As a copywriter, late September or early October is the time you really should be starting to think about tailoring your pieces to account for the festive season.
Copywriting for Christmas is something that requires a little more effort than one would typically put into more generalised writing. Why? Because writers want to take advantage of the tendencies of shoppers during the season without overwhelming them to the point of turning them away. It’s the old question of “how much is too much?”
Online Shopping Already Begun
If you had to choose the month Christmas shopping is likely to start, what would be your choice? If you said October, you might be right. Some 26% of Christmas shoppers actually begin their pursuit of those perfect gifts before the end of the summer [source]. And those that do not make a Christmas gifts purchase that early at least start thinking about it around that time.
Given the fact that increasing numbers of consumers do much of their shopping online, the above stat makes complete sense. Going online months beforehand to see what’s available is a lot easier than fighting the crowds at the local shopping centre in early December. It’s something you can do at any time of the night or day, whenever you have a few minutes to kill.
What the numbers clearly point out is that copywriters need to start thinking about their presentations no later than late summer or early autumn. To that end, here are some tips for Christmas copywriting that I think you might find helpful in your endeavours:
1. Implement a ‘Controlled Burn’
One of my first suggestions for copywriters is to avoid the tendency to overburden readers with too much Christmas too soon. In other words, a slower and more subtle approach is the right way to go. In late October and early November, there should be some slight hints of Christmas, gradually building until mid-to-late December.
Debate.org, a website that offers readers from around the world the opportunity to create their own polls, provides some concrete evidence to support the slow burn concept. They host a running poll that asks one simple question: ‘does Christmas start too early?’ So far, the results are running more than 3-to-1 in the affirmative.
If you dig deeper by reading comments left by poll participants, you can sense a level of frustration over the fact that the retail bombardment of Christmas is not appreciated. Therefore, if we overwhelm our audiences with all things Christmas before October even ends, it may be counter-productive in the long run. A controlled burn is a much better way to go.
2. Avoid the Hard Sell
A sales tactic known as the ‘hard sell’ has been used for generations in industries like car sales and beer. Nevertheless, we all know customers don’t really appreciate being subjected to it. The same goes for Christmas copywriting. If you employ the hard sell in your writing, you are likely to turn away readers before they ever get to the end of your content.
According to the Australia’s Money Smart website, there are specific phrases and words that should be avoided. Words and phrases such as:
- ‘this is a one-time offer’
- ‘our product is the real deal’
- ‘think about what this means… to your children’
- ‘here’s a token of our appreciation’.
The one about the children is especially annoying to many of us. Let’s face it, it seems like everyone is imploring us to do something ‘for the sake of the kids’ when the children really have nothing to do with it.
I encourage you to read the (albeit slightly dated) Money Smart article once you’re done with this blog. If you do, you’ll notice something interesting: it’s aimed at protecting the consumer from falling victim to the hard sell. It is not addressed to marketers. Nonetheless, you can learn a lot by paying attention to what financial experts are saying to consumers.
3. Keep Advertising Separate
Although retail sales continue to increase heading into the Christmas shopping season, consumers may still be cautious about excessive spending that goes well beyond the necessities.
The potential for slower retail growth suggests consumers could be choosy when it comes time to do Christmas shopping in any particular year. This suggests more targeted advertising designed to reach a specific audience looking for specific products. So from a copywriting standpoint, it’s a good idea to keep your advertising copy separate from general copy. Doing so allows you to be more specific in whom you target.
Advertising copy should also be direct and to the point. When consumers do not have a lot of extra money to spend, they are more careful to know exactly what they are getting before they purchase. Advertising copy consisting of few details and a lot of fluff is not likely to win over the choosy customer.
4. Remember the Mobile World
When creating Christmas copy do not forget the fact that shopping via mobile devices is now the norm.
What does this mean for copywriting strategy? It means making your content friendly to readers who use mobile devices. It means breaking up content with subheadings and bullet points, staying away from long-winded paragraphs, and limiting complicated graphics that will slow down page load times. If people can access your content easily with any smartphone or tablet, you’ll be ahead of the game.
5. Remember Relevance
My last tip for Christmas copywriting is very important: remember relevance. Past updates from Google have made content relevance one of the most important factors in content marketing. That’s not going to change anytime soon. Just because we’re talking about writing for the Christmas period does not mean that merely dropping an appropriate keyword or phrase gets it done.
If you are creating content that cannot be reasonably linked to the festive season, do not try to force it. You will not get away with it. A better strategy is to take advantage of the Christmas season by crafting a piece specifically tailored to the season.
In other words, do not merely insert a few Christmas keywords into content that is otherwise not related. Instead, take the time to create Christmas-specific content that draws your readers in. This is a lot better for both SEO and the overall user experience.
When it comes time to think about Christmas copywriting, make sure that you are not only in the game, but that you are also doing it the right way. The success of your Christmas season may very well depend on it.