The Hard Truth About Direct Response Copywriting

Direct response copywriters tend to talk about direct response copywriting as though it’s magic or a miracle… like it could turn an otherwise uninterested person into a fiend just jonesin’ for your product or service.

Not true.

The copy isn’t the only factor here. Nor is it even the most important factor.

Here are some factors that are just as important as, if not more important than, the copy:

1) The List. Who are you sending that email or letter to? Who are these people? Have they bought a similar product before? A good list is probably the most important factor of all. Even mediocre copy will sell product to a relevant list. Superior copy sent to a superior list will certainly produce the best results, but a stellar list will trump stellar copy, all else being equal.

2) Passion. What’s the passion level for what you’re offering? Direct response copywriting works best on high-passion products and services, especially ones involving instant gratification. Can the product make people thin? Or relieve an ailment? Or inform them of something vital to their well-being? Or offer them an amazing business opportunity or way to make money? These are the kinds of passionate subjects that direct response copywriting works best with.

3) Frequency. It often takes multiple exposures to a new product or service to make an impact. Not to say that direct response copywriting can’t sell on the first go; it certainly can (and has)… but generally, frequency trumps reach. Assuming a good list, you want to increase the frequency as far as you can economically. Seth Godin compares marketing to planting seeds. Better to water 100 seeds five times than to water 500 seeds once. Wise advice.

4) The Mechanics. Consider something like having a call-to-action (CTA) “above the fold” (what’s first visible on a website or in an email… above the point where the audience would scroll). Having a powerful CTA is a big part of direct response copywriting in the first place–but make sure there’s one above the fold (for lead generation, at least). Or else a lot of your audience is going to miss it.

5) The Economics. Maybe a particular medium would be a great way to reach your audience… but that medium might be so expensive that it would put you out of business. Perhaps a particular audience would be great to sell to, but you can’t reach them in an economically viable way. The economics of your situation is going to dictate a lot of how you go about it.

Now when you have these factors already, the copy is the variable that will get you even better results. And it takes a good direct response copywriter to do it right and provide the edge you need.