An e-Commerce Bump Can Happen If You Follow These ‘Essentials’

I read in Folio: this week that e-commerce sales at Good Housekeeping are up 567% over the past six weeks, compared to the same period in 2019. And at home fitness-focused Men’s Health, e-commerce sales are up 546% over the same period.
“We’ve continued with our core strategy: create content that’s highly relevant to what our readers need, stay nimble and quickly respond to what addresses the changing world, and always make it easy for our people to take action,” said Emily Silverman, senior director of e-commerce and partnerships at Hearst Magazines. “One of the top commerce stories on [Cosmopolitan] right now is about at-home laser hair removal; not the most sexy topic, but an essential service the Cosmo reader needs guidance on with her usual salons and services unavailable.”
There’s actually a lot to dissect in that quote, not even counting the laser hair removal which I may leave for another day or author:
Create highly relevant content. Industry Dive just launched three weekly newsletters this week designed for professionals who work in the specialized areas of human resources—Compliance, Diversity & Inclusion, and Compensation & Benefits. “As the workplace evolves, we wanted to increase our coverage in some critical segments and make it even easier for HR pros to get the news and analysis they need on specialized topics,” said Liza Casabona, managing editor. That brings their newsletter total to 22. Tim Hartman, CEO of Government Executive Media Group, said last week that they now run a podcast for each of their brands, plus some “white label” ones. Although people aren’t commuting, they are doing more chores, and podcasts can be consumed then, he said.
Stay nimble. In NiemanLab’s Predictions for Journalism 2020 back in December—doesn’t that seem like about three years ago?—Emily Withrow, director of R&D at Quartz, predicted that successful news organizations would adopt a more nimble product approach. This would involve building a culture and habit of quick experimentation and establishing that expectation with readership, opening channels for conversations about those experiments and how they might improve. “Our readers will feel like they’re a part of the process, not a part of the product. Audiences will learn to trust us more because we will transparently strive to serve them better, and we will listen when they speak.” Sean Griffey, CEO of Industry Dive, spoke about being nimble last week. “Culturally, our sales team doesn’t view themselves as selling advertising… webinars or banner ads. They’re trying to solve customers’ problems. That’s allowed us to be very nimble…”
Quickly respond to what addresses the changing world. “We put our COVID content in front of the paywall on March 3rd and saw an explosion in website traffic (153% increase) and a modest increase in subscriptions (9%) since the same time period last year,” said Stephanie Williford, CEO of EB Medicine. Speaking during a SIPA UK meeting last week, Victoria Mellor of Kademy and formerly Melcrum, spoke about the adjustments she has made. “What we’ve done this week is a special white paper on COVID-19. The view I’m talking on subscriptions is that you need to sell by helping people. Cold calling in this environment is difficult; being helpful is the way to go. We have a coaching offering in our membership suite of online training modules… What we’re doing is for prospects in our pipeline, offering free coaching sessions [and it is] being well received. People need short-term help… Be helpful and thoughtful about how you’re positioning yourselves.”
Always make it easy for our people to take action. This is huge anytime, but especially now because our frustration level is probably at an all-time high, so a couple extra clicks could make the difference between a sale and no-sale. I’ve experienced this with various online events I’ve signed up for—if it’s not easy, I abandon. It’s just not worth it. In a Zoom meeting we had today, one of our participants remarked how many codes it took to get on. For now, Zoom certainly has an advantage, but as more credible video conferencing platforms start to emerge, three passwords might be two too many.
Decide what is “essential” for your audience. For the Cosmopolitan reader, it appears to be laser hair removal. (And you thought I wasn’t going there.) What are the “essential services” for your audience? The more personalized those can be, the better.

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