Updated: Jan 29, 2020
There’s a reason Gucci doesn’t do infomercials for tiger print duffels. That Equinox doesn’t offer a discount for January first’s newly health-obsessed. That anthropomorphic Hamsters breakdance in front of Kia Souls instead of Range Rovers.
Advertising for luxury brands tends to focus on, well, luxury. The happiness they inspire. The quality. The sheer opulence that becomes a piece of one’s life when he or she buys free-range leave-in conditioner infused with dolphin tears or an ornate bottle of some top-shelf botanical cordial.
Whether you’re storyboarding a TV spot or building out an ad group in Google Ads (the artist formerly known as AdWords), your target audience needs to feel as though your product or service is a physical manifestation of luxury.
Check out this text ad for Rolex, arguably the world’s most recognizable luxury watch company:
Notice the language used. “Timeless” and “luxury” and “performance” and “prestige.” There’s an undeniable sense that a Rolex is opulence incarnate and an implication that if you manage to wrap one around your wrist, you are elite.
Now, you may not be as recognizable as Rolex, but we can show you how to leverage the same tactics and then some so that you can use PPC to grow and market your luxury brand.
Here are the top five strategies for advertising luxury brands in brief:
Exclude unqualified audiences using words like "cheap" and "free" from viewing your ads
Advertise on Bing to capture their older, more affluent user base
Attract the right customer with elevated ad copy
Target ads based on user income level
Use dynamic remarketing to lure prospective buyers back
Now, let's look at each in a little more detail.
Luxury Marketing Strategy #1: Account-Wide Negative Keywords
The first, and easiest, strategy for marketing your luxury brand is classic “addition by subtraction.” You’re probably already incorporating negative keywords into your optimization routine, but did you know you can save time by uploading them at the account level?
Account-level negative keywords are a simple addition to your AdWords efforts; all you need is a CSV file loaded with negative keywords. From there, you simply upload the file in the Bulk Upload tab of the Shared Library and then apply it to as many campaigns as you’d like. Doing so has a handful of benefits, but the most important for marketing luxury goods and services is the ability to weed out unqualified traffic.
Think about it.
Say you sell shoes hand cobbled by the finest artisans in all of Montana. While the keyword “shoes” will certainly yield traffic, and some of those searchers may very well be interested in buying your exceptional kicks, the overwhelming majority of that traffic falls outside of your target demographic. This becomes even more of an issue as you begin to consider keywords with modifiers. “Cheap,” “sale,” and the dreaded “free” are all words that, when appended to a query, ostensibly eliminate a searcher as a prospect.
Account-wide negative keywords ensure you never bid on terms you have no interest in paying for (on purpose or accidentally).
Luxury Marketing Strategy #2: Make Bing a Priority
For the majority of search marketers, Google advertising is the be-all-end-all. Bing and other networks (Yahoo Gemini among them) tend to exist in their arsenal complementarity, if at all. Generally speaking, this is a bad idea. For luxury brands, it’s a cardinal sin.
According to Bing, nearly one third of its audience has a household income of $100,000 or more.
What does that 30% mean, exactly?
160 million unique searchers. 5 billion monthly searches. But perhaps most important to your business is the fact that Bing allows you to reach 59 million people who aren’t reached on Google.
Yes, for the most part clicks on Bing are cheaper than they are on AdWords. This is awesome. But the network’s real value is the fact that you can get an additional 118 million eyeballs (a third of which have are attached to six-figure incomes) on your luxury goods.
Luxury Marketing Strategy #3: Elevate Your Ad Copy
Expanded Text Ads are now our reality, and there’s never been a better time to market your high-end product using the power of paid search. With all that extra space comes the ability to differentiate yourself from the rest of the SERP with language instead of relying solely on brand recognition. After all, even when you’re bidding on branded keywords, there’s a good chance you’ll be competing with third party distributors and your direct competitors. The copy you use in your text ads will be the difference between earning a prospect’s click and watching them scroll on by.
But what does better ad copy look like? Great question!
As you can see in the column on the left, STA (what used to be called Standard Text Ads) placed tight restrictions on your ability to say anything compelling in your ad copy. How can you stand out from the competition when everyone’s pigeonholed into using the same five-ish sentence fragments? Off the top of my head, hiring a commercially motivated haiku writer was the only plausible solution.
Today, though, with the addition of a second headline and more space in the description (plus the URL pathways), you can parlay your brand’s unique sales proposition without truncation. You can wrap it in enticing, alluring, wholly irresistible copy. Don’t just tell your prospects to buy now: tell them why they have no other choice.
Check out this text ad for Chanel. What do you notice?
In the good ‘ol days, this is an ad that would fly in the face of best practices. Today, though, I’d say it represents an interesting A/B test. Now, are this ad’s headlines great? No. They lean so heavily on brand that they actually miss out on an opportunity to say more about what makes their products so luxurious. But, what I do find interesting is the fact that the CTA ask the prospect to “Discover” instead of “Buy Now!!!!!!” Chanel isn’t a series of expensive products you can purchase at will: Chanel is a world to envelop yourself in.
Ready to buy a swanky handbag yet?
NOTE: With the advent of IF functions and other modifiers, it’s even easier to serve irresistible, hyper-relevant ad copy.
Luxury Marketing Strategy #4: Use Income Targeting
You’ve written ads to catch the eyes of affluent searchers. You’ve negated keyword modifiers that imply discounted pricing. Now let’s dive into income-based geo targeting.
This is another truly phenomenal way to cut wasted spend and ensure the ads you’re paying for end up in front of the right people. How do you make that happen? Simple.
In the “Location Groups” tab you’ll find three different options:
“Places of interest”- Eh.
“My locations”- Good if you’ve got brick and mortars.
“Demographics”- We have a winner!
The demographics tab focuses on just one thing: approximate household income.
According to Google, income-based location targeting is “based on publicly available data from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), advertisers are able to target ads to certain areas according to their average household income.”
When you created a customer profile, detailing your ideal consumer, average household income was probably something you considered. It’s part of how you determine what you sell and how you sell it. Now you can leverage IRS data to help you to discover and advertise to these fine folks.
And the best part? You can layer income-based targeting with your other location targeting for maximal effect. This means you don’t have to wholly exclude areas that fall outside of those designated as having higher household incomes; you can create separate campaigns (ensuring your budget is skewed towards geos in which the likelihood of your ideal prospects living there is greater) or just use bid adjustments.
Don’t want to take my word for it?
A Managed Services strategist at WordStream, Jack Taylor, used income-based targeting in a high-end financial services client’s account to decrease the cost per lead by nearly 41% in a single month. He focused on affluent searchers, a small, niche audience that he deemed most likely to convert on this site, and used heavy bid adjustments to prioritize traffic from the top 50% of earners. The best part? Their conversion rate has improved because the new traffic is highly qualified.
Luxury Marketing Strategy #5: Nurture Paid Traffic with A Personal Touch
Remarketing is good. Dynamic Remarketing is better.
Consider two scenarios. We’ll call the first “Regular ‘ol sneakers” and the second “Dayyyyumn.”
Regular ‘ol sneakers
Yeah, some of these sneakers are straight fire (I’m looking at you, third pair from the right). But does this remarketing ad convey “luxury” in any way?
I would say no.
It makes me think of the brand, sure. It makes me stoked on their shoes. Heck, I may even roll over to the New Balance site once this sentence is finished to peruse their wares. As a remarketing ad, this is okay.
But it doesn’t convey luxury. It doesn’t make me need anything.
Let’s juxtapose this against a remarketing ad for a comparable, luxury product.
What do you notice about the ad?
It uses a clean, product-centric image to shine a spotlight on the leisure sneaker. It shows me only the shoe I looked at, and it follows me around, convincing me bit by bit that I should make the purchase.
This, my friends, is the difference between regular Remarketing and Dynamic Remarketing. Simply put, Dynamic Remarketing is a way for you to show prospects who have visited your site exactly what they looked at. While this is a strategy employed by many brands in even more markets, I find it’s especially useful if you’re selling a product or service at a high price point. It creates a high level of familiarity with the consumer (and provided you don’t go nuts with impressions, it does so in a way that isn’t creepy).
The lesson here? Dynamic Remarketing is the perfect complement to your paid search efforts (and a cost-effective way to build brand awareness).