Five on Friday: Marketing Trends, Mobile Apps and Metrics
Featuring Small Biz Trends, PYMNTS, Shopify, Kayako and Search Engine Land
Congratulations! You made it to Friday, and we’ve got some great articles, tips and tricks to help you wrap up the week. In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Small Biz Trends tells us how to start a subscription box business in 10 easy steps, Search Engine Land shares statistics on the growing popularity of purchases made from voice-controlled devices, PYMNTS reports that Wells Fargo is working on a mobile app to help bank customers cancel subscriptions, Shopify offers four marketing trends to watch in 2017, and Kayako recommends five support metrics for SaaS companies.
Start a Subscription Box Business in 10 Steps
Remember the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”? It’s kind of like that…but for subscription boxes. According to Small Biz Trends, you can start a subscription box business in 10 steps.
- Find your niche. There are many subscription box categories that are already saturated (e.g., beauty, makeup, meal kits, fashion). You can still enter those markets, but if you do, you need to create a unique product and experience for your subscribers. Ideally, come up with something new that hasn’t been done before, or if you enter an existing category, do it like no one else. Check out My Subscription Addiction for a list of popular categories and subscription box companies.
- Source your products. Now that you’ve decided what your box will be about, you have to find products to fill it. Identify suppliers, online and off, to see who can get you what you need, when you need and at a cost you can afford.
- Source shipping materials. Part of the subscription box experience is the box itself. You’ll want good quality materials that look good when they hit your subscriber’s doorstep. Identify the materials you’ll need (e.g., boxes, shipping labels, packing supplies, packing tape) and identify possible suppliers.
- Price your product. Set a price that covers your costs and makes the venture worthwhile, but also a price that’s competitive and that customers will be willing to pay. Check out what other subscription box companies in your category are charging to set a baseline.
- Create your box. Create a sample box including everything from the contents to the shipping package itself to impress your subscribers and to identify any trouble spots. For example, maybe that teal green package looks great, but the teal green shipping labels are hard to read.
- Get a good shipping rate. There are so many shipping options available these days, each with different price points. Shop around to see what it would cost you for bulk mailings each month, and factor that into your price.
- Plan how to fulfill orders. Every good business needs a plan for execution. Whether you have 100 monthly subscribers or 10,000, you’ll want to ensure that fulfillment is cost effective and done timely. Where will you store materials? How will you receive orders? Who will prepare the packing and shipping? Will you do this in-house or outsource it to a third-party vendor?
- Sell your boxes. Now that you’ve got the mechanics down, where are you going to sell your subscription boxes? An e-commerce store is a great place to get started, but there are other places to offer your products – subscription box marketplaces like Cratejoy – and other strategies for promotion like sending samples to bloggers and influencers for review.
- Get noticed. In addition to selling online, you want to create a marketing strategy to get your product out there. This should include email marketing and social media at a minimum.
- Launch. Everything is in place, and you’re ready to kick things off. Start with a soft launch to test your product with a smaller audience, before doing your full-on marketing blitz.
Bonus Tip #11: Don’t skimp on customer service. Part of the subscription box experience is providing a cool “unboxing” experience for your subscribers, but also follow-up after the sale. Make sure your customer service team is prepared to correct any problems and address any questions or concerns promptly and with a good attitude.
OK, it might take more than 10 days, but you get the idea. Read more about the 10 steps in the original article, “How to Start a Subscription Business in 10 Easy Steps,” by Annie Pilon for Small Biz Trends.
Purchases from Voice-Controlled Devices Are Popular Among Millennials
Voice-controlled devices like Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot are growing in popularity, particularly among millennials. In a recent article, Search Engine Land cites statistics from the “Future of Retail” report by Walker Sands. The data comes from a U.S. consumer survey of 1,600 adults.
- 19 percent of consumers have made a purchase using a voice-controlled device in the last 12 months
- 37 percent of millennials said they “always” or “often” shop online with a voice-controlled device.
- 43 percent of millennials said they have made a purchase using a voice-controlled device in the last year
- 16 percent said they owned an Echo, 6 percent owned a Google Home, and 2 percent had more than one device
- 20 percent said they planned to purchase a voice-controlled device in the next year
Wells Fargo to Launch Mobile App Feature to Track Subscriptions
When you look at your bank statement, do you ever wonder where your money is going? Wells Fargo wants to help. Next year the bank is launching a mobile app called Control Tower to help customers manage their monthly subscriptions, reports PYMNTS. The app will roll out to Wells Fargo’s 28 million mobile users.
According to PYMNTS, users will be able to cancel subscriptions through the mobile app or choose to stop sharing their credit card information in just a few steps. This is helpful for subscribers who are paying for subscriptions they aren’t using or that they don’t remember they have.
The news for subscription companies isn’t all bad though. When a customer’s credit card expires or is reissued, they can choose to push the updated information to the subscription companies they use for easy updating. This could help reduce involuntary churn if users like this feature, and prevent subscribers from getting locked out of their Netflix account for non-payment.
4 Marketing Trends to Follow in 2017
No matter what subscription product or service you’re offering, marketing can make or break your success. In this marketing blog post, Shopify shares four marketing trends you need to follow – and adopt – in 2017.
- Live video. Before you roll your eyes, live video is a great way to engage your audience, whether it is a Q&A about your product or service, demonstration about product features, or some other experience you can video. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have made it easy to create a live video experience for your audience.
- Micro-influencers. Influencer is a big buzzword in marketing these days, but have you heard of micro-influencers? Those are people with 100,000 or less followers. While their audiences may not be as large as standard influencers, their audiences tend to be more engaged, says Shopify. Just be sure that you’re following the FTC’s rules about transparency of sponsored posts.
- Ephemeral content isn’t disappearing. If you’ve ever used Snapchat, you are familiar with content that disappears after 24-hours. Other platforms like Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) have tried them successfully. In fact, Shopify says that as of April, 200 million active users were sharing Instagram Stories.
- Private messaging. More and more consumers are using private messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, to communicate with friends, family and business contacts. These apps are being opened up to businesses and can be used for everything from customer service to advertising. While this marketing channel is still developing, it is worth a look.
5 Support Metrics for SaaS
In a recent article for Kayako, Mercer Smith-Looper shares five support metrics that SaaS companies should be using to measure the effectiveness of their customer support team. They include:
- Conversation volume/volume per rep: The number of support requests, or conversations, a rep is receiving or responding to regularly. It could be measured by average or total for the day, week month, quarter or year. This can help you gauge efficiency and productivity, as well as indicate when it is time to hire more support staff.
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): This is a brief survey or score that tells you how happy your customers are with the support they received. It helps you measure the effectiveness of team members, and it can help you identify training opportunities for your staff.
- Net Promote Score (NPS): This metric helps measure your customer’s long-term relationship with your brand on a scale of 1 to 10. For example, ask your customers how likely they are to recommend your product, service or company to a friend.
- First response time: This metric measures how long it takes for your team to reach your customers, and it is averaged for a specific time period (day, week, month, year). It can help you set performance benchmarks and gauge if your customer service hours are adequate.
- Cost per conversation: Like the name implies, this is the cost of each customer interaction. It can help you evaluate your expensive your support is and identify other potential support channels that can reduce the cost. For example, would updated FAQs or better customer onboarding help alleviate these one-on-one conversations?
With any luck, you are reading this week’s Five on Friday in your backyard, poolside or at the beach. We hope you found the articles interesting and helpful. Now put down your phone – or close your computer – and go have some fun! We’ll be back next Friday. Until then, have a great weekend!