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5 Musts for Great Direct Response Copywriting


As direct response marketing has spread from traditional media like TV and radio into digital outlets like email and social media, the premium placed on outstanding direct response copywriting has grown exponentially. But the mechanics of effective DR copywriting have remained mostly the same.

The idea: active, engaging copy that’s designed to drive consumers to decide to respond to the marketing piece immediately — whether by making a purchase or requesting more information (lead generation). Certainly, this differs greatly from brand marketing copywriting, which generally serves to keep a brand top of mind or associate positive feelings with the brand or product.

That’s why direct response copywriting is a specialty that takes time and effort to master — meaning there are few true experts with a track record of success. Fortunately, a number of those copywriting and creative experts are among the PDMI’s membership.

But what do you — as a marketer — need to keep in mind about effective direct response copywriting as you work with your chosen expert? Here are five things that every piece of direct response copy should achieve:

  • Personalization. Each consumer who sees, hears, or reads your direct response copy should feel as though you’re speaking directly to them. Don’t just list a product’s features; tell the consumer how (and how quickly) the product will solve a problem or make their lives easier and more enjoyable. By the time the consumer is done, they should have an image in their mind about how they’ll experience the product.

  • Clarity. Don’t muck up your copy with flowery language that doesn’t drive toward the end goal — a response. Be clear: again, show the consumer how the product will affect their lives. Focus first on the consumer’s desired outcomes by using the product, then provide the reasons why this product will create those outcomes. Be direct and be about the consumer.

  • Detail. The best direct response copywriting allows your consumer to feel like he or she is making the smart (and well considered) decision. Provide product details, company expertise, and any and all objective evidence that backs up your claims about the product’s ability to solve the consumer’s problems. Facts, statistics, case studies, testimonials: all of these provide a level of detail that drives the consumer to feel comfortable making the snap decision a direct response marketer desires.

  • Go long. The differences between long-form and short-form DRTV campaigns are clear and well understood. But what about when you’re further down the sales funnel — say, on a website or in a postcard retargeting campaign? While we’re all trained that shorter copy is better, certain research has shown that longer-form copy can not only increase consumer engagement but also is rewarded by search engines. By the time a consumer has reached your website and is diving into more information about your product, they want more in-depth information about how the product can truly benefit them.

  • Call-to-action. You must ask for the sale. None of the effort in the bullets above is worth one cent if you do not close the deal — and closing the deal means a powerful call-to-action (CTA) to which the consumer responds positively. Some ways to drive immediate response in a CTA include: exclusive offers, time-sensitive deals, or limited availability. And though the CTA closes the copy, the consumer should know the offer well, long before they reach the end of the add. That’s right: the CTA should be mentioned multiple times in the copy.

When you’re creating a direct response, direct-to-consumer, or performance marketing campaign, it doesn’t pay to use a copywriter who isn’t steeped in the DR skillset. Start out by finding and contracting a talented, experienced DR copywriter.