Direct Response Copywriting: The Ultimate Guide

Direct Response Copywriting

If you are a business owner and would like to know what direct response marketing is, read this post to the end.

What is Direct Response?

Direct response is a type of marketing that compels your audience to take action quickly.

Your direct-response marketing campaigns might ask people to buy a product or service, opt-in to an email list, or visit your landing page from an ad on Facebook. 

What is Direct Response Copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is where all of the money is in writing.

It is the process of writing sales copy that customers directly respond to such as brochures, direct mail, or a landing page. 

This type of sales copy is directed and written to customers to make them take a certain action like make a purchase now or sign up for an email newsletter.

If you have ever read a piece of copy that made you buy the product or service, no matter how long or short the piece of copy is, you just witnessed direct response copywriting, crafted by a direct response copywriter.

For your direct response campaign to be effective, you will have to be able to tug at the emotional heartstrings of your prospective customer.

You should be able to address the worries, fears, pain points, or immediate needs of your clients or customers.

This is what a direct-response copywriter does well.

The Art of Deeply Understanding Your Reader

The most talented direct-response copywriter doesn’t just talk to your target audience, he speaks to them on a personal level.

Have you ever read a piece of content or copy that spoke directly to you and made you do something?

That’s direct response copywriting.

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

6 Things Your Direct Response Copywriter Should Be Able To Do

Some techniques make for a talented direct-response copywriter.

And if you notice your copywriter does not possess these things, you should find another copywriter.

If not, you will be throwing money down the drain.

1. The direct response copywriter you hire should be able to write compelling headlines that snag your readers and stops them dead in their tracks.

One of the major ingredients of an effective copy is that it should have a headline that makes your visitor want to read more.

If your headline does not make your reader curious about what is in the body of the copy, that copy has failed.

This is because 80 percent of your visitors will read your headline and only 20 percent will read the body copy. (1)

If your headline is not compelling enough to make more people read the body of the copy, you will be leaving exuberant amounts of cash on the table.

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

Some of the benefits of a well-written headline include:

  • Cleverly hidden benefit within the headline: The benefit is not stated but implied.
  • It states something exciting and provocative: It should disrupt the norm.
  • Useful information: It should contain information that is helpful to the reader.
  • It sparks curiosity: The headline should make the reader want to learn more.

From the start, you must write a headline that makes readers want to know more when writing a direct response copy.

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

2. Your copy should be in a Long-form which helps to inform, persuade, and convince

The majority of the direct response copy you see is long-form.


Because, if you will 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,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.

Long-form copy outperforms short-form copy every single time.

This is because, when your copy is long with more information, the customer feels like they are making better, smarter decisions.

3. Your copy should have an attractive CTA that ties to the response you want

Every single copy you wrote to inform, persuade, and convince your reader to act will be useless without the peak:

The call-to-action.

Think of the CTA as your battle cry.

It arouses your readers to move forward now with exactly what they should do next.

Examples of a CTA are, “GET ACCESS NOW”, “BUY NOW”, etc.

A CTA should be actionable, concrete, and persuasive – three things you must have to push your reader into the direct response you want your copy to produce.

4. Your copy should stay customer-focused. This keeps your copy relevant to the reader

You should understand that in direct-response copywriting, everything you write must stay relevant to the audience/reader and get the results you want.

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

This form of copywriting specifically uses the second-person voice to address the reader. It’s “you” focused.

Your copy should have lots of “you” and “yours”.

If you are paying attention, you will realize that this particular post you are reading contains a lot of “you’s” and “yours”.

And that’s because I am talking about you and your business. (See? I did it again).

Your copy should be about what your product or service gives the customer. And not about how great your product or service is.

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 the customer.

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

5. Your copy should be simple

There is an acronym that talented direct response copywriters use, K.I.S.S.

It simply means, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Don’t go over your head and try to make the customer think you are smart.

No one cares.

All they care about is, “Can this product or service help me?

And that is all you should focus on.

Yes, maybe you have to tell them about you and your company to be more credible.

But you have to keep it short and simple and focus again on how your product or service can help the reader.

If your customer can’t understand what you are saying in 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 the KISS method, and this means that 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 dwell on one feature or one aspect.
  • Present trustworthy content. Your customers want guidance. Present content that’s well-researched, 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 tend 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 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 to 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:

6. Your copy should cultivate a sense of urgency that makes direct customer action inevitable

This is the final piece of the puzzle for direct response copywriting.

One way to do this is to invoke the scarcity principle

This 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. 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”

Make Direct Response Marketing Work for You in Your Copy

Direct response copywriting is a proven method to clinch that reader’s 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.

The Complete Copywriting Course

Maku Seun is a freelance copywriter and direct response marketer. He helps digital marketers, coaches, and course creators boost sales by writing compelling sales copy which includes long-form sales letters, email copy, and website copy for their products and services. If you want him to write compelling sales copy for your business, click here.