Turning readers into buyers

Walking the line between editorial and e-commerce

Rowena Soons, The 10 Group

Senior Strategist


Brands have historically treated editorial and paid media as if they were chalk and cheese. Positioned at opposite ends of the awareness to conversion marketing funnel, the opportunities that lie in the gap between content and commerce can be missed due to opposing KPIs and fluctuating team priorities.

The looming recession in the UK has brought marketing budgets under scrutiny, with many businesses choosing to invest in earned channels, which they can manage and grow without external spend. With consumers growing increasingly sceptical of predatory advertising – particularly content that encourages buy-now-pay-later or impulse purchasing – how can brands forge deeper connections with them?

Editorial can connect with audiences on an emotional level

The emergence of social shopping, the growth of online forums, such as Reddit, and the integration of influencers into brand campaigns, mean that consumers are increasingly expecting brands to educate them and help them to make wiser decisions. We don’t just expect brands to sell us products – we want them to engage with the issues we care about. Brands who continue to use aggressive marketing tactics during the cost-of-living crisis risk being seen as insensitive or out of touch.

It is much easier for a brand to communicate its purpose story editorially, rather than through an advert.

Rowena Soons, Senior Strategist at The 10 Group

This is where editorial content comes in. It is much easier for a brand to communicate its purpose story editorially, rather than through an advert. A picture might tell a thousand words, but words can build a lasting picture in a consumer’s mind – driving long-term loyalty as well as short-term sales. Brands that invested in SEO 3-5 years ago (around the time that Google increased the transparency around its EAT ranking methodology) have seen their organic performance statistics soar. The senior brand marketeers (likely now directors holding the purse strings!) that made a long- term SEO play in 2018 understand the role of editorial in their success and are continuing to put it firmly at the top of the marketing agenda.

Three trends shaping the future of shoppable editorial 

While some brands are cutting back their marketing spend in response to the volatile economic landscape, favouring earned channels over paid media, others are changing tack by blending content and commerce – turning readers into buyers in the space of a few clicks. Three trends are characterising this new era of shoppable editorial.

The first trend is shoppable curated edits. Activated through influencers, this content is aimed at consumers who are looking for inspiration but are overwhelmed by choice. Endource’s curated shoppable experience, which brings together their top-selling products on a simple, easy-to-digest web page, is a great example of how influencer curation can help consumers learn about the latest trends, while driving conversion by combatting choice paralysis.

Linked to this is the rise of lifestyle experience buying over category shopping. Lifestyle influencers and brands who previously operated in a single space are increasingly broadening their approach. Think Zara and H&M moving into homeware, or Amazon moving into healthcare. This has led to an emerging consumer mindset focused on shopping for a lifestyle, rather than a specific product. A great example of this is when Semaine, a magazine meets concept store, interviewed a ‘tastemaker’ to build ‘shoppable insight’ on their website under the tagline: ‘Forget the look. Shop the life.’.

Brands who are focusing on communicating with their customers on a more human, emotional level are finding that good storytelling can drive shopping. Partnerships with editorial publishers can help close the gap between editorial and paid media strategies; by harnessing the authority of the publication, brands can capture consumers’ attention in more authentic and valuable ways. Advertorials can be blended with shoppable experiences on the partner’s website or combined with a targeting strategy on paid social, educating and driving conversions at the same time. A great example of this is Farfetch’s global content and commerce partnership with Conde Nast. Set out like a magazine feature, it is engaging and entertaining while also being fully interactive and shoppable.                              

Storytelling that drives the bottom line

The rise of purpose-driven marketing, and the increasing scepticism around over-reliance on Meta to drive sales, is leading to an increasing focus on editorial content. But brands could risk falling short commercially if they don’t also provide an opportunity to buy at the right time. Or, even worse, they could use their own resources, thinking and channels to engage new customers, only to open up the opportunity for competitors to sweep in and secure the sale by using clever paid media targeting at the right time.

As the cost-of-living crisis bites, the challenge for brands will be creating content that engages while providing an integrated experience for the customer that drives sales and promotes growth. Our work with clients such as Vodafone, Beauty Pie and Red Bull demonstrates that it is possible to connect with customers and create a loyal relationship with them through the power of storytelling – but it takes an integrated approach and a commitment to understanding what makes audiences tick.


Guest Author

Rowena Soons, The 10 Group

Senior Strategist


Rowena Soons is Senior Strategist at The 10 Group, an integrated marcomms agency. The 10 Group blends strategy, storytelling and amplification to deliver work for clients including Vodafone, Beauty Pie, Red Bull and British Gas. Its team of award-winning producers, international journalists and digital marketeers create stories for companies and brands that inspire employees, attract customers and engage investors. Rowena is an expert in brand positioning, go-to-market strategies and integrated channel campaigns. Before joining The 10 Group, she led the marketing team at Octopus Investments for sustainable consumer investment products. Prior to that, she built a marketing team and rolled out an integrated strategy for B2B property start-up Eat Work Art, focusing on marketing creative workspaces to entrepreneurs. She started her career at The Hut Group, managing global digital marketing for D2C e-commerce websites Lookfantastic and Mankind, focusing on online events, thought leadership and social media.

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