3 things content marketing teams can learn from subscription boxes

What if your content marketing was so perfectly targeted that audiences trusted you to be the tastemaker of your space? Welcome to the world of subscription boxes.

Dog toys, dark romance novels, beard balm, makeup, craft liquor, curated clothes – lovers of all sorts sign up for subscription boxes. While many people see a subscription box as a new retail model, it’s also a goal to understand how to create, organize, and capitalize on a specific topic or passion.

As content marketers, we are always working hard to break through the noise, connect with audiences, and develop unforgettable brand interactions, online and offline.

Here’s what you can learn about wowing audiences from some of today’s best subscription boxes.

The rise of the subscription box

Subscription boxes have emerged on a large scale over the past decade, and they have since exploded in popularity and diversity. A study for the company Zuora revealed that 74% of people in 12 countries subscribe to at least one box. According to Digital Media Solutions, demand has only increased over the past year.

As physical product companies aim to put products in the hands of consumers, as well as move towards agile service models that don’t require a physical location, subscription boxes have become a smart offering to meet to these needs.

What is your why?

The best subscription box services have a very clear understanding of who their customers are and why they need a box in the first place. Content marketers can bring the same clarity to their writing and enhanced content. Simon Sinek has become synonymous with the question “what is your why?” after his iconic TED Talk; for subscription boxes, what drives customers to join?

The decision usually comes down to four main reasons:

  • Save money, either through bulk purchases or promotional discounts
  • The comfort of home delivery
  • Rely on a competent partner to organize a category or experience in order to obtain the best products or to save time
  • An experience that introduces them to something they can’t get anywhere else

Content marketers should also consider asking a few relevant questions:

  • Why are customers engaging with your content?
  • What is the specific value driver you create with each piece of content? What tangible value should a consumer be able to associate with it?
  • What experience does your content create and how does it relate to the broader customer experience?

Capturing a sense of belonging

This last question is worth a deeper dive. Often customers choose you because they want a specific experience, whether it’s an extension of your brand or something you’re simply best positioned to deliver. Subscription boxes are anchored by a theme, usually one that belongs to a specific group, fulfills a need, or supports a passion. Does your content provide that same visceral connection?

Consider the experience of being a redhead. I come from a family of redheads who married into a family of redheads. Pride is alive and well. Many redheads consider their hair to be one of their defining physical characteristics and are enthusiastic about certain aspects of this lifestyle. It is the rarest hair color; they also have unique genetic characteristics, such as resistance to anesthesia. There is a whole mythology.

There is also a practical side. Have you ever tried matching eyebrow pencils with red hair? Pharmacy options aren’t exactly plentiful. Enter How to Be a Redhead, which doubles as a content destination and subscription box service that taps into the zeitgeist. For content marketers, their model is an opportunity to brainstorm, refresh audience profiles, and ensure the value you deliver matches the right interests.

Are you:

  • Curate relevant content and experiences?
  • Surprise your audience with information that meets their needs?
  • Packaging content in different ways that can be enjoyed in multiple formats?

Image credit: Zachary Keimig on Unsplash.

Don’t get burnt out by churn

Just because a customer signs up for your newsletter or follows you on social media doesn’t mean they’ll stay. You need to prove that you understand your audience, have a unique point of view, and bring real information to the table. It’s a constant challenge in the subscription box world – keeping the value clear and the take fresh.

McKinsey research shows that half of people who subscribe to a subscription box cancel within the first six months. Mailchimp’s email marketing benchmarks suggest that across industries, you can expect around 0.26% of your audience to unsubscribe each time you send an email. It’s a constant fight for subscription boxes and content marketers to win and keep audience attention once they have it.

Fortunately, it’s easy to borrow a few tactics from subscription boxes:

  • Constantly grow your pipeline: Great content marketing is meant to be consumed. Keep dual strategies in place: constantly research new audiences to reach and create ways to present your content to those audiences (potential consumers, buyers, and subscribers). Even if natural attrition occurs, you will still fuel your growth and learn to expand your impact.
  • Expand your engagement strategy: The subscription box model requires more than just securing a subscription and sending out a box of products; they think carefully about how to engage audiences for the long term. Subscription box companies create exclusive events, such as Q&As with the producers behind the products they share. How do you deepen those connections with your audience?
  • Keep things fresh: Subscription boxes can’t rest on their laurels. A makeup box that sends out the same brands month after month will lose subscriptions faster than one that connects them to beauty trends, new brands, and recently launched products. What are you doing to keep your content fresh? This may involve experimenting with new formats, showcasing new voices or reaching new distribution channels.

The world of subscription boxes, much like content marketing, is a cluttered and cutthroat industry. The audience is tired and it’s easier to relegate yourself to the noise than to devote the money, time and mind to consuming what you produce. But drawing smart strategies from winning subscription boxes – from understanding the specific value proposition that audiences want to have to a plan to combat churn – allows you to embrace the best of both worlds and deliver experiences next-level digital that keeps audiences engaged for the long haul.

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Featured image credit: Gabby K on Pexels.