There’s a lot of hype around eCommerce subscriptions right now, and for good reason - the increased loyalty and recurring revenue they provide offer a significant advantage for merchants. But what’s the key to getting it right? Read on to learn the secrets of successful subscriber acquisition and retention. 

Subscription commerce is growing, and growing fast. From its global market value of $34.7 billion in 2020, it’s projected to hit a whopping $2,643.6 billion by 2028. This expected growth shows its increasing popularity and potential. 

It also shows competition in the field - so perfecting your approach is vital if you want your subscription model to be more successful than your competitors’. 

But before we look at how to successfully build and maintain a subscriber base, let's explore why you might want to in the first place.

The Benefits of an eCommerce Subscription Model

Generally speaking, there are two types of subscription models that apply to eCommerce products - replenishment and curation. 

A replenishment model is the regular delivery of products we frequently use or consume, like groceries, personal care and household essentials. It saves customers the time and effort of restocking, offering convenience and typically price savings too. 

A curation subscription on the other hand offers a personalized and tailored customer experience, typically through curated boxes that allow for product discovery based on personal preferences and interests. 

Whichever model your product line is best suited for, there are a lot of universal benefits:

Increased customer loyalty: subscriptions help to foster long-term relationships as customers engage with your brand on an ongoing basis. These relationships not only lead to repeat sales and higher LTV, but also brand advocacy, positive word of mouth and referrals.

Predictable revenue stream: unlike one off transactions, subscriptions offer stability through a predictable and recurring revenue stream. That means better cash flow, better forecasting and better inventory management. 

Upselling and cross-selling opportunities: a subscription model gives you plenty of opportunity to promote additional products and services based on a customer’s unique purchasing habits, like advanced subscription tiers or complementary products. This is an effective way to increase AOV and maximize revenue from your existing customer base.

Deeper customer insights: as data becomes increasingly difficult to come by, a subscription model gives you access to valuable information on customer behavior, preferences and purchase patterns. You can use this data to improve the customer experience and optimize your marketing strategies.

That’s a pretty impressive list of benefits. Of course, it all comes down to successful implementation, and that’s where we need to look at subscriber acquisition and retention. 

Subscriber Acquisition: How to Build a Healthy Customer Base

Understand Your Target Market

This is a crucial first step for effective subscriber acquisition. If you don’t understand your target market you have little hope of connecting with it, so take the time to get to know your existing customers, their demographics, behaviors and preferences.

The key here is collecting first and zero-party data, which you can do in a few ways.

For one you can use Review Attributes. These are customizable questions you add to review requests to collect specific information - for example, preferred diet for a food brand, or favorite sport for a merchant selling nutritional products.

You can also collect this kind of information if you run a loyalty program, using the onboarding process to build detailed customer profiles. 

This zero-party data allows for hyper-segmentation. By splitting your customers into categories you build a deep understanding of your market. 

Another effective technique is to analyze user sessions from your store. What is the typical customer journey? Which products are often purchased together and in what volumes? These are all details you can use to build a picture of your audience, and their needs and behaviors.  

Develop and Communicate Your Value Proposition

To attract and convince potential subscribers to sign up, you need to craft a compelling value proposition. To do so, it’s useful to conduct a little more market research. 

Post-purchase surveys are a good option here. You can use these to gather feedback from customers on their past experience and how you can add value to it. Use questions that explore their motivations and pain points, and ask them directly what they would expect from a subscription to your products. 

When you have this information you can build a model that suits, and clearly communicate its value in a way that resonates with your audience.  

You’ll also need to identify the best channels for promoting your new subscription offering. Social media advertising, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are all effective strategies.

Email marketing offers the most cost effective approach though. And as a bonus, if you’ve segmented your audience using zero-party data you can hyper-personalize your email campaigns for maximum engagement.

Leverage Reviews and UGC

We all know the role that social proof plays in purchase decisions, and the same applies to subscription sign-ups - so generate trust in what you’re offering by sharing customer reviews that talk specifically about your subscription model. Timing is everything here, so make sure you request reviews after subscribers have experienced the value and benefits of their subscription.

If your product line lends itself well, collecting UGC can visually showcase the subscription experience, enticing potential customers with real-life examples.

Stationary brand and REVIEWS.io customer Oh Deer does exactly this for its Papergang subscription, using both text reviews and UGC to promote its value and create a sense of community. 

Offer A Seamless Onboarding Experience

When a customer does decide to subscribe, you need to present them with a user-friendly sign-up process, so look to minimize friction and remove any unnecessary steps. 

At this point you should be providing customization options that allow customers to tailor their subscription experience. These options may include things like product variations and delivery frequency. 

This step is often overlooked, with brands typically focusing on attracting subscribers in the first place. But having got them this far, the last thing you want to do is lose them because of a poor onboarding experience.

Subscriber Retention: How to Maintain Engagement and Prevent Churn

Keep it Personal

Personalization is one of the most effective strategies for increasing engagement and retaining subscribers. Personalization enhances customer experience and drives revenue. Simply by establishing a personal connection, you create a sense of loyalty and make them feel valued. 

We’re talking more than just using their name in emails here. Other personalization strategies you should look to implement include:

Personalized product recommendations: use data from their subscription history and reviews to suggest relevant products that match their preferences. If you’re using solutions like REVIEWS.io and Klaviyo, you can share these recommendations as shoppable UGC galleries.

Personalized acknowledgments: it's always nice to thank customers for their loyalty, so acknowledge subscription anniversaries or milestones. You could even consider offering a special gift to mark these occasions. 

Personalized offers and rewards: here you could consider implementing a tiered loyalty program where subscribers can unlock special benefits based on their longevity or engagement with your subscription offering. 

These small touches go a long way to making customers feel valued, encouraging them to continue their subscription and reducing churn. 

Collect and Act on Customer Feedback

Regularly communicating with your subscriber base is vital for understanding satisfaction levels, identifying pain points and making improvements to your subscription model. Review collection is the ideal way to do this, but you need to be strategic with your review requests.   

Implement unique email flows to reach out at key touchpoints in the subscriber journey - like when they’ve had ample time to experience its benefits, when they make changes to their plan, and at significant milestones. 

Regularly analyze these reviews, looking for patterns and common themes that suggest areas for improvement - and act on them. And if you receive any negative reviews, address them promptly and publicly to show how much you value customer satisfaction.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

No business is perfect, and your subscribers will experience bumps in the road. They’ll also forgive you for it, provided you act accordingly.

This is another area where personalization is key - by treating each subscriber as a unique individual and tailoring support based on their past experiences, you can significantly impact their loyalty. 

By using a platform like Gorgias, using our integration, you can maintain detailed customer records - including reviews, past complaints and other relevant information - so when a subscriber does reach out your support reps have all the information they need to tailor their approach. 

By focusing on exceptional levels of personalized customer service, you can enhance the subscriber experience and minimize churn, ultimately leading to a higher retention rate.

Run a Successful Subscription Model With a Little Help from REVIEWS.io

The subscription based business model and eCommerce are an ideal match for each other. Together, they create a seamless and convenient shopping experience for the customer, while offering businesses a sustainable and scalable revenue model. 

Review collection is an important part of the process, sign up to REVIEWS.io today to help fuel effective subscriber acquisition and retention strategies.

Check out the REVIEWS.io and Bold Subscription integration for more ideas on how the two can work together to drive sustainable growth for your business. And if you have any questions, our friendly Customer Success team is always on hand to help.

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