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Man Crates Marketing: How to Turn $1,000 into $10+ Million (Case Study)

  • Growth Marketing

I think we can all agree that finding and buying gifts for men is tough.

Another pair of socks, or a new gadget they’ll never use, just doesn’t get them excited.

Jon Beekman recognized this problem (having got one too many pairs of socks himself).

That’s why, in 2011, he borrowed $1,000 from his wife and created a site to help people find the perfect gift for their loved ones.

Today, that site, Man Crates, is one of the fastest growing companies in America, with a staggering growth rate of 4900.2%. And what was once a three-team operation running out of a garage is now a 50-person company with multiple distribution centers across the U.S.

I’ve had my eye on Man Crates for months now, and they keep surprising me with new ways to engage their audience and create memorable experiences for both gift-givers and gift-receivers.

So, I decided to follow in Sam’s footsteps and reverse-engineer Man Crates marketing strategy to learn exactly what they’re doing to grow their business (and how you can too).

Let’s get started.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Download Man Crates’ Marketing Toolkit

I found a LOT of amazing strategies while writing this post, but I couldn’t include them all. So, as a bonus, I’ve compiled a swipe file of Man Crates’ best marketing materials, including 5 bonus strategies and the full video of Matthew’s unboxing experience. (Plus, toolkits for other multi-million dollar brands like Harry’s and Casper.)

Man Crates Marketing: 9 Unique Marketing Strategies You Need to Know

For many, myself included, giving gifts is just as exciting as receiving them (if not more).

You want to find that perfect gift that shows your loved one just how much you care, but it isn’t always easy.

Beekman and the team at Man Crates has done more than recognize the above problem and solved it. In fact, they’ve gone one step further and redefined what it means to buy the perfect gift for a loved one.

When it comes to gift-giving, Man Crates know that it’s not just about the buyer’s anticipation for giving the perfect gift. Rather, it’s about their anticipation for finding it (and in many cases, buying it). So, they’ve built anticipation into each stage of the buyer’s journey to create a memorable buying experience. And, as we’ll see through the post, it works like a charm.

Here’s how they do it.

Strategy #1: Use Search Intent to Inform Your Landing Page Copy (and Increase Sales)

From the moment you enter the front page, Man Crates reassures visitors that they’re in the right place.

The call-to-action (CTA) is clear:

Find the perfect gift.

If you scroll further down the front page, you’ll find that there’s little sales copy anywhere pushing people to buy a product.

Why?

Because, if you scroll further down the page, you’ll notice that much of their copy emphasizes gift-giving. Further, there’s little, if any, CTAs to buy their products.

There’s a good reason for this.

If we look at their organic keywords, we can see that Man Crates ranks for several variations of “gifts for men” and “man crates.”

As you can see, the search intent is not a specific gift or product, but an idea about a type of gift.

With that in mind, Man Crates match their users’ search intent as much as possible. They know that’s what visitors are looking for, so that’s what they give them when they arrive on their site for the first time.

And with 64.34% of their traffic coming from organic search, it’s a sound strategy. (Source.)

It’s important to mention here that we usually exclude branded terms when going through a site’s organic report because they doesn’t reveal much about how the site’s acquiring customers.

But with Man Crates, it’s hard to determine whether the term “man crates” applies to Man Crates the brand, or man crates, as in, crates for men.

For instance, if you Google “man crates” and look at Google’s related terms, you’ll see searching also looking for best man crates, homemade man crates, mini man crates and more. Meaning, there are different types of man crates that aren’t limited to Man Crates product line.

Just take a look at this product line from NetFlorist:

Man Crates don’t assume that people who search for man crates know about their products and are ready to buy.

That’s why the focus on their front page is on helping visitors find the perfect gift, before asking them to make a purchase.

No fuss. No confusion, No salesy “buy now” buttons. Just a low-commitment CTA to check out their products.

Takeaway. Identify which keywords drive the most traffic to your site, and the search intent behind these keywords. Are your visitors looking for how-to guides, gift ideas, or specific products? Whatever it is, incorporate this into your site’s front page copy to meet your visitors where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Strategy #2: Use Visual Storytelling to Build Anticipation

Your product pages are probably the most important pages on your site.

If you don’t position your product right on these pages, your visitors won’t buy.

Man Crates have added a unique strategy to all their product pages to build anticipation and convince prospects that they’ve found the perfect gift.

It’s storytelling.

Take the product description for Man Crates’ Slumberjacks product, as an example:

It’s not your average product description; Man Crates wants you to feel just as excited about this product as they are.

The story is highly-visual and builds anticipation because prospects can visualize their chosen man using the product (even though he might not be chopping wood on a daily basis).

As famous poet and civil rights advocate, Mary Angelou, once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The story (fictional or not) isn’t just a fun way to explain the details of the product. It also helps prospects remember the product. (Source).

Just think about Rosa Parks on the bus. We remember her because of the bus story and not for all the other activist work she did.

(Plus, it gives you a few pointers to impress your man with when you give the gift. “Did you know that flannel dates back to 17th century Wales?” That ought to give you a few bonus points.)

Takeaway. Tell stories about your products to make them more unique and memorable. Have fun with it and make sure your stories align with your brand’s voice.

Strategy #3: Tease the Unboxing Experience to Reduce Cart Abandonment

If there’s one strategy Man Crates have nailed it’s teasing the unboxing experience.

Man Crates promote the unboxing experience as a huge part of the gift-getting experience (more on this later). And they’ve found two clever ways to build anticipation during checkout.

First, Man Crates have a delivery estimate feature where you enter your zip code, and they tell you when your package will arrive.

(When you get a date for the arrival of a package, that’s when you start getting excited, right?)

It’s a great way to personalize the shopping experience and build anticipation. But it’s also practical for visitors who are shopping for gifts last minute and need to check if it will arrive in time.

Second, and probably my favorite addition, is the package preview.

I mean, “a sealed wooden crate with a laser-etched crowbar.” How cool is that?

By showing prospects what the package will look like upon delivery, they tease the unboxing experience and also reduces the likelihood of cart abandonment.

The more anticipation you can build through your entire funnel, the easier it will be to turn visitors into customers.

Takeaway. Think about unique ways you can get prospects excited about your product. Maybe it’s a preview of the package like Man Crates. Maybe it’s a short video of a customer using the product. Or maybe it’s something else. When people are excited about a product, they want to buy it. It’s that simple.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Download Man Crates’ Marketing Toolkit

I found a LOT of amazing strategies while writing this post, but I couldn’t include them all. So, as a bonus, I’ve compiled a swipe file of Man Crates’ best marketing materials, including 5 bonus strategies and the full video of Matthew’s unboxing experience. (Plus, toolkits for other multi-million dollar brands like Harry’s and Casper.)

Strategy #4: Personalize the Buying Experience with Pre-Written Notes

You probably guessed it…

…I wanted to buy a man crate after looking at their product pages.

Unfortunately, they don’t ship to Denmark (sad face).

So, I decided to get our developer, Matthew, who lives in Minnesota, an extra Christmas present. (You can see his reaction in Strategy #5).

This is Matthew. (Don’t ask about the glitter beard):

To personalize the shopping experience during checkout, Man Crates gives you the possibility to include a personal note.

This isn’t new.

What is new is if you’re not a copywriter, or simply don’t know how to express your feelings on a postcard, Man Crates will do it for you.

With their personal note generator, you can choose who the receiver of the gift is and generate a pre-written message for them.

This is not just for fun. It’s yet another trick to build anticipation and get people excited about giving the present. Plus, the pre-written messages is a great way to reduce friction during checkout.

Here’s the one I chose for Matthew:

Takeaway. Offer customers a chance to add notes to their orders? Inspire them to choose a pre-written message. This will help create a memorable shopping experience, making customers more likely to return to your site in future.

Strategy #5: Create a Share-Worthy Unboxing Experience

When you get a gift, the unboxing is a big part of the gift-getting experience.

Imagine getting a present that’s not wrapped…

…it’s just not as exciting, is it?

Man Crates know the importance of this and have transformed the unboxing of their products into a memorable, fun, and share-worthy experience for any man receiving a man crate.

I decided to get Matthew the Slumberjacks and the Saloon Nuts Mini Crate, and asked him to film the unboxing experience.

Here’s him unboxing the Slumberjacks…

…and the Saloon Nuts Mini Crate:

Editor’s Note

Get the full unboxing video, plus 5 bonus strategies and other goodies here.

Sam Thomas Davies
Head of Content

When you create share-worthy unboxing experiences, you generate a LOT of brand awareness.

Just like Matthew, many other Man Crates customers film the unboxing experience and post it on YouTube. (The videos people share of their unboxing experience also serve as reviews and social proof which Man Crates can repurpose on their site.)

Just look at what comes up when you search “Man Crates” on Youtube:

Three out of the top five results are reviews from customers sharing their unboxing experience.

Granted, we don’t know if any of these videos are sponsored, but I noticed something interesting when watching Matthew’s video…

…Man Crates encourages customers to share their experience on social media by adding a small call-to-action (CTA) to the lid on each gift:

They make the process of sharing your experience look easy, and they tap into people’s feeling of wanting to “show off.”

In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger discusses how businesses can create virality around their brand and product. He uses the term social currency, which means that consumers share content as a way to “buy” the interest of their peers.

You can capitalize on this by creating content that’s unusual or remarkable to stimulate a discussion among consumers.

Just look at Man Crates. They create a unique unboxing experience that drives anticipation and curiosity.

Watching someone open a man crate, makes you want to try it out for yourself to see if you can evoke that same feeling in the person you’re giving a gift to.

It’s a good way to build referrals and virality into your marketing.

Takeaway. Consider how you can create a memorable and share-worthy unboxing experience for your product. The more unique and interesting it is, the more likely people are to share it. You can also send free samples to influencers and celebrities and ask them to share their unboxing experience.

Strategy #6: Improve Customer Retention with Personalized Gift Reminders

While researching Man Crates, one question came to mind:

How do Man Crates survive out of gift-giving-seasons?

Surely, their sales spike during Christmas and probably around Father’s Day as well. But what about the rest of the year?

I decided to look into this, and I found something interesting.

When you buy something online, you normally see a thank you page when you buy something.

Man Crates is no exception. But this is what their thank you page looks like:

They invite customers to set up reminders for special occasions and use a 10% discount as an incentive.

This is a great way to use reciprocity. Give something, get something.

Also, how often have you forgotten an anniversary or a birthday and had to rush out to find a last-minute gift?

I know I have.

Let me just show you what happens when you click through.

First, you choose what man in your life you want to set up a reminder for.

I chose my dad.

Then you enter his name.

My dad’s name is Tommy and look what happens when I move on:

His name is incorporated into the copy making it super personal.

Now, Man Crates have an occasion to send me a personal email: my dad’s birthday.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Here’s how they ask you to set up another reminder for Father’s Day:

“HECK, YEAH”

Instead of asking customers if they’d like to set up a second reminder for Father’s Day, they ask a question you most likely won’t say no to. (You wouldn’t set up a reminder for your dad’s birthday if you didn’t appreciate him, right?)

This is clever marketing because answering a question like this seems like a smaller commitment than agreeing to set up another email reminder.

When you click through, you get an overview of your reminders for this person and you can add more for other occasions.

When you confirm you get a final overview, and the option to set up reminders for other men in your life.

By inviting customers to set up reminders, Man Crates collects valuable permissions to email customers.

Customers who set up these reminders have essentially agreed to Man Crates reminding them to buy again. By doing so, Man Crates are inserting themselves into their customers’ lives multiple times throughout the year and increasing their selling opportunities.

It’s highly scalable which, again, means more sales opportunities.

And the information Man Crates get about their customers can be used to customize and personalize their email marketing to the individual customer.

Takeaway. Give your customers a reason to return to your store after they buy from you. Setting up reminders will work well if you sell gifts, but there are also other opportunities if you sell other types of products. For example, if you sell hair products, you can offer to send a notification when you estimate they need a refill.

Strategy #7: Use Gift Guides to Reduce Decision Fatigue

To help visitors find the perfect gift, Man Crates create dedicated landing pages for their ads.

Take this recent ad for Father’s Day, for example:

Instead of linking to their home page as many online stores do, Man Crates link to a dedicated landing page for Father’s Day gifts:

Again, the focus isn’t to get visitors to buy at this point—it’s to help them find a gift.

And because Man Crates knows that too many choices will overwhelm prospects, they narrow down the options on this page.

They make it easy to find a gift by giving visitors the option to choose a type of gift before choosing a specific gift.

And if you’re not sure what type of gift to pick, you can go with a recommended “Dad-Approved” gift:

Each gift is super specific to the type of father the prospect is looking to buy for.

Consumers are more likely to choose a recommended product over any other product.

By having a dedicated landing page for your ads, you also reassure visitors who come through ads that they’ve come to the right place because the ad copy is consistent with the copy on the landing page.

Takeaway. Don’t overwhelm prospects with too many options. Pick a few recommended products for a specific event or occasion to promote in your ads. Then, make sure they’re on a dedicated landing page. Fewer choices will lead to more sales.

Strategy #8: Use Product-Specific Reviews to Nudge On-The-Fence Buyers

Seventy-seven percent of consumers read product reviews before making online purchases.

We’ve all done it.

You find a product online and then Google “[product name] reviews.”

But instead of sending visitors to third-party sites like Trustpilot, you should include reviews and social proof directly on your site.

Let’s take another look at Man Crates’ front page:

Two examples of social proof to convince visitors that Man Crates is a trustworthy site.

When you use media badges or other types of social proof, make sure that it’s brands your target audience knows, like and trust.

But the place where Man Crates really stands out is how they use customer reviews to build anticipation (yes, more anticipation).

If you go to any of their product pages, you’ll find reviews specific to the product you’re looking at.

Here’s from the Slumberjacks product page:

This is a great way to nudge on-the-fence buyers to try the product, and because the reviews are product-specific, they convey more relevance and trustworthiness than if they were generic reviews about the business.

Another thing that adds to their authenticity, is that Man Crates don’t copy-edit the reviews. You can see that by the lack of punctuation in some of the comments as well as the lowercase “i”s, and so on.

Takeaway: Use product specific reviews on your product pages to increase sales. Don’t be afraid to include reviews that involve you making a mistake as Man Crates have done in the above example. Doing so will only make your business seem more transparent and trustworthy.

Strategy #9: Combine Humor and Video to Increase Brand Awareness

Every day, more than one billion hours of video content is watched on YouTube.

Remember the last time you watched a YouTube video or any other type of video?

It wasn’t that long ago, right?

There’s no doubt about it: People love watching videos. With that in mind, more businesses are now using videos in their marketing—and Man Crates is no exception.

They’ve created a YouTube channel to showcase their products in a fun and digestible way.

But they’re not just publishing regular product videos. Man Crates use humorous male stereotypes in their videos to promote their products.

This is targeted at women who can relate to a stereotypical behaviour in men, and thus identify with the men in the videos. The below video is an example of this and focuses on the stereotype that men don’t speak about their feelings.

And it works!

Our emotions greatly influence and, in most cases, determine our decisions. And that’s one of the reasons using humor is such a good marketing strategy.

In fact, 50% of European and American consumers prefer humor in marketing over any other messaging theme.

Combining humor with video can be a powerful strategy (when’s the last time you watched a funny cat video?). But it has to be in line with your brand’s voice to work.

Takeaway. If your communication and product allows it, try to think of ways to incorporate humor into your marketing. Not just videos, but all your marketing efforts. Consider which type of humor your target audience relates to. Not everyone loves dad-jokes.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Download Man Crates’ Marketing Toolkit

I found a LOT of amazing strategies while writing this post, but I couldn’t include them all. So, as a bonus, I’ve compiled a swipe file of Man Crates’ best marketing materials, including 5 bonus strategies and the full video of Matthew’s unboxing experience. (Plus, toolkits for other multi-million dollar brands like Harry’s and Casper.)

Conclusion

So, there you have it: Man Crates’ marketing strategies in under 4,000 words.

Here’s a refresher of their strategies once more:

  • Strategy #1. Use Search Intent to Inform Your Landing Page Copy (and Increase Sales)
  • Strategy #2. Use Visual Storytelling to Build Anticipation
  • Strategy #3. Tease the Unboxing Experience to Reduce Cart Abandonment
  • Strategy #4. Personalize the Buying Experience with Pre-Written Notes
  • Strategy #5. Create a Share-Worthy Unboxing Experience
  • Strategy #6. Improve Customer Retention with Personalized Gift Reminders
  • Strategy #7. Use Gift Guides to Reduce Decision Fatigue
  • Strategy #8. Use Product-Specific Reviews to Nudge On-The-Fence Buyers
  • Strategy #9. Combine Humor and Video to Increase Brand Awareness

I hope you’re ready to try one or more of these to see what effect it will have on your business. A piece of advice: choose one, to begin with, invest time implementing it, and then if possible, make it better.

Which of Man Crates’ strategies will you try first? Leave a comment below.

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