It’s true. Our worst fears are realised. Apple have made selling online a whole lot more difficult and, in the process, will surely put thousands of online companies out of business.
Just the same as any business we’ve been tested by the changes to Facebook’s algorithm due to Apple’s new privacy settings. But while things will take time to go back to normal, Facebook advertising is still a strong tool for growing any subscription box business.
Strangely though, after the initial shock of CPA’s going through the roof, and the challenges associated with that we’ve managed to actually thrive in the face of difficulty.
Running an online business is so much more than just ads, and there are things you can do to mitigate the effects while waiting for Facebook to fix things.
Here’s the 3 main reasons why we’re now getting more people signed up than ever before.
Part 1: Diversify your traffic
Every business owner and especially in the online space should be looking to diversify the channels that your sales come from. Diversifying means getting at least some amount of traffic from strategies across multiple platforms, E.G. Affiliates, SEO, Organic content, TikTok, Partnerships
Why? Well it’s now more obvious than ever, it’s extremely dangerous to rely on one traffic source for all of your sales because guess what? Things like this happen all the time.
Facebook changes their rules, some piece of technology changes or breaks, a pandemic happens, etc etc. Sometimes these things are good for online business, often times they are not.
If your business relies totally on one way of getting customers and that dries up, you’re in big trouble. So here’s some ideas to get some new traffic sources for your business.
Are there any affiliate networks that are willing to send you traffic for a set cost per subscriber? I bet there are, we operate in the UK and Ireland and there’s plenty over here and I know for a fact there’s even bigger ones in the US.
What these networks have is essentially a portfolio of websites that are getting a shit ton of traffic, but the websites themselves don’t sell anything. So they are renting out ad space on their site to businesses like yours in order to make money from their traffic.
If you partner up with them you can display ads for your boxes on their high traffic websites, and the best part is unlike Facebook where you pay per click or per impression, you only pay when someone actually converts into a customer. Also unlike Facebook this set cost for subscriber does not change, so it is a predictable and scalable way to grow your business.
Do a Google search for e-commerce affiliate networks in your country or region and reach out to them to see if they are willing to partner up with you. iOS 14 has no effect on this channel whatsoever.
Are there other businesses that operate in your niche or industry and serve the same or similar customers, but do not directly compete with your business? Maybe it’s time for a collaboration.
This is a hugely scalable and effective channel for you to get your products right in front of the eyes of your ideal customer. You do that by printing a leaflet or insert that goes inside the shipping package of the partner company and gets sent out to their customers.
Here’s how it works:
1. Find a business willing to partner up (must be in a similar niche and ideally have a similar number of orders going out per month.)
2. Agree to either a straight leaflet swap or a swap + cost per subscriber (you agree to pay them $X for every customer that signs up to your box from their database via a specific coupon code for example, they may also agree to pay you for each sale you get for them)
3. Insert their leaflet into your box and they insert your leaflet into their box/package.
If the other company is way bigger than you, it’s not attractive for them to go in your box so you may end up just paying either for the amount of their parcels your leaflet goes into or pay per new subscriber you get. Always try and negotiate the second option to protect yourself as you won’t pay if their customer base turns out not to be interested, only for the leaflets themselves.
This is a great strategy that also is not affected by iOS14 in any way.
Part 2: Double down on your offer
Your offer is the #1 factor that will determine whether someone will sign up or not. On our website on 2 different days we can have the exact same images, same copy, same everything. On one day we may have a crap conversion rate, and the next it’s an unbelievable one.
What made the difference? The offer.
Facebook’s targeting due to iOS has become more difficult to pinpoint the exact person that is perfectly ready to sign up right away. So by changing your offer, you are widening the net, to people who may well be a great customer, but for some reason are not convinced to sign up right away. Maybe they don’t usually buy online or are sceptical of scams or need more convincing in some way. So what we do is lower the barrier to entry into our subscription by improving the offer.
This may be a discount off of their first box to try it out, but it doesn’t always need to be a discount. You could offer a free gift, free extra products in their monthly box or some other incentive or souvenir for joining up right away.
Think of what you can offer to your customers that will get them hyped up to join right away, that way your ad targeting won’t need to be as pinpoint accurate to find the perfect person at the perfect time.
There could be lots of reasons why an otherwise good customer won’t sign up, maybe they don’t get paid for another week, maybe they are saving for a trip at the end of the month, by improving your offer and either reducing the price or increasing the value, the more likely it is people will sign up to your box.
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Here’s some offers to try:
• Get a free T-Shirt for joining on a 6-month plan (Hook up to a POD order system E.G. Printful and dropship the T-Shirt to the customer)
• Get a Free extra product in every box for joining today
• Free upgrade to our deluxe plan for all new 12-month subscribers
• Get double the products in your first box
• Get X% discount off your first box today
You can offer whatever you like, if you’ve already had an offer before, and iOS has messed up your sales, try a new offer, or combine a couple of these to make it unbelievable for your customer.
Pro Tip: If you can, try to offer things that have a high perceived value but actually cost you a lot less. For example, a $25 T-Shirt (RRP) might actually only cost you $8.
Part 3: Get serious about email marketing
By now you may have read my dozens of group posts on how to do email marketing for a subscription box business and I’ve shared some of my best tips and strategies to help you scale up your sales using email.
But I still speak with people all the time who have a criminally underperforming email strategy… or even worse no strategy at all.
Email is the easiest, most cost effective and highest converting channel we use to scale our subscription box sales every single day. Of course we still drive traffic from other channels which gets us sales as well as grows our list, but without it our cost to acquire a customer would be almost double what it is now. If you want to get twice the amount of customers for the same cost you’re paying now, listen up.
Here’s how to craft an email strategy for your business:
Step 1. Have multiple entry points into your list on your website.
• A pop up is OK but even the best popups only have a 10% conversion rate, that means 90% of people leave without buying or becoming a lead
• You can also have a signup survey or flow that people have to go through before signing up so you can capture their email
• Have an exit intent popup for when people try to leave
• Install an abandoned cart capture to grab people’s emails if they enter it on checkout
Step 2. Automate your follow up sequence
You want to automatically remind and persuade people to go back over to your website and buy. We do this by using email automations or ‘flows’. This will be a series of emails sent in a specific order after a specific period of time since they visited your website.
You also want to ensure to remove people from the list automatically if they become a customer, so they don’t get the sales emails anymore. You can do this using a tool called Zapier. (I have written posts on this before)
Step 3. Design emails that sell
In order to make good quality emails you need 2 things:
1) good images of your product and
2) very basic design skills.
Either take yourself or pay someone to take multiple good quality images of your boxes and remove the backgrounds using a site called remove.bg
Take the box photos and go to one of two softwares, Snappa or Canva. Browse their email templates for inspiration to make nice looking emails
Once you’ve chosen a template, drop your box images in, write a small amount of copy explaining the unbelievable offer you are running, drop in some buttons that say ‘Sign Up’ in there and add some images of past happy customers at the bottom and another ‘Sign Up’ button underneath.
Step 4. Profit
Pro tip: If you still lack inspiration from the templates then go and sign up for your competitors’ emails and make your emails similar to theirs (preferably a big/successful business that is doing well, don’t copy bad emails)
The best thing about growing and nurturing your email list is this; its’s the only traffic source you actually own. No one can take it away from you and its FREE to email them as much as you want. Forever. Did I mention Free?
That’s it guys!
If you take notice and do all of these things your business will be much stronger and able to ride this tidal wave of change in our industry. Not only that, you will also be much more secure and protected against the next big change or disruption coming our way which after the last 18 months, we all know could be right around the corner.
I hope this post was helpful, please leave any feedback or questions below and I’d be happy to help.