Why Read this Article
Affirm partner Joybird, a premier retailer manufacturing customized, handcrafted furniture, recently made a big commitment by investing in building a content hub and blog for their customers. In this article, we explore their decision to do so and explain why many other merchants will likely follow in their footsteps.
Joybird: Using Content to Build an E-Commerce Success Story
Shoppers in search of high-quality furniture at a reasonable price have been falling in love with Joybird, a young but fast-growing e-commerce company that specializes in custom-built furniture — from sofas to chairs to tables to beds. Despite only being in business for just over two years, Joybird has already garnered praise from outlets like Glamour and has seen its number of employees rise from less than 10 to more than 50.
From the beginning, Joybird’s founders and executive team members knew that content would be an important part of their growth strategy. And that’s why they recently launched a new content hub and blog called “Life & Design” which is already generating positive reviews from their customers. To learn more about Joybird’s new content hub, we spoke to Nicolas Ullah, Senior Director of Marketing, who shared with us how the initiative came to fruition and how they plan to invest in content even more in the future.
The Joybird team thought through the entire process carefully before even starting the project, deciding what the objectives would be, what type of content strategy would work best for their niche market, and how they would use content in their marketing and sales flow. “We have a product that is customizable and appeals to people who don’t want to buy from the big retail chains like IKEA,” Nicolas told us. “[Our customers] refuse to have something that is standing in all of their friends’ living rooms.”
As they considered their customers’ needs and values, it became clear that the purpose of their content should be to empower people to design their own spaces better. Through detailed articles and guides, they would teach customers all the theories and best practices that underpin excellent interior design so that customers could apply this knowledge to their living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and home offices.
The Blog: Creating a Virtual Interior Design Class
In creating the content for the blog, Nicolas and his team drew upon common questions and problems that had been identified by Joybird’s customers. They had already been soliciting feedback from customers using online survey tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Consumer Surveys. These surveys had given them a potent list of topics that their customers were eager to learn about.
As Nicolas told us, “the overall idea is you can almost look at it as an interior design class. We give people these guides, and each guide really covers all aspects of one topic.” They started with a series of guides whose tagline would be: “become your own interior designer.”
The guides are geared toward specific problems that came to light in the customer surveys. “For example, small spaces are huge pain points for a lot of our customers,” Nicolas said. “For these customers to understand, ‘this is how I can optimize and design my space despite not having a huge house’… that’s something that’s super useful.”
Finally the team was ready to launch the blog. They pushed everything live and waited to see the response. The initial launch included two comprehensive guides that supported their goal of empowering customers to design their homes:
1) a guide to Decorating Small Spaces, and
2) a guide to DIY Room Decor And Decorating Ideas
These two guides, with 5 chapters and 6 chapters respectively, are packed with helpful information and answers for people decorating (or redecorating) their place. For example, the “Decorating Small Spaces” guide includes advice on how to use vertical space for storage and how best to light your rooms for maximum effect.
Likewise, the guide to “DIY Room Decor and Decorating Ideas” has very practical and insightful tips. Each chapter discusses important questions facing the aspiring home-decorator, like how to choose the right colors for each room.
Another chapter offers a concise and accurate explanation of some of the most common interior design themes (i.e. Early American, Mid Century Modern, Industrial, and Traditional) and helps the reader understand how the particular theme they choose will affect the type of furniture they’ll need.
So far, according to Nicolas, Joybird’s customers have been engaging with and enjoying the content.
The Strategy: Serve Up Dynamic, Relevant Content to Move Customers Down the Conversion Funnel
In talking with Nicolas, it was very clear that the Joybird team has thought through the strategy and has a good sense of how they plan to use the content. Every company that produces content has to face the tradeoff between quantity and quality. In Joybird’s case, since the quality of this content is so high, they won’t be trying to publish too frequently.
As Nicolas told us, “what I see happening is that a lot of this content because the value is so high is going to be evergreen content… in a lot of cases [the guides] have six or more chapters. It takes some time to develop that and make sure it’s perfect.” Of course, this doesn’t mean Joybird won’t continue publishing new content — they will — it only means that they will invest the requisite time into making each piece of content truly unique and useful.
But how will they use it? Here are several ways:
1) Sharing the content with customers via email, social media, and PR
When new content is published, it will be shared with existing customers and fans via email and on social media channels. Joybird will also incorporate this content into PR campaigns. “We will create advertising and social media campaigns around each of these,” Nicolas said. “It should connect advertising, PR, social media, and especially [the website itself]… we have an email calendar that will include emails featuring our content.”
2) Targeting relevant content to specific segments of web visitors
Perhaps the most important way this content will be used is showing it to potential customers who visit Joybird’s website. One way this will happen is when a visitor is looking at specific pages, like a product page or category page. “We have an apartment-sized furniture collection, and on the page for this collection you will find a block of text with a call-to-action that’s super relevant to anyone who’s looking into this collection. It gives you a quick overview of the content and the option to navigate to our guide for decorating small spaces.”
They also plan to segment customers based upon preferences they’ve indicated in surveys or by their browsing behavior. “We have all these segments depending on the questions we ask people and what type of content people are interested in. So we can segment by that and then create a natural strategy around those. We will have much better targeted messaging to people who are interested in specific content pieces… in a lot of cases people come to us saying they’re not ready to pull the trigger immediately. At that point in the journey to give someone the right content that that person can then get inspired by is very valuable and a lot of the strategy is based on that.”
This content will also be served dynamically to website visitors based upon their browsing behavior, ensuring that the content is extremely relevant. For example, Nicolas told us that if a customer has viewed a particular chair the last three times on the website and requested a swatch already, they would be shown a guide on how to use chairs as statement pieces in interior design. Not only would the article be served on product detail pages but also on any other pages the customer visits within the site.
3) Featuring products within the content itself
Of course, the guides themselves will actually feature a lot of the products too. Each guide has glossy photos of various Joybird furniture pieces that are relevant to the topic at hand, as well as links to those product pages. That way, someone reading the guide to decorating small spaces will see lots of products that could help them. Eventually, Nicolas says, the guides will be able to present products dynamically based on the person’s browsing behavior. “If we are talking about re-decorating your own space and you have browsed our apartment collection before and you picked a red Soto chair, within the guide you will find that red Soto chair.”
The KPIs: Going Beyond Engagement Metrics
Of course, any good project has KPIs, and this one is no different. Nicolas said, “we have a measurement plan for looking into relationship metrics, such as engagement rates and amplification rates, initially.” These metrics will tell Joybird whether customers are reading the content, how much time they are spending doing so, and how often they are sharing the content with their social networks.
But that’s just to start with. As time goes on, they plan to measure the impact of the content using much deeper metrics. “Our first priority is really understanding how people are engaging with our content… and then additional metrics will be the number of sign-ups, number of leads generated, number of swatch requests, and even further down the line it’s going to be assisted revenue or economic value per content piece.”
Swatch requests, it turns out, function as an important conversion metric. Joybird has a creative way to initiate the “first step” in their customer journey: visitors to their website can request a free swatch (or several) of sample material that their furniture will be made of. This allows customers to see exactly what the fabric will look and feel like before making a commitment to purchase it.
Joybird looks at these swatch requests as a micro-conversion. As Nicolas told us, “it shows intent but is not the final e-commerce conversion.” What it does allow them to do is track swatch requests for customers who have viewed a particular piece of content. This, in addition to their other metrics, will help them determine whether the content is helping customers and how much of an impact it is having.
Nicolas also wants to get a better understanding of conversions that happen over a longer-than-average period of time. “We see a lot of sales happening within 90 days, but we also have sales that are happening outside of that time window, and that is an area that we haven’t explored yet and we want to focus on with the content.” The new blog, with its detailed guides to interior design, will give them a means of nurturing customers over several months and building a relationship through helpful and authoritative content.
Conclusion: Key Learnings
Joybird is very excited about their new content efforts, and they believe more e-commerce companies will soon be taking similar steps to incorporate content into their sales process. For companies who are ready to invest in a content strategy, there are great lessons that can be taken from Joybird’s experience.
- The most important lesson is to listen to your customers first, so you can find out what type of content they are interested in reading. What are your customers’ biggest problems? What are their goals? What questions do they have about your product and how it can be used? By identifying the needs of their customers (namely, the desire to understand how to design their own spaces), Joybird was able to create content that resonates with their audience. At the same time, the content helps answer questions that many potential customers have about their products.
- Another lesson is to identify or create micro-conversions in your business that you can use to measure the effectiveness of content and move customers further down your sales funnel. The swatch requests are such a powerful tool for Joybird because they are an indicator that someone is getting closer to making a purchase and they can show the team which content is working.
- And finally, Joybird’s experience can teach us the importance of thinking long-term when it comes to developing a content strategy. If you are patient and build something of quality, it will have a myriad of positive impacts on your business down the line. As Nicolas told us, “the e-commerce industry in general has a short-term focus… but my advice is to look at the longer term picture and create a strategy that is more focused on where the brand has to be a year from now or two years from now. I think that is the key, to keep in mind what you’re getting out of this in terms of value over a longer period of time.”
Here at Affirm, we always want to help and encourage merchants to build their businesses with a long-term view, so we couldn’t agree more.