(*By this I mean opinion-focused writing such as tips and advice, as opposed to marketing copy for the purposes of promotion.)
While branded blogs (like Urban Decay and Clinique) are largely used to promote their own ranges, the above sites have the unique opportunity to write in an entirely balanced and unbiased way.
Here’s a look at three of the biggest beauty ecommerce sites:
The homepage for LookFantastic is geared around promoting brands and savings rather than its editorial offering.
In fact, with the top sections promoting specific brands and ‘beauty favourites’, the user is required to scroll down the very bottom of the page to find the ‘Beauty Hub’ – the site’s dedicated blog.
Described as the place to discover ‘beauty secrets, how-to guides, exclusive interviews and much more!’ – it seems a shame that it’s relegated to the bottom of the page.
Similarly, the blog tab of the main navigation is the only other place it is highlighted on the homepage. This means it is very easy to miss.
Clicking onto the blog itself, the user is met with a wide range of article topics, split into categories like ‘gift guides’, ‘advice’ and ‘tutorials’.
There are apparently eight editors of the Beauty Hub, each with their own specialist subject. With a photo and a short profile for each, this gives the site a personal and authoritative feel.
In terms of the articles, it’s all very informative and useful from a product perspective – if you want to find out what you should be using and why, then you’re bound to find the answers here.
The only negative is that this approach can appear a little salesy rather than reader-focused. And as a result, the tone lacks in personality.
While FeelUnique’s homepage is similar to LookFantastic, the main difference is that the editorial section is given a bit more focus.
Nicely integrated into the middle of the page, ‘The Lounge’ is promoted with a side-by-side video and article, along with a call-to-action to discover more.
Similarly, its drop-down on the main navigation prompts the user to click through.
As well as being easier to find, the inclusion of video is a big plus.
It would be better if the user could watch it without being redirected to another page, however this is an immediate sign that the blog contains other types of content than just articles.
Onto The Lounge, and while the design is quite basic, I like the fact that categories are broken down into more specific subjects like ‘tanning’ and ‘men.’
I also found the writing to be more engaging than LookFantastic.
The main reason being that its conversational tone showcases the personality of individual writers.
While it does come across as a bit cheesy on occasion, the approach is suited to the site’s focus on general lifestyle topics and celebrity culture.
The homepage for BeautyBay is very different to the aforementioned sites.
With its huge site-wide header and unusual navigation, it immediately strikes me as being the most editorially-inspired.
In fact, it appears to be deliberately mimicking a publication rather than an ecommerce site, using subtle headlines to encourage users to click through to product-curations and brands.
Ironically, while the design focuses on editorial elements, the blog is nowhere to be found on the homepage.
Instead, it is located in the sidebar navigation with a button labelled ‘EDITed Tutorials and Articles’.
With a minimal design and just four categories, the EDITed blog feels more exclusive than the previous examples.
Entirely different from the celebrity-driven and conversational style of FeelUnique, it uses the personal experiences of its writers to drive articles and product recommendations.
This means that it is just as engaging but far more valuable from a reader’s perspective.
Similar to the type of editorial found in the likes of Marie Claire, the high quality on offer means that consumers are likely to revisit even after purchasing from BeautyBay.
The use of simple but quality images is another nice touch, giving the blog an independent feel rather than appearing like an extension of the main ecommerce site.
With each aiming to drive traffic to the main site as well as increase consumer loyalty, all three blogs serve a purpose.
However, there’s no doubt that improvements could be made across the board.
For FeelUnique, making the blog a more prominent and integrated part of the main site could entice new users to return.
While the use of video and its chatty tone of voice gives FeelUnique an edge, the product promotion still feels a little shoehorned in.
Lastly, and although it is undoubtedly the best, BeautyBay is missing a trick by not promoting its blog on the main site.
With its in-depth and authentic editorial-style, it deserves greater recognition.