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7 Elements of Persuasive Advertising Copy

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Preparing to write a promotion? There are many ways to write persuasive sales and marketing copy. Copywriters have been testing what makes people buy for several decades, spanning millions of campaigns across every industry.

Fortunately, many of the methods that make copy persuasive contain the same few ingredients. By plugging these ingredients into your next campaign, you can greatly increase the conversions.

When done right, sales copy—also known as direct response copy or conversion copy—is the bare-bones, zero-fluff side of advertising. It introduces a product, offers the consumer your promotion, and makes it easy for people to follow through with a purchase.

What is direct response copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is the marketing language (called copy) used to nudge people toward an immediate purchase. You usually see it in the form of a promotion with limited time or quantity.

Direct response copywriting takes many shapes. It’s the script behind those “Call now!” infomercials we’ve all seen late at night or in the middle of the day. When your favorite clothing store issues you a coupon that expires in a week, you’re seeing the careful work of someone following a direct response formula.

What's the difference between direct response copy and conversion copy?

The term "conversion copywriter" was created by Copyhackers founder, Joanna Wiebe.

Unlike direct response copywriting, which tends to deal specific with special promotions, conversion copy is direct, conversational copy that's meant to provoke an action from the reader. The differences, admittedly, can be subtle.

Conversion copywriting is almost exclusively associated with web writing, like the copy on your website or landing page. On the other hand, direct response copywriting is often associated with things like direct mail, which are ads you receive in the mail.

But the biggest difference is the context in which you see these forms in action. Conversion copy is often meant to last longer. Many companies keep the same copy on their home page for years, for example. The nature of direct response copy is that you're promoting a limited-time offer.

(Want to write powerful website copy? You might enjoy this article about how to write website copy that converts.)

So how does direct response copywriting work?

Most successful ads contain the same basic elements. Here they are so you can use them for your next promotion:

1. There’s a discount, freebie, or deal

Direct response marketing always includes a deal. It offers a discount, give-away, bonus offer, or freebie.

No matter how successful you feel, finding a bargain on something you love still strikes an internal chord, enticing you to buy.

Think about it: When your favorite company offers a discount on one of your favorite products, it's hard to resist.

2. Present a clear – and prompt – deadline

By deadline, I also mean limited quantity. It doesn’t matter whether you say, “Deal ends tonight!” or “Only 11 more available!” Both serve as the deadline necessary for closing that sale through scarcity.

We’re creatures of habit. Sadly, one of those habits includes procrastination (but I’ll tell you about procrastination when I have a little more time…)

How often have you told yourself, “Wow, what a great deal! I’ll buy that tomorrow,” only to forget and never make the purchase? Many of us have this experience all the time.

Your customers are no different. Deadlines and limited quantities put a little pressure on those interested in the deal, resulting in more purchases, faster.

That’s why Amazon Prime Day works.

Direct response marketers know good and well about human tendency toward procrastination and forgetfulness. They overcome the missed sales by emphasizing limited supply and short deadlines.