The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate how the past year went for your business and set your goals for the future.
In this post: tips and advice on how to turn last year’s data into this year’s success.
Don’t miss out on the recording of our New Year Refresh Town Hall (posted below)!
This recording covers the content of this blog post and features advice from two of Cratejoy’s top sellers, Chris from Escape the Crate & Shereen from Introverts Retreat.
New Year + Same You + Cratejoy’s insights = better business!
Table of Contents:
- New Year Refresh Webinar and Town Hall
- Improve Your Listings
- Plan for the Future
- Understand Your Operations
- Engage Your Audience
New Year Refresh Webinar & Town Hall
Improve Your Listings
1. Update Listing Information
Potential shoppers looking at your listing want to see products and information that will be relevant to them now. A shopper who pulls up your listing and sees dated information may view that as a reason not to subscribe.
Customers want to buy from attentive, detail-oriented businesses. It gives them confidence that the product will be high-quality and any concerns they have will be addressed in a timely and professional manner.
Read more about how to create and improve your listings here.
2. Remove End of Year Holiday References
If you included mentions of end of year holidays in your list of features, description, sneak peek, or elsewhere in your listing: now is the time to remove them!
If your products are great gifts and you frequently see gift subscriptions being purchased: update your listing to feature an upcoming holiday (Valentine’s Day, for example).
Try to send your survey to subscribers that you know are actually using and experiencing the box. I put an invitation to the survey in the actual box and that way I know I’m getting the most informed feedback! – Chris, Escape the Crate
3. Add New Photos
One of our all time biggest pieces of advice, no matter the time of year, is to update your photos. Look at featured boxes in Cratejoy’s collections for inspiration on how to stage and take great photos. If possible, hire a professional to take photos.
Customers can’t pick up your products for a closer look so your photos are the most important factor for conveying the experience your customer will have when they subscribe.
4. Engage New and Existing Customers
Now is the perfect time to strategize about how you will engage existing customers and reach new audiences this year. Some examples of what you can do:
- Send out a New Year Newsletter to existing subscribers
- Give them hints about what’s coming this year!
- Invite customers to come and leave a review on your listing so they can tell potential buyers about how much they love the product
- Offer coupon codes to subscribers who are nearing the end of their subscription term
- Offer referral codes to customers who refer a friend who subscribes
- Create and implement an effective social media strategy
- High-quality photos that convey the experience of your subscription
- Coupon codes for new subscribers
What you do now as a business owner will set the tone for the year to come. Make sure your plan is clear, actionable, and achievable.
Time spent improving your listings will yield more sales! (Read more about how to create and improve your listings here.) After you’ve improved your listing(s), it’s time to look to the future and set your business up for success in the new year.
Plan for the Future
1. Set and Own Your Goals
Goals are important and give business owners an inflection point in their story. Setting and achieving goals helps build momentum in other areas of your business and your life.
It is important that goals are realistic. If you made $1,000 from your subscription box business last year, setting a goal to make $1,000,000 this year may not be achievable (wouldn’t that be amazing, though!). Don’t be afraid to push yourself, but don’t set yourself up for failure either!
Use your gathered business data (sales reports, available inventory, where your sales are coming from, etc.) to create measurable, reachable goals.
Check out this article about currently available analytics for Cratejoy Marketplace listings.
We recommend using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) acronym to set up and evaluate your goals. There are many free templates online that you can download and fill out as part of your goal setting plan.
2. Invest in Photography
Your customers need to see fresh images of your products on your listing. Keep your images current and high-quality.
If you don’t currently have a budget for professional photography, create a goal to invest in this area of your business.
Whether you’re taking your own photos or hiring a photographer, you should read this article about images on your listings.
My success didn’t come overnight. I set small goals that ultimately built up to the big goal of making my subscription box my full-time business and, in 2020, I achieved that! – Shereen, Introverts Retreat
3. Create a Marketing Plan
Some businesses are in the enviable position of not having to do any marketing. This is a rare circumstance. Most businesses need a marketing plan that is refreshed frequently, to continue growing.
The first step to marketing is knowing your audience and then determining how to most effectively market to that audience.
One marketing channel that is totally free? Cratejoy’s featured collections! All you have to do to be considered is keep your listings current and high-quality.
Check out our Subscription Marketing Guide and this list of marketing resources to get started!
4. Request Reviews
Be sure to follow up with customers and gift recipients to request reviews. Positive reviews help influence other potential customers to purchase. You may also learn valuable information about how you can improve your box from customer reviews.
Responding to reviews is a marketing strategy as well. A prospective customer can be swayed by scrolling through review responses from a business that are prompt, attentive, and helpful. The customer will gain confidence that any problems they have will be addressed professionally and thoroughly.
Learn more in this article about how best to respond to reviews.
Shift from being a reactive business owner to being a proactive business owner by setting goals, planning for the future, and testing different strategies.
After you’ve made your strategic plan, it’s time to get down to understanding your business operations.
Understand Your Operations
1. Evaluate Last Year’s Subscriptions
Evaluate how your business did last year! That will include finding out how many subscriptions you sold and which terms (3 month, 6 month, 12 month) were most popular. Use this information to set sales goals and create marketing plans for the new year.
Breaking your sales information down can yield valuable insights about when and why customers purchased certain term subscriptions. You might find that a specific coupon helped you sell 6 month subscriptions. You might also learn that gift givers most often opted to give a 3 month term subscription and during which gifting seasons your products are in the highest demand.
If you track how customers find your store (Examples: Google search, social media, email marketing) you can also find out which marketing channels are most effective.
2. Send out Surveys
Surveys yield valuable information about buyer behavior. Find out critical information about what buyers think of your products, your shipping schedules/fees, and your customer service by sending out regular surveys.
Don’t forget to include gift recipients when sending out surveys. Although they were not the purchasing customer, they’ll still have important feedback about your products and the experience of receiving your subscription box as a gift.
A survey can be a great marketing tool as well. Consider offering a small discount as a thanks for a completed survey!
Figure out when your slow season is for your business and use that extra time to evaluate the last year of your business. – Shereen, Introverts Retreat
3. Prepare for Tax Season
Being a small business owner means you have to understand your tax obligations. It may seem like a daunting task, but being informed and prepared is much better than being blindsided. (We’re going from being reactive to proactive, remember?)
We recommend starting with this blog post which contains many helpful scenarios based on common business structures. We recommend using this blog post as a jumping off point and doing comprehensive research based on your needs.
We also recommend reading these Cratejoy articles for more information: How to Turn on Sales Tax on Cratejoy, Using the TaxJar App, Using the Sales Tax Report
4. What do I do with my Money? (Money vs. Reality)
You may not have as much money as you think. That’s a scary thought, right? Not if you’ve got a system that takes all your expenses into account (phew!).
There are two primary methods of accounting that you can use: cash basis or accrual basis. We recommend reading this brief blog post to learn the different advantages of each method.
Good accounting practices will help you make growth decisions for your subscription box business. Put simply, you must understand how much money you are making and how much money you are spending to run an effective business. Once you understand that, you can strategize how to use any leftover money in the best possible way.
Understanding and maintaining quality operations builds a strong foundation so that you can achieve your business goals.
We’ve covered planning for the future, improving your listings, and having a strong grasp on your business operations. Now it’s time to talk about engaging your current and future customers.
Engage Your Audience
1. Win Back Former Subscribers
Having subscribers cancel can be frustrating, but it can also be very helpful. Any valuable, actionable feedback that former customers provide can help you improve your products, customer experience, and customer service.
Customers who cancel also provide you with a very unique marketing opportunity. Re-engage former subscribers with targeted marketing by scheduling emails with fun, new details about upcoming boxes and a specific “welcome back” coupon code.
2. Keep Current Subscribers
Your current subscribers are a most valuable audience that should not be ignored. Keep in touch with them regularly by sending them:
- Sneak peeks about what’s coming up in their box to generate excitement
- Any coupons that they can use on their next renewal if they’ve been a long time customer
- Surveys requesting feedback about your products and service
- Invites to special communities or behind the scenes information that makes them more loyal to your brand
Retain your customers and cut down your cancellation rate by being a proactive business owner. Learn more about reducing your cancellation rates by following the four strategies and two best practices detailed in this article.
I keep monthly spreadsheets to track how many active subscriptions I have and how many are ending. This helps me strategize my marketing efforts each month and know how much product to order. – Chris, Escape the Crate
3. Convert Gift Recipients/Givers to Long-Term Buyers
Chances are that at some point your box has been purchased as a gift. Gift purchases give you two more marketing audiences to engage: gift givers and gift recipients.
Gift givers should receive email marketing around major holidays with coupon codes. They thought your subscription box was a great gift once before. Be sure to remind them when they may be gift shopping again!
Gift recipients should receive email marketing before their gift subscription expires. These emails should include a coupon code for resubscribing and any other incentives you may offer (such as a lower cost mini subscription). You should also reach out to gift recipients around major gifting holidays–if they loved their gift experience they should want to give it to someone else!
Gift givers and recipients are also valuable sources of feedback. Ask them to provide a review if they enjoyed giving or receiving the subscription. These reviews can influence future gift shoppers!
You can also send them a survey asking for their thoughts on your box, products, and service. Offer a coupon code as a way to incentivize responses and, perhaps, get a few sales!
Learn how to create surveys for your subscribers here.
4. Invest in Marketing & Remarketing
In general, marketing should be top of mind for you as a business owner. Cratejoy has a great guide for how to market on any budget that you can read here.
As your business grows, you should be prioritizing increasing marketing budgets and efforts.
Two relatively low cost marketing options are social media and email marketing. Which is better for you depends on the number of your followers on social media platforms vs. the length of your email address list.
Email marketing can yield better results than social media so don’t neglect it in favor of only social media marketing.
As your business and marketing budget grows: consider remarketing. Remarketing can be done by creating targeted ads for potential customers that visited your site, but didn’t make a purchase. It can also be done via email for current or former customers. Read more about remarketing (and retargeting!) here.
Understanding and engaging your audience (current subscribers, former subscribers, gift buyers & recipients, potential new subscribers) is pivotal to growing the business you want. Happy subscribers keep subscribing and spread the word about your business!
Don’t forget: you can watch a recording of our New Year Webinar & Town Hall where we cover all these topics & our top sellers answer questions from other Cratejoy sellers!
Want to keep reading? We think you’ll benefit from this blog post about how to create a great marketplace listing!