’t just talk to your targets – it speaks to them on a personal level.

The combination of this deep understanding and direct, personal approach is the engine that runs this form of copywriting.

6 Direct Response Copywriting Takeaways from Real-World Examples

So, how do you write great direct response copy?

There are a few key principles you must follow.
To understand them better, let’s look at real-world examples and see what they can teach us.

First up: an example of a perfect direct response copy headline.

1. A Great Headline Snags Your Readers

The first principle of direct response copywriting is to craft a headline that makes your readers want to keep going.

The headline needs to snag their attention, inspire their curiosity, and spark their interest.

Here’s a classic example from none other than David Ogilvy:

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”

Ogilvy called this headline the best he ever wrote. And, as a result of the success from this Rolls-Royce ad, other companies like Shell specifically requested Ogilvy and wouldn’t consider another copywriter for their campaigns.

There are a few reasons why this headline worked so well. In fact, it ticks a bunch of boxes for proven headline formulas:

  • The benefit is cleverly hidden within the headline – it’s not stated, it’s implied. (When you’re going 60 on the interstate in this car, it’s so quiet, you’ll only hear the clock.)
  • It’s simple and to-the-point. It doesn’t use any hyperbole or fluff to pad it out.
  • It states something exciting and provocative. When this ad came out, most cars had loud and obnoxious engines.
  • It’s useful information. It’s helpful for the person looking at buying a car like this.
  • It sparks your curiosity. What kind of car IS this? What else can it do? The headline makes the reader want to learn more.

From the get-go,you must write a headline that makes readers want to know more when you’re writing direct response copy.

You will never find a lazily-written headline with this form of copywriting.

2. Long-Form Copy Informs, Persuades, and Convinces

Most direct response copywriting is long-form.

Why is this?
First of all, to be more persuasive, you need to give the reader more information.

After all, what’s easier: Having to convince somebody to buy something in one sentence, or having an entire page to do it?

To quote David Ogilvy again, “The more you tell, the more you sell.”

In other words, the more information you can give your reader, the more likely they’ll want to follow up on the desired action.

For a good example, let’s look at this sales page for Adobe Photoshop CC:

It starts out with a solid headline, some intro copy, and a video.

But, it doesn’t end there. Scroll down the page, and you’ll find great explanations of why you might need this product:

Then it dives into exactly what you can do with the software’s features and how they help you with creative image editing:

There’s a lot of copy on this page, but it’s all useful, informative, and persuasive. It helps you make that purchase decision.

Most importantly, it keeps you scrolling and entices you to click “buy now.”

Imagine, for a second, if the only copy on this page was the first paragraph. Suddenly, it’s a lot less convincing. You don’t have enough information to decide if you want to buy.

Data backs up the case for long-form copy, as well.

Neil Patel actually ran a test to see whether shorter or longer copy resulted in more conversions on a landing page.

He discovered that his landing page with long-form content (1,292 words) converted 7.6% better than the page with short content (488 words). The leads on the page with long-form content were also higher-quality – meaning they were more likely to end up buying.

Crazy Egg also did a case study about long vs. short content.

They designed two homepages: One was short and sweet, and the other was about 20x longer.

They did an A/B split-test to find out which page would perform better at converting visitors to customers.

The results: The page with long-form content outperformed the short page by 30%.

It makes sense, though. When your customers have more information, they feel like they’re making a better, smarter decision.

Long-form direct response copy helps them get there immediately.

3. An Irresistible CTA Clinches the Response You Want

All that copy you wrote to inform, persuade, and convince your reader to act will be useless without the climax:

The call-to-action.

Think of the CTA like your battle-cry. It inspires your readers to get moving now with exactly what they should do next.

Here’s a perfect example of a motivating CTA for joining the 5-minute Copywriting Crash Course by Copy Hackers:

The specific wording (“give” and “get”) inspires direct and immediate action, which is the hallmark of a good CTA.

So, what would an ineffective, lazy CTA look like?

Imagine if the above example read “Submit” rather than “YES, GIVE ME ACCESS.”

“Submit” simply does not have the persuasive power that’s needed, here. It doesn’t tell the reader to do anything concrete. It’s a weak, uninspiring verb for this scenario.

Meanwhile, “GIVE ME ACCESS” shouts at the reader. When the reader follows this CTA, it translates into their command for the website. All of a sudden, the consumer has the power.

It also says exactly what they’re getting (“access”).

In short, this CTA is actionable, concrete, and persuasive – three things you must have to push your reader into the direct response you want your copy to produce.

4. Staying Customer-Focused Keeps Your Copy Relevant

Direct-response copywriting must stay relevant for the audience/reader to net the results you want.

It’s about them, your customers, not about you.

In fact, this form of copywriting exclusively uses the second person voice to address the reader. It’s “you” focused.

Here’s another good example from Copy Hackers. This page is all about their copywriting training, Copy School:

It’s about what Copy School gives you, the reader/prospect. It is not about how great Copy School is, in and of itself.

This is a mistake many well-meaning businesses make over and over again. They make their direct response copy about them, when it should be all about their customer.

And, to make it about the customer, you have to know yours, inside-out.

ThriveHive offers some concrete steps to help you get to know your targets:

  • Take a look at current customers and pinpoint similarities among them.
  • Observe your competitors and analyze who they’re targeting in their content and why. Identify how this audience could be similar to/different from your own audience.
  • Swim around in social media and interact with your followers and customers. See how they interact among themselves and with other businesses, too.

5. K.I.S.S. Ensures You Don’t Go Over Their Heads

If your customer can’t understand your copy, you’ve failed.

To inspire direct action from your words, you must write at their level – not over it, and not under it.

Think of it this way: The more readable and understandable your copy is, the more people you can guide into the fold.

Don’t speak to your audience like they’re first-graders, but don’t make your copy unnecessarily complicated, either.

There are a few ways to make your copy readable:

  • Abide by the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
  • Use tools that grade your copy’s readability and edit as necessary

Use K.I.S.S.

The U.S. Navy originally coined the K.I.S.S. principle to apply to design, but you can apply it to copy, too.

According to HubSpot, this means you should:

  • Avoid over-explaining. Keep your explanations of your product or service to-the-point. Tell customers how it solves their pain points and what other people think of it. Don’t harp on and on about one feature or one aspect.
  • Present trustworthy content. Your customers want guidance. Present content that’s well-researched, that cites reputed sources, and presents facts and statistics to show you can be that trusted guide.
  • Keep your stories clear and logical. Telling stories is a fantastic way to convince customers to bite. Just remember to tell tales that have a point. They should move from A to B to C clearly and logically. If you have a tendency to be wordy or long-winded, get yourself a good editor with a sharp eye.

Use Readability Checkers

A good readability checker gives you a quick glance at how easy your copy is to read.

Most checkers base their scores on the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Ease formula. This formula determines the readability of a piece of text by looking at the total ratio of words to syllables to sentences.

There are two basic scores you can get from the formula: a readability score and a grade level (i.e. the minimum grade level knowledge a person needs to have to understand the text).

The readability score is scaled from 0-100 (hardest – easiest).

The higher the readability score, the lower the grade level that can understand it.

Here are some readability checkers you can use to test how easy your copy is to read:

For an example of incredibly simple and readable direct response copy, let’s look at Apple’s page for the iPad Pro:

When we plug this copy into Hemingway Editor, it gets a “Grade 3” score for readability. It’s so simple, anyone will understand it:

Also noteworthy: 0 sentences are “hard to read” or “very hard to read.”

We can also test the readability of the entire page by plugging it into WebpageFX’s Readability Test Tool:

The page will be “easily understood by 12 to 13 year olds,” which means anyone older will also have zero problems reading the page.

6. Cultivating a Sense of Urgency Makes Direct Customer Action Inevitable

The final piece of the puzzle for direct response copywriting is urgency.

Let’s return to Apple for a great example of cultivating urgency in your copy. This is from the product page for the Apple Watch Series 3. It describes how the watch can be your “ultimate sports watch”:

How can it “take your workouts further”? As you scroll down the page, little bits of copy tell you how:

The features pile up as you keep scrolling, which builds your anticipation. You might find yourself wondering “What can’t this watch do?”

As the benefits pile up, you get more excited.

It’s an irresistible build-up that will inevitably convince the customer on this page, who is likely very close to buying, to pull the trigger.

What’s another way to create a sense of urgency?

According to Econsultancy, using the scarcity principle is a good way to do it.

This simply means tapping into a basic buyer fear: that an item will sell out before they get their hands on it.

You’re probably familiar with this phenomenon. Phrases like the ones below are good indicators that a business is using this selling technique:

  • “Hurry – While supplies last!”
  • “Only 3 left in stock”
  • “Limited quantities available”

Here’s an example of the scarcity principle at work:

There’s only going to be one pressing of this vinyl record, and there’s just one left! *cue buyer panic as they fumble to click the “buy” button*

As you can see, that sense of urgency is ultimately what might push your reader/customer over the edge to take the action you want.

Make Direct Response Marketing Work for You in Your Copy

Direct response copywriting is a tried-and-true method to clinch that reader action, whether it’s on your sales page, landing page, blog, email, or another piece of content.

If you employ direct response copywriting, follow the above examples to make it truly effective.

You can also check out examples of direct response copy at these various resources:

Looking for a Direct Response Copywriter?

If you need a direct response copywriter right now who can inspire the customer actions that will help your business, you’re in the right place.

Here at Express Writers, our talented team can craft compelling direct response copy that gets results. See what we can do for you and check out the possibilities for sales pages, email sequences, and more.

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