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5 Strategies Online Retailers Need to Maximize Box Subscriptions

Written by Kristin Vick, Account Manager

Subscription-based retailing is one of the fastest growing online segments, and more and more traditional retailers are adding the box model to their business bottom-line. Subscription box sites are considered a niche market, but a recent study says these online retailers have grown nearly 3,000% in the past three years.


“Visits to the sites of online subscription retailers topped 21.4 million in January, compared with 722,000 visits in January 2013,” says the report from Hitwise, a division of Connexity. “By comparison, visits to the Hitwise Retail 500, an aggregation of the top 500 online retail sites, grew 168% during that same period.”


With subscription business and opportunity on the rise, now more than ever, retailers should be investing in Pay-Per-Click and additional online advertising avenues. Below are five tips to help jump start, or boost your online subscription business.




While you may not need or want to be on every social network, social advertising is quickly becoming just as essential of a channel as any other PPC avenue. You need to know where your audience is (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) and tailor your message to each personality you serve.


First, when setting up social advertising you need identify the purpose of your ad. Is it an offer? Is it building brand awareness? In either case you have to consider the audience and make sure you clearly identify the offer and what you are selling. If you have visually appealing retail, show it off on Instagram and Pinterest. If it is a service, use Facebook and Twitter. While you may not be interesting in running on more than one, take the time to set up and focus on at least one network.


Take a look at Ipsy. They know their user base is on Pinterest. They clearly show:


• their brand

• their product offering

• the cost of joining

• that they are a subscription-based service

• what a buyer can expect when they sign up



Looking at the below ad from Maurice, the advertiser does a great job of showing off the range of the products (clothing, shoes, accessories) in their ad on Facebook and makes the offer just as prominent. When the user clicks through to the site, they see new arrivals, plus a reminder of the offer at the bottom of the screen. From there it is easily copied so the user doesn’t have to go back to the Facebook ad to copy the code they can use in the next transaction, or they can save it for later.





You will see on any “tips and tricks” article that landing pages are very important and critical to PPC success. Regardless of your product or industry, if you make the user experience complicated once they get to your site, everything you did before they landed on the intended page will have been for-not.


Take a look at Blue Apron for a clean and simple landing page experience. Blue Apron uses visually appealing food to capture the user’s attention, and incorporates more information in a video, where the user has the option to watch or not. From there, a user can either learn more or start their path to becoming a Blue Apron member.



An example of making the conversion difficult would be adding in an additional step to get to the conversion. Enter the pop-up. If the user is coming to your site from an ad or offer, don’t present them with another offer (in the form of a pop-up) as soon as they land, especially if they are on a mobile device. Show them what interested them to click on the ad in the first place.




Remind users, both current customers and past visitors, what they shopped for on your site. Don’t just limit remarketing efforts to Google Display Network – incorporate remarketing for social as well.


The more targeted you can make your messaging match to where the user is in the funnel, the more successful remarketing efforts can be.


Remarketing can be used to target users who are already a part of your paying customer base, timed with their renewal period. Remarketing can also be used as a reminder to those who did not convert, but to keep your company at the forefront of their minds.




More and more users are consuming content from videos. Your goal should not be to create something viral, but something that will engage your audience. If the content is good, then your audience will watch and interact with your video and brand naturally.


There are a couple types of video ads:


Bumper ads are short video ads that play before, during, or after another video on YouTube or the Display Network.


In-stream ads run before, during, or after videos on YouTube or on partner sites and apps. They give viewers the option to skip the ad after 5 seconds.


Video discovery ads can appear on YouTube search results, next to related videos, on the YouTube homepage. They invite users to click on a thumbnail to watch the ad.


Using video ads will make it easier to introduce your brand and products, while giving you valuable data how your audience consumes information. If you see your audience rarely consumes a full 30-seconds of video content, then stick to bumper ads. If you see your audience converts better on in-stream ads, then you know where to shift placement and budget.



Take a look at Dollar Shave Club. They have a wide range of video types – some are 15 seconds, and some are just over 90 seconds. Each highlight the product and service DSC is offering, and each video is entertaining, so their users either want to share it or learn more. They also cater to each demographic’s girlfriends that steal their boyfriend’s razors and to the money-conscious thinker who wants to save a few dollars.


Watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H5M4wvaxmc




The two largest paid platforms offer a feature for “similar audiences”. Both Google & Facebook use similar audiences to allow networks to use data from your current customers and match them to users who have similar behavior. Using similar audiences allows you to use your effective remarketing lists to acquire new customers and build brand awareness, using your own existing customer base.




As you begin to build or expand your subscription business, remember that PPC can be used to not only grow your customer base, but sustain it as well. Once you determine what works best for your business and consumer base, test your campaigns and continue to optimize. There are new tactics and competitors every day, and as the PPC landscape changes your consumers’ wants and needs will, too.