One ‘type’ of copywriting is direct response copywriting, which has a specific focus on action!
Direct response copywriting is writing copy that gets your readers to take a specific and immediate action. This action could include signing up for a free trial, downloading something, making a purchase, or subscribing.
Direct response copywriting is not a specific type of copywriting like email copywriting or SEO copywriting.
Instead, it’s more of a style of copywriting that can be applied to any type of content that leads users to a call to action.
Direct response copywriting is important because it helps grow your business.
Good direct response copy will lead to more newsletter sign-ups, downloads, purchases, and better conversions on whichever call to action you’re pushing.
More conversions from your call to actions leads to more qualified leads, sales, a larger email list, and so on, which is great for business growth.
Without writing direct response copy the right way, you won’t get many responses, meaning your marketing campaigns won’t be as successful as they could be.
The most essential part of the copy is a strong call to action—as that’s the overall intended purpose, to elicit action.
Without an immediate call to action, there’s no purpose to the copy.
Having a strong call to action helps guide the reader to the action you want them to take, and convert them into a subscriber, customer, etc.
There are multiple types of call-to-actions you can use. To highlight your call to action, you may choose to start with a strong heading, following by some brief body text, and then a button that says “subscribe”, “buy now”, “sign up”, or “let’s talk.”
The call to action you choose to use will completely depend on what you’re offering, and you’ll know best which call to action is appropriate for your offer. When in doubt, look at what close competitors use.
The best direct response copywriting is focused on the consumer. This applies to any type of copywriting.
The second person uses the “you” frame of writing and includes language that’s focused on the needs, struggles, and desires of the audience.
First-person (when you use I) is generally inappropriate for direct response copywriting.
The exception would be if you discuss a personal story to connect emotionally with readers. But for the most part, the bulk of your copy should be focused on the second person so that you can engage with your audience on a personal level.
To have a user take action, you have to get personal, tackle their struggle points, and know how to speak their language.
Understanding your target audience in great detail is research-intensive, but well worth it.
With a specific understanding of exactly who you’re writing to, it’s far easier to craft a compelling message that will resonate with them and build trust.
Taking the time to get specific about who it is you’re targeting should be one of the first things you do before you start writing.
The headline is the first thing people see. If it’s not attention-grabbing, people won’t read the rest of your copy, let alone act on your call to action.
When someone reads your headline they should feel a sense of relief that they’re at the right place, just by reading your headline alone.
The best way to write a good headline is to consider your readers’ primary problem that you’re solving. Then write a headline that makes it clear the solution to their problem is found within the subsequent body text.
A good headline is simple, focused on the reader, concise, and sparks curiosity. Your headline should also accurately represent what’s to come, not mislead and clickbait.
The purpose of your copy is to provoke an immediate response from your readers.
The best copy makes an argument so compelling that readers don’t hesitate to act on your call to action.
You shouldn’t be overly salesy with your copy, but having a sense of urgency for your call to action can help give people that extra push they need to actually commit to it.
Sometimes people are interested, but they just ‘leave it until later’, which often never happens.
Capitalizing on FOMO or a time-related deal can be a good way to prompt users to act quickly. Try to be subtle about how you do this or it can come across as pushy.
With any type of content you write, testing is important.
Whether you’re writing email newsletters, landing pages, blog posts, or product descriptions, testing variations of copy to determine which one provides the best conversions is essential.
For example, you may choose to A/B test a specific call to action button to determine which gets more clicks or a subject line of an email to see which gets higher open rates.
Without testing, you will never know which copy will convert best. Never stop testing.
Long-form copy can be effective for increasing conversions.
With longer copy, you leave more room to explain the benefits of your service or product.
When it comes to search engines, on average, longer copy tends to perform better because it’s usually more comprehensive.
Some may claim writing fewer words is better due to the short attention span of people today. But this isn’t really true.
If your copy is good all the way through, then you have more opportunity to engage a user’s attention and sell them on the benefits of your offer.
There are plenty of people willing to read long copy to ensure they’re making the best buying decision.
Long-form is just as effective as short-form, and in some cases, superior.
Good copy focuses on helping readers understand how your offer will make their lives easier.
These benefits may include how what you sell will save them time, money, or provide some other form of value.
You shouldn’t be writing copy that’s focused on who you are, your brand, and your company. Leave that for your about page.
The vast majority of what you write should be focused on benefits.
Benefits are what people get excited about, and they’re the reason they buy from you, not because your company is so awesome (which I’m sure it is!)
This is personal preference, but in most cases, it’s better to blurt out your copy quickly and write from the heart to express your most important points.
Then, after your copy is written, you can go through it, check for spelling and grammar, flow, and re-write it to be more concise.
It helps to write copy this way as you can look over it multiple times and refine it to be as good as possible.
It also helps to have a copy editor polish your copy, check for errors and improve readability.
Leveraging social proof is powerful. What you say about your product or service may be true, but why should a stranger believe you?
Think about anything you’ve ever purchased, especially something with a high price tag.
Whether it’s a service or product, you’re going to check out the company’s reviews to ensure they’re reputable and provide what they promise.
Including testimonials in your copy from previous clients or customers is an incredibly effective way of building trust and reassurance.
When potential customers see that other people similar to them purchased what you offer and were happy, they’ll be more inclined to act on your call to action.
Here we’ll go over several examples of direct response copywriting in action and what makes them so effective.
Here’s an example from Contentful, an API-first content management platform that helps large companies manage and publish content.
This landing page starts with a strong title, “The ultimate guide to headless CMS”.
To the right target audience, this is a compelling headline. Headless CMS is something they want to know about, and this guide will provide them with the information they need. It’s very simple and effective.
Moving forward, we see the body text.
Here we see a clear focus on the reader and what they’re going to get.
The direct response copywriter has described four clear benefits:
Then the body text focuses on the pain points of their target audience using sentences like “outdated legacy CMSes are becoming huge agility roadblocks”.
This is followed by a clear call to action worded as “get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Headless CMS”, and then a submission form with a submit button.
Overall this is a simple and beautiful landing page that’s very actionable. It couldn’t be more obvious that the point here is to download the white paper, in exchange for lots of value.
Here’s a direct response copy example on a landing page from DocuSign, a company that helps other organizations manage electronic agreements.
The first thing you notice is the title. “Simplify transactions” are the first two words.
This title clearly communicates the value proposition of the software solution offered by communicating that:
The subheading “banking & financial services” makes their offering targeted to a specific audience, so the audience knows DocuSign’s solutions are custom for the nuances that come with banking and financial services.
Then there’s a clear call to action to “contact sales” as a button.
Scrolling down further on the page, you can see a good example of focusing on benefits.
Here you can see a heading and bullet points covering benefits of their solutions, such as ‘eliminate manual processes’, ‘do business faster’, ‘create a trusted, mobile-first experience’.
All these points are focused on pain points, such as ‘business is too slow’, ‘our agreements aren’t mobile-optimized,’ and ‘we’re wasting time doing manual processes’.
Further down the page, you can see the leverage of social proof through the use of case studies to establish credibility and build trust.
These case studies (even without being read in-depth) quickly create trust and legitimize the words stated on the landing page as the case studies have data-backed results proven by other companies using DocuSign.
Overall this is a great page that has a strong headline, focuses in-depth on the benefits over features in the body copy, and has a clear call to action for users to take.
Here’s a simple and actionable piece of direct response copy from ConverKit, an email marketing software specifically built for creators that have fans.
The title is straightforward. You’re here because you want a great landing page to get emails, so here’s one for you to get started with (for free).
The body text is the perfect example of ‘understanding your audience’.
It addresses the target audience right away by making the assumption “as an online creator”. Straight away this eliminates those who aren’t online creators and gets the attention of the right audience.
The body text then goes on to discuss things they know their audience belives in, such as “having big ideas”, and “getting your ideas to the world with landing pages”.
Nowhere here does the text write about how great ConverKit is and why it’s such as good software. It’s all about the audience.
Even when ConverKit does sort of mention features further down the page as seen below, it’s focused on features that benefit their audience, such as “no code necessary”, and “look good on all devices”.
Finally, the copy ends with “promote your big idea” (focused on the desire of users) and a clear call to action to “create a free account”, which is simple and also enticing because it’s free.
The goal of direct response copywriting is to connect with readers and have them take immediate action.
Through understanding your target audience, writing copy focused on the target audience, and crafting words that resonate, you’ll craft copy that compels people to take action.
Hopefully, the examples in this post helped illustrate best practices in action and have inspired you to write great copy for your website.
Good direct response copy is all about focusing on benefits, writing in an engaging way, and making it obvious what the action you want your readers to take is.