If there’s one key takeaway from this article, or a best practice we ‘hands-down’ recommend, it’s to use your editorial publication as a lifestyle leadership platform, rather than a product marketing platform.
Educate about a lifestyle that supports the use of your products and you’ll build customers for life.
With an ever growing amount of content being generated on a daily basis, it’s crucial to create quality content that is unique, engaging and useful to your audience. We’ve been studying content marketing trends for a while, and are about to kick off a very juicy client project where we will be curating quarterly editorial publications. As part of our strategy work, we looked to successful content marketing trends, and thought you’d appreciate some insight into what we found.
Creating an editorial publication, separate from your brand (but meant to drive overall awareness back to your brand), can be an effective content marketing strategy. But why are brands doing it, and is it actually influencing brand awareness?
What is an Editorial Publication?
An editorial publication represents the opinions and values of the brand producing it, and is positioned as a complimentary, yet separate content marketing identity. It may use similar design elements like font treatment or colour palette, yet has a unique name or title.
Example: The Chalkboard Mag from Pressed Juicery
Featured content will target the same consumer, but places a heavier weighting on education and entertainment, versus direct product marketing. That’s not to say it doesn’t include advertising opportunities, it just puts more emphasis on quality content. This indirect marketing tactic, is meant to grow a lifestyle based community, educate and build engagement with the target audience, drive overall brand awareness, and create long term brand loyalty. We recommend editorial publications for brands that are built to last, and have big growth dreams in mind.
Editorial publications are NOT considered to be a form of native advertising, yet native advertising could appear within the editorial publication. If your all, “say what?”… start here with some background reading on native advertising, and then come back and join us.
Editorial publications are a unique identity, but do share stories, resources, articles and opinions that align with the brand producing it. The content can be hosted on a unique URL/website, shared through independent social media channels, or a newsletter list independent from the brand’s own direct marketing lists.
The frequency ranges from publishing new content on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. It would depend on your internal bandwidth, or budget if you’re working with an external agency.
An editorial publication can deliver content that is perceived as more authentic and trusted. Even though you can control how your brand is mentioned and positioned within the content, ensure it’s positioned in an unbiased way (or use native advertising), to keep your audience’s trust. Once it’s lost, it’s hard to regain.
How to Measure the Success of Content Marketing Initiatives
It can be hard to prove ROI when you’re using an indirect marketing tactic, such as an editorial publication. It can also be hard to prioritize time or budget towards it if you’re not seeing direct returns. A few metrics we’ve found to be useful in measuring the success of an editorial publication:
- Year over Year brand performance across metrics like social media platform growth, and revenue. Are you growing faster than previous years?
- Sustained growth during volatile times. If you’re experiencing unfavourable market conditions, yet are sustaining growth or weathering the storm well, it may be associated with the brand loyalty and trust you’ve gained through content marketing
- Subscribers and open rates – if you’re publishing through an e-newsletter format
- Page views, time on page and number of pages viewed – if you’re hosting content on a unique web platform
- Click through’s for any native advertising features
- Growth in followers, general sentiment and engagement on social platforms – if promoting content on social media
Where to Look for Content Marketing Trends?
Editorial publications are but one of many tactics. Some of the methods we use to hunt for content marketing trends include social listening. We follow everyone from key influencers and major wellness brands, to small business owners and media outlets. We sign up for lots of lead magnet content downloads, newsletters and contests (Pro Tip: set up a “trend monitoring” email address you can use specifically when researching email marketing campaigns, so you don’t clog up your main inbox). We devour the consumer research, google analytics and market perspectives we have access to from our various clients. We use all of this to assess industry trends, alongside gauging shifts in consumer preferences.
Trend Round-Up: The Golden Pineapple Goes to These Editorial Publications
For the purpose of this post, we’re looking at exclusively digital examples, but an editorial publication could be in print as well.
1. Chalkboard Magazine (from Pressed Juicery)
What’s the Story:
The Chalkboard Mag is a guide to living well. With a mix of expert insights, healthy recipes, natural beauty picks, and toxin-free living ideas, the goal is to inspire you to live well. Launched by Pressed Juicery in 2012, TCM brings readers the best in wellness lifestyle resources.
In their words: “We’re making the journey toward wellness accessible, beautiful, fun and just a little bit stylish. We hope you find inspiration as you peruse the site and leave feeling refreshed and well-equipped.”
What we Love:
Leveraging high calibre influencers as editors and contributors. Guaranteed they are proudly sharing their contributions on their own social media platforms.
Separate URL? Yes. thechalkboardmag.com
Credit or mention of Pressed Juicery: Scrolling banner on the homepage features recent blog content, among which is a post about summer fruits and ways to indulge – including a fresh pressed juice. All the content includes stylized photos, with Pressed Juicery products interspersed.
Pop Up Offer within first few seconds on the homepage offers you a discount on your next Pressed Juicery order in exchange for subscribing to The Chalkboard Magazine newsletter.
A mention of Pressed Juicery in the main menu header, positioned to indicate a “produced by” status. As well as Pressed Juicery products being available for purchase in the “Shop” page, and all related blog content is curated on “The Juice” page (far right tabs).
Frequency and Channels of Distribution: Daily blog articles, weekly newsletter and daily social media (multiple channels)
Additional Advertising: “The Shop” (marketplace) is curated with favourite products from the Chalkboard Mag team and guest editors, linking to external sites where you can purchase (likely with an affiliate kick back to TCM). Content features weave in additional product mentions, positioned as “Editors Picks”, for example.
2. Furthermore (from Equinox Gyms)
What’s the Story: Formerly called ‘Q’ by Equinox, now morphed into ‘Furthermore‘. Dubbing themselves as “the authority on the high-performance life”. Delivering definitive, expert-vetted science in beautiful and unexpected ways. Travel, taste, experience, achievement. Their slogan: “Go Further. Want More”.
What we Love: Highly aspirational video marketing. Equinox has definitely embraced this as a core component to their content marketing mix. It’s also an incredible way to showcase their lifestyle, and raise the profile of their instructors and trainers creating a cult-like following for both their classes, and their content.
Separate URL? Combined: furthermore.equinox.com
Credit or mention of Equinox: Content contributors include Equinox fitness instructors and personal trainers. Video content (a large feature of the site), includes opening and closing credits with Equinox logo.
Brand mentions are also included in the header bar, positioned as a ‘produced by’ call out (“from Equinox”)…
Advertising: Content feature on the homepage is sponsored by Cathay Pacific airlines. This is a great example of native advertising (looks and feels like the rest of the Furthermore site). They also have sidebar ads when you start diving in to individual articles.
Frequency and Channels of Distribution: Dates are not featured on the content overview pages (hard to tell what’s new), but individual posts reveal sporadic posting frequency, and re-posting/re-sharing archived content (when viewing the “Movement” page on July 29th 2016, we noticed featured content from Dec 2013).
Daily posts and content sharing on various social media channels, but no newsletter sign up is apparent on their website.
3. InnerVoice.life (from NTSQ Sport Marketing Agency)
What’s the Story: Gritty stories told through the inner voice of endurance athletes. They acknowledge winning is only a piece of the puzzle, and there are equally as beautiful stories to be told about those that are chasing other goals.
“innervoice.life exists to tell stories about the struggles, mental battles and the real lives of athletes, and the ecosystem around them”
What we Love: Athlete stories (contributions) told in the first person (rather than third person, or a traditional sports reporter x interviewee style). It’s authentic, up close, and enhances the connection between the reader and the platform. Paired with premium photography, and we’re quite smitten!
Separate URL? Yes, www.innervoice.life
Credit or mention of NTSQ Sports: Small, subtle mention in the footnotes for each article/feature, “Published by NTSQ Sports”.
Advertising: Not yet – the publication is new, we will update this post if this changes over time.
Frequency and Channels of Distribution: Keep in mind this publication is new, but so far they’ve launched with newsletter subscription options (ticker on the homepage showcasing the rolling tally of subscribers), almost daily social media posts (currently exclusively on instagram), and articles (athlete stories) on a near weekly basis.
4. Zest (from Vega)
What’s the Story: Zest is your “small changes guide to living life better”. Designed to help you face your week knowing you’ve taken care of yourself, so you can take care of everything, and everyone else, better. In every issue of Zest you’ll find tips, tweaks, hacks, stories and recipes to help you live your best life.
What we Love: Including average “reading times” along with all their content. Clearly showcasing how approachable the content is, and how simple it will be to take a browse and improve your life as a result of what you’re learning. Content typically ranges from 3-5 minutes. Easy peasy.
Separate URL? Combined: zest.myvega.com
Credit or mention of Vega: The “About” page includes mention of being produced by Vega, encouraging readers to follow along on the social media channels for Vega, and a ‘learn more’ link to their site. Some content features include mentions of Vega products, such as “Top 4 Food Hacks to Make Your Calories Count”, including Vega Essentials Shake.
Advertising: No external advertising currently included.
Frequency and Channels of Distribution: Quarterly content releases, with a newsletter subscription option. Content is featured occasionally through Vega’s social media channels.
Honourable Mention: Dark Rye (from Whole Foods)
Not every example of an editorial publication has gone according to plan. Natural grocer, Whole Foods recently ceased production of its video rich editorial platform Dark Rye, and instead decided to feature the same stories of sustainability and traceability through their own Whole Foods website and social media feeds.
Ultimately each brand needs to decide where it’s content should live, and how to position it. Editorial publications are but one option. Keep the main takeaway in mind…Educate about a lifestyle that supports the use of your products and you’ll build customers for life.
Have you seen any other great examples of editorial publications, or content marketing trends? Share it with everyone in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
We are excited to be implementing some of our key takeaways from this research with an upcoming client project. We’ll be sure to share back some of our wins and learnings, stay tuned!
Appendix: Bacground Research – Content Marketing and Native Advertising