I was recently able to connect with campaign manager William Barton from one of our favorite content affiliates, The Adult Man, to ask him a few questions about how business is going and where he sees e-commerce and The Adult Man going in the not too distant future.
Working with a wide variety of affiliates, we chose to highlight The Adult Man because of their amazing editorialization of the entire male shopping experience. Whether or not you find yourself or your brand in their target demographic, anyone interested in e-commerce would benefit from seeing what he had to say.
So, let’s dive right in.
Q: What’s The Adult Man’s origin story? How did it come to be?
A: The Adult Man was founded by our editor Dean Stephens four years ago while he was working in the corporate world as a recruiter, daydreaming about building his own business. Dean has always had an interest in style, self-development, and entrepreneurialism, but it wasn’t until he stumbled upon the idea of starting a website that he realized all three itches could be scratched at the same time—while simultaneously helping other guys along their same journey in adulthood.
The Adult Man started with advice on life, relationships, and grooming, but in the last two years, we’ve been fortunate to establish ourselves as an authority on men’s fashion and style, growing to over 3 million readers a year.
Q: How would you describe your target demographic?
A: We always make sure what we’re writing applies to our readers. Most of our fans are young professional men between the ages of 24-38. They’re guys who are looking to improve themselves and boost their confidence by upgrading their wardrobe and living more intentionally.
Q: What is the curation process like for your team? How much detail goes into the selection of products, how to editorialize the site, etc?
A: Our editorial process is hardcore. We partner with brands who have a track-record of making people happy and can produce top-quality products at fair prices. When we write a review or put together a roundup we do all original photography and rigorously edit our copy so it’s fluff-free and tight.
There have been so many times I’ve shown our clients a draft of our article and heard: “wow, this is amazing—we didn’t expect this at all.”
I, along with the founder and editor Dean, aim for that response with every single campaign.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to tailoring your offering to men of differing age groups and with differing backgrounds?
A: While we gravitate toward young professionals (24-38), we’ve never really struggled speaking to any age group. The reason is that we really let the product do the talking. Both Dean and I have a history of experience in fashion and men’s lifestyle, so we just discuss the pros and cons, add in beautiful images, toss it all in an article layout we’ve been perfecting for years, and send our readers over to our partners.
Q: How do most users find or come across The Adult Man?
A: The Adult Man is primarily focused on SEO traffic and this is where most of our readers come from. We also saw early on that a lot of our competitors weren’t focusing on Pinterest and so we’ve built a significant presence there, drawing thousands of visitors a day via our pins.
We love SEO because we’re able to drill down on exactly what our readers want and give them exactly that.
As a brand, it might look like you’re getting a review or a feature, but you’re really getting a mix of SEO and copywriting expertise. That’s how we add value. We can jump into the conversation with your ideal customer and really show them why you and your brand are the perfect fit.
Q: Which verticals have you found to be most successful?
A: We’ve had the most success with fashion, apparel, and shoes. We routinely crush it with watches. Because we have a lifestyle component, we also convert well for subscription boxes, fitness products, bags, and accessories.
Q: How did you begin working with Advertise Purple? How has that process been so far?
A: We saw that Advertise Purple was working with a few of our favorite brands. Over time, we kept finding these brands we really want to work with, and we’d keep being referred to the account managers at Advertise Purple.
In the last year, we’ve developed an outstanding synergy with AdPurp—so many cool brands work with them, and they’re well coordinated. As a publisher, I love having the account managers come to me to recommend new partnerships. The folks at Advertise Purple are all very aware of what accounts their colleagues are working with, and they’re quick to recommend new brands and the appropriate person to work with.
Q: Where do you see affiliate marketing going in the next few years?
A: I think smaller publishers—the ones putting everything they’ve got into it and building personal connections with their audiences—they’re going to see a huge boost.
Readers are tired of landing on big-name magazine websites just to find articles that could have been written by anyone and have no original photography. I think Google is starting to recognize that, too, and they’re shifting their algorithm to prefer expert writers (opinion, not fact).
Q: How did your team at The Adult Man manage during the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown?
A: We’re partnered with a lot of direct-to-consumer, digital native brands, so we didn’t see a big drop in traffic or referred sales. In fact, we saw huge increases in sales for several of our partners.
New partnerships were put on hold as some folks froze their spending, and with that extra time, we went in and refined our conversion tactics and built a new theme that’s much faster (good news for our partners—we expect to see ranking boosts across the board from fast page-speed).
We also started a few new partnerships and we’re already doing well for those brands.
Q: What are some goals and/or initiatives you guys have coming up that you’re excited about?
A: As I said, we just launched a new version of the site—we’re really happy with it. We made major tweaks that will increase page speed (good for readers and also good for search rankings). We’ve also put a new conversion tactic into play across all our articles that we’ve been testing out for the last six months. We’re happy, and so are our partners.
Other than that, the TAM team is launching a new site within the men’s fashion/lifestyle vertical. I can’t say much more about it at the moment, but we’re excited to take everything we’ve learned over the past four years and build something new with our rock-solid foundation.
Q: What’s your favorite The Adult Man product?
A: My favorite “product” we’re able to offer is our reviews. It might sound lame, but we’ve really spent so much time refining the template for our reviews so they give the reader everything they need and want to know, plus they’re optimized really well for conversions (we average a 4.74% conversion rate across all our reviews).
We’ve refined the voice, the photography, the layout, the review boxes—literally everything on the page has been tested over and over again for four years. We’re always going to continue to improve our article structure, but we’re at a point now where we’re very confident in how powerful our content is.