#126 - We just got back from Orlando where we attended Sub Summit. (and brought home a Community Choice Cube Award!) While we were there, Julie had the chance to record a live episode of Subscription Box Basics. Thanks to all who joined us and we for those who are listening to the replay, we hope you enjoy it! We'll do a Sub Summit recap next week!
In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, Julie interviews Caroline from MSA (My Subscription Addiction). My Subscription Addiction is a blog that has introduced audiences to thousands of new subscriptions and products since 2012. Their team is dedicated to provide honest product reviews and introducing new brands making sure that you get to have a great online shopping experience.
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So you wanna launch a subscription box and don't know where to start. Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach, and your host here at subscription box basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun.
Hey guys, welcome to a live recording of subscription box basics with Julie Ball. That's me. I'm your host. And we are live at sub summit 22 in Orlando, Florida. It's beautiful here. And I'm so excited to actually have real people listening. so my guest today is Caroline. She is from MSA. If you haven't heard of that, that's my subscription addiction. And I think you guys are gonna love this platform and we're gonna dive in, tell you all the basics of how you can use this to grow your subscription box business. So welcome to the podcast. Thank
You so much excited to be here. Yes.
Okay. So a lot of people will be meeting you for the first time. So why don't you give them a little bit of background of who you are and a little bit about your career that got you to MSA
Yeah. Perfect. It's really sad. My name is Caroline Lavier. Um, I've been with MSA for a little bit over a year now. I'm our director of business operations prior to joining MSA. Um, I've done a few things, um, primarily was in luxury retail world. I worked at brands like Louis Vuitton product, Tiffany. I also started my own fitness studio. And so what I really loved at MSA, I felt like it was kind of in a weird way, like a combination of two things that I loved. It was, you know, you had that, that retail component that I really liked from my luxury retail days. But for me, that was a little bit too slow paced. I wanted to be somewhere fast paced, growing company, a startup. Um, and I got that at MSA. So I've been here for a little bit over a year and kind of helping, um, to run the, the day to day business work on really every part of the organization.
Nice. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it. Yeah. But let's start with a story. Cause our, our listeners love a good story. So we're here in Orlando. A lot of people have traveled far and wide to get here. And right before we started recording, you were telling me about your trip. Yeah. You know, the, the cordial thing is like, Hey, how was your flight? And you're like, uh, lemme tell you about it. So start with that story.
Yeah. I'm sort, I'm like a very easy traveler. I travel a lot of, you know, really like, it takes a lot for me to get annoyed when it comes to travel um, but anyways, I'm a bit jet lagged because I just got back from vacation on Monday. So wake up already, super early this morning, I wake up at 4:00 AM for the 7:00 AM flight. Oh gosh. Um, I bored and I'm like, all right, you know, I'm just gonna sit down. I'm gonna work the whole time. Well, partway through the flight, the flight attendant comes by and spills water on my computer. Oh my gosh. And he barely even wanted to get me a napkin until I bit up and acted like it was my fault that he spilled this water and was kind of rude about it. And anyways, my computer now has not really been working. I've ordered a, a, the biggest thing that's not working is the keyboard. So I've ordered a keyboard here to the hotel, um, to be delivered between three and 4:00 PM, um, to use for the next few days, have extra computers. Luckily back in New York. And my CEO, um, has been super kind to lend me his computer this morning. Oh my gosh. Whenever I need it for the next
Few days, what a nightmare you get on the flight. Yeah. And water skills on your laptop and your laptop goes, put like,
Like I'm just like immediate, like the number keys don't work. And I'm like, oh, that's fine. I I'm like, oh no, you actually need number keys a lot on a keyboard. Even just like type of question mark. I have symbol or like an exclamation point. Um, so it's then, uh, and then also I'll be like in meetings and all of a sudden, like I was in a zoom meeting and all of a sudden it just like quit and like went into some weird, full screen mode with like weird things showing and wouldn't get out of it. And then the mouse disappeared.
Sounds like the life of an entrepreneur right
There. Yeah, exactly. It's like you listen, problems, problems happen and you gotta solve it. You know, that's right. We gotta be solution oriented. We don't bring problems. We bring
Solutions. That's right. That's right. Okay. So let's get down to the meat of the conversation. So a lot of people probably have already heard about MSA, but there's gonna be some newbies here. Yeah. So what is my subscription
Addiction? Yeah. So my subscription addiction is the blog, um, reviews of subscription products. We also have what we call brand pages, which is kind of a page that's on the internet dedicated to your brand that you can own. That's designed to rank on SEO. Um, we have a team that can update and make changes for you, but you can find as much information as you want. So that way, when someone Googles it, they can lo they can, um, see any information about your brand to be able to make a purchase. So, MSA was started 10 years ago by a couple named Liz and Eric Cadman. They love subscription boxes. They started writing about brands like Ipsy, Birchbox, fab fit fund. And we've grown since there, we, you know, published hundreds of new pieces of content a month, whether it's reviews of brand, of, of, of old boxes of new boxes, um, coupons, interesting news, that's happening.
Um, you know, there, if like a brand has raised money, maybe we've written founder stories and covered that. So we are really like a one stop shop for people that love subscriptions and just, you know, we have a community that's built up around that and they wanna talk about it. We actually at a forum a few years ago that then went away. Totally forgot. We actually brought it back this year. So it's a place for people that love subscriptions to engage with each other and share what's in their latest boxes that they loved or didn't like, and okay. Even just like connect and make friends. Yeah.
So the people that are spending their time on the website are buyers. Right?
Exactly. Yes. That wanna buyers, people that wanna buy your boxes.
Yeah. Okay. So there's a handful of platforms like that. What makes MSA different?
I think to me, what makes MSA different is the community, honestly, because we have such a strong community and we've been around for such a long time and we are the biggest and we are the most established and the most trusted, we have brands that are constantly coming to us. Brands are coming to us because they want new customers. Customers are coming to us because they wanna find new brands, discovery. Right. Exactly. Discovery is a big piece of it. We have, um, we've done surveys in the past of why do people come to MSA and a big part of it is for that discovery aspect. They want to know what is new and what is exciting in the subscription box world.
so I know we're just talking and there's no visual, but like, what does it look like when you go to MSA website? Yeah. Do you buy like search by category
And yes, that's my question. So we actually just went through a redesign, I think almost a year ago now. Nice. So when you visit the website, um, the homepage is just a list of articles and different blog posts, whether it's reviews or coupons or news. And you can see also we like in our, in our menu bar, you can see, we have a bunch of lists and the lists are what people really like as well. Because if you wanna know what are all of your options for a beauty subscription, you can filter, you go to like best subscriptions for beauty. Okay. And then you can see, we have beauty, makeup, clothing, um, food beverages, everything. So you can search by that. You also can search a specific brand. You can search for reviews. You can search, you can filter for different categories. Yeah. There's really, you know, the site can really be used, however you want. There's so many different ways to use it. I would say the most common ways are just by browsing the feed, which is our homepage and going back like days and days to see the most recent content published, visiting our deals pages, and then visiting the
Lists. Ooh. Deals, pages. What's that?
Yeah. So deals, pages where we post all of, um, all, all deals, all coupons. Oh. And we have coupon a special, you know, we have, like, I think it's called the unicorn deals, which are like the ones that we're most excited about. Whether it's exclusive to MSA, we think it's an extra good deal. Um, okay. It's all on the deals page.
So do, from the MSA perspective, are you guys are working to find buyers like on our behalf, as a box owner, right?
So you're doing marketing email lists and stuff like that email on their behalf.
Yeah. So we send emails, um, based on, you know, we usually send about one email a week of the best deals. Usually we pick four to five brands to be in it, based on what are the exciting deals that we see on that people at brands that attracted us traction. Yeah, exactly. Like what's getting excitement on our page. And what's something that we, as a team are excited about. Yeah. We'll put in those emails, um, SEOs, another big thing. So that is how we get a lot of traffic as people Googling. So people searching, whether they are searching fab fit fund coupon, or they're searching best subscription boxes for women or best clothing, subscriptions, best food subscriptions, new subscriptions, you know, you name it, all of these search terms. We rank very highly for us. That's another way that people are discovering
Us. Okay. So this sounds like this amazing opportunity for box owners, especially if you're new to like break into the market, tell us about the opportunity. Like how can box owners, everyone out here? How can they get involved with MSA? Yeah.
So a few different ways. So kind of everything that I've been discussing is what we refer to as our flagship business. That is what MSA has been to get involved there. Um, two things, number one, if you are interested in having your box listed on our site and being a part of our directory, which as I mentioned, this is kind of that page that's dedicated to you on the internet and you can email our team to make changes for that. You would email partners, my subscription, addiction.com. Okay. And we'll send you a link to fill out, to submit, you know, you'll submit this form and then that will get your box listed.
Okay. Hold on real quick. Raise your hand. Who's already listed on MSA.
Oh, only one hand. Oh, I see a second hand. We
Have a lot of opportunity here. So say so many. Let's that email address again, take note
partners with an S um, partners at my subscription, addiction.com. And I'm sorry. It is a very long email and yes, I do get tired writing it.
Okay. So they are gonna email that and then they'll get a response on like, what
Are next steps. Exactly. They'll get a response with the next steps. Basically. We'll send you a link to a form, um, that you'll fill out to submit a brand page and then we'll get that up and run. And secondly, if you have, you know, if you're interested in a review or you have a deal that you want us to post, you can email posts, P O St. S posts my subscription, addiction.com.
So would the first step be getting the brand page first
Getting the brand page? Second page is if you have a brand page or once you have that brand page, um, that second step, um, emailing posts is if you're interested in a review or, um, you know, sharing any deals and anything new, exciting happening to your box. Okay. So that, those are the ways kind of to work with MSA a little bit more traditionally that's like, as I mentioned, the flagship, we do have a new business model that we are working on as well. That is, um, it's called social white listing. I'm not sure if it's something that you guys are familiar with, but if anyone is advertising on Facebook and you know, hands up, if you guys have advertised on Facebook in the last year and you have struggled because of the iOS changes, right? like, this is not a co like, I'm sure this is a common thing that a lot of our brands are coming to us about.
Yeah. So we had brands that were struggling and they were, you know, we want new ways to grow. We wanna make Facebook work. Can we use your content to advertise on Facebook is what they asked us. And so, yes. Um, I, in the last six months we've built an entire business around this, where we work with subscription. Um, you know, it, it can be subscription brands. It can honestly also be non-subscription brands as well, any brand out there, we write content for you and we make ad creatives and we give you access to our Facebook handle as well as a whole portal of different creators. Wow. So you can have multiple voices in the market advertising on your behalf. You actually run the paid ads on Facebook, but this has worked super, super well for brands. They're getting to acquire customers on Facebook for 30, 40, 50% lower CPAs versus their branded ads because of the authority that we have as a third party handle. And it's authentic content, people engage with it more. So when they end up on your site, they convert at a much higher rate
And that's a new offering,
Right? And this is a new offering. This is something that, um, we, you know, last October, November, we're kind of thinking on December, we started working on a little bit more January. We noticed attraction. And since January, we've grown from, let's say like eight brands to close to 70 brands at because
Working because it's working. Exactly. And we work with brands of all sizes. We work with some of the biggest names in like the hair care space. but we also work with, you know, really small brands that just have very minimal budgets, but they want a way to make Facebook work for them because they haven't been able to crack it. And this really is that to me, this is what provides that scalable growth even more so while the flagship will provide you growth, this is gonna unlock that scale, um, and allow you to grow to much faster rate because of the, how effective, um, it is on Facebook.
That's awesome. I love that. Let's take a step back to, yeah. That basic stuff like the brand page. Yep. What does it cost like?
Yeah. Brand page, um, is free. What? $0. And
We only have one person in the audience and it come on, everybody.
we do ask you guys, if you haven't, if you work with an affiliate program, we do put affiliate links in there. Fair it's it's not required but it's something that if you have that it will help us prioritize you guys. If you know, having that affiliate, program's gonna help us prioritize you for new content. Um, for reviews, for PO, for posting deals, for including in emails, but the brand page itself, we work with brands that don't have affiliate programs, um,
And you can get the listing
For free. Exactly. You got the listing for free. It's just, we believe that every brand should have a presence and have a voice on the internet, um, and have that third party presence because we know how valuable having that voice is.
And do you have, as the box owner say, I just set up my listing, do I have access to it where I can adjust it? If something changes.
That is a great question and something that we are, are working on. I honestly don't have the timeline of when we will be rolling that out right now. If you join that white listing program that I had mentioned then yes. Yeah. There is a way as a part of that white listing that you have a login and you can make changes at any time. Okay. Changing the picture, changing the content, if not, um, you know, you email us basically, if you have any changes that you wanna make and our team makes the changes, so it can be, so there's some
That, yeah, there are definitely a flexibility. The changes definitely can happen. It's not quite as seamless as you're just logging in and making a change yourself. Okay. But it definitely can still be done.
So I can imagine like reaching out and saying, I'd like to change my main picture to a seasonal holiday picture or something like that. And that wouldn't be a problem.
No, not at all. And we like, especially around the holidays, um, we definitely do a lot of outreach to our brands to be prepared. I think last year we had brands pre-submit over 500 deals that we had scheduled. I think starting in October, we asked brands to submit deals for the holiday. Oh,
Um, yeah. Um, all it's already on my mind. Um, we had brands submit deals in advance. We had over 500 deals submitted before that were all drafted and scheduled and ready to go live. And, you know, some of those included specific images, changing the images on the brand page, things like that.
Okay. So you work behind the scenes. Do you have any like secrets for us on how to, how to succeed with MSA? Like
Yeah, let me, um, secrets, I would say a few things, number one, like as much information as you can provide on that brand page upfront, upfront. Yeah. That way someone is going to want to, to read that and make a purchase, think of it as your place on the internet. You know, if you, if someone is going to be reading that and reading about your brand, what are all the important things that you want them to know? Yeah. One sentence isn't gonna be enough. Right. Um, so adding more information there, submitting any sales that you have to post at MSA. And then if Facebook is something that you are interested in and interested in working with us, um, for that one, you can email me directly, but for I'd say that that's just another way to definitely succeed. Nice. And my email for that directly is Caroline@mysubscriptionaddiction.com. And when we
On again, very long,
When we put this on the podcast, I'll put all those email addresses in the show notes so that you guys can grab them. This has been so fun. How can people follow MSA? Like Instagram, Facebook, whatever.
Yep. Definitely follow us on Instagram, Facebook on both. We are at my subscription addiction.I think on honestly I should know our Twitter handle, but I do not the moment that's that's okay. Cause we changed it. Um, so I apologize. I don't know that, but yes, definitely follow us on Instagram and Facebook at my subscription addiction sign up for our emails. Um, if you sign up for, through our, you know, you submit a box in the directory, we'll get your email address. We'll put you into a form of email communication that goes out to our partners where we share exciting partner opportunities as well. Ooh, what's that so partner opportunities are things like sharing, you know, for the holidays that I, the holiday sale that I mentioned. Yeah. We email all of our partners ahead of time. So that way they could submit sales like
Media partners or influencers or,
Um, for partners, that's actually our brand. So we email all of our brand partners. Okay. So we have, you know, a few thousand brands in that database that we email. Um, that's also where we're just sending, we do work with a few other partners that want it because we have such a valuable audience. You know, we work with, um, whether it's like marketing companies that, you know, wanna offer marketing help to all of our subscription boxes. So there are a few, one off emails that we send out to our brand partners as well, just exciting opportunities for them.
Okay. So my last question is a lot of our listeners are new or aspiring. So they, they could be in that early stage. Is this something that they would wanna do right away, like get listed right away?
Yeah. I would say get listed as, you know, as soon as you have that website and you know exactly professional photos. Yeah. You have photos, you have a website, you know exactly what the information is that you want to share and you wanna be out on the web, get that li get that live. You can change it at any time. This also allows it to give it, you know, the goal of these page is to rank on SEO and SEO can take time. It can take a few weeks for that algorithm to pick up. So the earlier you have it and keep in mind, you can always make changes. You know what you put there the first time is not final.
So the goal kind of is like, if someone's searching for like my subscription box is sparkle hustle grow, it's an entrepreneur box. Yes. So if someone Googles entrepreneur box, you, we want, we want the first listing to be, but maybe the second or the third,
Ideally if someone, if someone Googles spark hustle grow reviews. Yeah. Um, our brand page would rank would come up on Google. Like I know that I think that we rank in the one through three spots for a few hundred brands. I used to know that number a little bit
More specifically. That sounds like a big opportunity,
But yeah, definitely, definitely an exciting opportunity. So I say get listed as early as you can. And as you grow, you can grow with us. There will always be more opportunities for growth.
Love it. That's a great way to wrap it up. Thank you so much. Of course. Thank
So much. This was great. Yeah. Subscription box basics. Live. We, maybe we can hang out for just a little bit. If anyone has
Questions, can come chat with us. Thank you for joining us live and thanks always for listening guys. And we'll see you next time.