Direct Response Copywriter on a Myth About Conversion Percentage

A client just sent me an email about the conversion rate from a letter I wrote. The client sells consulting services to a specific niche.

The conversion rate is low for the letter.

But what is a “good” conversion rate? I’ve heard 3% … or thereabouts. But it’s generally a mistake to focus on conversion rates and related data. Conversion rate is only really useful when it comes to establishing, then beating, a control.

I’m more interested in the actual revenue the copy generates. You can put money in a bank account but you can’t put conversion rate in the bank. I currently have a VSL that’s generating a TON of money for a client. I don’t know the conversion rate. It’s irrelevant until I try to beat the control. Even then, conversion rate is just a number, a statistic.

Back to my client with the low conversion rate. If the conversion rate means he gets just one new client for his services, then the letter has been a raging success. That’s because the lifetime value of that new client will be tens of thousands of dollars. Plus there could be a “knock on” effect as the client tells other potential clients.

As a direct response copywriter, I’m interested in conversion rate … but I’m much more interested in the actual revenue.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on Who is Right and Who is Wrong

I got some great news from a client. A video sales letter (VSL) I wrote for them is making over 300 sales a day. The product is a health-related ebook plus there’s an upsell. I won’t go into the details but that’s a chunk of change in that client’s bank account every day.

In full disclosure, the client is great with traffic and testing. They’re a full-on direct response company and it shows. I tweaked the copy several times based on some testing data and, after a lot of hard graft, the VSL is rocking. I don’t know the conversion rate but 300 sales a day is … 300 sales a day plus an upsell that converts at around 25%. Good news for the client and this direct response copywriter.

Personally, I don’t like the VSL when I’m buying something but that’s just me. In many verticals, the VSL works. But in others, it’s a total fail.

But here’s the important point.

The client showed the copy to another copywriter who they hired to critique the work of other copywriters. The “other” copywriter panned the copy.

I stuck with my guns and the client let me do that … with a few minor changes. I can’t wait to see that consultant and tell them about the 300 sales-a-day result.

When it comes to copy, it doesn’t matter what I think. And it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks. The only person who matters is the potential customer. Will they buy? Or will they not buy?

I’ve written direct response copy that’s failed. But I’ve also written copy that’s worked astonishingly well. The “copy police” might have found the former copy wonderful but the latter copy laughable.

My approach? I always follow the proven fundamentals of direct response copywriting. That’s the starting point. This means research, finding out what’s worked before, and then patient testing.

A lot of copywriters now spend their time training other copywriters. And that’s fine. But that gig isn’t for me, although I have a series of “look over my shoulder” copywriting videos as part of my client-finding service you can discover here.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on Another Big Mistake

This blog is for my fellow copywriters … mostly.

Most of my clients are happy most of the time.

I suppose, as a direct response copywriter, I should be more specific about the above statement.

One client has been a client for over 3 years; they’ve gone from 3 employees to 56. Another contacted me for a large project after I hadn’t heard from them for 18 months. My copy has helped this client generate over $200 million in revenue. Another client in Orange County, California, sends me “emergency” projects and the head of the company calls me because I keep beating his controls ... plus I can turn work around fast.

I have repeat clients. I also have “one and done” clients who only need my work one time. But even members of the latter group re-contact me from time-to-time.

Repeat work comes my way NOT because the client likes me personally. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. They call me because they measure the results and my copy converts. That’s because I use tried and trusted direct response copywriting techniques but also because the client has a good offer.

Gary Bencivenga said it best, “don’t take on marketing challenges” and I’ve been pretty good at taking this advice. No, I cannot sell sunlamps, heating, and tanning equipment to a list of people in tropical locations.

But it can be difficult to stay away from work, especially when there are targets to meet for monthly production.

I took on a bad project a few weeks ago. It just went bad. Here are the details.

It was a dietary supplement – for men’s performance aka erections.
I got half up front.
I wrote an outline the client approved.
I wrote a draft based on the outline.
The client didn’t like the first draft and suggested some changes.
I made the changes.
The client also asked me to hide the ingredients. No client has ever asked me to do this.
Then the client showed the copy to several people who hated it.

The client fired me. I wasn’t about to argue with someone so totally clueless. I pointed out that the “copy police” would hate some of my highest-performing copy. The ultimate judge is the potential customer. If they buy, the copy is great. If they don’t, the copy is awful and it’s time to try something else. I returned most of the initial deposit and hopefully, this client won’t make life miserable for any other direct response copywriter. He’s not getting anything from me again.

So what’s the lesson here? I need to go back to the 80/20 model. 80% of clients are not going to be serious direct marketers. 20% of clients are. After about 30 seconds chatting with a client on the phone, I can tell the difference between the 20% and the 80%. The 20% will likely be great clients. The 80% will not.

I don’t have to deal with the 80% and nor do you.

If you’re a potential client reading this, then don’t be alarmed … just understand that serious direct response copywriters with a track record of generating revenue simply want to work with direct marketers who truly understand direct marketing … and won’t judge an ad by what his or her auntie thinks. Don't expect a copywriter to solve your marketing challenge.

A couple of potential clients called me last week. One wanted me to work on a “partnership” basis, which is basically translated to “we have no product and no money plus a terrible offer.” He was somewhat shocked when I said “no, I do not want to work with you.” I said it politely, of course.

Another potential client asked me for a quote then went to Upwork. So price was the only factor in that person’s thinking. Whatever. I wish I had known this upfront.

In speaking with both potential clients, it was clear in the first 30 seconds they were not serious direct marketers.

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While it’s on my mind, I don’t like it when I take time to get on a conference call with “Ron” and “Ryan” and the people on the call are clearly not named “Ron” and “Ryan” but Rajiv and Prakesh. I also don’t like it when they set up the initial contact through a Linked In profile that’s clearly fake.

I sometimes get cold calls from a call center outside the US and the cold caller calls himself Fred. I always ask, “is your name really Fred?” and they answer, “yes.” Why should I buy from a liar?

End of rant. It’s my birthday.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on the Big Mistake

Yes – I write all day everyday to help my clients sell their products and services. That’s my job as a direct response copywriter.

But I also buy stuff. Not much stuff because I like to avoid the “over-accumulation” of items but I’m willing to make a big purchase when I think it’s warranted.

I recently made one such purchase … a car cover.

The process started with a Google search. I also went to some online forums for opinions. I wanted a quality product that would protect my car primarily from the sun but also the winter elements. I park my car outside most of the time and it sits in the hot sun. I was willing to spend a little bit more for a quality cover.

How I made my decision says a lot about the power of direct response copy.

A car detailing shop recommended a certain type of cover which cost $450. My next choice was $150.

I might have spent the $450 but the sales page for this cover was sparse at best plus the copy was hard to read and there was no proof. In short, the $450 company needed a direct response copywriter to help them sell more car covers. A long-form sales page might have pushed me to buy the Weathertech product. After all, they had a great head start: a recommendation from a car detailer.

The page for the $150 cover wasn’t much better but … they had a TON of testimonials: a key proof element. The copy wasn’t that great but at least it was clear and the company has a guarantee plus some additional benefits like free shipping.

I could have spent under $100 for a car cover so the company with the $150 still needs a lot of copy. There’s a huge opportunity here for the car cover company that invests a little in some direct response copywriting.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on the "How To" Headline

If you know anything about copy or simply writing, then you know all about the importance of headlines. You'll see great headlines in newspapers, especially tabloids. You can also see excellent headlines on books. The title of a book, is, after all, a headline.

Gary Bencivenga, perhaps the greatest direct response copywriter still living got inspiration and ideas from book titles. A good idea.

If you're somewhat stumped when it comes to headlines, start with the classic "How To" headline. Here's an example:

"HOW TO FIND THE WOMAN OF YOUR DREAMS WITHOUT GOING TO THOSE SILLY DATING SITES."

Many "how to" headlines leave off the "how to" part.

"FIND THE WOMAN OF YOUR DREAMS WITHOUT GOING TO THOSE SILLY DATING SITES."

I went to a seminar many years ago where the copywriter said that his "how to" headlines won 90% of the time.

Yes, many direct response copywriters like to try headlines with more sizzle but it's always going to be difficult to beat the "how to" headline.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.