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Content Marketing Tips for Subscription Businesses

content-marketing-tips-for-subscription-businesses

In an interview with John Roman at Battlbox, we talked about his approach to content marketing and the impact that it has had on their subscription business. If there’s any doubt as to whether or not Battlbox has punched above their weight class when it comes to content marketing, keep in mind that they have a wildly popular series on Netflix.  But it’s not just about a single hit, Battlbox has systematically approached content marketing in a way that has enabled them to grow their subscriber base very cost-effectively.

The key to this success was staying focused, even with the allure of significant attention and distribution via a platform such as Netflix, on the purpose of the content. John fully recognizes that Battlbox is first and foremost a business and not a group of actors or individuals interested in celebrity for the sake of celebrity. He has even gone so far as to say, “We’re 100% a business first. So the whole concept [of content marketing]… was purely lead generation.”

Content marketing can easily be abstracted away from business drivers so how, with this kind of an opportunity, does the Battlbox team ensure that the content was driving results?

John’s Tips for Effective Content Marketing:

  1. Ensure there is a strong connection between the content, your customers, and the value that you provide – “This showcases what we do, our process for deciding what goes in the box. And the whole show is about that.”
  2. Plan and measure appropriately – “This traffic does not behave the same way. This traffic doesn’t flow through our conversion path like a normal visitor. They don’t convert even close to the same rate that normal visitors do. But we expected that.”

At a high level, the results have been impressive. Prior to the show, Battlbox was averaging around 150,000 sessions per month. Following the release of the show, that number soared past 1,000,000. 

Be opinionated about your approach to acquisition and authentic to your brand

With that kind of an increase in traffic, it’s important to make sure you have a plan in place to capture customers and create business value. Battlbox has never been very heavy-handed in their acquisition flow on the website. They’ve purposefully found a balance between acquisition and “just fun and exciting content.” They have stayed true to this approach which creates an authentic feel for new prospects that discover the brand on Netflix and then visit their website.

Swim downstream by leveraging influencers

The real origin of this story begins long before any conversations with Netflix. Through a simple pre-checkout questionnaire, Battlbox realized that there was a Youtube channel that drove a lot of awareness and customers for them. Not only did they realize the importance of leveraging this influencer (Currin1776), but they went so far as to bring him onto the team. Once a part of the company, they let him continue to produce the type of content that had attracted such a relevant audience. Then then were able to leverage data from their customers to identify a new marketing channel that they had not been leveraging and they supercharged it by bringing the content creator onto the team and providing him with the resources needed to continue to build a presence.

Consider all points in the customer journey

While a Netflix series is likely great for the purposes of driving “discovery,” it’s not likely pushing customers immediately into a “purchase” phase. Some viewers will go directly from the series to the website and purchase a subscription, but most will not. It’s important to build as many touchpoints and linkage between the massive amount of awareness being generated and the point of customer acquisition. Are you able to provide content for your customers at every phase of their journey with you?

One example of this from Battlbox is their “Currin Pick of the Week” that runs on Facebook live every Wednesday. During this live video, Currin highlights a specific product. Then Battlbox engages with the audience during the show. This enables them to answer questions, collect insights, and engage with an audience that may not have been interested in going to their website. Since much of the audience are fans of the Netflix series, this becomes a repeated touchpoint that goes beyond the experience of the series to build greater brand affinity and interest in the products they sell.

Don’t neglect the basics

When all is said and done, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket (even if it is as big as Netflix). Battlbox still produces content in many different forms and for many different purposes. John remarks that they still “have regular posts… that are more social proof reviews and actual testimonials.” In addition, they are constantly focused on testing. John says that they “ A/B and multivariate test everything… You can almost jump on our Facebook and go through the timeline and see all these things we test.”

If there was one overarching piece of advice that John would give to other subscription brands that are looking to drive meaningful results with content marketing, he says

“You’ve just got to be extremely unique… there’s not like a golden ticket. It’s got to be just unique content.”

(Also, having a great personality that attracts producers that can get you on Netflix helps.)

Listen to John’s full podcast episode here, where he dives into more detail about their success with content marketing.

Special thanks to our friends at ReCharge Payments for their insights on this topic.

About the author

Steve Hutt

Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA, starting in the early days of online commerce when he achieved Power Seller status through his eBay store. This propelled him to become a co-founder of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. With a successful exit from his startup, he embarked on his next journey into agency work in e-commerce and digital strategy.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus, where he helps identify, navigate, and accelerate growth in the complex world of commerce.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast and Shopify Founder Stories, a top-rated twice-weekly podcast where he interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, to help Shopify brands improve efficiencies, grow revenue, profit, and lifetime customer loyalty.

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