How We Market Subscription Boxes on the Marketplace

Getting new customers is one of the most important and challenging aspects of any business. We found it’s the number one concern for subscription box entrepreneurs after launching their box, and it’s the reason we started the Cratejoy Marketplace a little over a year ago.

We’ve also learned a lot about subscription box marketing ourselves. In fact, in the last three months we’ve doubled the amount of sales and traffic to the Marketplace. Several merchants have noticed the increase in sales and asked about our marketing efforts, so here’s an inside look at some of the campaigns and techniques that have been especially successful for us.

Facebook and Instagram Marketing

Facebook and Instagram have been great platforms for subscription box marketing. They scale well and have introduced Cratejoy and its merchants to a broad audience.

All of our Facebook and Instagram Cratejoy ads are produced in house. Laura Teklits, the lead designer at Cratejoy, builds our graphics for the ads.

Rachael Hyde, who’s been interning with the Cratejoy marketing team this year, produces terrific short videos.

There’s two primary ways to bring in sales with Facebook and Instagram marketing. One method is “prospecting”, which attempts to reach new customers who may not be familiar with Cratejoy or subscription boxes. For this, we target ads based on specific demographics or interests. For example, several weeks before Mother’s Day we may start showing ads to men ages 25-55 who are married and have children. Or, for a fandom collection, we might target and audience that has an interest in “Harry Potter”.

Acquiring new customers can be expensive! We experiment often with new campaigns, and the cost to get a new customer generally ranges between $20-$200. When we find a campaign that performs well (both in terms of conversions and cost), we scale it up as far as we can push it or until merchants in the campaign start to sell out.

The other method of Facebook marketing is “retargeting”. If a customer visits a specific listing page but decides not to check out, we display an ad specifically for that listing in Facebook in the hopes the customer will decide to complete the purchase later. This type of ad tends to perform really well, at an average cost of $10-12 per conversion.

A lot of small businesses don’t have the bandwidth, budget, or experience to run these types of campaigns when they’re first starting off (or would prefer to concentrate on other parts of their business), which is one reason the Marketplace is such a great resource to help build customer growth. (FYI: If you’re a Cratejoy merchant and want to be in the Marketplace, you can quickly apply from your dashboard).

YouTube Influencers

Cratejoy partners with YouTube influencers to produce and distribute unboxing videos on an ongoing basis. These influencers tend to have audiences within a specific niche (jewelry, books, cooking, etc) and love to share new and interesting subscription boxes with their fans. This is one of my personal favorites:

These influencers promote at least 100 products every month to a combined following of millions of consumers. Camille Dollins and Erin Kerr, both on our marketing team, are constantly looking for new influencers and manage the existing influencers. Every week they send out new boxes to review, coordinate and answer questions from the influencers, and measure the effectiveness of the campaigns.

Our team won’t be able to find an influencer for every box (some niches don’t have audiences or are difficult to find influencers for), but we do our best to place all our boxes with qualified promoters and help get those videos seen.

Box Review Sites and Bloggers

Cratejoy has partnered with the most influential box review sites and also works with bloggers in niche verticals. These sites have a combined reach of over a million readers and review at least 200 boxes from the Cratejoy Marketplace each month. We manage the relationship with all these partners and pay 100% of the commissions on sales.

Email Marketing

Over 150,000 subscription box lovers have signed up to Cratejoy’s email list, and that number continues to grow nearly 30% every month. Our marketing team designs and writes about three emails a week, featuring subscription boxes in the Marketplace with specific themes.

Email marketing works really well for the Marketplace as a whole. Many Cratejoy customers purchase multiple different boxes, and the emails help with new discovery.

Recent examples of Cratejoy emails:

We also make automated personalized recommendations to registered customers based on their previous purchase history and recently viewed listings.

If you’re marketing a subscription box on your own, you might try sponsoring an email newsletter with a blogger or website that already has an established email list.

Content Marketing

Cratejoy’s Box Insider is our own blog on which we promote over 50 boxes every month to hundreds of thousands of readers.


A dedicated team, led by our Content Marketer Cheyenne Smith, writes content on an ongoing basis around relevant themes such as Fandom, Harry Potter, Holidays and so on. We promote this content in various ways, including boosted Facebook posts, syndication and emails. These posts also bring in a lot of organic search traffic.

Constant Experimentation

The marketing team is constantly experimenting with new channels. We’ve tried Google ads without much success. Pinterest seems like a great platform, but hasn’t attracted sales volume. Retargeted displays ads do fine, but we haven’t had success with prospecting. Reddit ads got a lot of clicks, but not a lot of sales. Podcasts, magazine ads, mailers, and events are all channels we’ve looked at, but haven’t run major tests with.

The point is, we’re constantly trying new marketing ideas and testing our assumptions.

What This Means for Your Subscription Box

If you run a subscription box business on Cratejoy and aren’t in the Marketplace, we’d encourage you to apply from your dashboard. Unlike other marketing channels you might pursue on your own, the Marketplace is completely risk free. We just take a 10% commission when you get a sale.

If you’re marketing your own subscription box (either through your own Cratejoy website or another platform like WooCommerce or Shopify), we’d recommend trying out some of the channels that have worked for us like Facebook ads, YouTube influencers, bloggers, and content marketing. When you find a channel that works well for you business, focus in and scale that as far as it will go.

Cratejoy is an all in one subscription commerce platform that includes everything you need to start your own subscription commerce business online. Try it free for 14 days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *