Direct Response Copywriting: 5 Tips To Sell Immediately

Updated on September 10, 2023

As important as copywriting is for creators… some terminologies just don’t sit well with beginners. 

Direct Response Copywriting is one of those terms. 

What is this fancy, old-fashioned term has to do with copywriting?

So in this article, I’ll show you two things.

First, what do people THINK about direct response copywriting…

Versus what it REALLY is. And trust me. Most people don’t get this right. 

On top of that, I’ll also give you some of the benefits and examples of a good direct-response copy. 

Getting excited?

Well, we’re not stopping there. I’ll also give you a step-by-step guide on how you can become a direct response copywriting master.

And most importantly, the potential money you can make with this skill.

Let’s jump right into it.

What Is Direct Response Copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is a goal, NOT a technique. The objective is to persuade people to take tangible actions IMMEDIATELY through tone, language, urgency and a CTA.

Most think this type of copywriting is a style that is salesy and pushy like it is written by a “needy salesperson.”

Heck, some believe that it’s a thing of the past.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

And these actions can be:

  • Clicking a link
  • Submitting a form
  • Giving access to personal information (e.g. name and email address)
  • Making a purchase

Hence, the call to action (CTA) is the MOST OBVIOUS indicator of a direct response copy.

ALL direct response copywriting pieces should include a CTA somewhere in the copy. 

What Is the Difference Between a Copywriter and Direct Response Copywriter?

All direct response copywriters are copywriters.

But not all copywriters are direct response copywriters. 

It might seem complex and confusing. And honestly, I had the same question, too when I was starting out. 

But it’s really simple when you understand it. 

Two things…

Direct Response Copywriting & Indirect Response Copywriting.

All copywriting pieces will fall into either of these categories.

We know that direct response copywriting aims to influence people’s actions right now…

But how does it differ from indirect response copywriting?

Well, indirect response is still a type of copywriting, so it should still persuade people to take some form of action. But here’s the thing…

Indirect response copywriting does NOT include any form of a call to action. None AT ALL. 

So, the audience is not prompted to decide at that very moment. 

If so, what’s the use of indirect response copy, you ask?

You might think that these copies are not as useful as direct response copies.

But before you make an assumption, let me stop you there.

The world’s biggest brands like Nike, Apple, & Microsoft pull this one off so smoothly.

Imagine a Nike Ad.

You might think of a montage of different athletes using their shoes. And most often than not, there’s no “Buy Now” voice-over or text prompt at the end of the advertisement. 

But nonetheless, they are subconsciously influencing your FUTURE decisions. (e.g. when it’s time for you to buy a new pair of shoes)

This is because indirect response copywriting is geared toward raising brand awareness rather than persuading you to act ASAP. 

And THAT is the difference between direct response copywriting and other forms.

One aims to influence your decisions right now, while the other influences your future decisions.

What Are the Benefits of Direct Response Copywriting?

1) Immediate Response

This is pretty much a no-brainer.

Direct Response copywriting aims to persuade people to take action immediately.

So if it is well-written and backed by thorough research, you can expect results instantly. 

But the key thing is if it is well-researched. If you know your product, audience, and the problem you’re solving front to back, then the copy will just write itself. 

And in turn, you’ll see immediate results.

2) Measurable Results

Compared to indirect response copy, in which it is harder to track the engagements.

Direct response copy results in a TANGIBLE action.

This is the BIGGEST PRO of doing direct response copywriting. Because it is easier to track when people are: 

  • Clicking a link
  • Booking a meeting
  • Purchasing a product

These are all conversion metrics that we are after.  Hence, it is easier to quantify the effectiveness of the copy.

I also noticed it helped my blog’s SEO in the following ways:

  • Increase in traffic
  • More backlinks
  • Higher affiliate commissions

These performance metrics saw an uptick by implementing this copywriting technique.

3) Good for A/B Testing 

Because Direct response copywriting is geared towards getting quick results, it is ideal for testing your ads and copies’ conversion rates. 

Quicker results mean:

  • More data to analyze in a certain timeframe
  • Less expense hosting an ad or campaign
  • Can make changes in a relatively short timeframe

Direct Response Copywriting Examples

We touched on some basic examples of indirect response copywriting with that Nike ad. So now, here are a few real-world examples of direct-response copywriting. 

1) Website Landing Pages

I know… a bit of a shameless plug here. But hear me out. 

This is a good example of effective direct response copywriting on landing page copy.

Website Landing Pages Brendan Aw Example Direct Response CopywritingPin

Well, you might think that I’m a bit biased here, but let me show you the proof. 

  1. Headline: “Learn To Grow Your Content Creator Business Like a Startup” It briefly states my mission which is, conveniently, the solution to the problem that my target audience has.
  2. Sub-heading: I empathized with my target audience with the line “Struggling to start content creation?” Then I gave a solution to their problem by plugging my newsletter. Then a quick form (CTA) to gather their name and email address. 

For this direct response copy, the action that I’m trying to persuade my readers to do is for them to give me their email addresses in exchange for the value that I’ll be giving. 

2) Video Advertisements 

Not all direct response copies are presented in written format. 

Well, technically, it is still based on a written script, but the point is the audience is consuming the copy in video format. 

This is an example of a YouTube ad from Grammarly that pops up before starting a video.

Grammarly Ad Direct Response CopywritingPin

Their goal is to make you click the link, an action you would take immediately after exposure to the copy. 

3) Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads Direct Response CopywritingPin

Facebook ads are the MOST COMMON piece of direct response copy. 

They are basic, easy to digest, and relatively easy to get started with selling your product or service. 

But never mistake it for being an easy way to get more money…

Because how many of us stop scrolling when we see an ad?

Unless it is something we’re dying for at that moment, we probably won’t stop scrolling at it. 

That’s how important it is to maximize the first 125 characters of a Facebook ad. 

Most FB Ads drive people to a landing page to get their emails. Or directly to a sales page. 

Either way, these are immediate actions that a reader will have to take.

That’s why these are solid examples of direct-response copywriting. 

4) YouTube Titles & Thumbnails

Money is NOT always the goal of a copy. Especially in this digital era. 

Some would argue that attention is more important than money. 

That’s why companies are always improving their strategies to catch the attention of their audiences.  

YouTube titles and thumbnails are examples of this idea.

YouTube Titles and Thumbnails Direct Response CopywritingPin

These are copies because they persuade people to click on the video. And that button click needs to happen right now. Otherwise, the audience will scroll past your video. 

So if you want to see examples of eye-catching thumbnails and compelling titles, Youtube is a gold mine for those. 

Just take a look at the most successful YouTubers.

They demonstrate expert levels of copywriting skills because literally MILLIONS of people are getting fired up to clicking their videos by only seeing the thumbnail and reading the title. 

5) Miro Sales Page

Sales Pages are the new classics of copywriting.

It is one of the most common and typical forms of digital copy. 

And look at Miro’s sales page, a product management and collaboration tool.

Miro Sales Page Direct Response CopywritingPin

It’s a great example of direct-response copywriting. Here’s why:

  • A compelling headline that gives you a bird’s eye view of the product.
  • Sub-heading that further explains what Miro is about
  • A call to action making it easy for the users to get started
  • A little piece of social proof at the lower part of the screen (but they made sure it is still above the fold)

How To Become a Direct Response Copywriter

If you asked me…

Becoming a copywriter that specializes in DRC is the perfect first job.

Especially for a creator.


You’ll cover content creation, marketing and sales which are my trifecta of must-have skills for anyone that wants to succeed in online business.

So here are five tips:

1. Input Phase

The goal is to learn direct response copywriting as quickly and as efficiently as possible. 

You probably heard the famous quote of Abraham Lincoln: “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.”

This highlights the importance of proper preparation to prevent poor performance. (How many p’s can I use in a single sentence)

So, before you grab a piece of paper and a pen, or before you start typing words onto your keyboard…

The first thing you SHOULD do is to learn how to write copy.

And you can do that by 

The key thing here is to NEVER fall into the trap of overlearning without real-world application. So I’d suggest that after reading a few chapters.

Or watching a few sections of a course.

Proceed to the next step while you continue finishing the material. 

2. Practice Writing

Whether you believe it or not, you WILL NOT IMPROVE as a direct response copywriter till you write hundreds of direct response copies.

So once you’ve got the basics covered, practice copywriting exercises immediately. 

You can start to write:

  • Headlines
  • Lead (the first sentence or the few sentences of the copy)
  • Call to actions

And because we’re writing direct response copy, the key thing here is to write to persuade people to take action IMMEDIATELY.

But if you are having trouble, using AI copywriting software as training wheels isn’t a bad idea.

3. Get Feedback 

You won’t know if you’re doing the right thing if you don’t get unbiased feedback.

Join copywriting groups and communities. Twitter is actually a popular platform where many DRC hang out.

But here’s the thing…

Don’t be a creep if you want people to help you improve.

Respect other people’s time and stay in your lane.

Pro Tip: Practice what Dan Koe calls the non-needy networking process.

Bigger accounts don’t have time to be giving you free copywriting consultation.

But on the off chance you do speak with a popular copywriter, remember to provide value first before you ask for a critique on your copy.

4. Revise Editing Proofreading

Now that you have this invaluable feedback from the pros make yourself one too, or at least a little bit better, by applying their comments. 

Change the headlines, use active voice, and format your copies properly.

Whatever these experts suggest you do to improve, please do it.

Even seasoned copywriters rarely write a copy once and then send it to the designers or hit publish. 

Most copywriters go through several revisions before presenting a polished final draft. 

So don’t be afraid if you’re changing lots of things.

Heck, you might find it better to rewrite the whole copy in some instances, which is fine.

But at least now you’re not starting from scratch because you’re starting a bit wiser than before. 

5. Create a portfolio

Now, you have these polished pieces handy. The next thing you want to do is to build a copywriting portfolio.

If you have the funds, get your domain name and host it on your website.

After all, these don’t cost that much, and it’ll make you come across as a professional, and you’ll set yourself different from the crowd. 

Or if you don’t want to spend a single dime, which is a decent option when starting…

Google Drive will be your best friend. 

Here are the steps you should follow: 

  1. Create a parent folder. You can name it whatever you want… but here’s my suggestion: (NAME_PORTFOLIO) i.e. (Brendan-Copywriting-Portfolio)
  2. Create child folders to segregate your work. You can separate them by types like Facebook Ads, sales pages, etc.
  3. Click on the Get link button of the parent folder
  4. Change from restricted to Anyone with the link

How Much Do Direct Response Copywriters Make?

So for the million dollar question…

How much money do direct response copywriters make?

No better way to answer that question than statistics. So here’s a quick breakdown:

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of direct response copywriters is $58,925/yr. That is around $4,910 per month.  

For ZipRecruiter however, the average salary of direct response copywriters is $64,556/yr. That’s equivalent to around 5,380 per month. 

Different geographical locations would differ in averages because of the cost of living variabilities.

But here’s a table of direct response copywriters’ salaries comparing different states and cities in the United States. 

CityAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
New York City, NY$76,407$6,367$1,469$36.73
Green River, WY$73,747$6,145$1,418$35.46
San Mateo, CA$73,643$6,136$1,416$35.41
Daly City, CA$72,454$6,037$1,393$34.83
Boston, MA$72,366$6,030$1,391$34.79
Berkeley, CA$72,095$6,007$1,386$34.66
Juneau, AK$71,653$5,971$1,377$34.45
Renton, WA$71,637$5,969$1,377$34.44
Santa Monica, CA$71,401$5,950$1,373$34.33
Queens, NY$70,719$5,893$1,359$34.00
Direct Response Copywriter Salaries in various American States and Cities

It is hard to quantify an average for freelance copywriters.

Some make 6-figures per year doing copywriting. But there are also lots of copywriters who are doing this as a side hustle and earn $1,000 per month or less. 

Nonetheless, a rough estimate of ZipRecruiter for freelance copywriters’ salaries is $93,331 annually.

Keep in mind that freelance copywriters have greater variability than in-house copywriters or those working with an agency.

But if you find the right copywriting clients, you could easily make more than them.

Direct Response Copywriting (FAQs)

What’s the Main Difference Between Direct and Indirect Response Copywriting?

The most obvious difference between the two is the CTA. Direct response copy ALWAYS has a call to action, typically found in the latter part of the copy. Indirect response copywriting, on the other hand, does not have CTAs.

Also, the goal of these types of copies differ. Obviously, since both are copywriting, the main goal is to persuade people to take action or influence their behavior. But the difference between the two lies in urgency and how immediately you want your readers to take action.

Direct response copywriting focuses on getting the readers to take action RIGHT NOW. In contrast, indirect response copy has a longer timeframe to influence the reader. 

What Is the Best Direct-Response Copywriting Niche?

Hate to burst the bubble, but there is NO “best niche” for direct response copywriting. Direct response copywriting is industry-agnostic because it is more of a specialization than a copywriting niche. Meaning you can find success with it in any industry you choose. 

Is Direct Response or Indirect Response Copywriting Better?

Direct response copywriting is the key to increasing your conversion rate. Indirect response copywriting is ideal for boosting brand awareness.

They are different tools that are used for different purposes. So there’s no clear winner on which is the winner between the two.

But, one thing is for sure…

Successful brands use both direct response copywriting and indirect response copywriting in tandem to grow their businesses.

What Are the Key Components of an Effective Direct Response Copy?

The key components of effective direct response copy include a compelling headline, strong social proof,  urgency, and a clear call to action.

How Can I Create Urgency in My Direct Response Copy To Compel the Reader To Take Action?

You can employ strategies like time-sensitive deals, exclusivity, reducing discounts or stressing the consequences of inaction may be effective. But don’t overuse it. It can come off as too desperate and salesy.

Can Direct Response Copywriting Be Used To Grow My Email List?

Yes, direct response copywriting can of course be used effectively to grow your email list. I use DRC principles for my own newsletter, The Raw Baw. I craft compelling copy that highlights the benefit of joining my email list. These can include getting a lead magnet or premium content in exchange for their email.

Is Direct Response Copywriting Suitable for Social Media Ad Campaigns?

Yes, direct response copywriting is highly suitable for social media ad campaigns. It’s literally the whole point of all social media ad campaigns. To create short and compelling copy that persuades users to take an action in the shortest amount of time. You can’t run a successful campaign without it.

To Sum Up

I know we’ve discussed quite a lot about direct response copywriting in this article. So here’s a quick rundown of the topics we went through. 

  • What people think about direct response copywriting vs what it is
  • Benefits of direct response copywriting
  • Examples of direct response copywriting
  • Step-by-step actionable guide to becoming a direct response copywriter.
  • Direct response copywriter’s earning potential. 

Now, we’ve understood what direct response copywriting is… 

Time to use this to scale your brand. 

But I want to add that no matter how good your copy is, you’ll never see any results if your readers can discover it.

So here’s an article about the SEO copywriting checklist you must check before publishing to rank in searches (if you are writing for websites).

Hope you liked this article. 

Please share it with those that you think would get the same value as you did.

Check out some of the top AI copywriting software tools too.

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About Brendan Aw

I’m an ex-marketing executive for 6 & 7-figures high-growth startups turned writer, creator & entrepreneur. I share my learnings on digital entrepreneurship, personal finance, and remote working while helping run my family’s crystal chandelier business.

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