What Loot Crate Teaches Us about Using Customer Communities to Fuel Rapid Growth
Sep 16, 2015, by SMSS
What if the strength of your customer community propelled your business’ actual growth?
Loot Crate is part of the ‘subscription box’ movement that curates and distributes monthly (or weekly) boxes of grouped merchandise to subscribers. As a gamer-centric company, Loot Crate organizes each month’s box around a theme that resonates among the geek and gamer community. (Past boxes have included villains, heroes, fantasy, etc. )
The catch? Distributing discovery boxes, Loot Crate doesn’t reveal the box’s contents until shipment. It then streams a live “unboxing” event.
What is unique about Loot Crate's customer experience?
This model of audience engagement creates a situation in which the value for Loot Crate customers extends beyond the merchandise in the box.
The discovery box element of Loot Crate taps into the suspense of waiting, the joy of speculating on the theme and the eventual surprise when opening the box. With a firm grasp on the behavior of those in its target market, Loot Crate is able to capitalize on the engagement of their community of subscribers who want to their exchange thoughts and experiences about the gaming world and Loot Crate’s products.
By focusing on experience and community, Loot Crate adds value beyond the box itself. And clearly—its method works.
This employee-owned business has experienced exponential growth without venture funding. Instead, it is the customers who fuel the company’s development, brand awareness and profitability.
How can your business emulate Loot Crate’s formula for growth? Follow the three steps below.
1. Design an ongoing customer experience.
Suspense, mystery and community are the core components of the customer experience at Loot Crate, so even when there is no box in hand—Loot Crate focuses on delighting its subscribers by tapping into these elements.
How does Loot Crate maintain the curiosity and engagement of their customers in the downtime between shipments?
Loot Crate: (1) builds suspense about the next box by announcing themes (but not its contents) (2) selects one (lucky) member each month to receive a “mega crate” with exclusive gear valued at over $2000 (the normal retail value of each box is set around $40) and (3) keeps a countdown for the next box on its landing page.
2. Build strong online communities.
As a B2C company, Loot Crate understands the importance of consumer engagement on social channels. The company maintains a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube. It live streams events on Twitch and Periscope and stays in communication with its consumer base through email newsletters.
Sharing pictures and videos from employees and subscribers, Loot Crate gives a human face to the business while building strong individual connections.
Yet despite its active participation online and through email, much of Loot Crate’s core community building takes places outside of its owned properties. Engaging with consumer-generated content, Loot Crate actively promotes an audience-centric form of community-building.
3. Trust the power of your fan base.
While some marketers worry about building a platform around “borrowed” rather than “owned” media, tapping into existing social networks creates the opportunity to generate a significant—and cost-effective—impact on growth.
With over 500,000 followers on Twitter and 2,000,000+ fans on its Facebook page—Loot Crate's borrowed media strategy is an example of what can be gained. Yet to realize exponential, fan-driven growth, you must first be willing to supply the platform. How do you initiate this process? Learn to trust your fan base.
It’s normal to feel uneasy when handing over control. But if you have done the work to provide a great user experience and built strong online communities, the borrowed media strategy will lay upon a strong and reliable foundation.
For Loot Crate, this foundation of trust has nurtured a highly engaged online community. The “Loot Crate Surprise Box Offering for GEEKS and GAMERS” which targeted the company’s specific (and active) geek and gamer audience base generate over 1.9 million views.
Of note? This video is not hosted on Loot Crate’s YouTube channel. This particular unboxing—while extremely successfully at generating brand awareness—is a piece of borrowed media, not monitored by the Loot Crate team.
Is Loot Crate in complete control of its customer base? Of course not. (How could they be?) And customer sentiments and comments are not always sunny. But that’s just the beauty of Loot Crate’s sincerity model. They have embraced the very real factor that when you foster a genuine community—people are going to be themselves (for better or for worse).
Such strategy utilizes employees as brand advocates in a powerful and authentic way.
How can you apply these lessons to your own business?
Focus on the customer experience “outside the box”—beyond the solution you wish to sell. By nurturing customer communities that add value to the experience of being your customer, you simultaneously allow your audience to participate from a place of sincerity.
If you engage authentically with customers while giving them platform to amplify their voices, you will succeed in creating an army of brand ambassadors. What else? You'll just be doing smart business.