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Tips from the Pros: Effective Marketing for Your Subscription Box

One of the biggest challenges for any Subscription Box (or e-commerce business, for that matter) is brand (or box) awareness. You could have the most unique subscription box that generates nothing but excitement from those who try it. However, if your market doesn’t know about it, you could still find yourself with few subscribers and out of business.

In this article, we sit down with Julie Simon, Vice President of Orca Communications, a successful national PR and Digital Advertising Firm that has successfully catapulted the brand recognition of many clients through multiple marketing channels, including the most popular social media platforms used today and popular shows such as “Good Morning America” and “Shark Tank”.

Fusion (F): How do you evaluate Instagram and other Social Media “Influencers” and if they are effective or just looking for free money? Julie (J): Most influencers are looking to make money, but if they are quality influencers, they will be protective over their brand and won't work with just any company. If they consider your proposal carefully and ask if it's a good fit for their audience, then they care more about the integrity of their content than making quick money. If they are interviewing, you as well then that's a good sign. The question to ask, "Is this a real influencer or a fake account?" Below are a few steps you can take to determine that:

  1. Check the followers: A quick scan of the people who are following their profile can help identify if real people are their fans or if they purchased fake followers. If you see a lot of followers without pictures and you click-thru and see no posts that's a good sign that they are fake/bot. More info on this:

  2. Check the comments on the influencer's posts: If they have spam or irrelevant comments and missing profile pics that's a good sign that they are not real.

  3. Check for fan-buying accounts: You can check to see if the influencer is buying followers. More info:

  4. Figure out the Engagement Rate: the average number of engagements an influencer gets per post, divided by the number of followers. If they have low engagement, they might have fake followers.

  5. Use tools like this one to check engagement, etc:

  6. Ask the influencer: contact them and ask for proof of their audience analytics.

F: Engagement level – Outside of the industry average (1 – 3.5% being good, 3.5% - 6% being great), from your experience, what do you consider as being “low / OK / high”?

J: I would say anything below 1% is bad. I'll consider influencers between 1-3% and anything higher is spectacular.

F: What tips and tricks do you recommend to subscription box owners towards effectively building their brand awareness by their target audience?

J: Find your demo! If you're a pet subscription box, you must go to pet media/pet sites. If you're a baby product subscription box, we've got to zero in on where the new moms and grandmas are! Big recognizable national lifestyle outlets are great for bragging rights, and that's still worth a lot, but sales may not covert much as they will when you find "your people (aka target audience)."

F: What are some typical challenges that subscription box owners can expect to encounter and how do you recommend they navigate them?

J: Making the public/consumers feel that your box is worth signing up for; it's a very competitive category now more than ever. Most consumers understand that these are carefully curated boxes (taking the legwork and guesswork out shopping for consumers), but subscription boxes can still feel like a 'luxury' item to the average consumer versus a necessity[1]. Therefore, marketing messaging (via PR, social media or otherwise) should revolve around why this subscription box is worth both their money and their time to subscribe:

  • Does it help a busy mom?

  • Does it solve a common house, health or fashion problem (Gentlemen’s Box is a perfect example of solving men’s fashion problems)?

  • Is it really something you won't actually go out and buy yourself on a monthly basis?

  • Does it create an experience (i.e. Escape the Crate) that can’t be replicated?

F: What are the signs that it isn’t your marketing (or lack thereof), but instead it’s your brand or box?

J: I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. I think this is where the subscription box company needs to take an honest look at what else is in the marketplace in this category for consumers to choose from and ask: Does our box truly offer something different? We've seen Subscription Boxes in the same category, and it can feel like the 'same old' idea.

  2. If the marketing is active (PR and social) and sales / engagement are low, then I think the business owner should look at the website and examine whether it's doing a good enough job of stating the what this box offers (what need or experience is this box fulfilling?) once the consumers visits the site. Pricing may also be a problem as well; not in that it cannot compete, but that the value proposition isn’t either there or there is a disconnect between the price of the box and the perceived value from the customer.

  3. If marketing efforts are low or non-existent, you could have the coolest or most unique subscription box idea in the world, but if the media doesn't know about you, they can't feature you; or it may be as simple as amping up your social media game and getting your name out there. While you may not be the only subscription box in your target space, you may still “win the race” through effective and efficient (simply spending a lot of money on marketing isn’t the solution) marketing.

To find out more about Orca, we invite you to visit their website at

To see how Fusion Fulfillment and Orca can help grow your Subscription Business, contact us via e-mail at or call us 732-903-6652.

[1] The term “necessity” that Julie uses can also be associated with standard lifestyle products, such as toiletries (i.e. Harry’ & Dollar Shave Club), for example.

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