In the month April 2017, subscription box websites clocked in over 37,000,000 visits.
Companies like Ipsy, Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club are leading these exploding charts with their huge marketing budgets while the newer box companies are struggling to get a few hundreds visitors.
If you just started a subscription box company, that’s the last thing you want to hear.
But I’ve got good news for you.
Some of the marketing strategies that these giants use to grow, don’t require a ton of money.
And we’re about to show you the 3 most effective marketing strategies that every young box company needs to try, right now.
1. Influencer marketing
One of the most explosive ways to jumpstart your business (if done right) is influencer marketing.
Brands of all sizes are beginning to take advantage of the new wave of influencers on social media and you need to join them.
Influencer deals can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few a million bucks, but don’t let a price tag fool you. Both can yield massive results.
They also can result in a complete waste of money. And as a young company, you can’t afford that.
So here are three quick tips to make sure that doesn’t happen.
i) Find smaller, local influencers to begin with.
Before you reach for your checkbook, it’s important to have some validation.
It’s important not to get excited and fall for that “1 million followers” tag.
Just because they have a ton of followers doesn’t mean they will drive any results. Influencers need to have a relevant AND active following.
The brands we’ve watch have great success with influencer marketing always started with smaller deals.
Some of the deals are actually free, you just send free product(s) out for a “review”. These so called “micro-influencers” have a very small, loyal following but can move the needle more than you’d imagine. Especially in the early days.
The great thing about starting with smaller folks is that you can have some expectations and benchmark data if/when you reach out to bigger influencers.
Hint: The really big influencers often times over-price and under-deliver.
When you’re ready to go hunt down the influencers, you can use tools like Audiense (for twitter) and Instagram’s app for search. Make sure you reach out to them through direct message with a relevant offer and start building those relationships.
You obviously won’t hear back from everyone but If you do this with 20-30 influencers, you’ll likely hit it off with at least one and get your first influencer deal sooner or later.
The key is to build early momentum, understand what value influencers bring to your business and have benchmark data as you approach bigger influencers.
ii) Create evergreen content with their placement/video.
Most brands take their single placement from the influencer and call it a day.
Please don’t do that.
If you want to truly capitalize on your investment, create evergreen material from their creative & placement.
If they post on Instagram, take that at boost it to a similar audience on Facebook.
If they give you a youtube review, download the video and post it to your Facebook page.
We’ve seen smart brands like FabFitFun implement their influencer creatives into their Facebook retargeting, contests, Instagram posts and even their website copy.
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Posted by Vicki Gunvalson on Thursday, July 13, 2017
If you’re paying (or spending the time) to get these influencers on board, make sure you capitalize on all of the channels your customers are on. Even if the influencer doesn’t.
Get creative and make the most of your influencer post!
iii) Track sales, link clicks and referral traffic
This one sounds like a no-brainer. But we’re including it for a reason.
You’d be surprised how many horror stories we here about entire influencer campaigns going down the drain.
They paid the influencer, they posted the product image and then nothing happened.
People! You need to track link clicks and sales!
Do not just give the influencer free range to do whatever they want. It’s important to let them be natural and creative but you need to track your investment and “brand awareness” posts just won’t cut it on a tight budget.
You can use link shorteners like bit.ly to create custom links, create coupon codes for the campaign and/or watch the referral traffic but tracking is an absolute must.
This is the most important step and if you skip it, you’re going to be scratching your head and wondering where all of your money went.
2. Facebook Ads
Creating a brand from scratch is no easy task.
We know this.
But building website traffic through blogging, email marketing and organic social media continues to take longer in the noisy social world. And when you’re trying to grow quickly, it just doesn’t cut it.
That’s one of the reasons paid traffic has become so popular these days. Specifically, facebook ads.
They’re like a hose, you can turn the traffic on and off as aggressively as you please.
But this is no ordinary garden hose, this is a Super-Sprayer 5000 and it’s connected directly to your bank account.
So if you’re not careful, you’ll end up burning some serious cash.
Most experts say that profitable advertising only happens when you deliver the “right message, to the right person, at the right time“.
While it takes years of practice to master the art of advertising, we’re going to give you a sneak peak at our top tips to nail the right message (ad text/copy), person (targeting) and time (stage of customer journey).
i) Optimize targeting.
After years of advertising in the box industry, we’ve concluded that targeting is the most important to get right first.
Reaching out to the wrong audience with the best offer in the world, is still a recipe for disaster.
But as a new advertiser, it’s very easy to get lost in all of the targeting options and audience types.
Here is how we’d approach targeting for a box company if we we’re starting from zero.
First, start with a warm(er) audiences. In Facebook, these are called custom audiences. These can be created to include people who’ve left your site without purchasing, engaged with your page or are those on your email newsletter. You can also target people who have similar behaviors to your past customers, these are called Look-a-like audiences and are another one of the “low hanging fruits” of targeting.
Interest based targeting is also very effective if you use Audience Insights to discover relevant audiences. We suggest testing 2-3 different audiences and “layering” them to include people who have liked multiple interests. If you’re a snack box company, that may look like “people who have like Weightlifting AND Trail mix.
Targeting is a very complex topic that we’ve covered quite a bit in our blog but if you want to get really fancy, you can check out our formula to finding your Million Dollar Audience.
ii) Perfect your message / creative.
Writing persuasive copy (ad messaging) can be tough.
And if you don’t have a designer handy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to great a high quality ad.
This is usually where new advertisers give up.
If you don’t know where to start, one of the many places we suggest searching is your competitor’s FB page.
If they are an industry leader, you can often times cheat the learning curve and find inspiration for your ads by looking at their ad campaigns.
If that doesn’t work, try reading this article to get your creative juices flowing!
iii) Timing of your ad
As Facebook gets more competitive, ad relevancy and timing are becoming an increasingly crucial part of advertising.
When you’re building a brand from scratch, you have to build trust with your audience before selling. There’s really no way around it.
Companies that forget this and try advertising (or asking for the sale) without previous touch points almost always struggle.
And they’re left scratching their head or crying about how “facebook ads don’t work”.
But think about it this way, who would you rather buys something from someone you know and trust or a complete stranger?
And that’s why multi-touch marketing and retargeting are so effective.
Because your not asking for the sale on the first touch. You build a digital relationship with your audience before selling them anyways.
If you have your Facebook pixel set up, you can reach people that already know your brand by targeting people who engaged with your page, watched a video on your page or recently visited your website.
Make sure you create multiple touch points and a customer journey that delivers the ad and the right time to avoid underperforming ads!
3. Referral marketing
In the early days of building a subscription box company, we all know you have to be incredibly resourceful.
Well guess what! There’s nothing more resourceful than turning your existing customers in little marketing machines.
Yes, that’s right. We’re talking about referral marketing.
For those who don’t know, referral marketing is a process of getting people to refer new customers to your business.
It’s an insanely effective way to incentive your current audience to do your marketing for you.
This can be done through your website, social media, email marketing and custom links. Take the subscription box platform Subbly for example.
They’ve caught on to the referral trend and help their customers create custom referral links in just a few clicks.
But that’s not the only way. Take this example by True&Co:
They do an incredible job and incentivizing users to share and save. The sharer gets $15 and so does the receiving party.
This widget includes 3 critical pieces that contributed to their huge referral marketing success.
Share via Facebook, Share by Link and Email.
These options are great but if you look closely above the “Send Email” button, you’ll see the auto-checked box that reads a marketers dream…
“Send a reminder email in 3 days”
Ahh, music to my ears!
Not only does this quick and easy widget make sending email invites a breeze, but it automatically follows up if they don’t click the invite within 3 days.
How awesome is that?
You may not be able to post half-naked women on your website, but you sure can take a similar widget like this and drive more referrals for your company!
Give it a try and let us know how it goes 🙂
Starting a subscription box company is hard. As the industry continues to grow, more boxes and more subscription fatigue come into play.
But despite a increasingly competitive landscape, there is always room for great company’s at the top.
You just have get their with a great product and even better marketing!
Hopefully with these 3 strategies, you’ll be off to the races with the other subscription box giants.
Good luck and be sure to check out our Subscription Box Sunday newsletter! We send weekly marketing hacks for subscription box companies that are too good to share publicly.