Q&A With Subscription Box Bloggers: A Summary

Here are the top level lessons we learned from the top subscription box bloggers, organized by topics and summarized in bullet points.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve sat down with some of the top subscription box bloggers in the world, asking them common questions we hear from subscription box owners. We covered packaging, curation and product sourcing, what makes them love boxes, and even how they want to be worked with.

For the full Q&A transcript, check out our recent post Subscription Box Talk: A Sit-Down with Subscription Box Bloggers

Here’s what we’ve learned:

What Box Bloggers Love About Packaging

Packaging is one of the biggest barriers to clear for a subscription box business owner. It’s a time commitment (namely in planning and design) and more importantly, it’s a financial commitment (averaging around $1500 in tools and $1000 for a first order).

So is it worth it?

According the biggest bloggers in the space, the answer is yes. But it’s nothing something you should rely on.

Why You Shouldn’t Get Custom Packaging:

  • If you’re going to rely on custom packaging to sell your product completely, change your priorities. Packaging doesn’t overshadow your curation and product sourcing!
  • If it’s too costly for you, don’t spend your margin on it. Instead, keep the unboxing experience as a whole premium.

Why You Should Get Custom Packaging: 

  • Better packaging means better chances at getting your box in the product shot.
  • If it’s a high end or “luxe box,” subscribers and reviewers will expect custom packaging. Make a point to get it if you’re charging a pretty penny for your subscription!
  • Great packaging means a professional look. It will boost confidence for bloggers and increase conversion rates for subscribers!

What Box Bloggers Love About Curation and Product Sourcing

Choosing the “best” products for you box seems like a no brainer, but what does that actually mean? Does quantity define value? Does curation define value? What’s the biggest selling point for consumers (and bloggers)?

Based on our interviews, for most in the space, retail value is among the most important elements of your subscription box. Hands down.

But what else do people looking for in curation a product sourcing:

  • Outside of value, product quality and uniqueness is often rated the highest in terms of importance.
  • Usefulness is next – if the box isn’t a high value, it needs to be highly useful for the customer. This might mean a low-value, but highly engaging kid’s toy subscription.
  • Solving some pain point is the final way you can escape the vice of value. If your product solves some critical problem, you can skirt by on a lower value box.

What Makes Box Bloggers Subscribe to Boxes Again…. And Again

Obviously, subscription box bloggers and subscribers get a lot of boxes, again and again and again. So what makes them stay subscribed?

To the biggest bloggers, they identify a few key elements of success:

  • A solid price that doesn’t break the bank.
  • Whether or not they actually use the box and its contents.
  • Exclusiveness of items. Having exclusive or limited edition items adds an element of excitement and expectation.
  • Consistent quality products is one of the most often mentioned keys to success – keeping your subscriptions quality in line with expectations drives retention more than anything else.
  • A recurring theme also helps keep people engaged; it adds to experience and can help people decide on committing to your next box.

What Box Bloggers Suggest When Working with Bloggers

Subscription box bloggers have been around the block more than a few times. One benefit of that is being able to offer concise and useful information on how to engage, negotiate, and partner with bloggers and social influencers.

This comes in two parts: how to expect working with them and how to actually identify strong bloggers.

How to work with bloggers and reviewers: 

  • Across the board, bloggers ask for inserts or some type of printed collateral so they know what they’re supposed to receive (they suggest doing this for customers too).
  • Bloggers and reviewers get a lot of boxes, and if every box is overpacked with materials, it gets messy. Try to only pack your boxes with the amount of material needed – they’ll appreciate it.
  • Keep their workload in mind. A lot of reviewers get dozens, or even hundreds, of products a month. It can take 3-4 weeks for reviews and no, emailing doesn’t make it go faster.
  • Engage with their audience, but don’t shill too much. If you’re going to hop on their posts and comment back to people, make sure it’s constructive, value adding, and useful for customers. It’s not a place to rant, tell someone why their opinion is wrong, or otherwise spam up a post.

How to identify people with real influence: 

  • First, make sure you’re targeting the right people. Choose influencers who have specific influences in related niches. If you have a vegan box, don’t send it to a paleo blogger, and vice versa.
  • Find similar bloggers in the same niche, then compare their social channels and influence. Chances are that over time, you can start to identify which types of influencers really have a strong following.
  • If you work with an influencer who does a ton of shoutouts, reach out to someone they’ve worked with and ask them how the shout out worked out.

Learning from Subscription Box Bloggers

Although these bloggers focus on subscription boxes specifically, their opinions and advice can be representative of a lot of customers. Take a moment to consider each of the above notes in the context of your own subscription business – are you emphasizing in the wrong areas?

If you found this useful, or have more questions, let us know in the comment section below.

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About Jesse Richardson

Jesse Richardson is an author, educator and co-founder of several successful subscription businesses. He focuses on building engaging communities and has been described as "insanely customer centric." Find him in the Subscription School group or at his blog.

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