The luxury industry isn’t too different from the mass market when it comes to digital marketing. However, the difference relies on the approach, as the marketing strategies that work on regular customers won’t necessarily be effective with luxury audiences.
When speaking with clients, we often hear the same few questions:
How do we position ourselves as a leading luxury brand?
How do we attract and resonate with high-end consumers?
How do we deliver a cohesive brand voice that expresses our excellence?
Here’s the secret – ad copy matters! Regardless of what you have done behind-the-scenes to reach your target audience, ad copy is the only thing you can show to them and connect them to your brand. In the luxury industry, you need to stand out and for this, you need curated ad copy that doesn’t get lost in the noise of the search engines, conveys brand values within character limits and wins the audience’s attention on a crowded search result page.
The learnings that we are happy to share here will inspire you to craft seductive ad copy to persuade luxury consumers and increase your ROI.
1. Focus on what makes your brand special
Ask yourself: What draws the consumer to your luxury brand? What draws a consumer to buy luxury when they could buy from a similar yet cheaper brand?
Luxury brands like to stress their heritage whilst premium brands stress inspirational qualities in their ad messages. Many luxury brands lean so heavily, or even solely, on the brand name to market their products without knowing that they are actually missing out on an opportunity to remind consumers of what originally makes the brand luxurious and different.
Research by Deloitte shows that luxury consumers in mature markets are less brand loyal and so that quality & uniqueness are the most important factors in drawing them to luxury products. Affluent consumers today are more informed than ever and consequently are more discriminatory and demanding. They look for real values and do thorough research to make sure they get those, as for them premium pricing without substance doesn’t imply luxury.
As the audience evolves, not only does product quality act as a point of differentiation but also a justification for premium value and pricing. Luxury brands, therefore, must be prepared to give their audience the facts they want and justify price points through defining what specifically makes the brand superior. A recipe of quality or design excellence such as craftsmanship, precision, finest ingredients or materials, unique design and extraordinary product capabilities is always a good way to separate luxury brands from the rest.
Another thing to bear in mind is that each luxury brand is individual & unique, so luxury brands should make sure that consumers desire the brand for what it is, instead of trying to show how better they are than their rivals. That is to say, ad copy for luxury brands should never try to compare the brand to others. Instead, luxury brands need to highlight their unique sales proposition and wrap it in enticing, wholly irresistible copy. Don’t just tell your audience to buy – show them why your brand is the right choice!
2. Write to sell a lifestyle, not just a premium price product
A luxury brand is still about the experience!
It is true that consumers justify the reasons for their purchases with logic but they actually buy on emotion, explains Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman. When consumers opt for luxury, they expect a high-value and customised experience, a sense of a lifestyle and a value system – a set of unique physical and emotional values that each luxury brand delivers to customers.
Product excellence by itself, therefore, is no longer enough. The delivery of a luxury brand must be at both levels – first at a product level and second at an experiential level which is the emotional value of the brand the consumers buy into.
Luxury brands should seek to change their ad messages to adapt to this demand and make sure that they understand the real motivations behind the purchase – the emotional appeal of the message – and know how they can align their products with them.
Communicate the story behind luxury products and supplement traditional attributes such as quality and scarcity with lifestyle values – an assurance of luxury, style, the happiness they inspire or whatever value the brand stands by.
Pay more attention to the language being used and the emotional feel of words as in many cases, minor changes to the wording could have a big impact. For example, the combination of words like “timeless”, “performance” and “prestige” can create an undeniable sense of opulence. Calls-to-action such as “Discover”, “Explore” or “Get inspired” – instead of “Buy Now” – can give a feeling that the brand is a world for the consumer to envelop themselves in, rather than just a series of expensive products. Similarly, the phrase “Enjoy Complimentary Shipping” takes up more space than “Free Shipping” but it’s worth it to add a more luxurious feel to the ad copy and keep your brand image intact on the search result pages.
Exclusivity is another trick of the trade when it comes to luxury brand marketing as it helps not only maintain consumer desire through scarcity and rarity but also generate advocacy for the brand. Luxury advertisers can create a sense of exclusivity online through tailored ad copy to digitally deliver loyalty perks that are reserved specifically for returning customers.
There is nothing better than the ‘just-for-me’ feeling that a luxury brand can give their customers.
3. Resonate with your audience
In the “Meets the HENRYs” book series, Pamela Danziger shares that today’s affluent consumers are seeking to engage with luxury brands that align with their personal values. However, a lot of luxury advertising “still speaks to this old idea of the classic rich person” – says Shari Jones, CMO of XOJet – through cliché and flowery language without realising that the ultimate goal of luxury marketing is to create a message that reflects the true value of the brand and resonates with the audience.
“The modern luxury consumer is different. They are adaptable, fast-moving, smart yet approachable and have a younger mindset” – says Jones – and so luxury marketing must evolve with its consumers. In the competitive world of luxury goods where luxury consumers are demanding and inundated with advertising messages daily, the challenge lies in attracting them in a unique way and communicating on their level to demonstrate your understanding of their needs and lifestyle.
Luxury brands must truly understand their evolving customer base and how they are changing to enable more tailored marketing and ultimately create long-term values. A big tip here is to speak in the consumer’s language – use words that the consumer could relate to and adjust your tone of voice to appeal to them. If you can get the audience to harmonise with what you are saying, you can make an emotional connection with them and that is when the magic happens.
4. Remain consistent across brand touchpoints
Today’s luxury consumers hear messages and make buying decisions based on information from multiple channels simultaneously. They expect a connected, coherent and seamless brand experience regardless of channel.
To capture the attention of the target segment, luxury advertisers have to work harder on multiple fronts and coordinate uniform looks for both the content and the feeling it creates. That is to say, every part of your brand, marketing and sales strategies, whether online or offline, must promote the same luxury experience that consumers can expect from purchasing your product or service.
In many cases, these strategies are taken care of by different departments or external agencies so it is important there is a close and effective collaboration between all the parties involved, to make sure the advertising messages are aligned with, and reinforce, the brand’s luxury message, visuals, site content and other marketing materials.
5. Protect the brand
One of the biggest challenges for luxury brands is competing with not only direct competitors but third-party distributors as well.
To help compete, you could try including the registered trademark (®) symbol and the phrase “Official Site” in ad copy to inform the audience which are your ads. Highlighting exclusive products or offers could also help.
Nonetheless, it is far more important for luxury brands to be selective when it comes to resellers and create partnership guidelines stating whether resellers can use the brand name for marketing purposes.
Competitor analysis is another significant part of luxury brand protection. Keep an eye on what the competition is using in ad copy and if any competitors are using your trademark terms, you have grounds to report them to Google. Also, by looking at the types of offers competitors are calling out, you can review your own strategy and make sure that you are effectively delivering your brand messages.
Finally, staying away from false promises is a must for luxury brands as you never want to end up losing your prospects, damaging your brand image or even opening yourself to litigation. Focus on the ultimate promise that you can live up to and grab consumers attention with on-brand and engaging ad copy that conveys the message, rather than extraneous marketing speak.
6. Utilise automation with caution
A changing trend we are seeing across Paid Media is the increase in automation through machine learning. Luxury brands tend to be far more hesitant at embracing automation, the same way as they were when they first moved digitally, as in the end they have more brand equity to lose than any other brands. However, in today’s AI-led world where brands are showing their initiative and creativity in deploying machine learning as part of their digital marketing strategy, it has become more crucial for luxury brands to look at automation as an opportunity for growth, rather than just a risk to avoid.
Automation, in reality, could be beneficial for luxury brands if they are used in a smart, cautious and strategic way:
IF functions makes it easier to serve irresistible, hyper-relevant ad copy. If a consumer viewed your new collection page and then came back searching for your brand, you would want to show him/her a tailored ad copy highlighting the specialness of the collection that goes alongside exclusive offers when shopping on the official online store – this is possible thanks to automation.
Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is another feature that you can use to make your messages more relevant to the audience by including keywords that most closely match their actual search terms in your ad copy. This will not only make your ad stand out as the matching search terms will be displayed by Google in bold but also more likely to get searchers to click.
Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) leverage your ad copy testing, revealing the best combination of headlines and descriptions in response to individual searches. Given the ever-evolving customer base of luxury brands, the automation could give advertisers the insights they need to engage with the target audience successfully, whilst still allowing them to keep control of the wording in each line.
These are incredible tools for any advertisers, but please be thoughtful as it is down to the strategy behind them which brings about success.
7. A/B testing is key
A best practice we often recommend to our clients is to be consistently testing. Each luxury brand is unique and there are no hard rules or ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategies, especially when it comes to digital marketing.
One of the good things about paid advertising is that you have significantly more control over the messaging in your ad copy than in organic listings. To improve your ad’s performance, you could run a true A/B test to see whether the product’s selling features or brand’s value proposition resonate more effectively with the target audience.
We analysed ad copy across all of our clients and found that the differences in ad performance often lie between different audiences. You could test segmenting audiences and creating bespoke ad copy to understand what works and what does not. For example, experimenting with women’s only ad copy for users who viewed the women’s wear collection pages or gifting messages for men visiting the women’s product pages.
It is often said that you should not communicate on price in luxury at all. However, price could be an excellent way to qualify the audience and discourage those looking for a bargain from clicking. The strategy, in reality, has worked for some luxury brands. In such a case, testing is the only way that can tell if the strategy works for your brand.
Copywriting should never be an afterthought as “70% of ad recall, brand awareness and purchase intent is driven by creative” (Ad Age). Instead, it should be a key part of your luxury brand strategy. Well-researched, curated and inspired ad copy could help capture the attention of your target segment and communicate with them in a way that ensures they feel understood, at ease, and enticed to buy.
Don’t hesitate to explore the power of effective copywriting and share with us what you have learnt along the way! If you would like help with your PPC strategy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.