NatchBytes: How Social Media and Influencer Marketing is Fueling Soapbox's Success
David Simnick started Soapbox — a one-for-one natural soap company — from his college apartment in 2010. For every bar sold, they donate one bar of soap to someone in need. By 2011, Soapbox delivered its first gift of 200 soaps to a food pantry in Illinois. Today, Soapbox purchases have impacted over three million lives worldwide. And Soapbox doesn’t cut corners on quality. All products – from bar soap to hair care – are paraben free, EDTA free, cruelty free, and vegan to PETA standards.
What has led to Soapbox’s successes? Social media and influencers, according to Simnick. Read on to find out why.
Q: How important is e-commerce to your company’s strategy?
It is crucial. From sales to marketing, online is where our presence needs to be and thrive. People are going online to shop more now than ever. If they are going in-store to make a purchase, they’re going online to see reviews and suggestions first.
Q: What percent of your business is e-commerce?
In 2017, less than 5% of our business was e-commerce. We have shifted our focus to e-commerce excellence, establishing high-growth partnerships, and launching products that can support e-commerce retail. Our goal in 2018 is grow our e-commerce business by 20%.
Q: What digital strategies are “mission critical” to you and why?
I would say all of our strategies go hand-in-hand. Our market demographic turns to beauty and lifestyle influencers for inspiration on their next personal wash buy. We have to have a social presence that is relatable and legitimate to our customers. We also use Amazon marketing tools to boost our sales such as promos, discounts and even exploring Amazon influencer collaborations.
Boosting our rank with search engines (SEO) is also important so that, when consumers are looking for products to target specific needs, our relevant products pop up. We work with bloggers to create rich content on our website to build more of an online presence and also leverage Google AdWords to drive traffic to our site.
Q: What channel has had the biggest impact on your online growth?
We have seen amazing growth in our Amazon business. With the reviews from Amazon being so highly regarded, we are seeing that have a large impact in not only perpetuating the Amazon engine, but also driving retail sales in-store.
Q: What online tools and software do use when it comes to managing your digital marketing business? What can’t you live without?
Google Analytics and Klaviyo, our email platform. Support Bee for our customer service support. Sprout Social for our social scheduling.
Q: When it comes to digital, you can do-it-yourself or hire experts. What do you recommend?
A blend of both. Being a start-up, there are times where we need to try and figure out things for ourselves. That said, we also recognize and respect the value outside help brings. When something is completely outside the team’s area of expertise and we need solutions quickly, we hire help.
Q: Influencer marketing — yea or nay — and why?
Yea all the way! We believe our customers look for third-party validation or recommendations when it comes to buying personal care products. It’s why we’ve invested so many resources in influencer marketing. It has worked!
Q: Amazon’s Vendor vs. Amazon’s Seller Central — who wins?
Seller. We have recently made the transition, and we strongly prefer Seller. Seller Central allows for greater flexibility when it comes to managing the products. You are able to regulate your own pricing, and advertise on Amazon without any restrictions. In contrast, when a product is sold on Vendor Central, price is managed by Amazon, and if the product’s margins are not profitable to the standards that Amazon deems acceptable, they can turn off your ability to market and grow product sales. Having these two key levers in your own hands as the brand leader is critical to your ability to grow Amazon business quickly.
Q: What makes you most nervous for your digital business?
New algorithms and rules of the game are always changing, and it takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of things. In addition, making sure our brand is relevant and top of mind for new and existing consumers is critical to ongoing growth.
Q: Integrating digital and brick-and-mortar is a hot space. Have you used digital marketing and data to impact brick-and-mortar sales?
Yes, we’ve driven in-store sales via online initiatives — from coupons that consumers can print to influencer and social campaigns targeting certain retailers. We take the data to retailers after campaigns run to demonstrate the support we’re offering as well as the demand and interest in our products.
Q: If you were advising a new natural products company on where to invest for online sales and community growth, what would you tell them?
Build a strong community by being present and active on social. Consumers nowadays hold brands to a whole new standard. They want the brand to be relatable, approachable, transparent and responsible. Work with influencers who compliment your brand identity and show consumers that you have a product worth investing in. Correspond with consumers to show your genuine interest in knowing their wants and needs. Once you grow a community who believes in and loves your brand, then it will be easier for them to follow you to your other platforms.