Looking to offer its visitors a better user experience, designer brand kate spade new york re-platformed its e-commerce site in March 2011, giving equal play on its homepage to commerce and content. That content is housed on the company’s blog, Behind the Curtain, which was also reformatted and includes new features that showcase the brand’s magazine-style editorial talents. (Those content marketing efforts landed the company at No. 8 on the Marketeer’s Top 50 Brands to Watch in 2012.)
We recently spoke with Lindsay Knaak, kate spade new york’s director of marketing strategy, who shared with us a few lessons on how to maintain quality in your content marketing program.
Above all, Knaak credits the company’s impeccably tight branding for its distinct editorial voice and strong point of view. A hierarchy of campaign messaging is developed from an annual theme (2012 is the “year of pattern”) into seasonal concepts, and filters down into every component of the marketing program, including content creation.
The fashion industry is driven by seasons, and new lines demand fresh, innovative marketing campaigns. The same in-house creative talent behind those campaigns is responsible for maintaining Behind the Curtain, which supports a long-term content strategy. The marketing creative team includes art directors, a programming developer, and copywriters responsible for everything from the language on hang tags to contributing blog posts. But ideas for content aren’t hoarded inside a marketing-department silo, and the e-commerce team in particular helps inform editorial when tying back to product.
“Good ideas come from throughout the organization,” says Knaak. “We’re very strategic about crowd-sourcing ideas.”
The team begins conceptualizing brand campaigns six to seven months in advance, and specific content is nailed down one month in advance. But the team also provides publishing flexibility. Editorial meetings are held weekly, when more timely news content is built into the editorial calendar.
Behind the Curtain is not the brand’s first foray into content marketing. The marketing team has realized its editorial value through the years as a self-publisher of guides to “living colorfully.” Those books—which include recommendations on dining, shopping, the arts, culture, and other staples of lifestyle journalism—sold well in the company’s retail outlets, encouraging more content. “Our fans and customers gave us permission” to create more, says Knaak. Behind the Curtain, which boasts 15 “columns,” allows employees to continue their roles as “curators of culture.”
“The blog is very 3-dementional in nature,” says Knaak. “We didn’t want to be just another fashion blog or retail blog.”
The brand’s e-commerce team regularly tracks website statistics, and the marketing team uses social media engagement to inform future content creation. Of course, like most publishers, the company is consistently “testing and learning,” says Knaak, who advises not “getting hung up” exclusively on direct sales when it comes to content marketing. Instead, a focus on “reinforcing the brand” is what makes Behind the Curtain so “authentic.”
And for kate spade new york, that translates directly as “quality.”