DTC Copy Best Practices

January 13, 2021

Writing High-Converting Copy with Pilothouse’s Brad Knell
Recently, the DTC team asked me to offer up some copywriting tips for the new year.

After some thought, I put together a list of things that I’m confident could help to 2x or 3x your conversions.
Most of what follows are guidelines used by nearly every copywriter all year round, so some of this may look familiar to you already.
First, a little sales psychology.
It’s no surprise that prospects are bombarded by 1000s of ads.

When they land on your ad their ‘monkey mind’ says: “What’s in it for me?”
It’s self-defence really. They’re trying to weigh an investment of their time against the value of your offer. And, they have nearly no time.

Marketing research claims you have about 3 seconds for a prospect to decide whether to keep reading or move on.

Crafting Your Headline
Your headline needs to jar their brain and compel them to read further.

Whether it’s long form copy or short, your headline is worth approximately 80% of the value of your promotion.

It should clearly convey the important sale details.
This is especially challenging in cases where ad copy space is limited. 

Be sure to include:

Your offering: (product)

Product benefits: Remember: A feature is what something is and does, a benefit is how the feature helps your prospect solve a problem.

Your discount / deal: ex. Get 33% Off; Buy One (Two), Get One Free

Create urgency: ex. Sale Ends Tomorrow; Order Now While Supplies Last; Offer expires in 12 hrs; etc.

🔑 Pro tip: Check out the winning ads your competitors are using and use them as a general guide to craft your own winning ads.

If something is working for them there’s no sense in completely reinventing the wheel in my opinion. Analyzing their ads may give you some winning inspiration.
Note: NEVER rip off their copy verbatim. This should go without saying but plagiarizing can get you into serious doggie doo.

Make it about ‘them

“You” is the most important word in an ad copywriter’s arsenal. Be sure to make your ad about them, not you.

Your ad should never scream: “Hey, look at how star spangled awesome we are!”
Remember, you’re talking to your one ideal prospect here - they don’t care a hill of beans about you until you help them. It’s all about what’s in it for them.
There are instances, however, where you may not be able to use “you” outside of a specific context.
For example, Facebook doesn’t like their advertisers “connecting "you” directly with any personal attributes (i.e. “You could manage your weight better with XYZ”).
Instead, you might need to reword it something like this: “Have you heard how XYZ could help you lose 10lbs in as little as seven days?”

Using “you” throughout your copy makes it personal, and it all starts with understanding who your best prospect is. Research is key.

Avoid overused words and phrases
People see and hear 100s of promotions every day. They get sick and tired of seeing the same, tired old buzzwords and “marketing speak.”
The copy loses its compelling appeal and prospects tune it out. Not good.
I mean, “beautiful” is an okay word, but it’s so overused it doesn’t even budge the needle on most people’s interest gage.
When I see this in advertising I cringe. To me, it means the copywriter was too lazy to come up with more exciting and unique language.
When you only have one shot at a sale, it pays to spend the extra time to break out a thesaurus and put on your creative thinking cap.

The Rule of One
In direct response copy we employ the Rule of One: one prospect, one central idea, one product, one offer.
Adding more than one product or complicating the offer with too many bundling options usually results in a diluted copy message, and/or confusion or buying indecision.
Applying the rule of one keeps things simple.

Observing the Rule of One affords you the best opportunity to write powerful, laser-focused copy that makes your best prospect whip out their wallet.
Be sure to include all the details in your ad. People are intelligent, but when it comes to a promotion, they don’t want to think. Not much anyway.
They want to be told what to do. So, if you’re writing copy for an eGift Card that follows a Facebook ad for the same product, tell them exactly what the card is and how to purchase and use it.

Never assume they understand. Spell it out.
Ex. “To purchase your eGift Card, simply click on the “Buy” button below, fill in your details on the next page and check your email inbox. In a few minutes you’ll receive an email from us detailing how to redeem and use your eGift card.”

A short paragraph using simple, grade eight level language is perfect. 

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