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How to Nail Your Ad Copy This Holiday Season


Written by

Amy Bishop

How to Nail Your Ad Copy This Holiday Season

The National Retail Foundation projects holiday sales to increase by 8.5 – 10.5% over 2020, which means there’s a huge opportunity for retailers this year! Making the most of your holiday ad copy will give you the best chance at grabbing some of those purchases.  Here are 7 tips to drive holiday sales with your ad copy.

Review Last Year’s Performance

First things first, take a peek at last year’s performance to determine what your top performing copy was.

Were there specific promos that worked best? Specific language or ad copy elements that led to a higher propensity to convert? Is there anything that you can repurpose as a control variable for this year?

Take your learnings from previous years and apply them to this year, where possible.

Test Your Promos

We all love a good discount, right? In fact, 60% of consumers said that “getting a good deal” was one of the most important criteria when selecting a retailer, according to a Deloitte survey, but that doesn’t mean that a discount strategy is always the best for your business. There are a few reasons why a discount strategy might not make sense: for one, sometimes from a brand perspective – especially for luxury brands – it can cheapen the brand. There are some brands that never discount items, especially not on a whim.

But even if not positioned as luxury brands, discount strategies don’t always make sense for all brands. For some brands, it’s already tough to hit a high ROAS in a competitive market and a discount strategy can compound that struggle.

All that said, discounts can also have the opposite effect – sometimes offering a discount entices purchases of more products and brings up AOV, especially if the store has a wide inventory of products.

There are other promo strategies beyond discounts that can be tested to help attract more purchases throughout the holiday shopping period. One of my favorite strategies is a “value add” promo. This is when you see stores offer things like “spend $80 and get this free tote” or “spend $80 and buy this bundle valued at $50 for only an additional $25”. These are great for moving additional products all while also increasing cart sizes, to drive up ROI.

Free shipping is another promo that works well during the holiday season but it’s also something that customers are beginning to expect, so it’s less of a differentiator. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Holiday Research, shoppers expect free shipping and aren’t willing to pay much to expedite, despite being concerned about delays.  Also, with supply chain issues ranging from low inventory to slow transportation, it could be worth it to test fast shipping as a promo vs free shipping – and if you can do fast shipping that is also free, that could be a really good option. According to Deloitte’s survey, 48% of consumers are at least somewhat concerned about shipping delays.

Make Use of Ad Customizers

Ad customizers are a great way to spice up your ad copy!

There are a plethora of different ways that you can make ad customizers work for you.

For instance, you could test leveraging ad customizers to include count downs. You could include countdowns to shipping deadlines, promo endings, or price increases, just to name a few!

You can also use ad customizers to keep prices updated, to ensure that your ads stay current.

You could use ad customizers to update inventory, as a way to create a sense of urgency for products with low inventory.

Differentiate Yourself

One of the biggest ad copy pitfalls is blending in with the other advertisers on the page. Check out what your competitors are saying and what they’re offering. Find ways to differentiate yourself to ensure that your ad copy stands out. You may be able to use their messaging and offers as inspiration to brainstorm new ideas for positioning and promos, as well!

Test Speaking to Gift Givers

During the holiday season, many people aren’t shopping for themselves. Try testing language in your ad copy and ad extensions that speaks to gift givers. This could include phrases about how folks will love their gifts, or it could speak to extended return windows and ease of exchanges.

For example, you could use a sitelink extension that directs folk to a gift guide. You could also use a sitelink directing folks to user generated content showing folks enjoying the product, complete with reviews, for added credibility.

Get to The Point

Ad copy is meant to be succinct, that’s why we have strict character limits. Read through your ad copy and see where you can cut fluff. Don’t waste characters on long winded copy that could be more direct.

On that same note, don’t be redundant. Check out your ad copy and your sitelinks to ensure that you aren’t wasting precious ad copy space on redundant themes. For example, if you plan to promote free shipping in your ad copy, don’t dedicate a sitelink to it.

Create a Sense of Urgency

The holiday season is short and, according to Deloitte’s study, 68% of shoppers planned to begin even before Thanksgiving. While the window for holiday shopping is slightly longer this year than last, it may not be as long as you think. Deloitte asked shoppers when they planned to begin and finish their holiday shopping and found that the shopping window is still less than a week longer than last year. Compared to 2018 and 2019, the 2020 shopping season was a few weeks shorter and, despite being longer than last year, this year is still expected to be shorter than the few years prior to 2020.    

All that to say, if you want to drive sales, you need consumers to act now and to act fast. Create a sense of urgency in your ads by using deadlines and strong call-to-action.

Remember to use active voice in your ad copy, not passive. In active voice, the subject of the statement takes the action. In passive voice, the subject receives the action. You want to be sure that your consumers feel an immediate need to act, so it is important to make sure your ad copy persuades the prospect to take action.

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