How Creative Catalog Copy Drives Online Engagement

Mar 20, 2012 4:58 PM  By

Catalog copy sells your products. Your blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts sell your brand experience. Leverage call-to-action catalog copy to promote those online channels.

It takes more than saying you have an online social presence, because everyone does. Stand out by giving people a reason to engage and interact with your brand. Creative copy techniques prompt them to act as much as benefit-driven catalog copy prompts them to buy.

The proliferation of blogs and social media culture links you to a wealth of potential customers and selling opportunities. However, it will take more than just plucking an assortment of product copy off the catalog page and dropping it into these digital arenas to engage consumers.

How can you refine your copywriting strategy to maximize three critical online channels – Facebook, Twitter and your blog?

How do you develop channel-specific content that expands what’s on the printed page while maintaining a cohesive brand voice and customer experience?

And how do you use your catalog as a portal to propel your readers to these key online channels where selling involves more than a pricepoint?

Promote your blog
Too many catalogs state “we have a blog” as if merely mentioning its existence ensures visitors. Instead, create the relevant content, and then use active language in the catalog to push readers online.

Telling them you have a blog is not enough. Give them a reason to read it with unique entries that support your product line and brand. Some catalogers have the right idea already.

Relax The Back, a retailer that sells solutions for back pain, develops content specifically for its “ComfortZone” blog. The catalog encourages readers to visit the blog, not to buy, but to glean expert advice on how to combat back pain and sleep better. The blog is loaded with helpful tips on how to get a good night’s sleep, infographics with detailed back facts and much more.

The call-to-action in the Relax The Back catalog asks readers to visit the blog for this valuable, relevant information. As a copy callout, saying “visit our blog” falls short. Use strong, persuasive copy to give them a reason to read the site.

Or look at the effective cross-channel promotion strategy in CB2. On a spread selling dishes, you’ll find a call-to-action encouraging readers to visit the “In The Loop” blog to find recipes for the food shown in those photos. The catalog sells the dishes. The blog sells the experience.

In another example, a blog reference supports a decorative pillow that features an art print. The call-to-action promotes the blog, not necessarily to buy the pillow (although there is a subtle hotlink to do just that in the entry), but to read a profile of the artist.

More to “Like” on Facebook
Have you ever taken the time to notice how many catalogs ask you to like them on Facebook? Have you noticed how many don’t give you a reason why you should? As with your blog, you have to make it worth a consumer’s time and attention.

Give your customer a reason to come to your page and hit that all-important thumbs-up button. It takes more than just that throwaway line of copy printed on your catalog: “Like us on Facebook.” For brand advocates, your true super-fans, this might be enough. For the majority of the audience, it won’t be.

In the catalog, use creative language to encourage them to visit and contribute to your Facebook page. Let’s look at CB2 again. The cataloger offered customers a chance to win a $500 prize for writing a product review on Facebook. That certainly earned a few thumbs up.

New Pig, the venerable business-to-business leak and spill catalog, invited people to Facebook to celebrate National Pig Day by posting photos of swine-related activities. With some clever copy techniques, these catalogs actively engaged consumers without going for the hard sell.

You’ll get more engagement from your followers and fans if you make the Facebook experience more than buying and selling products.

A Tweet is worth a thousand words
“Follow us on Twitter” doesn’t say enough. The tiny Twitter icon says that without a single character count. Lands’ End Canvas invites readers of its catalog to “keep in touch” on Twitter with “even more up-to-the-minute Lands’ End” offers and information. And it delivers.

On Feb. 29, a series of tweets announced a one-day leap year offer. A time-sensitive offer like this would be a challenge on the catalog page, but with carefully chosen language to encourage Twitter followers, the brand enhanced its online presence.

Like a Tweet itself, a few words can say so much. As with the blog and Facebook, do not merely “ask” consumers to follow you. Make them WANT to follow you.

Matthew Feyis a strategic copywriter with multichannel consultancy J.Schmid & Associates.