Discover how to make small copywriting changes that can alter the course of your marketing and avoid common copywriting mistakes that are holding back the growth of your business.

What is Direct Response Copywriting? The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need (Seriously)

Click. Read. Purchase.

This three-step process sounds like it’s simplifying marketing a little (OK, a lot), but it’s every business owner’s dream.

Whatever you sell, you want to convince your audience that you’re perfect for them so they excitedly throw cash at you. When someone becomes uber-confident you can solve their problems, it’s easier to make a sale.

Direct response copywriting is how you convince someone you’re the perfect solution and to take action as soon as they’ve finished reading your website, landing page, or marketing materials.

This isn’t an easy skill to learn (otherwise millions of business owners would be retired on a beach in Fiji). But with direct response copywriting, you can create a sense of urgency and action so powerful that you can sell more of anything.

Click. Read. Purchase.

Use direct response copywriting, and marketing really can be that simple.

Let’s dive a little deeper in this money-making skill.

What is the goal of direct response copywriting?

In a word – action.

You want your audience to do something immediately. Not next month. Not tomorrow. Not after their favourite Netflix show ends. RIGHT NOW.

The purpose of direct response copywriting is to convince someone to take action the moment they finish reading. This strategy lives as close to the point of sale as possible, but it’s a mistake to think you need to be hunting sales to benefit from a direct response approach.

With direct response copy, you can guide people to take any type of action, including:

  • Buying something
  • Downloading a freebie
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Registering for a course or webinar

Odds are you’re keen to convince your audience to take action in one of these ways (maybe even more than one). So let’s break down some of the features of high-converting direct response copy.

Where did direct response copywriting come from?

The term “direct response” comes from the early days of copywriting legends like David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins. A sales letter or ad would be printed in a newspaper or mailed directly to potential customers.

Businesses would receive a “direct response,” through the mail or by phone from customers looking to buy the product. These days, selling by mail might be outdated, but the goal of getting a direct response remains the same.

What are the features of direct response copywriting?

Like we said, direct response copywriting is all about the NOW.

To sell your products or services using nothing but the words on a page requires more than a creative mind and a marketing background. You can’t slap together a website on Wix or pay a graphic designer to create a high-selling site.

If you want to sell more of your products and services, it starts and ends with the words you use. To give you a serious advantage over your competition, here are a few proven direct response techniques you should know about.

Get laser targeted on your ideal audience

Who are you selling to?

Too many businesses make the mistake of answering that question with “everyone”.

Targeting 100% of the market might sound great on paper, but it’s a nightmare in reality. By targeting everyone, you end up targeting no one.

Here’s what we mean…

Let’s say you’re a personal trainer with more singlets than you can fit in a wardrobe and a dream of helping people live healthier and happier lives. To help as many people as possible, you might decide to target teens, adults, seniors, new Mums, and corporate professionals.

But here’s the BIG problem with this strategy. Without knowing exactly who you’ll target, how can you confidently claim to solve their problems?

New Mums, shy teens, and time-poor office workers all have different reasons for training. If you can’t get laser targeted on those people and their problems, you’ll struggle to convince them to do business with you.

To see a clear target audience in action, check out this example we wrote for our awesome client, video expert Den Lennie.

There’s no confusion about who Den is targeting (freelancers, boutique production companies and established businesses) which means his message is laser focused on the people who matter. It’s also politely inviting anyone who doesn’t fall into those categories to look elsewhere.

To drive a conversion, your copy needs to speak to your ideal client. And to speak to your ideal client, you need to niche down and find them.

TAKEAWAY: Demonstrating an understanding of the problem leads to trust in the solution. Direct response copywriting understands the market and customer being written for. You can do this by interviewing customers to learn about their challenges, pain points, and aspirations – then show you can offer a solution.

Write clear, benefit-driven headlines

The OG of direct response, David Ogilvy, famously said when you have written your headline you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.


Because people are hunting for information online and they’ve become experts at judging content based on a headline alone (admit it, you’ve done the same 😉).

If your headline isn’t snappy, eye-catching, and written to immediately grab attention, you risk losing a potential customer forever (and you better believe their credit card goes with ‘em).

Sadly, there’s no magic formula for writing a perfect headline. But you can increase your chances of captivating your audience by getting clear on:

  1. a) The value you provide to your customers
  2. b) The benefit your customers want more than anything
  3. c) The situation or “hair on fire” problem your customers want to escape
  4. d) The ideal destination you can help your customer reach

Here’s an example headline example we wrote for video expert Den Lennie that’s helping him rake in leads.

This headline includes the value he provides, the benefits his customers crave, the “hair on fire” problem they want to escape AND their ideal destination.

In short, it’s direct response copywriting in a nutshell and that’s a big reason why his page converts like crazy.

TAKEAWAY: Write headlines taking inspiration from the formula above (but don’t feel like you have to include all four features) to start leveraging direct response techniques that draw eyeballs like moths to an inferno.

Focus your message on benefits, not features

Ever heard the marketing advice that features tell and benefits sell?

That fun rhyme is also a direct response copywriting mantra.

The problem is most business owners get hung up describing their products and services. For example, they’ll ramble on about how much horsepower a car has (that’s a feature) when they should be focusing on how quickly and safely the car can do the school run (that’s a benefit).

It’s tempting to show off the features of your product and service. After all, you’ve put serious time, effort and money into getting your business to where it is, so it’s easy to feel like you need to talk up what you sell.

But here’s the harsh truth – your customers don’t care about what you sell nearly as much as they care whether you can solve their problems.

Let’s go back to the example above. Would a time-poor and safety-conscious Mum of three kids care that your cars have 200 horsepower… or that your cars make every trip to school a fast and safe one?

It’s a no-brainer.

Features tell your customer what they’ll get. But a benefit tells them why it’s worth getting. Here’s a few more examples to show you what we mean:

Product Feature Benefit
Smartphone Integrated email app Check your emails anytime and anywhere
Remote-Control Car Batteries Included Open and start playing immediately
Direct Response Copywriting High-converting copy Get more leads and sales through your website

TAKEAWAY: Any time you talk about your products or services, focus on the benefits (you can mention features too, but don’t make them the star of the show) to draw a line from your customer’s current state to their desired state.

Looking for more ways to leverage the power of direct response copywriting?

Congrats, you now know more about direct response copywriting than most of your competition (shhhh, don’t tell ‘em we’re handing you this copywriting superpower).

If you want to increase leads, conversions and sales (and we bet ya do), direct response copywriting is how you do it.

Check out the free resources below to supercharge your copy by implementing a few proven direct response strategies.

Here’s to a HUGE year for your business with more leads, sales and revenue than ever before. 🎉