Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Acquire New Customers on the Cratejoy Marketplace

October 18, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 96
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Acquire New Customers on the Cratejoy Marketplace
Show Notes Transcript

#096 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, Julie is joined by Shana Hayes from Cratejoy to talk about how to acquire more customers on the Cratejoy Marketplace.

Shana is the Senior Marketplace Engagement Manager at Cratejoy helping subscription box owners get up to speed with the Cratejoy Marketplace and grow their business. 

Cratejoy gets 4 million monthly views on their site. If you want to get a piece of that huge traffic, tune in to learn more about Cratejoy Marketplace and how to succeed as a marketplace seller.

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Julie:

So you want to 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 everybody, and welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm your host Julie Ball. And today I'm talking about a topic that has really been a big part of my journey over the past five years, and there's a lot of misconceptions about it. So that's why I brought on an expert today to help me kind of unpack it and dig through all the details. I would like to introduce you to Shana from Cratejoy. She is here to talk to us today about the Cratejoy marketplace. Welcome Shana.

Shana:

Thank you. Hi everybody. As Julie mentioned , I am with Cratejoy . I am the Senior Marketplace Engagement Manager. Long title basically just means I work with all of our favorite sellers, all of our sellers , and get you guys all up to speed on the marketplace. I helped to grow the business overall , really focusing on core categories and core sellers , and helping in any way that I can.

Julie:

Awesome. So let's hear a little bit about yourself. Like where are you from? Like, how did you get into working with Cratejoy what's your background? That really helps support what you do with Cratejoy.

Shana:

Definitely. So , I am originally from Connecticut. I was living in California when I started with Cratejoy and have now since moved back to Connecticut. So I stumbled into Cratejoy. I was a subscription box fanatic. I liked having all of my , you know, my favorite things coming to me on subscription. It just made life a lot easier, especially now with a new baby it's, you know, having everything sent to my house, having her books show up, having, you know, my wine box show up.

Julie:

I love it!

Shana:

I love just knowing that all of that is there. So I came across Cratejoy and, you know, reached out and it seemed like a great fit. And I've been with Cratejoy for almost two years. It'll be two years in October. And it's been so fun. I've really helped to build out the marketplace and kind of get to know who our sellers are and what they need from us and how we can help them to grow their business.

Julie:

That's so cool that you are a subscription box fanatic because what better place to work and then create joy? You know, whenever I remember very specifically growing up when I was about to graduate high school and my parents set me and my brother down and like, okay, so what's, what are you, what do you guys want to be when you grow up? Or like, what do you want to do next? And my mom was a banker and she hated her job and I could see it every day as she came home that she was miserable. And so I, at the time I had identified that I loved the outdoors and I loved music and I was like, I want to pursue something like that, something that I love as a career. And luckily for me, I was able to work in live music in an outdoor amphitheater.

Shana:

Awesome.

Julie:

So I released a lot of value in pursuing careers that really align with your passions and what you love. It makes such a difference.

Shana:

Definitely! And I had been in, in sort of the e-commerce world for a long time , and more in like the home space. And so I had, you know, a background in e-commerce and in marketplace sales in general. And so it was, it was helpful to kind of pair those two together. I had this interest in subscription boxes, and then now I'm able to use my experience from e-commerce and selling to kind of pair those two interests.

Julie:

That sounds like a good combo to me. So if you're listening and you are wondering what is Cratejoy anyhow, so I've talked about it on a lot of podcasts before, but Cratejoy is the all-in-one software platform that we know and love and recommend to all of our Subscription Box Bootcamp students. So personally for Sparkle Hustle Grow, I use the cart version. So I use WordPress on the front end, and then I use Cratejoy to process all my orders. Think of it as kind of the cash register that is going to process all of your orders. So the Cratejoy marketplace, however, is a whole different option, right, Shana? There's just a lot to it. You can be on other platforms and the marketplace. So let's talk about like in its simplest form, what is the Cratejoy marketplace?

Shana:

So the Cratejoy marketplace is really the only marketplace for subscription boxes. So , when you're drawing in customers that are looking, you know , like myself looking for a subscription box, they know that they have had a positive experience with subscription boxes in the past, or they have an interest in it. So they're coming to the marketplace and once they have that great experience, they're able to find a subscription box. And literally every category you can imagine from anything from chicken food to cigars, like we've got it all. And so, you know, they're coming to this marketplace because they , they are interested specifically in subscription boxes. It's different than just a general e-commerce site. But it's really another avenue to be able to sell your box. And we have a lot of partnerships with , you know, affiliate partners like BuzzFeed or Popsugar, or, y ou know, cnn.com is writing articles and linking back to our marketplace. And so not only do we have that really active, engaged community of subscription customers, but then we also have, you know, people that don't yet know about subscription boxes or they do, and they haven't dipped their toe in yet. And they're finding out about us through all of these affiliate partners as well.

Julie:

It's so cool. I like to think of it as kind of like the Etsy for subscription box businesses. So if you go to Etsy, it's a bunch of different vendors that list their handmade goods. Well, if you go to Cratejoy's marketplace at Cratejoy.com, you see a bunch of different subscription boxes, all in one place. And I love it. And I think what really draws me in about it is it's virtually effortless for the seller. So we can opt into the Cratejoy marketplace at no cost to set up your listing, correct?

Shana:

Yep , exactly. So there's no cost to setting up the listing. There's no cost associated with working with us. Really the only cost is per transaction fee. And that's only if you sell. So basically if you set up your profile and you're just kind of creating a listing and growing your presence and trying to understand how it all works, like there's no cost at all to even get it set up. And it's really straightforward to set up as well.

Julie:

It is. I mean, I remember setting mine up and I update it from time to time with fresh photos or if anything's changed, but the setup is very easy. You put some images up there, you put some , information like text copy up there with the right k eywords and you can, you have the opportunity to put videos it's really easy to set up, but what I love the most about it is you, what you said, you only pay when there's a sale. And I c an n ot say that about any other marketing channel that we're using right now, other than affiliates. So for example, if I'm running a Facebook ad, I might spend a thousand dollars and not get one sale. Let's hope I'm not doing that, but it is completely feasible, especially with all of the iOS changes that have hurt e-commerce businesses so badly. Like all of our ad costs are going up. Our conversions are slowing down due in part to those iOS changes, but I still could be spending the same amount of money and getting fewer sales, however, on the Cratejoy marketplace, I only pay that transaction fee when there's an actual sale made. And so let's talk about those transaction fees. So our listeners can understand what those, what costs are involved when a sale is made.

Shana:

Definitely. So it's the way that we are set up is truly a partnership. So the way that you're speaking about it, you know, we want you to succeed because we succeed when you succeed. And that's the only way that, you know, the business works. And so , the platform fees are really to help us to market and merchandise your products. And so it's 11.25% per transaction plus 10 cents. And with that i s also any, you know, payment processor f ees. So we work with Stripe and that would be, you know, a separate fee that you work out with them, but in order to run the processor through us. a nd so the 11.2, 5% really helps us to be able to, like I said, work with those affiliate partners, y ou know, market merchandise and showcase your box throughout our site as well.

Julie:

And guys, when you were thinking about that, when you think about that transaction fee, you can talk to your accountant about how you can write that off, because the way I like to look at it is it's a marketing fee. You know what I mean? It's, you guys are marketing on our behalf and that's the fee that we pay every time a sale is made. So let's talk a little bit about how you guys promote things. So, correct me if I'm wrong, but there's hundreds of thousands of people that visit your Cratejoy marketplace each month, right? And you guys have such a huge email list that you are constantly marketing to . I know because I'm on that email list.

Shana:

Exactly.

Julie:

So tell us how that works.

Shana:

Yeah. So we have over a 4 million monthly views on our site. And you know, it , like I said, it's productive , engaged subscription customers. There's customers that there's, you know, some of that is brand new customers that have not yet experienced subscription and don't know how that works, but majority of them are part of the community because they've done it and they love it. And so, you know, we don't at this time anyway , charge for anything like marketing sales, anything like that. And so we have the ability to promote your product through collections that we send out via email, through collections that are showcased on the site. So if you go to the homepage , if you look a gift guides, things like that, those are all created by our team internally and pushed out to our email subscribers and then also showcase on our site as well. And so we're really, you know, the subscription customer is on our site looking for these products. And so it's a little bit different than maybe your own site, because we have such a wide user base that we're targeting. And we have, you know, the capability of sending out thousands of emails , and getting, you know , interest on your box that way as well.

Julie:

Just seems like there's so much traffic going there. Whereas we, as small business owners are fighting for that, that basic traffic to our website. It's like, you've got it built in already kind of like thinking about putting a brick and mortar store on a main street that there's already built in traffic.

Shana:

Exactly. The other thing to consider is that , as far as, you know, Google and SEO, there's a huge presence for Cratejoy. And so we may win in this specific category that maybe you aren't yet , infiltrating, you know , in that specific category. But because we have such a wide user base in such a high traffic, we're able to kind of secure that spot within Google.

Julie:

That's a really good point. I have noticed that when I've Googled things before that Cratejoy owns a lot of those page one listings, which is super hard to get. So you guys must do a lot of SEO. I'm sure some of that has to do with how the marketplace list or like the seller puts those keywords in the listing, but also you guys have a blog, there's all kinds of content being distributed from the Cratejoy marketplace all the time it seems.

Shana:

Exactly. Yeah. So the keywords are a big part of it. And then also categorization making sure that when you do set up your listing, you're putting yourself in the correct category. You know, I've seen before where some sellers come on and they say, okay, well, I think this category is going to be, you know, have higher traffic. So they'll put their listing there. And if it's not a fit, it's actually a negative thing for your listing because you don't get clicks through you, don't see conversions and it's a little bit of a poor user experience. And so it's really important to select the right category in, you know , categories that aren't super well established. Yet you have a greater chance to actually being higher up at the top in those categories.

Julie:

That's interesting. So, because it's less competition or...

Shana:

Yeah. So, you know, if it's a little bit more of a niche category, the seller may think, okay, well, I'm going to pick a category that's higher traffic. And in reality, you know, if you're in that niche category, you want to find the customer, that's really looking for that in each category. And if there aren't a ton of sellers in that category yet it's important to be one of the first.

Julie:

Yeah. Okay. That's good advice. So let's talk about how you succeed on the Cratejoy marketplace.

Shana:

So as far as success on the Cratejoy marketplace , we have really overhauled our efforts to help sellers succeed. And so we have new seller webinars that we do once a month. We also have webinars throughout the month for existing sellers where we go over everything that you could possibly need to know. We try to tackle new categories each time so that we're able to cover a lot and so highly recommend checking those out. We do have them live on the blog . So if you haven't been to one of our webinars before, be sure to check that out. And we also have a lot of support articles and blog posts to kind of help you get started. So one that I would definitely check out is our Cratejoy marketplace listing quality guide. And so it goes in depth on how our listing quality scoring works. So we grade each listing based on quality score , and some things that we consider in there are photography. So beyond just, do you have photography? Do you have eight to ten photos? It's how high quality are they? Are they well lit? Is the resolution good? Are they sized well? Are they cropped well. They're not cut off or anything like that. o verall listing co pies a n d m aking sure that that copy is really straightforward, th at it highlights all that you have to offer in your box. It tells us what sets you apart the competition. So making sure that that's all filled out, that you're utilizing, a ll of the bullet points, the lis t of features that we give you and then filling out your shipping descriptions and mak ing sure that that's all filled out and very clear to the customer to avoid any customer service issues for Crat ejoy or for yourself. We do recommend having videos or any sort of unboxings that you might have or review videos. Those are great tap have, and you can do that by just embedding a YouTube link. And so there's, there's a ton of, you know, information on how to do all of these steps, but these are just some things to consider when looking at the overall listing and making sure that it's high quality. And then categorization, you know, as we talked about making sure you're in the right category, that the s ubcategories are relevant, all of that is great. And then reviews, making sure you have reviews.

Julie:

I was going to ask.

Shana:

Yeah. Reviews are huge. It shows our customers that there are other customers that are interested in your product, that they are engaged and that you're engaged as well. So having a negative review on your listing, isn't always a bad thing. It's a n opportunity for you to be able to respond and talk about your customer service, talk about, you know, what you have to offer. So I definitely encourage responding to reviews that you have good or bad on your listing. And then also having some questions added. So customers can add questions on your marketplace listing, o r you can go in and actually add questions yourself and kind of use it as an FAQ section. So I f ound that new sellers tend to do that, to , you know, alleviate some of the questions that may come up as a new subscriber. An d so it's important to kind of have those and respond to them as they come in as well.

Julie:

Wow. That's such good advice. And I know you said that there are some blog posts and some online resources, so we will make sure that we link all of those in the show notes and , make sure that everyone has that information, because this is such a good opportunity to get in front of new audiences. Guys,wWhen I think about my past history with the Cratejoy marketplace over the past five years, easily the marketplace customers have been maybe 10 to 20% of my overall customers on a regular basis. And so I think that's really valuable. I can't say that about any other specific marketing channel. So again, it's reaching new audiences that you might not have reached in other channels, or maybe you would have spent a whole lot more in trying to reach them. So I have one final question before we wrap it up , you had talked about some campaigns, you've talked about how you have partnerships with media and affiliates. How does a new seller get involved with something like that and get featured and get, you know, on top of those rankings? Like what, is there a secret sauce to it or is there, c an they pitch your marketing team? Like what would you recommend for the new seller that's super eager to get out there?

Shana:

That's obviously, I would say probably the number one question that we get, and it's a great one. I would say, you know, the number one thing is your listing quality. You want to have a high quality listing. You want to have fantastic photography that's well lit , that represents your p roduct well, s hows exactly what to expect. Your copy, you know, is clear in terms of shipping and what you can expect there. A n d then reviews are important as well. You want to show that engagement, you want to show that customers really resonate with the box and that they're interested in it. So having reviews, having a high quality listing, participating in sales and promotions as we send those out to you, an d then ultimately just being engaged with customers and, you know, it takes a little bit of time. It's, it's difficult because I get it when you're brand new, like all you want is to hit the ground running and get things going, and you definitely can do that by building out your listing, but it takes a little bit of time to see that traffic and see that engagement. And that's okay. That doesn't mean that you're doomed on the marketplace. All it means is that you just need to keep investing in the listing, you know, make sure that it's as high quality as it can be. And really, you know, that's what sets you apart. And we want to make sure that we're highlighting new and exciting boxes. We don't want to be showcasing, you know, all the same boxes all the time, because it's not fun for our customers either. So we definitely want to be able to feature you. We just need to make sure that you've got a high quality listing that you're engaged with your customers. And that, you know, you're responsive in terms of promotions and sales as well.

Julie:

So the moral of the story is to really carve out time to make your listing as good as possible just like you would do the same with your own website. You're going to carve out time to make it look professional, to make sure that you've got your best foot forward. And that's the way that you're going to succeed in the marketplace. If you just throw up a couple of cell phone photos that are, you know , poorly lit, and you just say, y'all , we send four to six items in this niche, but that's not going to work.

Shana:

Exactly.

Julie:

You want to carve out some time to think of this as you know , your marketing, think about you, it's putting yourself on stage. Like, what do you want people to know about you see about you and put the effort into it, you know.

Shana:

Exactly. And I think , just if I can add a little bit more, the main sections that as a customer that you're seeing, when you first hover over on a category page, the first things you're seeing are the images, the headline and the reviews. So those three things are some easy things to start with. And those are some big things that draw the customer in. So I would start there for sure. And then continue to just add to the quality. Y ou know, the other thing you can do is look at other sellers within your category, click on your category page and see what the first page looks like. What are other sellers doing? What does that photography look like? A nd just k ind o f try to be, you know, in that same realm, I guess, as far as the lighting and the photography, those are some big ones.

Julie:

Yeah. Draw some inspiration from your competitors. Don't copy them, but draw inspiration from them.

Shana:

Exactly, yes.

Julie:

Okay. This is all such good information. So if someone wants to get started or get listed on the Cratejoy marketplace, where should we send them?

Shana:

So you're just going to go to cratejoy.com/sell/marketplace. And that's going to give you everything you need to know about marketplace. It'll help you to get set up there's links to start your listing. And we'll send over some links as well that you guys can use to see the blog. As well as a, we have a landing page for our webinars. So you can register for all of our new webinars that are upcoming , and get some more information on some past webinars as well.

Julie:

Awesome. We will make sure to include all of those when we email about the podcast and we put it in, we'll put it in the show notes as well. And as we're talking about this, it really dawned on me that if you're bootstrapping your business and you don't have a budget to start a brand new website on your own, you legit could launch your subscription box business just on the marketplace to get your feet wet, to get your brand out there and started. And so if you're thinking about that and you're like, eh , I don't have enough money to start, you know, with my own website, the Cratejoy marketplace is a really good opportunity to launch.

Shana:

Exactly. Yep . And it's a good place to get feedback from customers to start testing out , you know, what the, what the box does as far as c ustomers response, g et some reviews, you know, get some feedback so that you can make some changes to the product, things like that as well.

Julie:

That's a really good point, especially at those beginning stages when you're kind of like beta testing it. And the other thing that I was thinking about too, and I wanted to mention is if you're brand new, especially, you aren't going to have any reviews when you launch. So it's going to be really important for you to be nurturing your new subscribers and talking to them and then ask them for reviews. It's okay to ask people to leave you a review, especially if they just posted they're unboxing on Instagram, or they're like raving about it. They're so excited about the opportunity to share with others that they've done it on their own. So you can reach out to them, give them a direct link to the marketplace listing to your own marketplace listing on Cratejoy and ask them to leave a review right there. And that's how you can really grow your reviews on the Cratejoy marketplace.

Shana:

I also tell new sellers a great way is to incentivize subscribers with a discount. So if you do have subscribers that have churned, or you have maybe some, you know , people in your local community that are interested in the box say, "Hey, I'm going to offer 15% off of a three month prepay if you write a review" to try to incentivize some additional reviews and get people in the door. So that's a great tactic as well. And then as you've been established for awhile , say you start having people turn more frequently for things like me to break from it, or don't have the funds, something like that. You can also incentivize those same subscribers by saying, "Hey, I'll offer a discount to get them back in the door."

Julie:

That's really a good point. I remember when I was first trying to get my reviews up as a brand new business owner, I offered an extra item in the next box if they did. And so the way that worked is I had a, we have a private Facebook group for our subscribers. And so I posted it and emailed it to all of our subscribers. I said, go leave a review on Cratejoy. Here's the link when you're done comment on this post done. And that way we could kind of verify who it was and figure out who we needed to put the extra item in. And it wasn't an expensive item. I think we ended up putting in like an art print or something like that. So it didn't cost me a ton, but these felt super special when they got that extra item that not everybody got and they were looking forward to it. Plus I think a lot of people really are on board with supporting small business, supporting local business, and they don't always proactively think I'm going to help them out and leave them a review. Sometimes you just have to prompt it and ask them and they're happy to help out. So don't be afraid to ask your customers to leave you a review.

Shana:

Yep. That's great advice. And it's a great, great way to set yourself apart on the marketplace as well.

Julie:

Shana, thank you so much for talking to me today about the Cratejoy marketplace. It has been a great channel for us at Sparkle Hustle Grow. Guys, if you're listening to this, go check out the Cratejoy marketplace, get yourself a listing. There's no cost to launch your listing. Again, you only pay a fee when there's an actual sale made and that in that case, we all win, right? So if you want to check that out now, go to the show notes, get those links. As always thank you for listening. I'm cheering you on and I'll see you on the next episode.

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