“Have you got any ID?”
(cue rustling around in bag aimlessly)
“Errr, I think I left it at home.”
(retreats in defeat away from the shiny club, to the dingy dive at the end of the street).
We all know that disappointment.
You don’t get into the club, the night you envisioned vanishes before your bleary eyes, and you miss out on a wealth of opportunity and promise.
Let me tell you, every time you skip out on applying solid direct response copywriting to your marketing, you’re right back in that dive bar with the sweaty walls.
The club is the shiny new customer, the bouncer is their mental guard against sales and you’re…you.
Luckily, we’ve got all the little-known direct response copywriting secrets you need to get yourself past those pesky bouncers.
Let’s take a peek…
WHAT IS DIRECT RESPONSE COPYWRITING?
Direct response copywriting focuses on the immediate moment.
It’s the copy that’s going to inspire the buyer to take action as soon as they finished reading.
It has the sole goal of moving the reader to “yes” using frameworks, formulas and proven persuasion techniques.
It should move the reader to do something like:
- Buy a product or service
- Download a freebie
- Follow your social channels
- Sign up for a free trial
- Register for a webinar
You get the drift.
It’s almost impossible to talk about direct response copywriting without mentioning David Ogilvy, cited as the Father of Modern Advertising.
David said: “Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”
The combination of this deep understanding and direct, personal approach is the engine that runs this form of copywriting.
But, where to start?
1. ALWAYS START WITH RESEARCH
Research is a term that reminds me of school. It just conjures up stifling memories of creating mind-numbingly detailed plans.
That’s not the case with this type of research.
You need to get to know your customers, so you can understand how to connect with them on a personal level.
Think of it like getting to know some new friends. The more you know, the better your relationship is, right?
Our research is two-fold:
IDENTIFY THEIR PAINS
Sometimes we’re offering a product or service that’s all about delight (e.g. a computer game). But way more often, we’ve built and are selling solutions that solve pains or problems.
Very often, effective copy is going to touch on a sore point. It pokes a wound.
The first stage of research needs to focus on surveying customers to understand their pains. You can then simply push these pains back at them on a page, in the order of most ‘painful’ to least.
Buyer interviews and surveys are big topics in themselves, so here’s an article from Crazy Egg that explains the process really clearly.
SUSS OUT THEIR STAGE OF AWARENESS
It’s crucial that you understand what stage of awareness your customer is at, so you can write copy that is relevant to them at that specific time.
For example, if they know all the ins and outs of your product already, but just need the final push, you don’t want to be talking to them about the basics. You want to be pushing them to buy.
Here are the five stages:
A visitor is likely to be Unaware if they haven’t yet identified their pain or your role as a solution to said pain. This is top-of-the-funnel stuff.
- PAIN AWARE
A visitor is likely to be Pain Aware if they are feeling a pain but have not yet identified that solution exists for that pain.
- SOLUTION AWARE
A visitor is likely to be Solution Aware when they’ve felt the pain and discovered that solutions exist for it.
- PRODUCT AWARE
A visitor is Product Aware if they know your solution is one of the solutions to their pain.
- MOST AWARE
A visitor is Most Aware when they know your solution is one of the solutions AND is likely to be the best solution to their pain (e.g. a previous customer).
Once you know this you can craft your copy accordingly and effectively.
2. THE RULE OF ONE
There’s a conversion copywriting rule called The Rule of One, that’s going to be your best friend when writing high-converting copy.
Here’s the gist of it:
|THE RULE OF ONE
What’s your ideal market segment? Speak only to them.
|ONE BIG IDEA
What’s your most powerful benefit? Make it easy to see.
What’s can you guarantee? Amplify your offer with a promise.
What’s the single offer you’re making? Match it to your reader.
Jot down your answers to the above before you even begin to attempt your copy. This is going to finetune your messaging, so you’re getting rid of the scattergun approach that so many copywriters get sucked into.
As Neil Patel puts it: “What good is copywriting without a logical endpoint — a goal, a focus, a point? It’s useless.”
3. PICK YOUR FRAMEWORK
Frameworks do what they say on the tin: they offer a tried and tested structure for conversion copy.
There are two main frameworks to choose from:
You’ve probably heard of AIDA, as it’s been knocking around for a while, and with good reason. It’s a simple formula, based on proven results:
Attention – Grab their attention with a headline that hits them between the eyes
Interest – Give interesting and fresh info that augments the headline
Desire – Build their desire by pounding them with benefits, backed by proof (e.g. testimonials)
Action – Present the offer, overcome their objections and use scarcity/urgency with your CTA
Which leads us nicely onto PAS
The PAS framework focuses more on solving the problem/pain point of your customer. It goes like this:
Problem – Start by addressing the prospect’s No.1 problem
Agitation – Then push on/agitate the problem (without going too far with this)
Solution – Offer your product/service as the solution to their problem; listing all the benefits
These formulas have been championed for a reason. So it makes sense to use them and take note of how your conversion changes.
Now it’s time to get writing.
4. THE HEADLINE
Here’s a little tidbit from Ogilvy again:
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. Unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”
So, it’s pretty important.
Luckily, we wrote a blog post that delves into the intricacies of ‘putting your customers pain in the headline’. Have a read for some pointers before you begin.
In the meantime, here are my top tips for direct response copy headlines:
- Clear headlines work best. Clarity is key, so steer clear of fancy where you can
- Write 25 headlines before choosing one (and split test five!)
- Centre and bold your headlines. Make them the most prominent thing on your page
Remember, the primary point of a headline is to get your first sentence read, so make it clear, prominent and relatable to the reader.
5.THE BULK OF THE COPY
When it comes to writing for below the fold, people tend to go overboard and lose the reader.
The bulk of your copy needs to be focused on the big sell. You’ve hooked the reader with your headline, but now you’re going to show them that they can’t live without you.
Bullets don’t need to equal boring. Make them interesting and spice them up by thinking of them as mini headlines.
- If you’re going to use bullets, keep them as teasers, not a full reveal of everything the person will get
- Keep the bullet copy super concise, with the less interesting ones sandwiched in the middle
- Keep bullets symmetrical. It’s easier on the eyes
- Use fascinations as a single line of copy that builds intrigue and anticipation
Here’s a great article from Copyblogger on how to write fascinations in a fascinating way.
6. GET SPECIFIC
Often, copywriters will shy away from specificity for fear of alienating parts of their customer base.
However, if you’re following the Rule of One correctly, then you already have your specific audience nailed down.
Get specific. Talk directly to your Rule of One customer, telling them:
- Examples of how to use your product and what the outcomes will be
- The titles of people who are ideally suited to use your product
- The pains your product or service will solve
After this, you can supercharge your specificity by stating numerical values, such as the number of customers that are using your software. Or the numbers of hours saved.
The more specific you can be, the more your customers will love (and believe) you.
7. CUT THE FLUFF
If there’s one thing you need to remember about direct response writing: preamble is not necessary.
Don’t welcome them. Don’t thank them. Don’t waste precious words.
Go back over your copy and ruthlessly edit any words that aren’t necessary.
You can do this by shortening your sentences to a single thought.
Good luck. And get selling!