Conversion Copywriting vs. Direct Response - why should you care?

"So... you're a 'conversion' copywriter? Isn't that the same thing as being a 'direct response' copywriter... and why should I care?"

I get these questions all the time and would like to clear the air.

The answer to the first is NO. (I'll explain in a second.)

And you should care because it could make a huge difference in your conversions.

First, there is overlap and similarities between the two - mainly that both styles of copywriting aim to have the reader take action. Usually this means buying the product or offer.

Direct response copywriting is the in-your-face-buy-it-now approach.

Think of BIG BOLD headlines and IMMEDIATE calls to action: 

The ads may also be in the form of a long-form sales pages with similar blaring headlines.

But here’s the thing… 

Unlike conversion copywriting, direct response doesn’t take into account the person’s level of awareness or their readiness to buy, among other factors.

Direct response ads cast a wide net over anyone and everyone. 

They take people from being unaware they have a problem and brings them directly to a solution. 

That’s a big leap.

Conversion copywriting takes into account in-depth research, analytics, customer interviews, competition analysis, AB testing, user experience, voice of customer research, review mining – and a lot more. 

It also uses proven, high-converting writing formulas. 

While the goal of both is to get the reader to take action, direct response skips the long process and asks people to buy your product directly from your ad or sales page.

Conversion copy works best on web pages and sales pages, versus ads.

In a nutshell, copy that converts follows these rules, according to Joanna Wiebe, the OG conversion copywriter and founder of Copy Hackers: 

Conversion copywriting… 

  • Is driven by data about what will and won’t get your prospect to convert
  • Is written to communicate a single incredible value to a single reader
  • Is designed to persuade, using frameworks and formulas
  • follows user experience rules but doesn’t bow to them
  • follows SEO better practices but doesn’t bow to them
  • leads design 
  • coaches the prospect along the awareness spectrum, to the point of conversion
  • Conversion copywriting is data-driven copywriting combined with the best of direct-response copywriting, persuasion and user experience principles. 

Deciding which is best for you depends on the immediate needs of your business and the purpose of the copy

Other posts you may enjoy:

Ditch This Myth to Improve Your Copy

How to Create Emotional Impact with Your Copy

Why You Need Both Content & Copywriting Skills

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