Leverage Gets Tangled in EAST Austin Studio Tour

One of the best parts about the Leverage office’s location in East Austin is its proximity to some great spaces for creativity. Within a two-block radius we have dance studios, co-working spaces, artist collectives, and a bakery whose cupcakes, some of us would argue, are works of art. We’re also in a part of town that sees a lot of participation during the annual EAST Austin Studio Tour, and we’re happy to announce that this year, we’re getting involved.

From 11am-6pm on November 11-12 and 18-19, Leverage will host a temporary exhibition featuring the works of Nicole Anderson and Polina Novozhenets. The two local artists have very different styles, but they’ve chosen the theme Tanglescapes to tie together their collections of abstract paintings, drawings, and mixed media art.

Nicole explained that she came up with the theme Tanglescapes because she and Polina share a meditative, reflective relationship with their art practice. “Because thought patterns can often be dense, complex, and ultimately, tangled, both our works had this same visual element in common,” she told us. Polina agreed that both their works have a meditative quality, and added that their art shares a sense of inviting the viewer to get lost inside it.

The Water Buffalo by Nicole Anderson

Green on Linen by Polina Novozhenets

What is the EAST Austin Studio Tour?

EAST Austin Studio Tour is a self-guided art event that takes place every year across two weekends in November. It’s free and open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to walk or bike to any of the 450+ participating venues that interest them. Tour stops include permanent galleries, temporary exhibitions, private artists’ studios, and even local library branches. You can check out a map and online catalog with all the tour stops here. The Leverage Marketing office is #441!

Why Should You Go?

If you live in the Austin area and have never checked out the EAST Austin Studio Tour, it’s about time you change that. This massive event gives you a chance to view the work of hundreds of local artists working in mediums including painting, photography, sculpture, collage, and more. Some tour stops offer a rare glimpse into an artist’s home workspace, while others give you the opportunity to step through the doors of local galleries and businesses you might not have discovered otherwise.

Nicole described the EAST Austin Studio Tour, which she’s attended every year since she’s lived in Austin, as having a warm, friendly atmosphere and representing artful Southern hospitality at its best. Polina told us that EAST is a true hub of artist activity in Austin, and it’s a great way for artists and non-artists alike to plug into what’s happening in the area.

Many of the tour stops include artwork and handmade gifts for sale, and there are also lots of stops hosting special live events during the tour. Our two visiting artists will be creating new paintings at our office from 2-3pm each Saturday and raffling the finished pieces off to attendees. We’ll also have snacks and wine available throughout the event, and Nicole and Polina’s artwork will be displayed throughout our office. Some of their pieces will be for sale.

We hope to see you during the tour—stop in, chat with us, and enjoy the work of our guest artists.

Check out some of Polina’s art here.

And check out Nicole’s portfolio here.

Mobile Shopping: The New Norm

We originally published this post back in 2016. Since a lot can change in the online marketing landscape in a year, we’ve updated it for 2017.

Throughout the last decade, mobile and online shopping has been on the rise, pushing brick-and-mortar businesses to compete harder for their share of consumers’ dollars. During the 2017 holiday season, eMarketer expects ecommerce sales to grow 15.8%, with total retail growth limited to 2%. The National Retail Federation (NRF) believes overall retail growth will be around 3.7-4.2% in 2017, while online retail will grow 8-12% alone. It’s clear that mobile shopping on smartphones and tablets, rather than brick and mortar shopping, is the new norm.

In the United States, consumers are increasingly using their smartphones more hours during the day for shopping, social media, and other activities. Mobile ad spending is on the rise, as marketers realize they need to target mobile consumers even more than through traditional advertising avenues. As mobile data and the online shopping industry grow, vendors and retailers will need to come up with innovative ways to target consumers.

As fewer consumers purchase laptops or rely on them as a primary device, tablets and smartphones will increasingly become the primary devices for purchasing, with 31 million US Internet users only using a mobile device to go online in 2016.

mobile online shopping

Amazon and Walmart

Comparing two retail giants—Amazon and Walmart—shows the chasm widening between online and brick-and-mortar sales. Amazon posted $82.7 billion in sales for the last 12 months, while Walmart, with its massive physical presence, only posted $12.5 billion. With ecommerce juggernauts like Amazon driving more sales through programs like Amazon Prime, online sales will continue to eclipse traditional brick-and-mortar options, and the online shopping industry will grow.

Both these companies are working hard to break into each other’s markets, with Walmart strengthening its ecommerce skills and Amazon its brick-and-mortar abilities. Walmart has purchased Amazon, however, announced its intention to purchase organic food giant Whole Foods and has been opening up retail bookstores in NYC and other locations. These two massive companies make it clear that ecommerce is the future, but brick-and-mortar isn’t dead either.

Demographics: Who Shops Mobile?

New data shows that younger buyers, especially those with smartphones, are more likely to use mobile devices for shopping compared to older consumers. In a 2016 Bronto survey of over 1000 people, 65% of adults ages 18-24 say they use their smartphones for shopping, as do 63% of those ages 25-34, and 58% of those aged 35-44, with the numbers dropping significantly as age increases. 35-44-year-old people are more likely to purchase on tablets, with younger consumers not using those devices as frequently. As age increases over 44, these numbers decline.

What these statistics suggest is that most mobile commerce growth is driven by the 18-34-year-old segment of the population, with less push from older American adults. As an increasing number of millennials accrue wealth and enter the workforce, mobile sales will continue to grow and overtake online sales from computers and eventually brick-and-mortar entirely.

Online shopping growth, especially on mobile, is a force that will only increase as the conveniences of shopping from your home and online-only deals eclipse any advantages brick-and-mortar stores retain. Millennial shoppers are pushing this evolution, and the next generation will only further it.smartphone graph new

Conclusion

Consumer trends suggest that mobile sales are the new norm. Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are convenient to use and able to fit in your pocket, and retailers are providing seamless app experiences for purchasing on their platforms. Tablets are also a significant part of this growth, to a lesser extent, among adults in the 35-44-year old range.

Mobile commerce growth is inevitable, and it will overtake brick-and-mortar. The only question is when. With giants like Amazon reporting close to $100 billion in annual sales and growing, retailers and advertisers must pursue solutions to engage with mobile consumers in innovative ways. While brick and mortar stores are still relevant for the foreseeable future, Walmart and similar large retailers must continue to adapt to stay in business.

At Leverage Marketing, we employ pioneering techniques to further your company’s digital marketing efforts We can help your ecommerce business create a mobile-friendly design that adapts to smartphone and tablet design. Learn more about our web design services and contact us today.

Use Online Advertising Analysis Tool RightWord to Beat Your Competition

Are you sick of doing constant A/B testing of your ads and still not winning with Google AdWords? RightWord is Leverage Marketing’s advanced online ad copy analysis tool, which takes a closer look at words in paid search ads. You will discover which words you use to speak to your customers and lead more frequently to conversions.

RightWord is a powerful new lexical analysis tool that can improve your pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy and give you new insights into your ads. Leverage Marketing’s software uses data from tests of thousands of ads and scores individual words in those ads based on their performance. Our experienced paid search team analyzes this data to provide you with information about language that always works, words that sometimes work, and words that turn off your customers. RightWord helps you write ad copy that succeeds—and leads to more conversions.

How is This Different from A/B Testing?

RightWord goes beyond A/B testing of ads by taking the data from thousands of A/B tests already performed and analyzing them in a way other companies don’t. While split testing one ad versus another can determine which is better, RightWord will tell you which words perform better across all your ads. You’ll learn that some words are universally successful, while some language works better in certain circumstances.

Can RightWord Save Time for Me?

After an in-depth RightWord online ad copy analysis from our team, you’ll understand which words hurt your ads—and which help. You can save time by doing more impactful A/B testing and more improvement of your existing ad copy. The insights you learn from RightWord will help you enhance your AdWords account and create more successful ad campaigns.

How Will RightWord Help Defeat the Competition?

Winning ad space on Google’s AdWords platform is dependent on having the most optimized message, which RightWord can help you achieve. Leverage’s RightWord tool offers you an advantage no one else does—knowing what language performs best. You’ll be able to optimize your ad copy and beat your competition by winning ad space more easily.

Will a RightWord Online Ad Copy Analysis Help in the Future?

Even after the Leverage team analyzes your data and provides recommendations, that won’t be the end of our help. We’ll provide you with an actionable three-month ad-testing plan that you can start implementing tomorrow. Our comprehensive strategy will enable you to run better ads and save time on your A/B testing.

Why Should I Choose RightWord?

If you want an advantage against your competitors in your ads, RightWord is the tool for you. Leverage paid search analyst Michael Holeman explains, “We knew we could help clients gain a competitive edge if we had a complete way of testing ads, but there simply wasn’t any tool available that could accomplish what we needed. So, we built our own. RightWord allows us to test all of a client’s ads against each other and see, down to the single word, what made some ads outperform other ads.” Implementing RightWord strategies will enable you to write more effective ad copy and gain insights into how your language performs.

Choose RightWord to get the only in-depth online advertising analysis of A/B testing on the market. You’ll get a deep dive from an expert data analyst to give you the recommendations you need. You’ll also receive an easy-to-read report with personalized ad copy advice and a three-month ad-testing plan to improve your performance, which could lead to more conversions and beating your competitors.


Learn more about RightWord today by talking to a Leverage Marketing Analyst. Fill out our contact form today, and we’ll help you learn priceless ad copy secrets with RightWord.

 

Leverage Makes Clutch List of Leading Austin SEO Firms

Clutch badge for Top Austin SEO Firms in 2017

Here at Leverage, we think our SEO team is pretty great—and so does Clutch. Clutch.co, a Washington DC research firm that reviews and rates marketing, development, and design firms, named Leverage Marketing to its 2017 list of outstanding Austin SEO firms.

Clutch evaluates firms using both qualitative and quantitative factors, including experience level, technical certifications, and market presence in the SEO industry. Clutch also conducts interviews of existing clients to understand how each marketing agency develops strategies, addresses challenges, and manages SEO campaigns.

We’re thrilled that Clutch has recognized Leverage not just for our technical experience but for our level of client satisfaction.  We also appreciate our clients who took the time to provide their feedback to Clutch. And, of course, we have to give a shout-out to our SEO team for their hard work and search engine savvy!

9 Free SXSW 2017 Interactive & Networking Events

2017 is a unique year for South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. Fresh visual technology and virtual reality will play a larger role than ever in the interactive sections of the event, and emerging mobile app capabilities are likely to dominate the floor. The ever-revolving marketing sphere turns on the axis of new technology, so wise marketers are already looking for free events that will upgrade their digital marketing game for the rest of 2017.

Enjoy these free SXSW 2017 Interactive & networking events and share the info with your fellow entrepreneurs, marketers, and friends. These events are accessible at no charge with a free guest pass unless otherwise noted.

Treehouse Old School Happy Hour

Date Time RSVP
March 8 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Yes

Treehouse is not only hosting a happy hour with free drinks, food, and music at Old School in Austin, they’re also giving away free one-month memberships to Treehouse for Business. The happy hour will unfold crawl-style, and you’ll get the chance to experience both Austin’s most unforgettable food and drinks as well as some of the most influential speakers of SXSW.

treehouse old school happy hour shot of crowd enjoying drinks

Austin Tech Happy Hour

(Note: This event allows entry by ticket. Free tickets are likely to run out fast, so reserve your tickets right away, or you may have to pay for tickets or cash at the door.)

Date Time RSVP
March 9 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Yes

The Austin Tech Happy Hour has been running for ten years, and it’s stronger than ever in 2017. Admission gets you two free drink tickets so you can loosen up with Austin’s tech crowd before the SXSW truly kicks off. The emerging technology community will be there ready to make friends online and offline.

austin tech happy hour logo

SX Create

Date Time RSVP
March 10 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM No

SX Create dives into the world of emerging technologies and the ways they can be customized and manipulated. Kids and adults alike can take in the wonder of 3D printing, drones, robots, biohacking, and whatever other secret projects with which inquisitive minds have been tinkering.

sx create r2d2 droid

Decoded Fashion: Content Is Still King

Date Time RSVP
March 12 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Yes

Decoded Fashion wants to explore new and exciting ways to bring original content to fashion-hungry audiences. Even if you aren’t in the fashion industry, you’ll have the chance to learn a thing or two about PR, influencer marketing, and the very personal journeys that lead customers to relevant content.

decoded fashion house logo

Amazon Web Services ATX Startup Crawl

Date Time RSVP
March 13 5:00 PM – ? Yes

Amazon Web Services is pulling together Austin’s hottest startup businesses for a bar crawl that entrepreneurs and job-seekers alike won’t forget. The crawl is offering free drinks and pulled in a whopping 12,000 registrants last year. Guests can enjoy free drinks, check out local office spaces, share résumés, and talk with ambitious startup owners and employees.

atx startup crawl logo

Digital Media Women: Burgers & Bubbles

Date Time RSVP
March 13 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM Yes

Women are a powerful force in digital media, and the leaders of Digital Media Women want everyone to know about it. This is your chance to talk face-to-face with existing and upcoming digital media leaders as well as find out the secrets of women who are innovating at the forefront of technology. Plus, there’s food and tasty beverages.

digital media women sxsw 2017

Women in Digital Meetup

(Note: This event is already waitlisted, and the event coordinators are attempting to reserve an additional tent for those who want to attend. If you’re interested, register right away.

Date Time RSVP
March 13 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM Yes

It’s no secret that women are playing incredible roles in digital media and marketing, and this SXSW Meetup is set to celebrate the success of Women in Digital as it exceeds 450 members. This event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet some of the most astounding minds in digital marketing and media and join a powerful network of hard-working women.

women in digital homepage screen grab

Pet Rescue Lounge

Date Time RSVP
March 13 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM Yes

Pets are near and dear to the dog and cat lovers of Leverage Marketing, a sentiment shared by nearly all of Austin. Meet like-minded individuals that can’t get away from their preoccupation with pets, and help find homes for deserving dogs and cats while enjoying unique entertainment from famous pets and free pet swag!

pet rescue lounge event logo

Local and Vocal

Date Time RSVP
March 15 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM Yes

Local and Vocal is an event that focuses on local Austin talent in entertainment. If you’re a marketer, you’ll have a rare opportunity to find talent to which you can offer your unique services. This event includes free drinks for those who are over 21 years old – which, of course, lends itself to some serious networking.

local and vocal sxsw 2017

Even though the events are free, we welcome you to support the event coordinators, participants, and local businesses by enjoying an extra drink or dish. Network, learn about new technology, and hone your marketing skills at these free SXSW 2017 Interactive & networking events coming your way very, very soon.

 

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Brand Marketing at SXSW: How to Make Your Brand Stand Out

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media and music conferences that take place in Austin, Texas. With increasing attendance and new attention-grabbing tech displays each year, brands struggle to get noticed at SXSW. How can your brand bring a unique experience to SXSW that translates into something unforgettable? It’s increasingly difficult to get noticed when every consumer-facing company gives out free swag, throws parties with free beer, and shows off the latest technology.

SXSW is known for helping to launch Foursquare and Twitter, and the conference regularly screens excellent films and television shows, many of which go on to great acclaim. Marketing at SXSW is an increasingly complicated endeavor, as getting noticed above all the buzz is difficult enough. Brands struggle to tie in product releases, navigate consumer trends, and figure out how to draw attendees to their events.

While every SXSW is different, last year some successful brand activations made their mark on attendees and marketers. Creating SXSW marketing that stands out sometimes means doing something a little different than what everyone else is doing (or what you think they’re going to do).

Each of these SXSW brand activations highlights a unique aspect of their product and communicates that to the audience—something every brand needs to do. While you may be successful by just following the current marketing trends– whether that’s virtual reality, make-your-own soda, or just giving out free stuff—doing something that conveys your signature SXSW brand image will likely be more successful.

American Greetings

american greeting sxsw branding

credit: @mullenloweus

It might seem odd for a greeting card company to even come to SXSW, let alone do a brand activation. But American Greetings wanted to disrupt the mold of disruptive digital technology by bringing in the analog. Their three-day 2016 promotion was entitled #Analog and allowed festivalgoers to do DIY printmaking and pop-up cards. They could learn letter-making techniques from an American Greetings artist, fill in a coloring book mural, and even get a selfie stitched with thread. American Greetings’ message is not to say that digital communication is not important or analog can replace digital communication, but rather that they’re complementary. Many people don’t slow down to send paper cards, and American Greetings’ SXSW marketing message is that analog still matters, and we should slow down to appreciate it.

Suicide Squad

Another unique brand activation at SXSW 2016 was Suicide Squad’s tattoo salon. Although the movie didn’t come out until Summer 2016, Warner Brothers started promoted it early through this special Harley Quinn-inspired experiential marketing. Instead of just doing a sneak peek of the film, Warner Bros transformed Affinity Tattoo and Body Piercing into Harley Quinn’s Tattoo Parlor—and offered free real (and temporary) tattoos. This brand activation got people excited about the film, created a unique SXSW marketing angle, and involved artists and fans in an innovative way, without using virtual reality or alternate reality to do so.

Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot, a techie show that launched at the 2015 SXSW festival and won the SXSW Audience Award, wanted to come back in 2016 and make a splash. The show’s marketing team figured there was no better way to do way to do that than to bring their iconic “Wonder Wheel” Ferris wheel to Austin. In one of the largest SXSW brand activations to date, USA Network designed the Ferris wheel to look like the Coney Island Wheel in the show, complete with nearby carnival games. The Mr. Robot cast and crew even visited SXSW to pay homage to the success the festival helped them garner—and of course, see the Wonder Wheel in real life. By creating SXSW branding that directly references the television show and allows the audience to experience a piece of their world—Mr. Robot succeeded in their SXSW marketing.

Mophie

If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably heard of Mophie. They make external batteries and cases to charge your favorite devices. As you can imagine, at SXSW, battery life gets eaten up pretty quickly. Between all the tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and interactive brand activations and events, your smartphone may be dead before the day is half over. But Mophie is here to rescue you—with adorable St. Bernards. At 2016’s SXSW, Mophie partnered with the National St. Bernard Foundation, Glympse, and a motorcycle company to bring you a fresh phone battery when festivalgoers needed it. If someone tweeted using the hashtag #mophieRescue, the company would send one of its fleet of St. Bernards straight to them with a Mophie battery pack to charge up. This cute SXSW brand marketing makes Mophie look good, helps people out, and helps a good cause—dog rescues.

The Takeaway

SXSW is a brand marketing war. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different companies competing for attention from festivalgoers and consumers. Many companies try using the tried and true techniques of giving out free swag, throwing parties, and utilizing the latest technology trends. But these aren’t enough to truly make your product or company memorable. Take note of the uniqueness of the SXSW branding campaigns mentioned in this article—they all did something that was integral to their brand identity and helped their core audience in some way. If you can harness this mentality for your SXSW marketing, you can succeed in the crowded marketplace.


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Valentine’s Day Campaigns You’ll Love—and What You Can Learn from Them

Valentine’s Day marketing can be difficult for content creators and marketing companies alike. How can you tap your marketing arsenal into a holiday where the message is all about love? The most successful Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns utilize the “human factor,” connecting with their audience and establishing trust. Building a relationship with potential customers is the best way to go about Valentine’s Day marketing.

However, it’s easy to strike a false note when attempting to create efficacious Valentine’s Day marketing ideas. How do marketers seem genuine when creating their marketing campaigns? We’re going to look at several Valentine’s day marketing campaigns that hit the mark and analyze why they worked for their respective companies.

With an average spend of $142.31 per person, and nine out of 10 people buying a gift for their partner, Valentine’s Day is a big retail holiday. While certainly not in the same league as the winter retail season, over $18.9 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day, more money than Easter or the Super Bowl, and in the same league as Mother’s Day. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can capture a share of that spend with a successful Valentine’ Day marketing campaign.

WestJet Proposal Campaign

The #WestJetLove Valentine’s Day commercial was an exceedingly popular campaign in 2015 with over 1.2 million views, detailing two couples’ surprise proposals on Barbados. Canadian airline WestJet flew two couples out to Barbados with the catch that the men had to propose when WestJet asked them. This situation results in a tear-jerking, beautiful video of two couples’ love stories, watching love come to life on screen. With just the right degree of awkwardness, the video strikes a personal tone, brings the love element of Valentine’s Day, and gives you access into the couples’ lives.

As a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, #WestJetLove succeeds because it focuses on building a relationship with its customers. The ad isn’t describing how wonderful WestJet’s services are, but rather is a funny and sincere love story—a unique take on proposals that succeeds in showing the quirkiness of the company. Both JP and Stephanie’s and Mike and Heather’s love stories are relatable to the audience, but it’s the fun tone of the videos, complete with anticipatory music each time the host shows up—that push this campaign over the top.

The Takeaway

Try using personal techniques in crafting your own Valentine’s Day marketing ideas. How does your company or product appeal to your customers? Your Valentine’s Day advertising doesn’t have to correlate to your business—as long you’re connecting with your clients and driving traffic (and positive reception) to your site.

Cartier- The Proposal

Cartier’s “The Proposal” advertisement from 2015 is in some ways more insidious than WestJet’s—but tells a beautiful story in the process. Cartier lures you in with a touching three-part love story, telling simultaneous tales of Valentine’s romance (and struggle) between couples. The three couples in Paris are all slightly different ages, but the men’s aims are similar—to proclaim their love for the women in their lives.

The first, set in the Rodin Museum, tells a story of a man sending his wife on a scavenger hunt to find him until she finds the jewelry box (from Cartier) and he proposes. The second is set in the airport, as the wife is going away on a trip for six months. Her husband deftly removes her passport and re-proposes to her with a new ring (from Cartier). The last is set as a man and woman are separated by an elevator, and he desperately runs up the stairs, catching her as the doors open each time, making pleas that he cares for her. Eventually, he proposes—while she’s still stuck in the elevator.

The Takeaway

These intertwining stories of love in the City of Lights follow established rules of a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign. While enhanced by fantastic acting and a great storyline, the primary aim and focus of the advertisement are the Cartier rings. These gorgeous, diamond-studded rings make the audience want Cartier, associating love with the Cartier brand. That red box is instantly associated with love. Cartier has set up a world through these three stories, and at least eight million people have watched. Creating a successful Valentine’s day marketing campaign means associating your product with love, romance, and engagement. Cartier has done this—and you can do it too.

Netflix Binge for Love

Netflix’s 500 Hours Binge for Love video from 2016’s Valentine’s Day campaign capitalizes on Netflix’s successes in reaching out to its customers. The idea of “bingeing” a television show—watching a whole series quickly and viewing many episodes back-to-back– has grown familiar with the streaming service’s growing triumphs in the video space. This advertisement takes that concept and connects it to a blossoming love connection.

The man in the ad, after falling for the young woman shown at the beginning of the commercial, immediately watches all the available series of the Netflix original Orange is the New Black. It takes over his life for the span of the advertisement—he wants to impress the young woman. He is “bingeing for love.” The commercial cuts the tension when she hasn’t watched the season three finale with a singing group reprising the modified I Would Watch 500 Hours to them.

This advertisement succeeds on multiple levels. It capitalizes on Netflix’s new cultural cache and the concept of bingeing television shows. It also modifies an existing popular song for its purposes—successfully (unlike many commercial jingles), and it leaves the audience hanging. We don’t know if this couple will succeed, but the man has gone to absurd lengths to like her interests—and many in the audience can relate. We’ve all be in the situation where we’ve pretending to have an interest or like something as a conversational piece—and it works well here.

The Takeaway

What are your company’s strengths? Netflix has unique advantages in the cultural cache that they can incorporate into a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, but it’s about founding your company or product’s individual assets—and utilizing them. Use popular culture to your advantage—tap into ideas and concepts that appeal to your target audience (your buyer personas)—and you’ll come up with great Valentine’s Day marketing ideas.


If you need some help creating Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns that will hit the mark, talk to the marketing experts at Leverage Marketing. Contact us today, and we’ll assist you in crafting a Valentine’s Day campaign of your dreams. Our team can help you understand the sophisticated new marketing technologies on the market and how they can work for your business.

Monthly Subscription Boxes May Be the Next Big Business Boom

Our online lives are drawing a curtain over the real world. We’re rapidly moving away from real-life experiences in favor of digital fulfillment, and at our fingertips is a world wide open with uninhibited possibility. But for most of us, that’s an incredible prospect. Having whatever we want available whenever we want it, especially with the help of monthly subscription boxes, can be overwhelming and confusing.

The online business world is feeling the effects of a limitless marketplace. Products and services abound, and even with filters such as internet search and B2C marketing, it’s a challenge to find interesting products that align with consumer interests. In that ether between what we want and how we find it, subscription boxes have come to life.

What Is a Subscription Box?

open orange bulu subscription box with giftsThe subscription box is a regularly scheduled, curated, and specially packaged goods delivery that caters to a specific market or interest. The concept borrows from the business model of the milkman, in which fresh deliveries of milk came to customers’ doorsteps carried by a friendly delivery expert. Customers could touch, taste, smell, and experience the product before them in real life, which contrasts rigidly with the intangible nature of our culture of online consumption.

That delivery model may be on its way back. Already, subscription boxes such as Birchbox, a monthly makeup and beauty product box, and Naturebox, an all-natural organic snack box, are reaching the size of traditionally successful enterprises such as corporations and chain stores. Small-time business owners are finding just-right-sized success with small customer bases and continuously creative offerings. The entire system is still remarkably new, and its shape will be molded just as much by customers as it will by subscription box creators.

What Makes Subscription Boxes Successful?

The pioneers of subscription boxes, including Birchbox co-founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, have made the beginner’s mistakes and grown from them. They and others like them have learned what will stick with customers and what will push them toward the unsubscribe button. Together, these brave business heroes have created a blueprint for a successful subscription box company, and sites such as Cratejoy have built software systems that facilitate building from that blueprint.

cratejoy subscription box logo with lit red letters

Subscription box companies that grow their subscription base, profits, and influence share four characteristics:

  1. Earned Loyalty – Subscription box crafters need to have an honest inclination to curate box contents. Customers want to feel that the products they receive come from a company that shares their love, and the products that company provides have to fulfill actual needs. Boxes based on novelty tend to nosedive after the charm wears away.
  2. Consistent Change – Consumers are likely to scoff at even an item or two that is repeatedly delivered in a box over which they have no control. Duplicate items represent a lack of interest in dazzling the customer and are a concrete way to trim the number of subscribers to your box. Build a box concept around an interest with a wealth of competing products and make sure there’s freshness in every box.
  3. Multiple Revenue Streams – Don’t stop at subscription boxes unless you aren’t looking for growth. The most prolific monthly subscription box companies have set up e-commerce shops on their websites where customers can buy more of the products they love most from their monthly boxes. Storefronts work two-fold for your business: they will market to customers who are less in touch with e-commerce and provide immediate satisfaction to loyal subscribers.
  4. Sustainable Business Models – don’t go overboard with software development and overmanned sales teams. Stick to the script until you find your niche, then focus on growing that specific customer base through multiple channels. Keep overhead low by enticing vendors with free advertising if they provide free or discounted samples and full products for you to include in your boxes.

Consumer Benefits

graze monthly subscription box with fruits nuts chocolates and box art

At the forefront of the subscription box is the consumer – the beloved, fastidious, fickle consumer. The monthly subscription box business model relies on a steady monthly stream of subscriber money to maintain profit, and while the predictable income is a boon to business owners, it also means that customers are in strict control of growth potential.

That’s why clever business owners recognize and worship the benefits of subscription boxes to consumers:

They rekindle the elements of surprise and discovery

You’ve likely heard the comparison to an eternal Christmas with monthly boxes. When you get a new package of surprises every month, the delight of tearing open the package that you may remember as a child returns when your box arrives. Buying things you want is fun, but getting things you didn’t know you wanted is powerful.

They bring to light curiosities that are tough to find in a limitless marketplace

Customers can be blinded quickly by the most influential and well-known brands that cater to their interests. Exploration of new and exciting items is intimidating when products designed to please are available everywhere at all times. Well-curated subscription boxes provide a source for the lesser-known items that may cater to more individual wants and needs to reach target audiences.

They save consumers time when searching for new and interesting products

Streaming music services such as Spotify boast an intensely large library of available music on-demand. But Spotify customers don’t always know what to listen to when faced with such an array of choices, so the company provides playlists, searches, and filters to help guide customers to the music they want to hear. Monthly subscription boxes do the same in the consumer goods market – they provide a preset filter through which customers can discover what’s available without having to make guesses.

Business Benefits

Behind the scenes of the subscription box are the men and women who make each box magical. The monthly subscription box business model is still in its infancy, which allows potential business owners to shape it to their needs and goals without the added pressure of the grow-or-go traditional business model.

Business models are flexible for small and large businesses

Your subscriber limit and the ability to reach it will direct the scope of your subscription box business. Some of Cratejoy’s box curators sell just enough boxes to pay the bills and are not looking for additional growth. On the other hand, Birchbox’s owners are seeking prolific expansion. (Edit: Previously, we had mentioned that Birchbox bought Glossybox from European entrepreneur Charles von Abercon, but a kind reader pointed out that Birchbox had bought Joliebox, not Glossybox, as a part of their global expansion.)  Subscription box businesses can splash in the shallow end or dive into the deep end shame-free.

Structure allows low barriers to entry for hopeful entrepreneurs

Since most box businesses are low-overhead operations with few employees, it only takes the classic characteristics of hard work and dedication to make a subscription success. There’s no golden profit line and relatively few competitors. The landscape is open to creative ideas from just a few go-getters who want to create a business without the hassle of creating a business.

Creates opportunities where they may not exist otherwise

To launch a full-fledged enterprise is a gigantic undertaking. You need a solid business plan, a team of investors, and the will to sacrifice personal time to get things running. Or, you could create a solid product that stands out in its market and let your customers decide whether or not you should succeed by creating a subscription box specifically for your product. The small-scale business opportunity affords a chance of success to those without the startup capital or time to build an empire.

Marketer Benefits

Marketers who work in tandem with monthly subscription box companies receive something of a dream assignment when they sign on for services. Traffic for subscription-based companies tends to outpace funding in almost every scenario, which means marketers have plenty of resources with which they can work.

Target audiences are hand-picked

The success of most subscription boxes depends on the depth of the niche through which it is trying to delight customers. LootCrate has an easily researchable and well-targeted demographic to which it sends boxes. The target audience will be the only consumers of the product, and the marketing practically writes itself.

Subscriber bases are smaller

Even the largest companies in the industry tend to have fewer than 1 million subscribers at a time. Where traditional businesses may deal with millions of unknown customers every year, box companies nurture a loyal base of interested men and women who rotate much more sparingly than customers at a storefront or e-commerce shop. Marketing for these solid, smaller customer bases tends to be much more focused.

bark box with dog treats and dogContent creation is more interesting and personal

Excitement is part of the allure of subscription boxes, and it doesn’t have to begin and end when the package arrives at the door. Getting audiences electrified about the company’s next offering affords magnificent opportunities to wow audiences with creative copy, illustrations, videos, and whatever else your marketing team can dream up.

Organic growth is indispensable

Low-cost production and the need to earn customer support leads naturally into healthy, organic growth. Marketers can take advantage and sharpen their approaches to inbound marketing through showing customers what their clients’ subscription boxes can offer in the realm of new and interesting consumer goods, and will relish the times when business is flourishing organically.

Will the Monthly Subscription Box Model Last?

Numbers look promising for growth in the subscription box industry. When profits began to rise enough for boxes to be a reliable business in the first quarter of 2013, it would have been difficult to guess that growth would explode by nearly 3,000% in the next 3 years. With about 11 million subscribers in 2016 in hundreds of different product categories, the demand is certainly scaling with the supply.

empty blue mailbox transparent backgroundHowever, Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali asserts that these businesses may be at the bursting point of a huge bubble. “The energy has already died down,” she says, and she may be right. Despite the shocking appearance of the growth charts, the entire industry is terrifyingly new. There’s no long-term reference to the possibility of success, and the joy of receiving monthly gifts could wane when something newer arrives.

Large-scale companies already threaten the smaller markets as well. Sephora uses advanced loyalty data analytics to determine what customers want most in a box and send their Play! box monthly to subscribers for $10. Starbucks started the Reserve Roastery that offers artisan coffees to enthusiasts at a paltry $19 a month. Established businesses may well take over the open marketplace before new box services reach their ultimate potential.

Until we see the ultimate rise or fall of monthly subscription boxes, however, the potential still exists to turn classic charm into gold. If subscriptions take off, we could see an unprecedented quake in business, marketing and the way that customers consume goods – perhaps permanently.


TL;DR – Starting with a handful of remarkable successes, subscription box companies have grown exponentially in just a few years. Consumers, business owners, and marketers all get something out of the business model, but consumer benefits may decrease as the novelty of monthly surprises wears off. Major, well-established companies are also eager to take a large share of the market before new business owners have a chance to succeed with ventures from Starbucks and Sephora already in the works.

To some market researchers, the trend seems like just a fad, but the monthly subscription box model is too new to make a sound judgment. Either way, it would be wise for consumers and business owners to heed their current popularity.


The marketing team at Leverage Marketing is adaptable to all kinds of markets. Talk to us about your subscription box service and find out how our marketing experience can help you achieve your dreams. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for up-to-date marketing news and invaluable tips you won’t get anywhere else!

Leverage Marketing Among 20 Most Promising Web Development And Design Firms

CIOReview-top-20-web-design-firmsAUSTIN, TX Jan. 18, 2016— Digital firm Leverage Marketing is named one of the Most Promising Web Development & Design Solution Providers of 2015 by CIOReview magazine. The panel chose Leverage Marketing as a future leader in secure web development and design that offers efficient online marketing solutions. An interview with Leverage Marketing CEO, Bob Kehoe, is published on page 30 in the Web Development & Design edition of CIOReview.

The annual list of 20 U.S companies recognizes Leverage Marketing for meeting today’s increasing requirements of online security by designing and coding websites using HTTPS technology to reduce the risk of hacking and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

“Looking into the concerns of CIOs, Leverage Marketing is implementing leading-edge technologies to protect [our clients’] web investments,” states Bob Kehoe, CEO, Leverage Marketing. “Over 50,000 websites are reported hacked every day. A website is a large investment when coupled with ongoing optimization and marketing tactics – any interruption in service can significantly hurt a company’s bottom line,” says Tom Festa, Director of Project Development.

By incorporating web security into online marketing, the firm drives sales and leads for B2B and B2C companies through the development of mobile-friendly websites, integrated email automation, and transaction tracking all while keeping security in mind. The firm also helps websites recover from attacks and penalties.

 

About Leverage Marketing

Leverage Marketing is an Austin-based digital marketing firm that offers a wide array of cost-effective digital services ranging from SEO, Pay Per Click (PPC), web design, content marketing, and social media marketing. To learn more, please visit https://www.theleverageway.com

 

About CIOReview:

CIOReview Magazine is the leading source of up and coming enterprise solutions that can redefine the business goals of enterprises tomorrow. The annual list of 20 Best Web Development and Design Solution Providers in the U.S 2015 are chosen by a panel comprising of CEO’s CIOs, VCs, and analyst including CIO Review editorial board. To learn more, please visit http://www.cioreview.com/