Skip to main content

How to Use Online Ads to Build Your Subscription Box Business

The subscription box industry continues to grow, increasing by more than 100% per year in the past five years. While this growth is encouraging, the marketplace is also crowded with entrepreneurs enticed by high consumer interest and the increased availability of helpful ecommerce tools. Online ads can be an effective way to distinguish your subscription box from the competition and draw new customers. Because ads incur costs, it is wise to research the best ways to make the most of your marketing investment and increase the effectiveness of your efforts.

First, before you create any ads, prepare your website. Studies show that only about 4% of visitors to your website are ready to make a purchase. No matter how effective you make your advertising, your website will not be able to retain visitors unless it is optimized for conversion. Some strategies include providing content relating to your subscribers’ interests, engaging them with an interactive element (such as the style profile visitors can create at Stitch Fix) and offering promotions to new subscribers. Give them a reason to want to sign up for future notifications from you.

Then decide on your budget. Even if you have no funds available for advertising, you can begin to create exposure and generate a contact list through social media engagement or starting a campaign that social media influencers find interesting. Some options, such as Cratejoy (see below), won’t charge a fee until after you’ve made a sale. These activities can not only bring attention to your subscription service, but they can also reveal important information about the interests and behaviors of your market.

Once you know how much you want to spend on advertising each month, compare the costs of each service and track how much traffic you generate and how many sales you make. No matter which platform you test, allow enough time for your advertising to make an effect.

When you are ready to begin placing ads, you can consider using these popular platforms:

Cratejoy Marketplace:

Merchants can get a listing in the Marketplace for free, and then they only need to pay a 10% transaction fee for each active subscriber. One of their biggest advantages is that visitors to the site are already strongly motivated to purchase a subscription. They also offer many services, although you should not neglect to continue to draw traffic directly to your own site. You will also still need to either handle your own subscription box fulfillment (which we can help you with!) or seek out a third-party fulfillment provider.


Facebook is known for the depth of knowledge they have about their users. For you as an advertiser, this means that you can target your ads to a very specific demographic, narrowing it down not only by age, gender and location, but also by interests and behaviors. Facebook also allows you to retarget the same users in order to become familiar to them that much faster. Finally, if you have an email list of current subscribers, you can upload it to Facebook to create a lookalike list of new people who closely match your current customers.


Instagram is owned by Facebook, and you will use the same dashboard to create your ad campaign. One very important difference is that the photos you use in an Instagram ad should not look as polished as ones you would expect to see from traditional advertisements. Instead, they should have a candid feeling, and the product should be incorporated into an active lifestyle vignette rather than being isolated in the frame. You can also try experimenting with using emojis in your headline, which are boosting response rates in various platforms.


Google Ads (also known as Google AdWords) let you direct your ads to people who have searched for specific terms, and factors such as the popularity of a term will affect how much the ad costs per click. Use the interface to compare different campaigns against each other to see which are more effective. When selecting your keywords, seek out those that show a definite buyer intent. “Buy subscription box” will be more likely to draw customers who are ready to make a purchase than “what is a subscription box.”

You will also want to restrict your ads to the “search network,” meaning that they will only appear in search results and not as a part of other websites. This will further focus your exposure to better candidates. When you are creating an effective ad on Google, make it relevant to its landing page in content. This will improve your “quality score” and reduce your cost-per-click.

With these tips you can begin to find the most cost-effective way to reach more potential subscribers.