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Fashion and beauty magazine brand Marie Claire has developed a shopping platform that uses key search terms to recommend pages of curated content to encourage readers to shop while engaging with its website.
Developed in-house, the goal of the Marie Claire Edit platform was to create a better connection between readers and editors, according to the brand’s head of fashion affiliates, Emily Ferguson.
The brand’s motto is “think smart, look amazing”, which the magazine’s editors try to help readers achieve through opinions and product recommendations. Ferguson says Edit’s aim is to empower the women in the editorial team by giving them a new way to share their fashion advice.
“Seeing all of these amazing women in the office, all these dynamic women. The women within Marie Claire really encapsulate that [motto],” she says.
Managing director Justine Southall says the service benefits readers and retailers, with readers getting more specific product recommendations and retailers gaining a direct link with Marie Claire’s large readership.
As well as having their products featured on the Marie Claire site, the retailers the brand works with get a badge of recommendation from the editors.
“It was very much about keeping editorial independence and authenticity,” says Ferguson.
Keywords for key pieces
Marie Claire’s acquisition of a business called Love Fashion Sales sparked its development of the Marie Claire Edit service.
Ferguson was head-hunted to develop the acquired business into a new branded service that uses search engine optimisation (SEO) on keyword searches for “long-tail” items – clothing that isn’t likely to go out of fashion – to aggregate suggested items for purchase, as recommended by the brand’s editors.
Emily Ferguson, Marie Claire
“From a technical point of view, it makes perfect sense to launch a fashion aggregator on a site like Marie Claire,” says Ferguson.
Marie Claire uses SEO to categorise products based on a detailed description of what someone wants, so when consumers search for a particular type of garment in Google, pages showcasing these clothes on Marie Claire are more likely to appear, and consumers can then follow links on these pages to the retailers’ sites.
Ensuring marketplace coverage with its suggested products also means partnering with retail brands. As such, Marie Claire is working with retailers such as Selfridges, Asos, Topshop, Net-a-Porter and Matchesfashion.com – brands Ferguson says the Marie Claire editors have an affinity with.
Products are showcased from more than 20 stores, and there can be in excess of 250,000 items shown on the site at any one time, making the use of long-tail keyword targeting more accurate.
Because everything relevant from the market is shown in one location, these pages are more likely to rank highly in a Google search. The Edit technology allows the site to automatically index for higher-ranking Google keyword terms.
“We’ve created the breadth of the market in one fell swoop,” says Ferguson.
The content that runs alongside these searches is evergreen, showcasing items of clothing such as black leather miniskirts or camel coats that tend to be considered staples in people’s wardrobes.
For other items, the editors at Marie Claire will write an article curating their favourite pieces of the season from the brands they are most aligned to.
Ferguson says there’s an appetite on its sites for shopping featured content, and some of the brands have seen the conversion rate on these pages increase.
Fashion pages go digital
Magazines have long been a place where readers gain ideas for future purchases and brands connect with, or advertise to, readers who fall within their target market.
Though this has carried on into the online forum as retailers adopt an omni-channel approach, media and social media sites are now also being seen as places where people want to shop.
Experts claim people are now always shopping, with product recommendations becoming more common as the explosion of online retail outlets greatly expands the choices available to consumers.
As well as creating Marie Claire Edit, the media brand has partnered with Pinterest to allow its users to create Pinterest pages of their favourite brands and pieces.
The number of unique followers of its Pinterest page increased from 4.8 million to 6.8 million within three months of launching Marie Claire Edit, says Ferguson.
Its online traffic has been increasing too, rising by 10% a month since the launch of Edit.
Applying the tech foundation
The technology behind Edit was built in-house. “We have the knowledge and resources to do it,” says Ferguson, “so why use a third party?”
Ferguson and her team used an agile development approach to create the technology briefs and the algorithms for the product feeds.
Ferguson claims most of the technology from the acquired business was rebuilt over a six- to eight-month process of deciding how the concept would work from a Marie Claire perspective.
While Ferguson admits there are “endless possibilities” about what can be done with the technology, such as personalised newsletters or search functions, she says it was important to first focus on developing a minimum viable product – or, as she calls them, the “live or die” elements.
“I really believe a site should have core functionality and built out once you understand what the user is interested in. You need to make sure you’ve got a good foundation,” she says. “We will be adding a lot more features to the home page and to the site as it progresses.”
Marie Claire Edit will donate 1% of sales made through the platform to children’s charity Plan International UK, which aims to promote children’s rights and gain equality for girls across the globe.
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