The community-focused marketing that got Loot Crate 650k subscribers

Loot Crate
Loot Crate
Matthew Arevalo
Co-Founder and CXO
Loot Crate
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Loot Crate started out with a simple offering in mid-2012; a mystery box subscription service of epic games and gear aka ‘Comic-Con in a Box’. And it worked, 15m crates later and more than 650,000 subscribers in 34 different countries, and we’re shedding our youthful startup bravado and adopting a more mature and measured approach to marketing.

But what we’ll never lose is our appreciation for grassroots community building that created our company. Winning customers one-by-one, one meme at a time. Driving $116m (£93m) in revenues in 2016 and sitting at number one in the Inc. 5000 rankings of the fastest-growing US private companies.

Now Loot Crate operates as a leading fan-commerce platform, delivering subscription services, unique products and experiences to fuel every fandom from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Marvel to Halo and in the US we now ship sports subscriptions (Major League Baseball) through our newest division Sports Crate.

It goes without saying that for any subscription based service brand loyalty is key. And social media marketing plays a huge part in both building out and maintaining a loyal subscriber base. Yes, social media is easy to set up and one of the more interesting aspects of running an engaged brand, but earning someone’s follow and striking the right tone with your audience is not always easy.

Below are some of the lessons we learned getting our community and brand off the ground.

User-generated content

Since the get-go, Loot Crate put Looters centre stage. While we create a lot of content in-house, we wrap most of our social media efforts around Looter’s own content in the form of engaging in their social media posts, funding creator content from our Looter community and sharing their YouTube unboxing videos (for those in the dark, unboxing videos show people taking products out of their packaging for the first time and explaining the package’s contents to the camera).

Early on, we discovered that fandom is something that should be shared, regardless of the medium, and that people wanted a way to share their unboxings. So we created an experience and a community that amplified this conversation. If someone shared a photo, the team would engage with that Looter directly, retweeting them, or even including them as “featured Looters” on our site or interview them for our editorial site  The Daily Crate.

It sounds simple, but most brands fail in this easy tactic. They engage too little and miss user content, are too focused on the vanity of pushing their own content over users’ or, worse still, are not engaged at all.

Build your community

Loot Crate’s community of passionate fans are made up of more than 2.5 million Facebook fans, over 600,000 Twitter followers, and over 11m YouTube views.

Beyond unboxing videos, we use social media to share behind-the-scenes videos that include Looters in our content journey. The unpolished nature of these videos (some of them have even been shot in a garage) helps to create honesty and transparency with our audience.

When there is an issue, the team shares it on social media. And the language used is never gamer this, nerd that or geek this – the term ‘Looters’ is all inclusive. We decided not to worry about whether Loot Crate is just for hardcore geeks and gamers, but to welcome anyone and everyone as part of the Loot Crate community.

Create authentic content

At the centre of your brand experience, there must be a solid content marketing strategy. Every channel must have its own unique approach unified by a singular, consistent voice and all informed by your brand values.

Having a strategy in place for the story you’re trying to tell and the conversation you want to have with the customer should fuel everything else. We publish a digital magazine, The Daily Crate (mentioned above), which includes trivia, games, exclusive interviews with celebs and Hollywood creatives, and behind the scenes of our curation process.

We also create our own video content using cinematographers and original scores to produce high-quality videos that celebrate the themes of the month, such as this parody of a Quentin Tarantino-like version of Suicide Squad. This is part of our membership experience and product offering. We nurture the inquisitive side of entertainment’s most passionate fans through content. We consider this part of our product offering, not just marketing.

Use data wisely

Our team is comprised of highly analytical, data-informed numbers geeks who also live and breathe the same fandoms as our Looters, which greatly helps when it comes to evaluating business goals.

Loot Crate has shipped millions of packages and subscribers surpass 650,000 every month, which equals a lot of data! Among the metrics, the team looks at how engagement relates to customer acquisition costs and social analytics across all the social platforms.

We constantly survey customers to find out if they enjoyed the last month’s product and to gauge their interests in upcoming feature films, games and comics. We arm our influencers with unique referral links and custom landing pages, so that their content feels fully endorsed by us and we see the full benefit from their decision to craft content that helps us find new fans.

We use enterprise versions of Google Analytics and several other data management dashboards and programs to inform our communications, production, marketing and community teams on what works (converts to a new subscription) and what isn’t working. Because we care about content, whether we create it or not, we see higher than average conversion rates across all channels.

The key takeaways for creating an awesome social media strategy include:

  1. Create a community through content. Knowing your audience and being part of their community will help you create content that resonates. In addition, you can curate and promote user-generated content that showcases your fans and attracts other like-minded folks
  2. Distribute content where your users are. Loot Crate’s users are more active than your average person on social media, YouTube and Twitch, and we leverage these channels to grow and attract more likeminded people to our Looter community. Know where your target audience is active and engage them there
  3. Give customers a unique and rewarding experience. Putting customers first and striving to deliver amazing experiences with each piece of content and every touchpoint goes a long way to attracting and retaining customers

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