Create Better Retail Copy By Using Social Data

Retailers know that the right copy drives performance, but with so many touch points and advertising options along the consumer journey -- PLAs, Product Pins, search marketing and display, to name a few -- there is more pressure to achieve the perfect copy with less time to spend researching and testing it.  As the battle for consumer discovery gets more  competitive, brands need to be able to produce creative that is granular, witty, smart and tailored to millions of consumers in almost real time. 

The reason this is difficult to do is two-fold.  First, good content is hard to do at scale.  Second, the way retailers approach copy generation is inherently  oversimplified. Despite changes in technology and consumer behavior that allow us to capture real-time data and insight, too often retailers are reverting to traditional research, such as focus groups or survey data, and A/B testing that only shows generic ad A does better than ad B.   While A/B testing is effective, it significantly limits the options and creative possibilities available to retail brands, especially when there are millions of different ways to phrase the same sentence.



For some time retailers have been using consumer’s search behaviors as a massive real-time focus group for consumer intent, looking at the millions of times per day consumers vote with their clicks. However, focusing on search activity alone misses a unique opportunity to determine what attributes of a brand’s story drive each of those clicks.  There is no robust data that can inform copy strategies across all of a brand’s media efforts.

New platforms such as Wanelo, Houzz, Polyvore and Pinterest are giving us deeper insight into consumer behavior beyond intent that can be leveraged for more tailored, creative copywriting that resonates. 

These insights can be used to influence the creative process not only for PLA creative, but across paid search, display and social.  For example, if a retailer wants to advertise a pair of  boot-cut jeans using PLAs, a brand can look across millions of Pins, Instagram hashtags and PLA clicks to get a clearer picture of what consumers care about. In the case of denim boot cut jeans, an analysis of a “focus group” of more than a million consumers revealed they prefer back view images of jeans rather than images focusing on the cut. Furthermore, the way people describe jeans in re-pins and hashtags points to the fact that they not only care about the cut, but also the brand and color of the jeans.

Here’s how to turn your product feeds into rich content that drives consumer behavior, and ultimately ROI:

1.     Trust the data. Millions of consumers are naturally and organically voting daily on numerous platforms like Pinterest and Google through their clicks.  This data and input is as important and scalable as any focus group, and with the right technology, it can be easily captured and utilized in real time for making more informed advertising and copywriting decisions.

2.     Combine data to get to new insight.  We have more insight about customer influences, intent signals and behavior than ever before.  Repurpose how you use platforms like Pinterest, Polyvore and retargeting to combine performance and engagement data with customer curation signals, such as re-pins, review language, image selection and more. 

3.     Integrate your approach. Think of your media group as an extension of your insights group.  The combination of social listening, customer feedback and media strategy can be a powerful force in guiding copywriting.  Most of the time brands start with creative and end with media, but this new landscape requires a reorganization of departments and approaches.  Be it search categorization, or analyzing feeds for consumer insights, your best, most actionable insights might come from paid media analysis.

Too often, retail marketers try to bend the wills of consumers by forcing their own messages to the front and center.  By working backwards to uncover clues and intelligence about consumers and their digital behaviors, we can save time and resources while getting to better copywriting decisions, and ultimately better ad performance.
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