4 Essentials of Subscription Success in 2021
This article is for you if:
- You’re curious about the history of subscription businesses
- You want to learn how to enhance customer service in your subscription business
- You want additional strategies for reducing customer churn
- You are looking for a dynamic subscription management system
Steady streams of recurring revenue are enticing entrepreneurs around the globe to tap into subscription success. Since 2012, sales growth in the subscription economy has nearly quadrupled, reaching 437%. While some companies are launching subscription ventures from scratch, others are finding ways to incorporate them into their existing frameworks.
The concept is simple. When a brand offers a product or service that enhances the lives of those who use it, customers will want to keep it around. In this lies the opportunity to turn sporadic one-time sales into repeat automatic payments.
Subscription success dates back several centuries
Early newspaper and magazine businesses are to thank for introducing subscriptions to the world. The business model dates back to the 15th Century, coinciding with the invention of the printing press. Publication companies realized recurring revenue gave them the consistent capital they needed to print more products, fueling an ongoing cycle that benefited both the customer and the company.
Today, publications are finding subscription success with digital products. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the New York Times reached 7.5 million subscribers as ad revenue declines. In February 2021, the iconic TIME Magazine launched its digital subscription service in hopes of adding to its 2 million print subscribers.
The invention of the telephone in the late 1800s is another early example of a subscription service. For a monthly rate, households were given access to landlines that allowed them to make calls to other landline telephones. The invention of the Internet fueled the next phase of subscription success with businesses like Netflix and Pandora coming onto the scene.
Although subscriptions take on many forms today (think makeup boxes and food kits), the software industry is one of the most robust examples. Purchasing desktop apps was once the norm, but the Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription model has breathed new life into the technology sector. More and more, companies are realizing that smaller recurring transactions add up to more money over time than lump-sum sales.
The modern subscription economy has been an evolutionary process, and new subscription-based businesses can benefit from the trial-and-error strategies companies before them have tested. Regardless of what type of subscription business you own (or are thinking about starting), there are three things you can do to help ensure your endeavor stands the test of time.
Subscription Success Strategy #1: Customers Drive The Success of Your Business — Treat Them Like Gold.
While there is massive potential for profitability with subscriptions, online retail is all about the customer in 2021. We already know subscriptions are something customers seek out because they benefit them in the following ways.
Subscriptions allow people to put many aspects of their lives on auto-pilot. A person who subscribes to a clothing subscription box (such as The Lauren Look by luxury label Ralph Lauren) eliminates a trip to the mall to find the latest fashion trends. Those who subscribe to meal kits know dinner is already planned. Customers of the Dollar Shave Club know their razors will not go dull before a new one arrives.
The potential to save money
Many subscription businesses offer special pricing on products when they are delivered on a subscription basis. A skincare product that costs $100 when purchased one time may only cost $80 with a subscription. Additionally, many companies leverage incentives for customers who recruit their friends to sign up.
A sense of fun and anticipation
For businesses that offer physical products, receiving a delivery of subscription goods can feel like Christmas every week, month or season. Companies like Taptivate are even capitalizing on creating marketing opportunities at the unboxing moment. The business allows subscription box companies to connect with customers by allowing them to tap or scan customized NFC tags or Dynamic QR codes that take them directly to promotional messages. These may include augmented reality, video or links to social media pages.
Access to the latest and greatest resources
As new products and services emerge, subscribers are often the first to experience them with their regular orders. SaaS companies, in particular, have the opportunity to release updates and new features to customers instantaneously.
Because subscriptions are ongoing, brands have the opportunity to interact with customers more regularly, and this is something they should take advantage of. More contact equals more opportunities to provide positive experiences.
Brands that embrace a customer-centric mindset will be the ones that enjoy prolonged subscription success. Innovation and personalization are essential when interacting with customers today. Building a professional and courteous customer service team is another quality control measure that always pays off in the e-commerce space.
Subscription Success Strategy #2: Don't Just Track Analytics — Look for The Story They're Telling You.
Find the story your analytics are telling you. For example, bounce rate isn't just about page speed, it's also the expectation a customer had when they clicked the link and how your page delivered on that promise. I mean, page speed and information architecture are important, but there are other pieces of the puzzle. Understand your customer and know what they need from you — beyond just what you sell to them.
With the advanced data analytics tools available today, there’s really no excuse not to use them to your benefit. However, tracking analytics is not enough. You must take action on the metrics as well.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for measuring audience behaviors. Built-in metrics on social media platforms can also provide key insights for guiding future decisions. The data can help answer the following questions.
- What content are customers engaging with?
- How long are they spending on a particular page?
- How many unique visitors are coming to the website?
- How many people clicked on a particular link?
- What is the bounce rate on a page?
- How many new followers did we gain this month?
With these questions answered, strategies can emerge that will help businesses get closer to massive subscription success.
The Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is another powerful tool that can benefit e-commerce merchants in many ways, including data. The system gives a 360-degree view of every customer that helps make the unique decisions needed for individual cases.
One of the most essential uses for data is the ability to detect when a customer’s business is slipping away. Key performance indicators such as repeat purchases, product returns and time between purchases can all be telling of where your relationship with a customer stands. If you feel a customer churning away from your brand, it is time to implement strategies to draw them back in (such as presenting them with an exclusive offer).
Subscription Success Strategy #3: Invest in A Scalable eCommerce Tech Stack.
If you want to know exactly what kind of technology you need to invest in to run a successful recurring revenue business, we wrote that blog post already. To sum things up:
- You should do whatever it takes to increase your website speed.
- You need a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system. We love Salesforce.
- You must have a reliable support process with quick response times.
- And last but not least, you need a way to manage recurring orders online. Let's dive deeper into this one:
A quality subscription management system is essential for the success of any business that centers around recurring revenue. Customers in today’s online shopping climate expect flexibility and control when it comes to their orders. Will they receive products monthly, seasonally or annually? Can they skip a shipment or cancel at any time? Are there special add-ons they can take advantage of?
Take the following scenario into consideration.
George, a candy store owner, saw an opportunity to bring in a steady stream of recurring revenue by providing tailored subscription candy experiences to his customers. Charlotte placed an order for 20 white chocolate bunnies that were to be delivered monthly. The next day, she returned to George’s website to order a weekly delivery of 10 jelly worms. She also decided to splurge on two chocolate bears and a caramel yeti that would be delivered every other month.
The complex scenario above details the reason businesses need a subscription management system that can handle a variety of situations. George’s website is hosted on the Magento platform, so he chose the mPower subscription management solution from PowerSync. In addition to ensuring Charlotte gets her products at the right time, the system minimizes missed payments and collection issues.
PowerSync also offers a robust subscription management system for those who use Salesforce. Recurrex allows merchants to conveniently manage recurring orders from directly within their CRM.
Without a quality subscription management system, businesses may not be able to offer the flexibility customers want, or they may struggle to keep up with their demands.
Subscription Success Strategy #4: Get Expert Guidance from Reputable eCommerce Professionals.
Ultimately, subscription success centers around customer lifetime value, or the forecasted net profit from a customer relationship. Adopting a customer-first mindset, tracking and acting on analytics, and investing in the right tech solutions are all strategies that will help maximize recurring revenue in your business.
Seeking out the right mentors is another key way to help take your subscription business to the next level, and we’re here to help. If you would like to speak to an eCommerce expert at PowerSync, schedule your risk-free, complimentary consultation today.