How Publishers Can Boost Revenue With A Subscription Box, Part 3
In previous posts, I explored the important considerations publishers should make before launching a subscription box and how to get your subscription boxes to your customers. In this third and final post, we’ll look at some ways to grow your subscription box revenue.
There are two ways to grow your subscription box -- adding subscribers or growing revenue per subscriber. Ideally you can do both. Having a magazine or successful blog gives you a unique advantage over your competitors. Exploit that advantage. Be sure to advertise your box through all your available channels. We advertise The BJJ Box in print, in our weekly emails, our digital edition, website, social media, magazine subscriber on-boarding, etc. Use every avenue at your disposal to promote your box.
Following are some different ideas you can use to market your box and grow your subscriber count.
Recently we launched what we call “The Crate” (a $249 quarterly offering). We partnered with the vendors whose products would be featured in the crate. As part of our agreement to purchase products from them they agreed to promote The Crate to their email list. The result was nearly 100 new Crate subscribers and almost $25,000 in revenue from their email effort alone. Since then we’ve made this part of our normal arrangement when negotiating product purchases.
First Box as a Free Offer
Magazines are no strangers to offering free products in entice subscriptions. Think of the Sports Illustrated Football Phone. Depending on your cost for a box, and the amount you’re charging for say a two or three year subscription, this might be a motivating premium. Not only can it entice a sale of a new subscription, but it can also heat up that prospect for an offer to become a box subscriber as well.
Market Around The Holidays
Depending on your box offering look for holidays or occasions that make sense for gift givers. The BJJ Box is sold to about 90% men; we’ve done very successful keyword campaigns leading up to Father’s Day and Christmas.
Every market has influencers on social media that might be great strategic partners for growing your business while at the same time helping them expand their reach. Initiate conversations with key influencers in your market. If they’re a fan of the product start by offering a free subscription in exchange for performing an unboxing video, or some sort of exposure for the box. You can offer a discount code for their fans to track return or to establish some sort of affiliate compensation plan.
Increasing Average Subscriber Value
Another valuable way to grow your subscription box is by working to increase each subscribers total lifetime value. Of course you want them to stick with you as long as possible, but beyond length of time there are plenty of other ways to increase their value month-to-month.
One of the first things I did when I bought The BJJ Box was add a VIP offering. This was a great decision. Today most of my new signups are my higher priced VIPs and those that start off with the classic usually upgrade within a few months. I’ve also moved some even higher to my quarterly Crate. If you’re doing a good job and exceeding their expectations you will find that most of your subscribers can’t wait to give you more business.
This is a great way to move excess inventory from previous boxes, however; it does create some additional work. Within Cratejoy there’s a storefront that allows you to add on-time sale items independent of the subscription. A few days prior to our ship day we’ll place items that we have in inventory on the storefront and email subscribers that are due to receive that month’s box. We’ll give them a limited time frame in which to add items to their next box without additional shipping. The results of these efforts is almost always lots of sold out stock!
Everybody loves a great mystery, and your subscribers are no different. Another great way to move excess inventory is with a mystery box. We did this last Black Friday and it was a huge success. We had a $50 price point with one high-value item we purchased just for the promotion. This was a high-margin, high-retail value item that we led with along with another $75 worth of product that was from previous boxes. The end result was over 50% gross margin on every box.
All Boxed Up
If you’ve made it this far congratulations, that was a lot to cover. Yet I feel like I only scratched the surface. If you’re thinking of starting a subscription box as a ancillary offering to your magazine please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have on the topics I’ve covered. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. I’d also love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.
Mike Velez is the Publisher of Jiu-Jitsu Magazine and has over 23 years experience in magazine publishing with both consumer and trade titles. He also consults with publishers looking to create growth and revenue by creating additional value offers to their existing readership and advertiser base. If you’d like help with launching a subscription box you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.