Dollar Shave Club started with a $4,500 YouTube advert and a garage full of razor heads that needed to be sold. That was in 2011, and in 2016, thanks to a viral video campaign, the company sold itself for $1 billion.
The key attributes subscription boxes need in marketing are knowing their audience, telling a story, and being a disruptor online. If things go well with a customer, they’ll be in each other’s lives for a while.
In this article, we will discuss how to devise a great marketing plan for your subscription box and the 12 best ways to get your subscription box in front of the right people.
Table of contents
- How to create a killer marketing plan
- 12 ways to market your subscription box
- Subscription box marketing best practices
- KPIs to measure the success of your marketing activities
How to create a killer marketing plan
The subscription box industry is more popular than ever. Now is a great time to get into the business. But before you start packing boxes, you need to develop a marketing plan. Marketing will play an important role in the success of your subscription business.
Throughout this article, we will apply advice to an imaginary start-up subscription box, “Routine Box,” to help you create your own marketing plan. Here’s the pitch for Routine Box:
Routine Box is a new subscription box service that delivers monthly boxes containing men’s grooming products to your door. The company was founded by two friends who were tired of seeing their guy friends struggle with their grooming routines.
The founders wanted to create a one-stop shop for all things men’s grooming. Routine Box offers monthly curation subscriptions that include everything from shampoo and conditioner to shaving cream and deodorant.
Routine Box targets men ages 18-40 who are looking for an easy and convenient way to take care of their grooming needs.
If you’re looking for advice on establishing your own subscription box business, check out our guide on getting started. You can come back to this article when you’re ready to start thinking about marketing.
Your marketing plan needs to cover a few key areas to ensure your advertising strategies are targeted, creative, and ultimately successful. Here are the things your plan needs to include:
- Product-market fit: You need to make sure there is a demand for your product before you start marketing it. If no one is searching for what you’re selling, you’ll have a hard time getting any traction.
- Buyer persona: Develop an in-depth understanding of your target customer. Together with the product-market fit, this will help you determine where to focus your marketing efforts.
- Conversion-focused website: Your website is the foundation of your digital marketing efforts. All your other marketing activities should lead back to your website. Make sure it’s designed with the ideal buyer in mind.
- Marketing channel selection: As you nail down your buyer persona, you can start to identify what marketing channels will be most effective in reaching them.
- Competitor research: Take the time to understand what your competitors are doing. This will help you avoid making the same mistakes and allow you to capitalize on their weaknesses.
- Marketing goals: Set realistic and achievable marketing goals that align with your business objectives. This will ensure that your marketing efforts are focused and effective.
Product-market fit occurs when a company has a product that meets the needs of a particular market. The company has found a way to solve a problem that people are willing to pay for.
When looking for a market for your product, you need to make sure that there is enough demand for that product and room for you to compete in the market. It’s also essential to get the subscription box pricing right for your audience.
A great example of this is HelloFresh. The company found a need that wasn’t being met — busy families who want healthy, home-cooked meals but don’t have the time or energy to shop and prepare them every day. That’s why HelloFresh is now one of the most popular meal delivery services — because they found their product-market fit.
A buyer persona is a detailed description of a typical person in your target audience who would likely buy your product or service. This description includes information on demographics, like their age, location, job title, and interests. It also includes their budget and where they like to hang out online.
Creating a buyer persona helps you focus your marketing efforts and increases the likelihood that you’ll reach your target audience. More people will complete their purchases if you’re targeting the right individuals. If you don’t have a detailed buyer persona, higher cart abandonment rates can result.
For our imaginary subscription box, Routine Box, the buyer persona might look something like this:
- Age: 18 to 40
- Gender: Men
- Education: College educated
- Income level: Average income
- Geography: Urban and suburban areas
- Activity level: Semi-active to active
- Hobbies: Sports, dating, and travel
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
- Pain points: Too busy to develop their own routine; don’t like to spend much time on their appearance
You can use your buyer persona to create marketing campaigns tailored to your target audience. For example, Routine Box might create a social media campaign that targets men aged 18-40 who are active on Facebook and Instagram and live in metropolitan areas. By using Facebook and Instagram age-targeting features, you can ensure that the right people are seeing the ads.
A conversion-focused website is designed with the specific goal of converting visitors into leads or customers. To do this, you need to create a website that resonates with your buyer persona and provides them with value.
Take the popular subscription box Graze’s website, for example. Its homepage is optimized for conversion with a direct and clear call to action to sign up for their service: “better snacking starts here.” It also includes a welcome offer for a free trial box, an excellent incentive for new visitors.
When designing your site, it needs to load quickly. 50% of visitors will leave a site that’s too slow, so the loading speed is critical. Additionally, over half of all website traffic comes from mobile devices, so your site must be responsive.
Marketing channel selection
Marketing to today’s consumers is all about social media. You want to focus your time and energy on the marketing channels in which your audience is most active. These channels could be Facebook, Twitter, or even Snapchat.
Once you’ve narrowed your options, start experimenting with different types of content and ads to see what works best. One way to do this is by A/B testing your ads. Try mixing up your copy and targeting different audiences to see what works best. A/B testing can lead to an average revenue increase of 50%.
Instagram and Facebook would be the perfect marketing channels for Routine Box because the target audience is active on both platforms, and both channels are visual. The brand could run various paid ads using the buyer persona to target customers.
Research your competitors
Knowing your competition and what they are up to is critical for any business. After all, if you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how can you hope to stay ahead of the game?
There are a few key things to research when checking out your competitors:
- What channels are they using?
- What kinds of discounts do they regularly offer?
- How do their sales funnels work?
- Who are they working with (influencers, bloggers, celebrities, etc.)?
- What are their social media interactions like?
- How much website traffic do they get?
You will also need to order their product. This will give you a good sense of what they are doing right and wrong. Plus, it will give you an idea of how your product measures up. When you have this information, you can adjust your own box accordingly.
Define your marketing goals
Without specific and achievable goals, your marketing efforts will likely be ineffective. They may even end up leading you astray. So, what makes a good marketing goal? A good marketing goal is:
- Specific: Instead of simply setting a goal to increase sales, try to specify an exact dollar amount or percentage you hope to achieve.
- Realistic: It’s important to set goals that challenge you but are still achievable. There’s no point in setting a goal that cannot be reached. That will only end in disappointment.
- Measurable: This will help you track your progress and assess whether your marketing efforts are paying off.
Your goals for your subscription box business should be ambitious but achievable. Here are some examples of marketing goals to boost your business:
- Increase sales by 10% in the next quarter
- Increase website traffic by 5%
- Increase conversion rates by 4%
- Improve affiliate referrals by 10 per month
- Establish a new social media account
- Boost brand mentions
- Add 100 subscribers to your email list
By setting marketing goals, you can track your progress and make the necessary changes to your marketing strategy.
12 ways to market your subscription box
If you want to grow and scale your subscription box, a solid marketing strategy is a must. Here are different strategies you can use to market your business.
1. Create a customer-winning content marketing strategy
The top goals for content marketing are increasing brand awareness, educating your audience, and building credibility. So how do you create a customer-winning content marketing strategy?
- Do your research. Research is the best way to set your subscription box business up for success. This means doing your competitor research, really understanding your box’s buyer persona, and knowing where your product fits in the market. If you know this information, you can reduce the amount of time spent researching for your marketing campaigns.
- Choose your channels. Where do you plan on marketing your subscription box? Will you use Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or all of the above? Choose the channels that will work best for your business, but it needs to be where your target audience “hangs out.”
- Create quality content. The four most popular formats for content marketing are blog posts, infographics, images, and videos. When you create your content, it should be high-quality, SEO optimized, and shareable. Provide value to your audience through interesting and engaging content.
- Promote your content. Share your content on your social media channels, send it out in email newsletters, and reach out to influencers in your industry to see if they’ll share it with their followers.
2. Create personable marketing with user-senerated content
User-generated content (UGC) helps brands tap into the collective power of their audience. It can also be a cost-effective way of boosting their marketing materials. The best way to get UGC is to ask for it. By asking customers to share photos and videos of themselves using a product, brands can create a sense of community and connection.
Creating personable, relatable content helps brands cut through the noise and connect with their customers on a deeper level. By offering rewards for sharing photos and videos, brands can create a virtuous cycle of engagement that will keep customers coming back for more.
3. Make videos that people will remember
Videos will play a critical role in marketing for years to come. They’re a great way to tell a story, connect with an audience, and showcase a product or service in a new light. The best way to make sure your videos are customer-winning is to focus on creating quality content that people will actually want to watch.
Dollar Shave Club launched its business with a simple, engaging YouTube advert. The advert uses humor and absurdity to keep people’s attention and makes its unique selling proposition — $1 razor heads, delivered to your home — the main focus. It’s a great example of how to use video to sell a subscription product.
Video marketing comes into play throughout your entire marketing mix, from your website to your social media channels to your email newsletters. You can create adverts, product demonstrations, how-to videos, unboxings, and customer testimonials. Get creative and think about the different ways you can use video to market your subscription product.
4. Focus Your Social Media Marketing Efforts
When marketing your subscription box, you need to be strategic about which social media platforms you use. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin by trying to be active on every platform. Instead, focus your efforts on a few platforms that will give you the most bang for your buck.
Facebook and Instagram are two of the most widely used social media platforms, so they’re a good place to start. You can reach a large audience by creating engaging content that advertises your subscription box. Plus, you can use targeting options to make sure that your ads are being seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in what you’re offering.
Facebook offers various targeting options that allow you to focus on the people who are most likely to be interested in your subscription box. Creating ads in Facebook’s creative hub is quick and easy. An added bonus of being active on a popular social media platform is increased customer retention. Customers can contact you about problems quickly.
5. Start capturing emails early and often
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your subscription box. It allows you to reach a large number of people with minimal effort. For every $1 spent on an email marketing campaign, $36 is earned back.
The key to email marketing is to start capturing emails early and often. Here are a few ideas to encourage email sign-ups:
- Offer a one-time discount or free trial in exchange for an email address
- Give something digital away for free (e.g., an ebook, course, tutorial, or template)
- Use pop-ups on your website to ask for email addresses
- Host contests on your website and social media pages
- Use eye-catching tools like spin the wheel
Once you have a list of email addresses, start sending out regular newsletters, special offers, and product updates. Keep your emails relevant and engaging to keep people interested in what you’re selling.
After converting a customer, Chargebee can help with your email marketing. Chargebee integrates with popular email platforms like Mailchimp. You can segment your customers and run targeted email campaigns based on their buying behavior to ensure that they only receive emails relevant to them. And with Chargebee’s Smart Dunning feature, you can recover lost revenue by automatically retrying for payment at the right time for your customers.
6. Start experimenting with paid ads
Paid ads are a great way to reach a larger audience and generate more leads for your subscription business. You can use paid ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Google Ads can be set up to show text and shopping adverts to your target audience when they use the search engine. Image and video ads can be used during remarketing campaigns to target people who have visited your website before or have engaged with you on social media. These ads will be shown when they visit their favorite websites or when they use apps that are in the Google Display Network.
For Routine Box, we would target specific terms like:
- Men’s gifts
- Men’s grooming routine
- Men’s skincare routine
- Pamper boxes for men
- Gift ideas for men
A good paid ad campaign is often the quickest way to reach a large audience. A/B testing is the best way to ensure that your ads are effective before you start pumping serious money into them. And if an ad is underperforming, don’t hesitate to kill it and redirect the funds into ads that are getting results.
7. Run competitions and giveaways to reach new audiences
Competitions and giveaways are a great way to reach new audiences and generate more leads. They’re also a great way to increase social media engagement. The prizes you give away should be relevant to your product or service. Make sure to include a link to the contest page in your post and use hashtags related to your brand.
For example, Knitcrate offers a free box to anyone who signs up for their first box. The prize is any of its previous boxes, but it’s always something that would interest knitters.
8. Team up with popular and niche influencers
Influencer marketing is great for reaching new audiences and generating more leads for your subscription business. You can work with popular influencers with large followings or with niche influencers who have smaller but more engaged audiences.
Routine Box would need to team up with influencers with large male followings, like Logan Paul, Gaz Oakley, or Alex Moe. The key to successful influencer marketing is ensuring that the influencer is a good fit for your brand. You should also make sure that the influencer’s audience is likely to be interested in what you’re selling.
9. Set up affiliate marketing and reward your champions
Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate leads and sales while rewarding your biggest fans. When someone signs up to be an affiliate, they get a unique link they can share with their friends and followers. Once someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase, the affiliate receives a commission.
Tokyo Treat offers a generous commission-based affiliate program. For every new sign-up an affiliate makes, they are paid up to $20. Affiliates market the company by sharing their affiliate link on social media, their blog, or through email marketing.
10. Create shareable subscription box packaging
A well-designed box can be the difference between a one-time customer and a lifelong one. Of course, the box’s contents are important, but the box’s design is also a key factor in building brand loyalty. It’s free marketing real estate and ends up inside the customer’s home.
Here’s how to take advantage of this:
- Design your box to stand out. Use a color palette that complements your brand and eye-catching graphics to make people want to take a photo of your box.
- Include social media handles, hashtags, and a call to action. This will make it easy for people to find you on social media and share your content.
- Make sure the design of your website complements the design of your box. A cohesive brand identity will help you build trust with potential customers.
Birchbox is an excellent example of a subscription box company that takes full advantage of its box design. Each month, the box has a different design — usually with a fun pattern or graphic. This helps the company stand out and encourages its customers to find another use for the box once they’re done with the contents.
The box design for Routine Box needs to appeal to young men in the city. The colors should be masculine, and the graphics should be modern. Social media handles, hashtags, and a call to action could be included in the box design to make it easy for customers to find us online and share their photos of the box.
This design has a metropolitan feel that would appeal to our target demographic. It’s also simple and clean, which conveys that our products are high-quality and trustworthy.
11. Reach out to subscription box reviewers
One great way to spread the word about your box is to reach out to subscription box reviewers. These specialists review boxes and post their reviews on their blogs or websites. They have built-in audiences, so this is a great way to get your name out there.
Plus, if they like your box, they’ll likely write a positive review that can help attract new subscribers. To reach out to reviewers, simply send them an email introducing yourself and offering to send them a box to try out.
But don’t stop there! Once you’ve sent them the box, follow up with a thank-you email. This personal touch will show them that you’re serious about your business and you appreciate their time and effort.
12. Don’t overlook word of mouth
Many people think that word-of-mouth marketing is something that happens on its own. However, there are many things you can do to encourage it. If your product has a good market fit, this can be a great way to get people talking about it.
Enable gift subscriptions so that people can treat their friends and family to your product. Make sure your customer service is top-notch so that your customers have a positive experience to share. And keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved in the community.
If you do all these things, you’ll be surprised at how quickly word of mouth starts to work in your favor.
Subscription box marketing best practices
The subscription market is more competitive than ever. Follow these best practices to grow your subscription box.
1. Find where your audience gathers
The first step to nailing your subscription box marketing is finding where your audience hangs out online. This can be anywhere from social media platforms to forums to specific websites. Once you know where they are, you can start putting yourself in front of them with targeted ads and content.
For example, if you’re targeting gym-goers, Instagram is a great place to advertise. You can use hashtags to reach new people, post before-and-after photos of people using your products, and partner with fitness influencers.
2. Build trust with your audience
Once you’ve found your audience, it’s essential to start building trust with them. This is because people are likely to buy from someone they know, like, and trust. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Be transparent about who you are and what you do. Don’t try to hide anything or be misleading.
- Be active on social media and in forums. Answer people’s questions and address their concerns.
- Show that you’re an expert in your field by writing helpful blog posts and creating valuable resources.
The more trust you can build with your audience, the likelier it is that they will buy from you.
3. Lead with your brand voice on social media
Your social media accounts are a great way to connect with your audience and show them what your brand is all about. They’re an excellent opportunity to show what makes your product so unique. Barkbox takes full advantage of its brand identity by making its social media heavily dog-focused. Audiences flock to its page for daily pictures of dogs, dog-related facts, and memes.
The best way to do this is by leading with your brand voice. This means being authentic, showing your personality, and being true to your values. For example, if your brand is all about being eco-friendly, make sure that comes across in your social media posts.
4. Keep optimizing your sales funnel
Your subscription box marketing efforts won’t be effective if you’re not constantly optimizing your sales funnel. This means A/B testing your ads, split testing your landing pages, creating a great checkout experience, and always looking for ways to improve your conversion rate.
It can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it. The more you optimize your funnel, the more sales you’ll make. And the more sales you make, the more money you’ll be able to reinvest into your business.
KPIs to measure the success of your marketing activities
Once your marketing activities are underway, it’s important to track your progress and make sure you’re on the way to growing. The best way to do this is to set up key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics will help you measure the success of your marketing activities.
Some examples of subscription box marketing KPIs include:
- Website traffic
- Website traffic from organic search
- Website traffic from social media
- Website traffic from email marketing
- Website traffic from Google Ads
- Email list growth
- Social media followers
- Referral traffic
- Conversion rate
- Customer acquisition cost
- Customer lifetime value
Monitor the most important KPIs to your business and adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly. If your goal is to run Facebook ads to increase your website traffic but the click-through rate is low, then you’ll know you need to adjust your ads.
Marketing takes time and experimentation, but it’s worth it if you want to grow your subscription box. Once your campaigns are up and running, you don’t want to lose customers to a poorly optimized customer experience.