From Equinox to Dollar Shave Club: 8 Brands with Winning Content+Commerce Strategies
February 4, 2020
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 surf trip training to to how to tell if you lack ankle mobility.
What makes Furthermore most impressive is that it’s not actually the work of a traditional publisher; it’s produced by luxury gym Equinox. Furthmore takes an editorial approach to its email marketing, often using a serial format, and linking to workout tutorials complete with GIFs of trainers demonstrating moves, like the one above.
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 said “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.
It’s Not About Creating Content; It’s About Creating Good Content
In 1895, John Deere launched The Furrow — “a journal for the American farmer” — to promote its manufacturing equipment. More than a century later, the publication has gone omnichannel and tells stories about cauliflower’s rise in popularity and optimizing feed efficiency, for example. While branded content is nothing new, it’s still evolving. In November, a World Media Group survey found that 79% of marketing professionals believe content-led campaigns will grow in 2020.
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 single 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. To that end, brands increasingly act as publishers. Born from a blog with nearly 1 million unique monthly visitors, Furthermore was launched by Elizabeth Miersch, who was Self‘s associate fitness editor before joining the Equinox team.
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 organizing a small closet. 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 most recent 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, relaxing sounds besides rain, 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.
- Walmart. With more than 317,000 followers, @whoawaitwalmart is a six-year-old Instagram account dedicated to two influencers’ favorite finds at Walmart. This spring, Bauer Media is turning that content into a print magazine, produced independently, but sold at Walmart stores. The magazine will even be shoppable, with QR codes.
- 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. That’s 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.
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