Merchant Spotlight: How OwlCrate Built a Massive Network of Brand Influencers

This year for Small Business Week, Cratejoy is highlighting a different aspect of owning and running a subscription box company. Each day, we’ll feature a different merchant that excels in a specific area of subscription business.

Day three is all about influencer and affiliate marketing, so we interviewed Korrina Ede, one of the co-founders of OwlCrate, to talk to her about how they’ve succeeded in building a large and impactful network of brand ambassadors and influencers for OwlCrate.

Korrina, one of the co-founders of OwlCrate.

How were you able to build such a large and dedicated network of brand ambassadors and influencers?

In the early days, we sought out influencers within our niche of book lovers and approached them directly. We asked if they would be willing to share their honest opinions and photos of our product in exchange for a free box. Nearly everyone we approached said yes, and that’s really how we got the word out about our company during the first year – constantly seeking out new influencers within the book community.

Now we host ‘rep searches’ every three months where anyone can apply to become a brand ambassador. It’s become something that our community looks forward to, and many people try out multiple times.

When it comes to influencer marketing, is there a specific social media channel where you’ve seen the most success?

Definitely Instagram and YouTube. They are such visual platforms, which causes our products to truly be seen. We’re also lucky that the book community is thriving on those two platforms – they’re incredibly active.

YouTubers Emmmmabook's unboxing the March 2018 OwlCrate box.
YouTuber Emmmmabook’s unboxing the March 2018 OwlCrate box.

Do you feel that influencer marketing contributes to an increase in conversion rates, or do you find that it’s better for brand awareness?

Both! The word-of-mouth advertising we received with the help of influencers in the beginning caused our brand awareness to grow so much.

We consistently see sales coming in month after month from customers using our influencer coupon codes. It’s definitely our biggest source of advertising/marketing because of this.

What roadblocks have you faced with influencer marketing?

We’ve been lucky to have experienced pretty seamless relationships with the influencers we choose to work with. Nearly all of them are very passionate about our community, our niche, and our product. Every once in a while, an influencer may not provide the full amount of work required of them, but that’s quite rare.

I guess the most challenging part now is keeping everything organized – finding new influencers, making sure they are doing what is required, checking up on their coupon code uses, etc.

Instagram posts from @bookstorefinds, @darkfaerietales_, and @okamimars

What recommendations do you have for subscription box owners looking to start their own influencer marketing campaigns?

Look for influencers who are passionate about your niche specifically. When looking for influencers, don’t only look at how many followers someone has – look at how many comments they receive on their posts. Are their followers engaging with them? Have they built their own sense of community on their account?

Once you’ve found an influencer who you think is a good fit, be sure to lay out everything you require them to do. How many photos do you want them to post of your box? Will they be sharing a coupon code? Explain everything at the beginning, so they know what is expected before they receive the product. Build a relationship with them, ask for their feedback, and comment on their posts thanking them.

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