Direct Response Copy: saying more with less

Photo by wundervisuals/iStock / Getty Images

You want attention, don't you?

That's what we all want for our businesses. We are all vying for eyeballs on our brand.

But you want more than that; you want ACTION.

Seeing is one thing; clicking is another.

In order to create copy that converts, and generates those all-important sales, sometimes less is more. In fact, sometimes we only have as little as 30 or 80 characters to make an impression, as with Google Adwords copy.

How do you write an effective piece of short copy that will attract the attention of your target audience?

Before you start, it's important that:

  • you've mapped out your audience personas
  • you know which persona this ad is targeting
  • you have done your keyword research for that customer
  • you have a relevant list of search terms. 

In direct response copywriting, your keyword list is blended with the emotional painpoints of your persona. 


For this example, Let's say we're selling an eco-friendly copper drinking bottle, and we're writing a Google Adwords ad.

The customer is interested in going plastic-free, and they are also potentially interested in the health benefits claimed. They want a better solution rather than buying plastic bottles to take to work or the gym, for example, and are concerned about the effects of BPA.

The keywords we may want to use are variations and a mixture of: 'plastic-free bottles', 'water bottles', 'copper bottles', 'plastic drinking bottle', 'eco-friendly', 'sustainable'.


  • We start the ad with:

The 'hook': Posing a question, or answering a question that directly relates to what the customer is needing.

Looking for an alternative to your plastic drinking bottle?

Beautiful eco-friendly copper water bottle


  • Then, we provide the second headline, or 'tagline':

Tagline: Here you would support your headline/hook, and include the painpoint if you haven't already:

Copper is sustainable and stylish

Plastic-free with health benefits


  •  Next you'd provide a brief description of your product:

Description: This is designed to get the audience's attention and make them intrigued to find out more. This isn't the place to list all of it's features and benefits.

Handcrafted designs inspired by nature, available in 500-900ml.

Minimalistic and stylish bottles, based on Ayurvedic principles.


  • CTA: Finally, you need to end on a great call-to-action, that encourages that all important link click!

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That's two variations of the ad, which would look something like this:


Looking for an alternative to your plastic drinking bottle?

Copper is sustainable and stylish

Handcrafted designs inspired by nature, available in 500-900ml.

 Shop Now
Beautiful eco-friendly copper water bottle

Plastic-free with health benefits

Minimalistic and stylish bottles, based on Ayurvedic principles.

Get yours today

Tips for massive growth on Pinterest


I adore Pinterest. It's basically a virtual vision board where you can attach all of your interests - things to make, clothes to wear, recipes to try, places to go, hairstyles to have - whatever floats your boat, really.

In fact, I find it so useful for my personal growth that I've stopped spending time on all other social media channels, and am taking a break from all of my personal accounts for the forseeable.

Strange for a marketing strategist maybe, but I continue to use social media for my clients, so I'm not out of the loop entirely.

I've been working with Pinterest for my clients for a while now, and it can be a really useful channel, if your business is aligned to the demographic on there.

Here's some numbers at a glance (Jan 2018)

  • 175 million monthly active users (75 million US, 100 million outside US)
  • 2 million daily users
  • 81% of users are female
  • 67% of users are under 40
  • 2/3rds of pins represent brands and products
  • Average time spent daily on Pinterest is 14.2 minutes

At first look, this is nothing compared to the social media big guns, like Insta, Facebook and Twitter. But Pinterest can be very lucrative for product manufacturers, artists, photographers, and anyone with a wide range of products or visual art to pin.

I used to use Pinterest quite sporadically, but now I use it daily. The reason why? I've realised it's value as 'soul food', and the direction it gives to your unconscious mind. It can stop you from getting in a rut with the foods you cook, the thoughts you think, and what inspires you.

You can use it as a tool to create your dream life, searching for things to buy for your home, jewellery to wear, life wisdom to live by, or just images that make you feel all warm and glowy inside.

I've used it successfully with clients in order for them to get traction for their brand. It's a great brand builder, as well as a sales tool. Not only can people pin and then directly buy your product, it allows you to create a virtual values board where you pin images related to your brand essence.

Spiritual Gangster is a good example of this, and has an impressive 33k followers.


Here's some of the things I've learned about Pinterest in order to grow a successful channel:

  • Treat it as a search engine

Pinterest isn't really a social media platform; it's a visual search engine. By treating it in this way, you use it like you would do Google, as the strategy has some overlap. Make a list of your long tail keywords and search terms and use these to inform how you title and describe your pins.

  • Pin frequently, across timezones

The secret to big success on Pinterest is Tailwind. It's fantastic, and really allows for rapid growth. It's a scheduling and analytics tool that allows you to schedule a large number of pins on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Ideally you need to be posting at least 10-20 pins a day, 7 days a week.

  • Think SEO everywhere

Board names and descriptions are important. As well as the more conceptual names you might use, you definitely want to include board titles that specifically match what your customer is looking for. For example a 'Fun books for children' board may include the description :'Here's a selection of some of the fun books for children we stock. Our books for children range from 4-14 years'

  • Use hashtags appropriately

Hashtags are great because these are what will get you found. Don't be afraid to use up to 30, like you do on Instagram. Again, think about what your customers may be searching for. For example, if you're a sunglasses store, you might use something like #sunglasses #shades #fashionshades #eyewear #funkyshades #womensglasses #glasses #holidaywear, or similar. Use your SEO research and current keyword list to inform your strategy for hashtags.

  • More boards the better

Don't worry about having too many boards. In fact, the more boards the better. Having a large selection of images on your Pinterest shows a strong presence, and will enable you to be found easily. Even if you only have 50 products, you can still create other 'brand vibe' boards that serve as a visual moodboard for your brand identity. For example, I work with a swimwear company and have an 'Inspired by the beach' board where I pin sandy toes, coconuts on the beach, palm trees, and everything evoking the feeling of being at the beach.

  •  Use product pins for your products

In the lifespan of Pinterest, product pins are fairly recent. You can connect your website or online store to your pins, so they show the price. Your customer knows what they are getting, and for how much. Make sure you use your product pin description to its full capacity, describing the product, and maybe even an incentive ('10% off your first order!')

  • Connect your website to Pinterest

Pinterest's developer tools include an API where you can add a Pinterest 'save' button to all of the images on your website, meaning Pinterest fanatics will be able to save your online store products to their boards, thus increasing the likelihood of purchase.

  • Run competitions: 'Pin to Win'

I've found competitions to be very successful, particularly when it comes to building followers quickly.  In order to be successful though, you need a couple of other strong platforms to send traffic there. If you have a thriving Facebook group for example, selling beauty products, you could ask them to pin their favourite product to enter a monthly prize draw. It works, as loyal Pinterest users will usually follow you at the same time.

  • Be strategic

This may go without saying, but think about where your customers are coming from (use analytics to inform), and be strategic about when you're posting. It's not just about the time of day, it's also about the season. For example, in November and December you might be focusing on Christmas party pinning. The more you know your customer, the more you know what they'll be searching for, and when.

  • Consistency is key

Although you want Pinterest to be an extension of your shop, it is also a brand builder. To do Pinterest for a few months and then stop means you may lose traction with your customers. You want to be seen as much as possible, to the most amount of people. By using a scheduler, you can schedule in your pins weeks or months ahead.

Need a Pinterest Marketing Expert? Contact me for more on how I can help with your Pinterest Strategy, and grow your Pinterest Channel.



All the feels: becoming an Instagram success


Becoming successful on Instagram is a skill. It's not just about the algorithms, knowing your audience and posting at the right times of day (although these are important), it's also about developing a consistent strategy that pulls on the heartstrings of what truly matters to your audience.

Here's a few things to bear in mind:

1. The emotion in the image

When you look at the image, what's your first feeling? (not thought). Does the image make you feel happy, does it make you laugh, do you feel inspired, do you feel excited?

Our reaction to images are primarily emotional and largely unconscious, so it's worth collating a series of images before you pick one. For example, if you want to show an excited face, collect a few examples and go with the one that evokes the most feeling in you.

2. The emotion in the caption

There are a few clever ways of using the caption to engage. Don't forget, your audience will only be seeing the first eight words or so before they have to click to read more, so if you haven't hooked them in. I've seen two techniques work well:

  • The minimalist caption. This could be something like 'This is why I love my cat.' Something simple, possibly funny or sarcastic, or inspirational works well for a short caption. It can even be replaced by emojis. Quotes work well here too, for example 'my grandad told me to "never give up on your dreams"'
  • The storytelling caption. This is where the user tells a story about the image. 'I remember this day so well. Me and dad had just hiked 4 miles in the pouring rain, and had just stopped to pour a flask of coffee...'. By sharing emotionally in such a detailed way, you're giving more emotional emphasis to the picture. The user now sees it as you see it, as you have contextualised it in a heartfelt way.

3. Hashtags

Hashtags are not just about organic SEO. Try being creative with your hashtags too, and using emotion. You can even use humorous hashtags. For example, if you're selling birthday cakes, you might want to use #birthdaycake #birthday and #celebrationcake, but you might also use #allthecandles #birthdaygirl #itsmybirthday #gettingold . You can use up to 30 hashtags, but 7-15 is a more appropriate number.

4. The uniqueness of the image

How many images do you see a day? Hundreds? Thousands, perhaps, in the course of a week? It's not enough to choose an emotive stock image from Pexels or Unsplash if everyone else is using the same image. It just won't have the same effect. On Instagram, the more different and 'out there' your image is, the better. Of course, the quality matters. Use an app like VSCOcam if you haven't got a good quality camera. The image needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but somewhat unusual, as if offering a different perspective on something. If it's different then people are more likely to not only like it but tag a friend in the comments.

5. Translate brand emotions

Brand emotions are how your brand presents itself online. What is it's personality? Is it cheeky, optimistic, warm-hearted, inspirational or sarcastic? Make a list of your four core emotions and keep them in mind when searching for imagery or writing captions.

Give them the feels - create an Instagram feed that pulls your audience towards you.

(The picture in this article got 13,461 likes. I had seen it on Pinterest and saved it because I liked the feel of it).

Want more advice on how to get the most out of Instagram? Get in touch for how I can help with your strategy.