‘Unboxing’ Is So Hot Right Now

Fun fact: Unboxing, or unboxing videos to be more clear, is nothing new. I figured phenomenon was a couple of years old, but nope, I was wrong. When googling “trend of unboxing videos” I came across this article, “Unboxing Videos: The Latest Internet Trend That I’m Behind On.” Guess what the publication date is.

What's in the Box
Wow … this post got dark REAL quick.

Fun fact: Unboxing, or unboxing videos to be more clear, is nothing new. I figured the phenomenon was a couple of years old, but nope, I was wrong.

When googling “trend of unboxing videos” I came across this article, “Unboxing Videos: The Latest Internet Trend That I’m Behind On” from Information Week, dated Dec. 12, 2006.

You read that right … 2006. People have been filming themselves unboxing products for a decade, and it’s not getting old. Originally started with the filming of opening packages of hot new tech and gadgets (such as a PS3 unboxing video that gained over 71,000 views between Nov. 11, 2006 and Dec. 7,  2006), it still goes strong in the tech community.

Seriously, check out the awesome UNBOXED video series from fellow editor/vlogger Rob Stott, including the one below that gets major Sass Marketing points for featuring a little “Say Anything.”

[brightcove videoplayer=”4964012805001″ playerid=”4057790005001″ playerkey=”AQ~~,AAAB3F0Fgjk~,iLMUk1o09xryy1Ypo80LdwzRrrPX3phQ” width=”480″ height=”270″ autostart=”false”]

And beyond unboxing hot new tech, the trend has expanded to include everything from makeup subscription boxes to children’s toys.

Above is the very typical Birchbox vs. Ipsy-style unboxing, and below is … well … a really weird kid’s toy unboxing.

What … what did I just watch? Okay, shake it off.

From Mental Floss:

… before you dismiss this phenomenon as just another weird trend indicative of our digital obsessions, consider this: unboxing videos routinely take a few of the top 10 spots on most-viewed YouTube watchlists, among the music videos from international superstars and the latest viral prank. There’s clearly something alluring about this unwrapping-by-proxy for millions of people.

And now … now Burger King has jumped into the unboxing ring with a very special guest: Chester Cheetah:

https://youtu.be/NW6-pkE9UeM

Marketers, what does this all mean for you? Well, if you market a product that is pretty exciting and comes in potentially cool packaging (something that’s often discussed in unboxing videos), then you might want to look into finding some influencers you can partner with.

According to this article from Google, unboxing videos gained 57 percent more views in 2014 over 2013, and uploads increased 50 percent.

More importantly, a larger number of unboxing viewers use the videos to make product-buying decisions. So, while you don’t need to get hooked up with a talking cheetah, you definitely don’t want to ignore this trend which has some serious legs to it.

Championship-Winning Email Creative

Last week, in my best attempt to be timely and sporty, we saw the Email Creative Final Four play out in a blaze of March Madness-like glory. Herb Brooks united his squad against the heavily favored Soviet team, and as the U.S. squad tried to overcome insurmountable odds and win … oh wait. That’s the plot to the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle.” Ahem. Sports.

Last week, in my best attempt to be timely and sporty, we saw the Email Creative Final Four play out in a blaze of March Madness-like glory. Herb Brooks united his squad against the heavily favored Soviet team, and as the U.S. squad tried to overcome insurmountable odds and win … oh wait. That’s the plot to the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle,” starring Kurt Russell. Ahem. Sports.

So, with last week delivering Birchbox and Lindy Bop into the final arena for the championship match, let’s review our bracket:

Final Email Creative March Madness bracket

In the Final Four, both Birchbox and Lindy Box cleaned house against their opponents, earning 11 and 9 points respectively.

And as a quick reminder, there are five areas to score points, and scores are as follows:

  • 0 points: Dude you missed!
  • 2 points: Nice shot!
  • 3 points: You’re totally going pro!

Championship Game: Personal Beauty Products vs. Retro Apparel
Birchbox is a strong player in the inbox, sending messages that range from subscriber news — box customizations, box shipments, product review reminders — to promotional emails. I personally receive emails almost every other day, if not daily.
Birchbox email for Email Creative March Madness ChampionshipThis email was sent March 28 with the subject line, “Shop Your Samples, Get Perks,” which is simple but effective, especially in the eyes of a Birchbox subscriber.

The preheader echos the subject line, reading, “Stock up on your favorite samples today.” Okay, maybe this could have been a little more creative, but at least the preheader is in use.

As usual with most Birchbox communications, the design and copy are bold and to the point. “Tried it and loved it?” the email asks. Well now subscribers can get free shipping on any full-size product they’ve previously sampled.

And to make things relevant (and personalized), the email shows me six of my most recent samples, as well as the call-to-action button “Shop Your Samples.”

Could Birchbox have made it any easier? Doubtful.

Birchbox’s Points
Subject line: 2
Preheader text: 2
Copy: 2
Call to action: 2
Overall design: 3
Total: 11 points

Email Creative March Madness: Final Four

By now, you’re familiar with my Creative Cage Match posts, in which I throw two emails into the cage and one comes out a winner. Today, I’m going to mix up my sports metaphors to bring you: Email Creative March Madness.

By now, you’re familiar with my Creative Cage Match posts, in which I throw two emails into the cage and one comes out a winner. Today, I’m going to mix up my sports metaphors to bring you Email Creative March Madness.

March Madness Email Creative FInal Four competitorsSince launching Sass Marketing, I have hosted four Creative Cage Matches, which makes for a perfect mini-bracket. The winners from those four matches — the Final Four — are competing today head-on with NEW creative in two separate games. Then next Tuesday I’ll host the Email Creative March Madness National Championship.

There are five areas to score points, and scores are as follows:

  • 0 points: Dude you missed!
  • 2 points: Nice shot!
  • 3 points: You’re totally going pro!

Game 1: Food vs. Makeup
GrubHub was the winner of the first Creative Cage Match. Hailed as the “nation’s leading online and mobile food ordering company,” GrubHub’s original CCM performance impressed me with it’s multi-part drip campaign, sassy copy, entertaining design, and well-written subject lines and preheader text.

Gruhub St. Patrick's Day Creative Cage Match: March Madness EditionThis email, sent March 13, starts with the subject line: “Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Grubhub.” It’s to the point … and not much else. Surprisingly, despite preheaders of the past, this email skips it altogether. The St. Patrick’s day icons are whimsical and eye-catching, while keeping things from being too busy.

Possibly the best part of the email is that Grubhub identified a handful of restaurants near my apartment, and gave me a brief overview, including: restaurant name, cuisine, delivery charge, minimum order and address. Following each is a “View Menu” call-to-action button, as well as a photo of a menu item. I appreciate the quick “snapshot” that lets me make my ordering decision that much easier.

Grubhub’s Points
Subject line: 0
Preheader text: 0
Copy: 2
Call to action: 2
Overall design: 2
Total: 6 points

Up against Gruhub is Birchbox, the most recent Creative Cage Match winner who swept with its solid content marketing via email. This beauty subscription box loved by millions kept things simple and straightforward with its original winning email, letting the tutorial video do all the talking.

Birchbox April Box Preview Creative Cage Match: March Madness EditionI received this email on March 16, with the subject line: “Sneak Preview! Your April Box Options?” (Trust me, the hibiscus emoji wasn’t as huge as it’s displaying here).

As a Birchbox subscriber, this is exactly the kind of subject line I look for every month. The inclusion of the emoji was cute, and also a nice way to make the email stand out in a sea of black text (especially since it’s a brightly colored flower).

The preheader text echoes the subject line, but is personalized with my name: “Melissa, we’re revealing the customization options for your April Box.” It’s also a clickable link, taking you to the Web page that includes the monthly reveal video. The email design borrows a border from the Rifle Paper Co. Botanical Notebook + Notepad Set —  an April featured item — and includes a image of Lorelei and Rachel, two Birchbox ladies who subscribers are very used to seeing in our inboxes.

Birchbox’s copy, as usual, gets to the point, supporting the “Reveal My Choices” call-to-action button. I mean, seriously … who’s going to pass up clicking through and finding out more info?!

Birchbox’s Points
Subject line: 2
Preheader text: 3
Copy: 2
Call to action: 2
Overall design: 2
Total: 11 points

Gruhub vs. Birchbox Final Score: 6 to 11

Oh wow … we have a clear winner in Game 1, with Birchbox wiping up the court with Grubhub. It was the subject line and preheader that provided the clear advantage in this situation.

Creative Cage Match: Birchbox vs. Johnny Cupcakes

Again we dive into my personal inbox (I swear, you’re getting to know me too well). This month’s cage match goes a step further to throw in the hot topic of content marketing. Does one marketer do it better than the other, more creatively than the other? We shall see!

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

Again we dive into my personal inbox (I swear, you’re getting to know me too well). This month’s cage match goes a step further to throw in the hot topic of content marketing. Does one marketer do it better than the other, more creatively than the other? We shall see!

In this corner, we have the beauty products monthly subscription box the ladies love to love, Birchbox. Started in 2010 by two Harvard Business School graduates, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna as an online startup, it has since grown to be a company worth $485 million, maintains relationships with over 800 brand partners and has more than 1 million subscribers. Wowza.

Across the ring, we have the cupcake-obsessed apparel company Johnny Cupcakes. This retailer has bakery-themed brick and mortar locations, as well as an online presence. Founded in 2001 by Johnny Earle, he was named  one of the “Best Entrepreneurs 25 and Under” by BusinessWeek in 2008. Sounds delicious.

Content Marketing vs. Content Marketing
I know, I know …  a little different than my previous cage matches, but I wanted to address the relevance and creativity of these marketers’ content marketing. Because if you’re going to do it, you better be doing it right.

First up is Birchbox with the subject line, “How to Use Your Eyeko Liquid Liner.” The subject line, by the way, is customized for me because I selected the eyeliner as a sample choice for my January subscription box. There was no question I was going to open this email (especially because I used to be a liquid eyeliner novice … though not anymore!)

Birchbox Content Marketing EmailBirchbox gets right to the point with copy reading big and boldy, “Squiggles No More.” Below is quick copy indicating that there’s a video tutorial to watch via the clickthrough over to the content page on Birchbox’s site. And honestly, nothing else really needs to be said. Take me to the video!

Birchbox video pageThe video tutorial, which clocks in at 1 minute and 36 seconds, sits above the fold, with the ability to “shop this story” conveniently to the right.

Below the video, Birchbox includes step-by-step text instructions to complement the video, as well as text and a link to its popular Beauty Essentials series, which covers beauty routine how-tos, ranging from basic to advanced.

So we have content in multiple forms, and notification of said content, customized for me, delivered to my inbox.

Birchbox, I like the cut of your jib.

The ‘Continuity’ of Subscription Marketing — Wow, It’s Everywhere!

Somewhere down the line, I missed the memo that “continuity clubs” is now a yesterday term and that “subscription marketing” is preferred. While some of us may recall “12 CDs for $.01” or may even today have a favorite product-of-the-month subscription, it seems marketing has fallen in love with subscriptions.

Somewhere down the line, I missed the memo that “continuity clubs” is now a yesterday term and that “subscription marketing” is preferred. While some of us may recall “12 CDs for $.01” or may even today have a favorite product-of-the-month subscription, it seems marketing has fallen in love with subscriptions.

Such was the topic of a recent Direct Marketing Club of New York luncheon — where featured representatives from the entirety of the “subscription ecosystem” shared their perspectives: Barry Blumenfield, BMI Fulfillment; Jim Fosina, Amora Coffee & Amora Tea; Robert Manger, Sandvik Publishing; Pattie Mercier, Vantiv; Craig Mirabella, EverBright Media; George Saul, Fosina Marketing — and serving as moderator, Stephanie Miller, TopRight.

It is truly astounding so many products can be “moved” by subscriptions — nail polish (Julip), underwear (FreshPair), software (Adobe), music streaming (Spotify, Apple), men’s designer wear (Trunk Club for Men), women’s shoes (Shoe Dazzle), cosmetics and personal care (Birchbox), buyers’ clubs (Amazon Prime), and dates (match.com) — just a few of the examples offered up, in addition to coffee/tea (Amora), and educational learning (EverBright Media and Sandvik Publishing) that were represented on the panel.

While the channels and the product mix have expanded, some tried-and-true maxims from the days of “book and music clubs” have not been lost, according to the panelists. They include:

  1. It’s all about the bond with the customer — how you differentiate your product and service to justify a continuing relationship and greater lifetime value.
  2. This is a direct marketing business — pay attention to marketing ROI in every detail, even when business is great, there could be warning signs of waste and cost in specific areas of marketing spend.
  3. The entirety of the customer experience needs to be looked after — from product development , to advertising, to ordering, to service (extending from self-service to contact centers), to fulfillment.
  4. Pay particularly close attention to such areas as technology and fulfillment: surprise and delight requires such focus.

While channel expansion has brought to the marketplace new realities:

  1. Does your brand have a “thumb stopping” moment? With more and more mobile engagement, subscription marketers must make it easy to stop the consumer, make her pause, and consider the product/service offer in a mobile moment.
  2. There is a role for every channel — but each channel has its own metrics to pay attention to. While the panelists were proprietary with details, the lifetime value of a customer acquired via email, direct mail, DRTV, website or mobile most likely is distinct from each other — and may have different attrition rates. You’ll need to manage these distinctions in the marketing mix.
  3. A payment processing partner is important. In any given year, millions of credit cards expire — and this will be even more prevalent as chip-enabled cards flow into the marketplace.
  4. “Bill me” invoicing — once a mainstay in the business — has practically disappeared altogether over the last five years — as consumers in general appear to have become more casual about not paying.

To say the least, this business model has expanded far beyond books, magazines and music — and it makes me wonder: What’s next?