Fall is here – and with it, the strongest quarter of the year for subscription box sales. We’re talking, of course, of the holiday season. Maybe it feels too soon for you to think about the holidays, but trust us, it’s worth planning your holiday marketing early.
First, a review: Check out our guide to creating a listing on the Cratejoy Marketplace.
Take a look below at Cratejoy’s tips for marketing your subscription business this holiday season and optimize your Marketplace listing for massive sales!
How We Came Up with These Tips
All of our tips below are based on hard data we gathered from the 2017 holiday season on the Marketplace. Did you know that 50% of Marketplace sales in Q4 last year were gifts? Half! That’s a ton of opportunities to grow your subscriber base.
In evaluating 2017’s holiday sales on the Marketplace, we noticed certain patterns among our bestselling brands. In short, the most successful merchants all had the following strategies in common. Adhere to these guidelines and you’ll see your own sales rise.
1. Make Your Shipping Schedule Crystal Clear
Be VERY clear about your shipping schedule – for current subscribers, for new customers, and for holiday orders. If your shipping schedule will change due to the increase in holiday sales, or if you have a cutoff date by which customers need to purchase subscriptions for delivery on December 24th, state that explicitly in the Shipping Details at the top of your listing.
After all, the US Postal Service makes sure to announce its shipping deadlines to deliver by Christmas; you should, too.
For example, you might state the following in your listing:
- Your first box will ship on the 10th of each month. Please order by the 6th of the month to get the current box. For existing subscribers, we ship on the 10th of every month.
- For holiday gifts, order by [date] to receive your box before December 24th. Any orders placed after [date] may not arrive in time for the holiday.
The Cratejoy Marketplace team will shift their marketing focus toward gifting – particularly last-minute gifting – as the holidays get closer. So if you ship boxes WITHIN 3-7 days after customers place their order, say so on your listing! Make your shipping/ordering schedule clear, especially if you ship within this short timeframe, and your store will have a greater chance of being highlighted in our marketing campaigns.
We’ve worked hard this season to put together a rundown of holiday shipping deadlines* across carriers. Take a peek:
Here are a couple ways you might tell customers that you offer fast or last-minute shipping:
- Your first box will ship immediately when you place your order. After your first order ships, we will automatically ship your next box every three months (based on your first order date).
- Your first box will ship within 3-5 business days after your order is placed. Order by the 15th to receive the current month’s box. For existing subscribers, we ship on the 1st of every month.
2. Revise Your Listing Copy
Since gifting makes such a high percentage of sales in Q4 (October to December), you’d be remiss not to address it directly in your listing copy. Include a line at the top of your list of features that describes your subscription box as a great gift option to drive the point home. Here are some examples:
- Give your loved one moments of joy and surprise through a very unique, memorable gift.
- Great gift idea for that special someone!
- Beautifully and thoughtfully created – makes the perfect gift!
As you’ve noticed, none of these examples refer to a specific holiday. Why not? Because customers are likely to shop for gifts all year.
The more you brand your Marketplace listing with references to Christmas or Hanukkah, the sooner you’ll need to update your store listing with all new information. (Namely, the day after Christmas at the very latest.) Moreover, you could alienate visitors to your page who may not celebrate these holidays – and thereby shrink your potential for sales.
3. Offer a Coupon Code
Coupon codes can benefit sellers all year round, not only in the months leading up to the holidays. Since you don’t have much space to write out a coupon code, we strongly recommend sticking to something basic and to the point; terms like CRATEJOY or SAVE10 are best. After all, people love discounts anytime! Using an evergreen code, rather than a holiday-themed one, will make things much easier on yourself. (We can’t emphasize this enough.)
Here are some examples of coupon codes to post in your Marketplace listing:
- Use code CRATEJOY for 10% Off
- Get $5 off your first box with code NEW
- Enter SHIP0 for free shipping
Learn more: Review how to set up a coupon code for your Marketplace listing in our help doc.
You’ll notice that none of these examples offer a steep discount. Why? Well, it might seem counterintuitive at first, but slight discounts – 5-10% off, for example – increase conversions more often than huge sale discounts (like 20-50% off).
That’s because with small discounts, you’re appealing to people who are already on the fence… and therefore, people who are much closer to your target audience. Any customers you can get with a large discount are likely more interested in the discount than your actual product – and that means, come renewal next month, they’re much more likely to churn.
If you intend to include coupon codes as a facet of your holiday marketing plan, we strongly recommend doing the math to offer a discount that makes sense for your margins.
4. Use (These Exact) SEO Keywords
Our marketing team drew up a list of search keywords for you to utilize this holiday season. Keywords help your potential customers find your listing in the Marketplace more easily and can increase the frequency of your store coming up in sitewide search results. Check out our list at this link!
Set up keywords: Check out how to include SEO search terms as you edit your listing in Cratejoy’s guide.
Make sure to use only these search terms. Our research has shown that these are the most common search terms when site visitors look for gifts, and Cratejoy’s internal search engine is smart enough to identify variants of these phrases. So there’s no reason to use multiple keyphrases to mean the same thing (such as “gifts for women” and “women’s gifts”). Our site search already knows that these keyphrases are synonymous.
This list also means you don’t need to add seasonal search terms either (e.g. “Christmas gifts for women”). Since the keywords we’ve linked here are more generalized, they will come up in a wider range of searches. Adding a holiday reference to your SEO terms in your Listing dashboard will narrow your chances of coming up in customer searches, not increase them.
5. Update Your Image Slideshow Often
Update your box/product photos! The image slideshow on your listing is a big part of what we consider for inclusion in our Marketplace gift guides. For sellers featured in those guides, we include their first slideshow images. Therefore, store listings with outdated, blurry, or unprofessional-looking photos are less likely to be selected and featured.
Amp up your aesthetic: Read more tips on taking amazing product photos for your Marketplace listing.
To optimize your image slideshow, we recommend including 4-10 photos of your most recent box, products, and your branding. Use natural light to capture your subject, set up objects according to the Rule of Thirds, and don’t overlay text captions onto your images.
6. Offer (and Encourage) Prepaid Subscriptions
A full 65% of Marketplace gift sales over last year’s holiday season were prepaid subscriptions! These are prime for gifting, as the sender can select not to renew the subscription but it will still allow the recipient enough of a “trial period” (so to speak) to decide if they want to renew themselves.
In short, if you don’t offer prepaid subscription options (for 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months), you’re losing money. On the other hand, adding prepaid options will raise your sales numbers and average order value.
Learn how: Read Cratejoy’s help doc on setting up a subscription product to add prepaid subscriptions to your listing.
You might include a note about prepaid subscription options in your list of features, directly below a line about gifting (“Makes a great gift!”). If you offer a slight discount for the prepaid options, that will encourage potential gifters to sign up all the more.
Now go optimize that Marketplace listing!
Let us know if you have questions in the comments! You might also check out Cratejoy’s other marketing articles to raise holiday sales on your online storefront and social media.