When I was planning to launch my subscription box business, the Tin Society, I got a lot of helpful information from Subscription School. Through their resources I learned that in order to have a successful launch, I needed to build a large email list of people who might be interested in subscribing to my box. The standard procedure that they suggest is to develop your box, build a landing page with a description and perhaps a picture, and include an email optin form. Social media ad campaigns get members of your target audience to your landing page and a good incentive entices them to hand over their email address. This process was easy enough for me to follow, until I began to create Facebook ads.
My business is a pipe tobacco subscription service. Each month my subscribers receive samples of different tobacco blends along with a few pipe smoking accessories. After creating three or four beautiful Facebook ads, I was surprised to find that they were all rejected by Facebook. It turns out that Facebook, and every other platform, have restrictions that prohibit any advertisement of tobacco products. If I was going to build a meaningful email list, I was going to have to get creative.
Being a pipe smoker myself, I was already a member of several active Facebook groups. To start spreading the word about my upcoming launch, I made a few posts in each of the groups describing the subscription and directing people to the landing page. This strategy started getting me email address, and it also provided me followers for my Facebook page and valuable feedback about the subscription itself.
My next strategy involved Instagram and Twitter. I performed what was essentially a cold lead outreach campaign via the two platforms. I filled out my profiles with pictures and posts, along with a short description and a link to my landing page. Then I found popular profiles within the pipe smoking community and simply started following their followers. This attracted pipe smokers to my profiles and onto my landing page.
Here is a breakdown of the two strategies I employed so you get an idea of exactly what I did.
These strategies were successful, first of all because I targeted leads with a high probability of converting to my email list. These were men and women who had already expressed an interest in pipe smoking, and in most cases were active in the pipe smoking community. Second, my opt-in was a low barrier to entry. I made sure to only ask for an email, no names or any other information. This made it easy for people to make a decision to sign up. Finally, I had a kick ass incentive. I was going to pick 5 people to receive a free lifetime subscription. That really got people’s attention, and most pipe smokers won’t turn down a chance at free tobacco.
These two strategies allowed me to grow an email list of 600 members and over 2,000 social media followers. It was a bit more time consuming than my original plan, but relatively easy to execute and completely free. I was quite concerned after I realized that paid advertisements were off the table, but with a little creativity and patience, I was able to overcome that frustration and keep my business moving forward.