From Equinox to Dollar Shave Club: 9 Brands with Winning Content for Commerce Strategies

Furthermore is a digital magazine that seems to have it all: eye-catching images, sleek design and a great mix of articles. Topics prominently featured on the homepage run the gamut from the health benefits of steel cut oatmeal to the science of why we use too much lip balm.

What makes Furthermore most impressive is that it’s not actually the work of a traditional publisher. Furthermore is produced by luxury gym Equinox.

According to social listening platform NewsWhip, 70% of consumers would rather learn about a brand through content than ads. Similarly, 68% feel more positive about a company after engaging with its content.

It wasn’t that long ago that content marketing was a buzzword. Remember how speakers at industry conferences would say “Content is king” before that phrase was largely seen as stating the obvious? (See also: “the year of mobile.”)

Still, we recognize that content is king. And so do brands.

The Brand as a Publisher

In 2014, IDC reported that CMOs at the largest tech companies considered building content marketing as an organizational competency was one of their top priorities, second only to measuring ROI. In a Content Marketing Institute survey four years later, 89% of respondents said their organizations are strongly committed to content marketing.

For many of them, that focus involves acting like publishers and in some cases, going as far as to create their own newsrooms.

Coca-Cola was a pioneer of this strategy, launching Journey in 2012. With a goal of “humanizing the company,” Journey has since evolved to encompass more than two dozen regional versions in 14 languages. Journey publishes stories across nine categories including food, innovation, history, sports and sustainability.

Though Coke was certainly an early adopter of the publisher mentality, the brand wasn’t alone. Others include Dell’s Tech Page One, which even aggregates relevant articles from sources like Reuters and Forbes; Red Bull’s adventure-focused Red Bulletin; and every in-flight magazine in existence.

It’s Not About Creating Content; It’s About Creating Good Content

To say there’s a lot of content out there would be like claiming that Antarctica is a little chilly this time of year. According to WordPress, users publish 70 million new posts every month. YouTube creators upload 300 hours of video to the platform every minute.

To cut through the clutter, brands can’t simply create content. It’s about creating good content.

“Good” content is in the eye of the beholder, but there are a few universal truths: it should be engaging and demonstrate value. Today’s consumers have more distractions than ever before, so if your content is top-notch, they will want to consume it.

According to eMarketer, 25.8% of U.S. consumers use ad blockers. If consumers don’t want to see ads, they probably don’t want to see ads disguised as content, either.

Brands that invest in content enough to act as publishers are generally savvy enough not to beat consumers over the head with their brand messages — unless that’s what they want. Thankfully, data and personalization tools make it easier than ever to tell. Futhermore is barely recognizable as a brand’s publication; Ctrl+F brings up two mentions of the word “Equinox.” And given the time of year, once of those is actually a reference to the vernal equinox. On the other hand, most stories on Journey are at least tangentially related to Coca-Cola. However, the entire “most popular” section is Coke-centric; readers want to know how about Coke’s sustainability plans and “Smoobucha,” a kombucha-smoothie hybrid from Odwalla.

Who Else Is Doing it Right?

More and more brands are taking content creation in-house. Of those going as far as to create publications, who stands out? Here are seven examples:

  • The Home Depot: Content on The Home Depot’s comprehensive blog runs the gamut from how to install a patio to decorating tips for Halloween. There is truly something for everyone and strong filters make it digestible. The Home Depot asks about readers’ tastes in order to curate content in a “just for you” tab, contributing to the brand’s fourth-place finish on our Retail Personalization Index.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue: The Edit is like a cross between Vogue and a Saks catalogue. Saks Fifth Avenue appeals to its stylish readers by covering all things fashion, even cementing its employees as experts. For example, Tracy Margolies, the brand’s chief merchant, shared her favorite items from New York Fashion Week.
  • Casper: In 2015, Casper launched a digital publication to “make sleep journalism a thing.” The mattress brand has since expanded coverage to all things comfort and wellness. Woolly does a good job incorporating a wide variety of topics under that umbrella. Current “cover stories” include health benefits of getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, comic books as a source of escapism, and a definitive ranking of nice cups of tea. Chamomile tops the list, obviously.
  • ShoeDazzle: The Platform, ShoeDazzle’s blog, blends content and commerce by integrating products into articles about everything shoes, trends and fashion. One post about mules incorporates three drastically different styles to appeal to different shoppers… all with product page links, of course.
  • TD Ameritrade: thinkMoney has won numerous editorial and design awards over the past decade. The publication isn’t just financial; it focuses on options traders, a very narrow niche within the investing world. TD Ameritrade appeals to that demographic with laser-focused content, exclusively written and edited by active traders.
  • Dollar Shave Club: More than anything else, Bathroom Minutes, which comes with every subscription box, is entertaining. Each issue is only a few pages long, as they’re meant to be read in the bathroom. The content is also interesting in a “Hey, did you know…?” kind of way. Did you know that it’s so common to swear after stubbing a toe because our brains reflexively respond to that kind of stimuli similarly to the way a dog yelps if you yank its tail?
  • Airbnb: Three years ago, Airbnb launched Pineapple, a coffee table book-style magazine that has since been replaced with an online publication. Airbnbmag focuses on travel, but with a more localized approach, which is reflected in the tagline, “Be at home in the world.” Where the typical travel magazine might focus on things to do in Hawaii, Airbnbmag zeroed in on the best shops in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood, for example.

Learn more about how Sailthru can help you create personalized web content to keep your customers engaged.

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