How One Kings Lane Grew Its Blog by 800 Percent in One Year
Four years ago, home decor brand One Kings Lane launched a typical blog where staffers would pen two or three posts per week. Traffic was decent, but the site had yet to really take off in a way that would make the publishing efforts stand out.
Now, however, much has changed. The content hub, called the Style Guide, has all the trappings of an upscale lifestyle magazine—high-quality photography, engaging articles, and even a curated section of daily home decor inspiration that’s shoppable.
“When we create content, it begins with a question,” said Alison Hall, the company’s editorial director. “What does she need from us at this time, and what are the stories we can tell to help and inspire her around her home?”
“She,” of course, is the One Kings Lane customer and the reason the company invests so heavily in content that covers everything from style and fashion tips to book reviews to DIY decor solutions.
“I’d say what’s changed the most over the years is the value we as a business place on that section of the site,” Hall added, “and the transition from seeing it as something that was nice to have to an area of strategic focus for the growth of our business.”
Readers, therefore, get exclusive insight into designers like Rebecca Minkoff, whose Brooklyn apartment the company recently redecorated; seasonal recipes from photographer and cookbook author Mary McCartney; 10 ways to pull off a statement necklace; and Halloween party how-tos from Dylan Lauren, owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar and daughter of clothing designer Ralph Lauren.
The Style Guide is managed by Hall and two other editors who currently publish one new story each day. Photo production is done in-house, but the team works with a network of contributing writers and professional photographers, many of whom Hall has collaborated with before. Prior to joining One Kings Lane in 2009, she worked at Elle Decor, which is run by Hearst, as well as Domino, published by Condé Nast. In fact, most of her team has a print pedigree.
In the past year, a balance of owned, earned, and paid marketing has generated an 800 percent increase in unique visitors to the Style Guide. In that same period, organic sessions have grown by 700 percent. One Kings Lane has a simple philosophy that guides every aspect of its content program: What’s good for the consumer is good for the brand.
“We’re doing this because we want to engage in authentic conversations with our customer around the home, and in the long-term, we believe that will benefit our business.”
In large part, Hall attributes this growth to the quality of the stories, which have helped the company land important syndication partnerships with digital publishers like the Huffington Post and Refinery29. “This is something we as a brand really believe in,” she said. “It’s about telling the story of the lifestyle that we feel our brand represents, and giving [the customer] the opportunity to act on what she’s seeing. That’s our brand promise.”
To make good on this promise, One Kings Lane has started to rely more on shoppable content. For example, a piece on selecting a rug material includes a host of available rugs in wool, silk, cotton, and jute. And a longform post offering tips from “the decluttering bible” links to storage containers and dressers.
“We don’t hold our content against revenue as a business,” Hall explained. “We look much more at engagement and our overall ability to distribute our content and create great feelings about our brand. But we have such a huge breadth of offering that we’re usually able to give readers an opportunity to actualize the content.”
In terms of distributing that content, Rosie D’Argenzio, social media manager with One Kings Lane, told me that visual networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook have been the most effective for engagement. “We tend to segment each platform by interest,” she said. “We then offer and create content specifically tailored to each social platform.” For instance, knowing that Instagram’s audience is “more fashion-forward that any other channel” and that the Pinterest community is “feverish for how-tos, DIY ideas, and home makeover stories” helps the brand target the right audience with different pieces of content.
Recently, after years of pouring itself into digital content, One Kings Lane just tried something new: a print magazine. Published for the upcoming holiday season in partnership with Time Inc., the mag is currently on newsstands nationwide for $13.99. There’s no digital version available at the moment, but the team will be posting select magazine content online throughout the season. Interestingly, One Kings Lane has no plans to publish a second issue in print because it wants to focus on continuing to develop Style Guide’s rapid growth.
“We’ve found this to be the more effective way to fold this offering into our larger content marketing strategy,” Hall said. “Everybody is so busy. If someone is going to take the time to consume our content, I want them to walk away feeling it was time well spent. We want to produce the best quality stories and the most beautiful imagery we can to inspire our readers.”Image by One Kings Lane