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Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your favourite publications? Want the inside scoop on how to make your products stand out to the media? Well we covered all of these topics and more in our latest instalment of Meet the Media. Last month we were joined by Lindsey Davis, Content Director for Lifestyle Ecommerce at Future PLC for Future PLC (i.e. the home of some of our favourite publications such as Livingetc, Ideal Home, Woman & Home and so many more!).
We sat down with Lindsey to gain some insight into the world of ecommerce and affiliate marketing from the media perspective. Here are just a few of the brilliant tidbits of info she had to share:
Q. What is a typical day like in your work?
Well, because I’m working with nine brands, my typical day involves lots of meetings and video calls. I also analyse data constantly to determine what’s working and what isn’t, and I provide feedback to the teams. I have short, medium, and long-term projects based on data analysis. While I don’t get to do as much content creation as I used to, I still enjoy working on it whenever I have some time. My main focus is bringing the teams up to speed with changes and best practices. In the digital world, the landscape is constantly changing, and Google’s algorithms can be unpredictable. AI is also a hot topic in our conversations. So, my day involves staying updated on industry trends, consumer psychology, SEO changes, and optimising our pages for better conversion. I also conduct spot checks on content. Overall, my role is about helping the brands sell the right products to the right readers using data, aligning the brands and writers for maximum impact.
Q. How do editorial and affiliate teams work together?
Well, I think with affiliates, it’s about looking at different touchpoints for the consumer. We have traditional display advertising on our websites, but what I really like about affiliate marketing is that it allows us to tap into what the audience wants. We’ve been using analytics on our content for years to understand reader preferences, but with affiliate marketing, we can go beyond just analyzing engagement. It’s not just about someone spending time reading an article; it’s about them making a purchase as well. From an editorial perspective, our main goal is to create the best content for our readers. The relationship between retailers, publishers, and the audience is symbiotic. The audience has a problem or a need, publishers identify and provide the solution, and retailers offer the products. It’s a circle of everyone helping each other, with monetary transactions playing a part, but the focus remains on building and satisfying the audience’s needs.
Q. What would you say is popular in terms of affiliate content right now?
Currently, the traditional buying guide or „best of“ search is still popular and effective. People often search for keywords like „best [product category]“ to find what they need. However, a growing trend that we are pivoting towards is focusing on the hidden or less obvious journey. This involves understanding the jobs to be done in e-commerce content. Instead of solely promoting a specific product, we aim to address the problems consumers are trying to solve. For example, rather than targeting „best mattress,“ we create content that addresses issues like sleep problems or back pain, offering solutions and product suggestions. This approach feels more useful, natural, and less pushy. It aligns well with PR strategies as it allows framing products around relevant topics and pain points, incorporating expert quotes and nurturing the audience’s understanding rather than a hard sell approach.
Q. Is there a criteria you follow when it comes to choosing images for features?
Yes, there is a sway towards selecting products that offer affiliate partnerships. When brands engage with their marketing efforts and offer affiliate programs, it increases their visibility to us as publishers. Additionally, certain brands resonate more with our audience, so we lean towards featuring them. However, we also approach articles with a research-based mindset. We start by conducting background research, looking at top sellers on various sites and gaining knowledge about different brands. While we do include non-affiliate brands, the affiliate revenue does play a role in determining which articles to pursue. It helps justify the article and can make a difference, especially in niche areas where there might not be as much appetite otherwise.
Q: Is there a budget and time constraint when it comes to articles, and does the potential for affiliate earnings influence the selection process?
A: Yes, there are budget and time constraints when it comes to articles. We have limited resources like any other business, and the potential for affiliate earnings can affect the selection process. If we know that running an article with affiliate links can generate commission and justify the investment, we are more likely to pursue it. However, it’s important to note that the article still needs to appeal to the readers in order to generate affiliate earnings. It’s a constant circle where the content should be appealing, and the potential for earnings through affiliates is considered in the decision-making process.
Q. How important is imagery, and what style of imagery works best?
A: Imagery is crucial in online content consumption because people don’t read every word. They are drawn to images that jump out on the page. In our case, lifestyle shots are highly valued, particularly when featuring products. We prefer having a variety of choices for imagery because our content needs differ depending on whether it’s a shopping piece or an ideas piece. Lifestyle shots that showcase potential lifestyles related to the product are effective for shopping pieces. However, for a more shoppable experience, high-quality cutout imagery is preferred, where the focus is on the product itself. Having a gallery format with diverse imagery allows us to identify scroll-stopping images from a consumer perspective. The availability of different image orientations (e.g., square, horizontal) is also important, as it aligns with online consumption preferences. The variety of images per product offers more coverage and helps cater to different brand aesthetics and publication styles.
Q: Do you generally feature brands large and small regardless? Do you like a mix, and how does that work with affiliates?
A: Yes, we do like a mix of brands, regardless of their size. Our focus is on showcasing the best options to our audience, and the size of the brand is irrelevant when it comes to the quality of the product. We believe in highlighting and profiling both larger and smaller brands to offer a diverse range of choices to our readers. In terms of affiliates, historically, smaller companies were less involved in affiliate programs. However, that has been changing in recent years, and we are pleasantly surprised to see more smaller brands embracing affiliates as an additional marketing tool. It’s another way for them to promote their products and gain exposure.
Q: How does your team use Press Loft differently from other networks? How has it helped with your editorial workflow?
A: Press Loft provides us with a great level of convenience. Many team members have used Press Loft in previous roles, so it’s a familiar platform for us. It offers quick and easy access to a wide variety of high-resolution images, which is extremely beneficial for our editorial and e-commerce content creation. When we’re working on fast turnaround shopping pieces, waiting for PRs to respond might not always be feasible, even though they are usually prompt. With Press Loft, we can quickly browse and find the images we need without having to visit individual brand websites or engage in back-and-forth communication. It streamlines our workflow and saves us time and effort.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Click the link to watch the full webinar to hear even more of Lindsey’s valuable insights and find out more about how affiliate marketing comes into play for the rise of online media.