Many box subscription services are booming…but most are failing.
Because they do their marketing wrong.
Here is a basic rule:

  • Great product ideas can stumble and fail with mediocre or poor marketing or advertising.
  • Sadly, bad product ideas can succeed and grow with great marketing.

Many box subscription services don’t use the best direct response copy or follow direct response rules.
Let me give you an example:
One of the best marketing pieces out there still falls short of best practices.
I saw this mailing package from HelloFresh, a box subscription service that sells cooking kits delivered to your door.
Let me tell you briefly what I found…and how you can learn from what they did right to market their service to prospects—and what they did wrong, depressing response.
hello fresh

1. Their copy violates direct response copy rules—big time.

The HelloFresh sales letter does tell you why their service will make your life easier…but only briefly.
The copy is a response depressor. It violates key direct response copy rules.
For example, it’s “me” or company-centric. It should be “you”-oriented to maximize response.
It says “we [take] all that off your plate…we’ll leave you….tell us…”
Direct response copy always focuses on the prospect—use “you,” not “we” in your copy.
Your prospects care about one thing: themselves. Always keep copy focused on the reader, and you’ll see response rates skyrocket.

2. They don’t immediately present the benefits of their service.

Effective direct response copy will immediately stress the benefits of a product or service.
But HelloFresh’s slogan, “Get Cooking,” doesn’t tell me specifically why their service will benefit me.
They could have used a longer slogan and clearer presentation of immediate benefits.
Remember to emphasize benefits over features in your copy—don’t describe the characteristics of your offer…tell your prospects how it will change their lives or solve their problem.

3. Their copy isn’t long enough.

HelloFresh was smart to create a letter in the direct mail piece, but their sales letter is far too short at only 15 lines—barely enough for ½ a page.
I’ve run hundreds of tests on mailing campaigns…and found that 2-page sales letters outsell 1-page sales letters…and sometimes even a 16-page sales letter will outsell a 12-page sales letter.
Most prospects will read your full letter and be more likely to respond to your offer when there’s more persuasive copy describing the benefits or overcoming the objections.

4. The call-to-action (CTA) is weak.

The letter should have had a focused, powerful and easy call-to-action (CTA).
But this did not.
For example, at the end of the sales letter, HelloFresh tells you to visit linking to a page on their corporate website, not a special landing page designed to sell their service.
Corporate websites or homepages will depress response and confuse prospects with too many options and navigation distractions.
A landing page designed specifically for your offer that drives prospects to a single CTA (call-to-action) is much more effective at getting page visitors to sign up for your service.

5. They signed the letter from the CEO—but a chef spokesperson would have been better.

HelloFresh’s sales letter is signed from the CEO of the company…better than a marketing director, but not as effective as a celebrity chef or other chef spokesperson.
Your spokesperson can make or break your offer by increasing credibility and enhancing your reputation.

6. Their sales piece included a sticky note—a great personalized touch, but with weak copy and weak placement.

I love and use sticky notes. In fact, several clients are using them now.
HelloFresh’s sales piece includes a sticky note with copy that appears to be “handwritten.” This is a great way to build relationship with the prospect, but the copy was weak.
The sticky note repeats HelloFresh’s CTA, but didn’t emphasize any additional benefits of their ingredient delivery service.

7. Their direct mail piece included a value-added piece—an effective way to build trust and relationship with prospects.

A value-added piece is one of direct mail’s big secrets to increasing response.
HelloFresh’s mail piece includes a value-added sheet. It’s a recipe with easy-to-follow steps, ingredient list, and tips. This is a great touch that most likely drove up response to their package.
A value-added piece is an additional piece of content that your prospect would find valuable, useful and worth keeping.
Value-added marketing says that you’re there to give, not take. It also increases the “pass-along” value of your mail piece.

8. Their front envelope could be greatly improved.

HelloFresh’s front envelope uses a poor ink jet look. It could be so much better.
Plus, the teaser should have been strong—or a handwritten address, or using the sticky note on the front envelope instead of inside.
HelloFresh’s return address is also weak—the “From” field is simply filled out with “HelloFresh,” which will depress response. It should have been the letter signer’s name.
Having the return address come from the service’s spokesperson would have been more powerful.
HelloFresh’s direct mail sales piece is one of the better ones out there— and it still failed to meet the criteria for effective direct response marketing in most areas.
If HelloFresh had used the principles of direct response marketing in their direct mail piece, they would have seen a far greater response.
Missing was a powerful response device and list note.
Here are some additional strategies you must use for effective box subscription service marketing:


Use a multichannel, integrated campaign to supercharge response.

A multichannel, integrated campaign increases response because a prospect will see your offer again and again. They might see an ad on social media first, then notice a banner ad, get an email, receive a direct mail piece, then finally click through to go to your landing page to make a purchase. An integrated approach means that prospective customers have multiple opportunities to say “yes” to your offer.
It’s a comprehensive campaign all to one tightly defined prospect universe…when the same prospect sees the multichannel marketing, it will increase response 30% or more.

Postal and email list targeting.

To be successful, only use the very best postal and email lists. This requires knowledge of what works and what does not, and it takes a mixture of transactional data modeling, and the best direct response names. Without the right names, it doesn’t matter how good creative execution is. Call my list management company Infomat at (310) 212-5944 or email for help on targeting the most responsive market.

Don’t forget your shopping cart.

Many customers do not finish the purchasing process because they abandon their shopping carts. In fact, you could lose up to 80% of your orders because of a poorly optimized shopping cart. Here are 3 keys to a successful shopping cart:

  1. There should be no more than two steps during the checkout process.
  2. Your shopping cart should include copy and graphic reinforcement.
  3. There should be no navigation distractions in your shopping cart.


Optimize for mobile.

The majority of your prospects may be going to your landing page, looking at your Facebook ads and banner ads, receiving your emails and watching pre-roll videos on their mobile phones. Make sure to optimize all of your digital marketing efforts for a mobile device.
If you would like to talk about your box subscription service marketing campaign, give me a call at (310) 212-5727 or email Caleb at
Here are the rest of this week’s articles: