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IDEAS. STRATEGY. TACTICS. INNOVATION. INSPIRATION.

Editorial Strategies from Goop's Beauty Director


Jean Godfrey-June, Goop Beauty Director
Jean Godfrey-June, Goop Beauty Director

Called "one of the most influential beauty journalists in America," Jean Godfrey-June has a two-decade-long career as a beauty and style editor in print and digital media, with experiences at Elle, Lucky, and Wall Street Journal Magazine. Jean Godfrey-June currently works at Goop as Beauty Director. The following discussion shares how she prioritizes Goop's editorial strategies to create meaningful content as well as drive commerce.

You have had a long career in the beauty space. How does Goop's voice and approach differ from traditional beauty publications?

Goop encompasses a lot more than beauty. It's for the person who's curious about life. In contrast, traditional women's magazines are very focused on fashion and beauty with a little advice on the side. That's a big difference and the fact that we're digitally native. Goop started as a blog that Gwyneth Paltrow sent to our friends in 2008 to share her favorite things. There's a directness with our reader that is very different from what I experienced at Elle and Lucky. It's a different kind of communication.

You're the founding beauty editor. How did you adapt or update your voice to match what Gwyneth had already created?

We had some beauty coverage when I came in, but it was very little. And we were only selling a few products. The big change was clean beauty - everything we covered had to be clean, meaning no health-harming, potentially toxic ingredients common in conventional products.

It’s something I’d been interested in since I attended a beauty conference around 15 years ago. The head of one of the biggest personal care companies in the world was giving a speech, and he turned to us at one point and said, "Beauty products aren't safe. As journalists, it's your job to report that." None of us had ever thought about beauty products potentially being harmful. That conference started me on my clean beauty journey.


What is your editorial strategy? How do you think about commerce and content creation?

We look at metrics to gauge how content converts and drives traffic all the time. For example, we might see that not many people read a particular story but those that did bought the product associated with it. Both of those pieces of data are considered, but that's not to say if a story doesn't get as much traffic or conversions, we won't do more stories like it. Some stories will not generate any commerce for us, but that's not their role.


Some stories will not generate any commerce for us, but that's not their role.

How do you think about editorial content in terms of voice?

At Goop, or anywhere that writes about products, excitement and passion draw people in. Whether you're selling your products or linking them to someone else's, a passionate and personal voice gets people excited about the product. Many writers, certainly journalists, are trained to step back from our subject. A lot of people, especially when writing for a brand, will think they can't be too exuberant. I think that's a mistake. People want to know that you love something.


A lot of people, especially when writing for a brand, will think they can't be too exuberant. I think that's a mistake. People want to know that you love something.

In terms of structure and format, is there a type of content that converts better than others?

I think the most convincing combination of content is a beautiful picture with copy that articulates why the person in the picture is raving about the product. Personal works best on Goop. When someone loves something, it's a whole different ballgame, and it's always fun to see. We don't often feature other celebrities, we will here and there, but it's not our core thing. It's more about people.


What's the percentage split between the readers who come to shop and those who come to enjoy the content?

About 80% come for content, and 20% come to shop.


When you see that, do you try and replicate the stories that sell?

The reader doesn't want to see three stories with the same rubric. It's important to mix it up. At the beginning of Goop I wrote stories about one product and gushed over how it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. At the time, those stories did the best. After a while, it flipped, and stories that had a whole bunch of options did the best. Then it flipped again. It just is one of those things. There is never going to be a rule. People like to be surprised. People want something new, but also something familiar - they want a combination.


There is never going to be a rule. People like to be surprised. People want something new, but also something familiar - they want a combination.

Should founders hand over the reins to their content creation, or do they need to pilot those efforts?

I would not hand it over. In any business, vision is what drives growth. Some companies are based on focus groups. However, the ones that we love, that linger, and that endure have somebody whose vision is guiding it.


I remember going to fragrance launches back in the day. There were huge differences between a fragrance launch where the designer showed up and talked about the product versus when they were too busy to be there. It's night and day.


Goop has a very loyal community and fan base. Some of that was driven by Gwyneth and the fan base that she organically brought to it? How do you continue to focus on building community?

We're digitally native, so community has always been important. Since COVID-19 began, we've introduced a bunch of digital experiences. One is the weekly "In Good Health" sessions where practitioners share valuable information. That has been successful. We also have community office hours where people can talk to editors about different topics every night at 6 pm. The last one I'll mention is the book club, which was initially an internal club that we opened up to our community.


How do you determine which subjects to cover when there is no intention to sell a product? And how do you measure the performance of that content?

We've measured by tracking the story's engagement: How many people clicked through? How many people stayed to the end? How many people went to another story after it?


As far as picking what those things are, we look at our communities’ interests. We may interview a plastic surgeon who will not be discussing beauty products, but a topic our readers are curious about. That's an example of something that'll get super high engagement without selling anything. Our readers want the information, and we love that we are able to provide that to them.


How are you featuring people of color to help support the economic empowerment of traditionally overlooked beauty and wellness entrepreneurs?

50% of my department is black. We've always covered different skin tones, different hair types, and women of color in the beauty business. But as a site, we want to cover Black Lives Matter, address what's happening and drive change. We are a work in progress with those efforts. We will always be a work in progress because there is always more that can be done.