At Rakuten Marketing, we specialize in luxury apparel. We work with more fashion brands than you can shake a pointy-toe stiletto pump at, so we are happy to share a few time-tested techniques to make the most of your luxury fashion brand’s paid search budget.

  1. To grab high-end shoppers, go for fabric terms over luxury terms. Imagine you are out shopping with your friends; chances are you wouldn’t say, “hey, check out this luxury jacket.” People don’t talk like that on a daily basis, and in our experience, they don’t search like that either.  Try using fabric terms instead – leather jacket, cashmere sweater, blue suede shoes. This will qualify your visitors using common search language and since they are searching for quality fabric, you can bet they are willing to pay more.
  2. Look into household income. Buried deep in the AdWords interface you have the ability to bid based on locations with high household income. You can find household income targeting by selecting Demographics in the advanced location settings in AdWords. We recommend layering on all levels of household income, then checking back in a few weeks to see which areas perform best to adjust bids accordingly.
  3. Consider product price when setting your bids. For nonbrand keywords related to a $400 leather jacket, it might be worth a hefty bid, but think twice before bidding up on lower price point items like accessories.
  4. Watch your resellers. One of the biggest challenges with luxury apparel brands that sell directly from their website is competing with department stores and the big guys in the online retail space (looking at you Macy’s and Zappos!). They have big marketing budgets and loyal shoppers, so they don’t mind driving up your brand cost per click by bidding on your terms. To help compete, be sure to include the phrase “Official Site” and trademark symbols in your ad copy. Online exclusive sales or products can also help, but if you still find yourself paying too much for the top position because of resellers, it might be time to negotiate and create guidelines for if and when they can bid on your brand terms.  One arrangement we have seen work is that the brand gets the top position and resellers can bid to lower positions. For more on dealing with resellers in the paid search space, check out this blog post:  Managing Brand Cost Per Click Inflation
  5. Let your ad copy reflect your brand. If you thought only using 140 characters on Twitter was hard, try 95! That’s the total amount of characters you can use in a paid search ad (not including ad extensions or the new extended text ads – that’s a future blog post). It’s not much space, but there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you keep your high-end brand image intact on the search result pages. For example, instead of using “Free Shipping” for our high end clients, we use, “Enjoy Complimentary Shipping.” This phrase takes up more space, but it’s worth it to have a more luxurious feel to the message.
  6. Use RLSA to bid on generic terms without breaking the bank.  We have a client that is famous for high-quality, basic white t-shirts with a $90 price tag. Fans of the brand swear by the soft pima cotton fabric but consumers searching for “white t-shirt” can have widely different intents. To narrow down the audience and ensure consumers seeing these ads are of the $90 t-shirt wearing variety and not the $7 Hanes 6 pack variety, we use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). These high-performing ads allow us to target shoppers who have been to our client’s website before. We can even get more granular and target shoppers who have been to the t-shirt section of their website or those who have abandoned their online shopping carts; the strategy possibilities with RLSA are endless!

We hope this post gives you an idea of some of the vertical-specific techniques for paid search and luxury apparel.

If your search agency isn’t using RLSA or the other techniques mentioned above, reach out to us for a free audit!