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Originally published in Marketing Donut 

As consumers increasingly look to trusted review sites and editorial opinions for purchase advice, commerce content is booming as a revenue strategy for both brands and publishers. That means businesses are eager to get their products in front of editorial teams to include in commerce content. 

But if you think just sending off a quick email or sample product will get the job done, you’re probably going to be disappointed. 

Everybody wants a piece of the page

Editors at the top publications get 50-60 emails a day from brands just like you asking to be included in upcoming content, and that content (at credible publications, at least) takes time and effort to create. 

As a brand, you need to put just as much work and thoughtfulness into your requests as editors do into their content. You also need to avoid the common pitfalls that will get your requests tossed. 

Here are some tips we’ve gleaned from editorial colleagues for winning reviews and creating win-win content partnerships.

Three reasons publishers aren’t taking your requests seriously 

  • You’re barking up the wrong tree. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many publishers we’ve spoken to still get requests for content partnerships that have nothing to do with their audiences. It happens when brands take a scattershot approach to partnerships. Take the time to understand what the publisher actually reviews, what their readers are into, and what types of products they have featured in the past. 
  • You’re asking to be included in an existing review. While publishers will revisit and refresh articles from time to time and include newer products, they’re unlikely to revise a recent piece just to include your product. 
  • They’re just not into you (right now). Sometimes editors simply aren’t fans of your product or don’t think it fits their audience. But sometimes your timing is just off.  With so many requests coming in, editors don’t have time to provide thoughtful responses to each inquiry. But if you get a no (or no response), it’s worth at least asking for feedback and then acting on it to either improve your product or your timing.

Six ways to get a second look

  1. Think like a publisher. Publishers are constantly looking ahead, watching trends, and anticipating what audiences will be into. You need to do the same. Monitor social and search patterns to find out what’s trending and target the right publications, then use that data to support your pitch. 
  2. Allow lead time. Commerce content can take a long time to produce. Look months ahead in the editorial calendar, not weeks. For example, if the publisher wrote an article about top gifts for dads on Father’s Day last year, pitch your product no later than March and reference the upcoming Father’s Day edition. That not only helps the publisher plan ahead, it also shows you aren’t just firing off emails blindly. 
  3. Bring the data. Editorial teams love data. Sharing first-party data on trends from your own eCommerce site, such as what’s selling, what people are searching for, and what products convert well, can add a lot of value for a publisher. It can support your case for a timely review, can provide editors with a potential angle for a story, and shows publishers you’ve done your research.
  4. Generate FOMO. Sometimes one of the best methods of getting a publisher’s attention is to show them what they are missing out on. Showcase the success you’re having with some of their competitors and say, “your competitors are doing it and promoting our product, why aren’t you?” 
  5. Read comments. Scanning through reader comments will give you valuable insight into how readers are responding to certain content and/or products. You might discover compelling rationale to support your review request.
  6. Send product. While it’s far from a guarantee, sending physical product makes it just that little bit easier for an editor to try your product for review. Just be sure you get it to the right person by doing some outreach ahead of time.

Remember, commerce content is lucrative for the publisher, too, so offering up your products for review is usually welcome. Just keep in mind the volume of requests they get and make sure your submission is well-considered, well-timed, and well-targeted to editorial needs.

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