By Josh Payne, CEO, StackCommerce
It’s time we let old school publishers in on a little secret: commerce is quietly becoming a core component of the modern publisher’s arsenal. Cool kids like theCHIVE are finding genius ways to deliver highly sought-after commerce posts, natively, to their fans. Revered for their irreverent brand of humor, the men’s lifestyle site has taken a uniquely different approach to monetization. Their “Shut Up and Take My Money” commerce post (Yes, you read that right), echoes with an unapologetic, authentic voice and serves up cool gadgets and unique, niche products that are irreverent, fun and sharable. By offering hand-selected deals tailored to resonate with a specific audience, the post has become one of the most trafficked weekly features - not to mention, an instrumental facet of their business.
So how can traditional publishers capitalize on this recent trend and utilize native commerce as a substantial component of their revenue mix? There are a few key factors to consider:
Know your Audience
It’s imperative to understand who you’re speaking to and tailor your message accordingly. Think about whom is on the receiving end. Selfie-obsessed tweens or gluten-free, Spandex-clad CrossFitters? Yes, we’re talking about subtle nuances. But the truth is, the more intimately you know your audience, the better equipped you’ll be to customize commerce content. Take Gizmodo, for example. The tech-centric gadget site serves up snarky articles on entertainment, science, and tech, titled with headlines like, “Sony’s Old-As-Dirt (But Still Great) MDRV6 Headphones.” Gizmodo has garnered an extremely engaged user base of millennials and their Kinja Deals blog curates a unique mix of gadgets and general "best of the web" deals that target the tech-obsessed audience.
Tailor your Tone
In what seems like a gutsy move, theCHIVE branded their commerce post, “Shut Up and Take My Money.” Verbose? Perhaps. Marginally offensive? Possibly. Perfectly aligned with the everyday lexicon of their core audience? Absolutely. It’s important to be mindful of the way in which commerce content is written. Tone of voice should be tailored to resonate with your unique readership. Considering theCHIVE’s cheeky website slogan, “Probably the Best Site in The World,” it’s clear that their brazen commerce branding was no mistake. They’ve developed a devoted following by consistently delivering approachable, accessible, and undeniably authentic messaging.
Commerce content should be crafted in a compelling way that establishes trust, builds credibility and bridges an emotional connection with readers. Your audience will appreciate learning about products that are framed with an entertaining, engaging and authentic angle – as though recommended by a trusted friend. Once trust has been established, readers will return as regulars. Point in fact? Users routinely frequent Business Insider’s ‘Insider Picks’ section, which suggests relevant products, at a regular cadence, on site and via email with catchy titles like, “5 Great Tech Brands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of”. The products are curated by an in-house commerce team that selects buzzy, innovative, up-and-coming items.
Curate Compelling Deals
It seems like a no-brainer, but product selection is key. Buzzfeed’s ‘Shop Buzzfeed’ segment has mastered the art of delivering distinct items that resonate with their core audience, offering a curated selection of deals that play off the site’s iconic listicles. (Wondering what a “listicle” is? The term quite literally merges “list” and “article.” Think of it as an all-encompassing phrase for an article in list form). One of their most recent listicles? “17 Items Every Frickin’ Lazy Person Will Adore.” As with editorial, humor plays a large role in Buzzfeed’s product selection. The site has successfully capitalized on their fan base by serving up buzz-worthy merchandise that is inherently sharable. In respect to turning fans to advocates, it’s important to deliver products that people want to talk about. At the end of the day, word-of-mouth remains one of the most trusted ways to convert potential purchasers.
Task a Team to Focus on Opportunities
Lastly, it’s important to apply dedicated editorial resources. Do yourself a favor and employ an in-house Commerce Editor or an outside partner to stay ahead of the curve. It’s vital that you have someone working in tandem with editorial teams to write and optimize commerce content. The role is integral, with regards to discovering products that are aligned with your audience. Incidentally enough, the term “Commerce Manager” didn’t even exist two years ago. Yet, in recent months we’ve seen a surging number of digital publishers build out commerce organizations within their companies and enlist both Commerce Editors and outside partners to help merge editorial content with commerce.
When executed well, commerce posts have the capacity to become highly sought-after content that users are consistently engaged with and eager to read. With a laser-sharp focus on target audience, expertly tailored tone of voice, and niche deals that are carefully curated by a dedicated Commerce Editor, these highly trafficked posts have become a valuable supplement for ad sales. Native commerce is quickly becoming a core component of the modern publisher’s arsenal and old school publishers would be remiss if they failed to capitalize on this new and meaningful revenue stream.
Josh Payne is the Founder & CEO of StackCommerce, the web’s leading native commerce platform. With a network reach of over 500 million monthly visitors across more than 750+ publisher partners, the company provides turnkey solutions to monetize and engage online
audiences through the seamless integration of content + commerce.
These solutions include: full-service commerce shops, editorial, email, social, and in-feed product recommendations. Prior to founding StackCommerce, Josh oversaw business development and strategic partnerships for several leading Internet and technology pioneers including Yahoo!, Meebo (acquired by Google), and Intel as he drove revenue and user growth.
Earlier in his career, he also served as a Venture Capital Associate at the Aurora Funds investing in early stage technology companies. Josh earned his MBA from Duke and his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Indiana University. He is a triathlete, self-proclaimed coffee snob, and avid-explorer having travelled to over 30 countries.