When a new business model comes onto the scene, everybody wants a piece.
Lately, a lot of attention is on the merits of the subscription model. Customers sign up once and receive a product monthly or quarterly (or pay for constant access to a service).
This boom in subscription businesses has led to an oversaturated market: businesses are taking the same approach and drawing customers in with the same promises.
That means that if you’re planning on marketing a subscription service of your own, you’re going to need to take a different approach.
I’m a marketerーI’m also a person who buys up nearly every subscription I see. Over the years, I’ve seen strategies that work, and others that make me want to unsubscribe within a month.
Want to know how to build a successful subscription model that keeps your customers coming back for more year after year? I’ve got the tips and tricks you need.
Subscription marketing is simply marketing for subscription-based businesses. The biggest difference between subscription marketing and regular marketing is that you are trying to attract a loyal, long-term customer base, rather than people who will only buy from you once.
That’s where most subscription companies go wrong, but we’ll get to that shortly.
If you do it right, your subscription should be the one thing your customers just can’t be without. So, what are other subscription businesses doing wrong?
If you’ve recently looked at Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or any other platform with a lot of advertising, you’ll know that you see the same marketing strategies used over and over again in almost every ad.
That’s because most businesses are working with the same marketing playbook. That playbook is all about customer acquisition.
Let me give you a quick demonstration of this kind of thinking vs. a mindset that actually works:
✘ “Subscriptions are the way to go. You can hook customers in with a great idea, get them to give you their credit card, then charge them monthly forever. If you’re lucky, they’ll forget that you’re charging them, meaning they’ll never unsubscribe.”
✅ “Subscriptions are a way to give customers something they really want or need for the long term. They are active partners in the product they’re getting, and it makes their lives easier and better.”
See the difference? A subscription that keeps its users happy and engaged focuses on the need it serves. More importantly, a good subscription should put customers in the driver’s seat.
Let’s look at a few simple steps you can take to put that idea into action.
Now you know the goal is to make your customers an active partner in their subscription. How can you make that happen?
You can’t give your customers something they want if you don’t even know what that is. Rather than assuming you know what to offer your audience, ask them.
It’s a strategy that United Medical Credit’s marketing team swears by. Marketing Director Scott Spivack suggests taking feedback before you decide on a marketing strategy (he uses a feedback survey).
Reach out to your existing customers on social media or through your marketing channels and ask for their opinion. Both Facebook and Instagram have polling options, and you can easily send a Text to Vote survey over SMS.
This will give you an idea of your customers’ interests and their likes and dislikes. This information will help you make informed decisions and create a customized plan for your audience.
Customers get irritated when they lose interest in a subscription and continue to see the charges on their credit card statement.
Don’t make your service just another annoying card charge. Instead, give your subscribers some flexibility in how they manage their account.
That means allowing them to skip a month, choose to get a credit on their account instead of your product, or rearrange their payment date.
JustFab’s Flexible Membership lets subscribers pick whether they want to shop each month, skip, or get a credit toward their next buy.
People love to feel close to the companies they buy from, and they love to be in control. if your customers are able to actively engage with their subscription, they’re more likely to keep it in the long run.
One thing that subscription marketers often forget is that they don’t just sell a product or serviceーthey sell a part of their customers’ lifestyle.
Boosting your customer retention involves giving your users information they need to take full advantage of your products and use them to grow their business or improve their life.
There are tons of options for putting out add-on content. If you sell a monthly razor, write up blog posts about the best shaving creams to use or insider tips for getting a close shave.
Newsletters are a great option for bringing useful content right to your subscribers’ inbox. Say you send your customers a crockpot one monthーfollow up with easy one-pot dinner recipes.
Make sure you show your audience not only how to use your product, but how to turn that product into a tool for a more successful personal or professional life. This is one more way to help your subscribers feel motivated and connected to the thing they’re buying from you.
The goal is to keep your customers interested and active year-round. Basing your marketing on the seasons is an organic way to keep things fresh.
This means regularly changing up your products and offerings. A clothing subscription service might start advertising a cozy scarf and boot socks as fall approaches.
Switching up your offers several times a year will train your subscribers to get excited about the next season, and they’ll check back often for the new release.
Instead of shouting about all your extra gifts and discounts to get people to subscribe, let a few of those perks be a surprise in each delivery.
Including more value than your customers expected falls in line with the “underpromise, overdeliver” advice that can create a memorable customer experience.
Up-front discounts attract one-time customers. Teaching your customers to expect unexpected bonuses keeps them coming back for the next surprise.
If you visit FabFitFun’s website, you’ll notice lots of show-and-tell about all the items that come in the box.
Once you subscribe and actually open the box, you’ll notice a treasure trove of coupons underneath all the other good stuff.
A big part of letting your customers see their subscription as a relationship is going the extra mile to make them feel like you care. In this case, you’re willing to include more value than you “have” to.
One common thread runs through all these strategies: your job is to build a partnership with your customers.
Where other subscription companies are looking for a steady, low-effort way to make money, you’re improving lives and businesses with your service.
If you’re clear and open about that goal, you’ll stand out above the rest of the market and bring in customers you can keep for years to come.
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According to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate continues to be 69.57% across most industries. That’s why you need an abandoned cart recovery strategy and a way to measure its performance.Read