Subscription Marketing – 11 Ways to CRUSH IT

subscription marketing

Written by Adriana Pope

April 28, 2021

Subscription marketing is your ticket to faster growth. So you have a subscription business and you’re wondering how you can increase sales? Perfect. That’s the right attitude for growth.

In this article we’ll going to go over lots of useful and creative subscription marketing strategies.

You’ll learn how to sell more subscriptions and grow your company.

This guide is for business owners who want to sell more subscriptions and make higher profits. If you sell a product on your store with recurring payments, then you’ve come to right place for help.

We will show you how to get in attract new subscribers, get repeat orders, and market to your existing customers (but more on this later!)

Roll up your sleeves.

Let’s dive into the top subscription marketing strategies for growing your recurring revenue.

Topics We’ll Cover:

  • What is subscription marketing?
  • 10 Subscription Marking Strategies
  • Challenges of Subscription Marketing
  • Advantages of Subscription Marketing
  • How to Start your Subscription Marketing Journey
  • Best Subscription Marketing App

What is Subscription Marketing?

Subscription marketing is about one main golden rule: promoting your product so you can sell it. Everything else is noise.

In a nutshell subscription marketing is your ability get people to talk about your brand and purchase your products on a repeat basis. If done correctly, subscription marketing can earn you long-term customers who buy your products again and again.

Subscription Marketing is about getting your product and business in front of as many people as possible. Eventually some of them will purchase your product.

Subscription marketing has a unique sales funnel, but the goal is still the same as any other business.

Make money & increase sales.

When you’re just getting starting, it’s hard to get noticed. If you’re an online store, you’re just one of a billion websites out there floating in the internet.

How will people find your subscription product? And if they do find out about your product, why should they buy it? The answer to your problem is you need subscription marketing.

11 Subscription Marketing strategies

helpful article tutorial subscription marketing
Source: Third Love Blog

1) Create Helpful Tutorials on your Blog

If you don’t have a blog already on your online store, get one.

Blogging regularly on your ecommerce subscription website is one of the best ways to attract free organic traffic to your store.

Organic traffic is when people find you on Google and click your website.

This means you didn’t have to pay for an advertisement to get clicked. You got clicked because you had useful content on your website people finding interesting.

When writing blog articles for your company, think about creating a resource for your customers. You want to show Google you’re an expert in your industry. Help people learn something new or useful. Make a list of questions your customers might have and turn these into amazing articles.

This subscription marketing strategy helps you attract new customers to your website. And for $0 dollars.

Take for example the amazing brand Third Love who specializes in making women’s bras. They create helpful tutorials on their site to attract visitors searching for those questions like “how to wash a bra.” By creating a guide on how to wash a bra, their blog article is able to rank for this keyword on Google.

what is churn rate

2) Don’t Ignore Subscription Churn Rate

Churn rate is how quickly people are unsubscribing. The goal is to keep your subscribers subscribed. So how do you keep customers sticking around?

A subscription transaction creates a long term relationship that needs to be nurtured. This should start as soon as you make a sale. Instead of celebrating the battle has been won, it’s time to realize that your battle against churn has just begun.

Unlike one time purchases, subscribers need to have an ongoing relationship with your brand. It should grows over time. Subscribers need to build trust in your ability to deliver high quality products on time.

So why is churn rate so bad? If you have people dropping off your subscription, you have a leaky bucket. A leaky bucket filled with water is going to lose its water, slowly, but surely.

If you ignore churn, you could find yourself in big trouble. You are losing customers.

For example let’s say you get 3 new subscribers but lost 3 current subscribers… you won’t be able to grow.

unboxing subscription box video youtube
Source: Tokyo Treat Youtube Channel

3) Create Unboxing Video on YouTube

If you don’t already have a YouTube channel, we highly recommend creating one.

A YouTube channel for your brand is a great way to get free subscription marketing. If you create videos that people click on and enjoy, they are more likely to buy your product.

Take for example the company Tokyo Treat. They publish unboxing videos on their YouTube channel showcasing the subscription box and everything inside.

This helps people get a sense of what your subscription product looks like in real life. It’s also super helpful in promoting your subscription product because it lends credibility.

You’re a real person running a real company, and you’re not afraid to make a video about your company. This helps create trust which is important for landing a sale!

Creating an unboxing video helps you preview all the items in the box so you can get people excited. Make sure to include a link to your subscription product page on the first row of the description area.

subscription box contest marketing ideas
Source: KnitCrate

4) Run a Subscription Contest or Giveaway

Hype is good. So how do you get it? You create it.

Everyone loves entering into a contest. It’s like a raffle, you never know if you just might win. Holding a subscription contest is an awesome way to create buzz about your brand.

The first step to hosting a contest for your subscription product is to figure out what you are willing to giveaway. Perhaps it’s a monthly subscription for free.

We recommend choosing your social media channel that you want to announce the giveaway on. A good option is Instagram because it uses imagery or videos to capture your audience’s attention.

Ask followers to like your account, post a comment, tag a friend, bookmark the post and re-post on their profile’s story feed. Alternatively, they can post their own original photo of your brand and tag it.

For example, KnitCrate created a contest for their subscription box. They asked followers to tag their original photos with #UnravelYourKnitCrate Creating your own hashtag creates hype, and helps you keep track of all the entries in the subscription giveaway.

subscription website custom quiz
Source: Birch Box

5) Create a Custom Subscription Quiz

Once you get someone to visit your site, you need to hold their attention.

The average person has a very short attention span. We’re talking seconds. 3 to be exact. If you’re website doesn’t hold their interest, they’re going to click that back button.

We recommend grabbing their attention with a fun little quiz! This will help you get more info about them so you can personalize their subscription. A subscription quiz also helps the potential customer feel like you are creating a custom product just for them. It’s a win win.

Once they’ve interested their answers into the quiz, make sure to snag their email address at the end and tell them you’ll email them the results. This helps you stay in contact and pitch your product to them in case they didn’t buy the first time.

Take for example, Birch Box who offers a quiz based on skin complexion for their beauty products.

email newsletter signup
Source: Purple Carrot

6) Add an Email Newsletter Sign-Up

Email marketing is extremely powerful, when done correctly. You can earn the trust of potential customers and keep current customers interested.

Send out a weekly newsletter about special deals, discounts, giveaways, product releases, and promote giveaways. You can even ask for feedback with surveys and polls to see what your audience is interested in.

Imagine growing your email list from 1, to 100, to 1,000…to eventually 100,000.

This subscription marketing strategy begins with baby steps. Add a newsletter sign up to your homepage.

In order to get people to sign up, you can offer a freebie (like a free PDF ebook). Freebies help increase your chances of someone signing up for your company’s newsletter.

For example, Purple Carrot is a plant-based vegan meal delivery company. Their newsletter sign up offers a peak at their weekly menu. Someone interested in possibly signing up can join the mailing list and stay interested until they are ready to commit to subscribing.

subscription box convey value of products
Source: Ipsy

7) Convey How Much Value Customer Gets!

When a person is on the fence about whether or not they should buy your subscription, your job is to convince them.

One way to convince shoppers to buy your product is to show value. You can convey value by showcasing subscription savings.

Show shoppers they are getting a killer deal if they subscribe. Display how much money are they saving by opting for a subscription instead of a one time purchase.

For example, the company Ipsy sells a beauty subscription box filled with full-size products. They proudly display their subscription box is worth up to $529 but they are only charging $55.

Showing value helps you close the deal easier. A shopper who sees a lot of value in becoming a subscriber is more likely to sign up!

subscription upsell example
Source: Really Good Emails – Example of Dollar Shave Club’s Up-sell Process

8) Up-sell to Existing Customers

A traditional sales funnel is all about getting leads and converting them. Subscriptions are different. Lead generation and conversions are important to a subscription business as well, but that’s just the beginning.

One you’ve made your sale, you will need to keep nurturing the relationship so it can grow.

How do you grow a relationship and make more profits? Create a high quality experience.

Once your customers are onboard, they need to love your products and brand so they can buy more. Remember this is an ongoing relationship.

Did you know that your current customers are more wiling to spend more than new customers?

Yup, it’s true.

The reason for this has to do with loyalty and trust.

“Subscription businesses create extremely loyal, repeat customers—and repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers.”

– Shopify

Make your current subscribers happy customers. If they aren’t happy, they are going to leave.

If they are happy, they will buy more from your brand.

Selling subscriptions are great for Up-sell opportunities. You can up-sell to current customers who are familiar with your brand, and more likely to purchase another item or upgrade.

For example, Dollar Shave Club let’s customers ‘Toss More In’ at the last minute before payment. They make it easy to click a button and add a product to their cart. They also make it super non-nonchalant and friendly. These impulse buys increase the overall cart value.

best subscription app shopify ongoing
Ongoing Subscription App for Shopify, displaying subscription plans & discounts

9) Optimize Subscription Product Page for Conversions

When a customer lands on your subscription product page, the goal is to have them click the Add to Cart button and checkout successfully. They’ll become a new long-term subscriber and you’ll earn recurring revenue.

But not so fast. How do you optimize your product page so that it sells well?

One of the best ways to entice new shoppers to convert is to offer a subscription discount.

Make sure you have a subscription widget which properly displays your subscription plans with discounts. Customers can be encouraged to buy your subscription product if there is a subscription discount. For example, a 15% discount if you prepay for a yearly subscription.

It’s important to choose a trustworthy, reliable subscription app like Ongoing which offers automated recurring billing.

subscription box showcase products inside box
Source: Birch Box

10) Show a Peak Inside

When you’re pondering whether or not to buy a product, every little bit of information helps. One way to create more excitement over buying a subscription is to show your customer what they will get.

One way give customers a better idea of what they should expect is to create a prototype.

A prototype is an example subscription box you can show customers to help them understand what they can expect when they order.

A prototype is not the real products you’ll be including in your subscription but just examples. With a prototype, you don’t have to know exactly what products you will use. This gives you flexibility to figure out product sourcing later.

For example, BirchBox shows a “Peek Inside” a typical box and says “Each month, your personalized beauty box subscription will include all types of products from hair care to skincare to makeup).”

They’ve included a couple photos items which might be included such as eye cream, lip liner, perfume, face mask, dry shampoo, and massacre.

By managing the expectations, your customers are more likely to be satisfied with your subscription. And happy customers means a higher retention rate. Retention is how well you can hold onto paying customers who let their subscriptions automatically renew.

subscription business referral program
Source: Craft Coffee

11) Ask for Referrals

You need people talking about your brand.

You can start asking for referrals. Creating a referral program can help you gain new subscribers. Getting referrals helps a lot with your acquisition process. Referrals gets new people to see your subscription product.

For example, Craft Coffee has a referral program called “Get Free Coffee.” The page says “Share your personalized discount code with your network. Your friends get 15% off, and you get a free bag of coffee (lowest priced bag, up to $10 value) for each friend who buys a Craft Coffee subscription.”

But what if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to give out free products.

A good old fashioned word of mouth recommendation is far more effective than any ad placement. So how do you get people speaking highly of your subscription company? If you create a product that people love, they’ll tell their friends about it.

Challenges of Subscription Marketing

Since we covered several strategies for subscription marketing, let’s go over a couple challenges.

This is a Forever Transaction
Subscriptions are different than one time transactions. This is an ongoing relationship. When a customer subscribes to your product, they are creating what is called a “forever transaction.” Subscribers setup automatic recurring payments, and they will continue being a customer unless they cancel. Your job is to convince every subscriber to be a forever customer.

Subscriber Retention
If you can’t keep your subscribers to stick around, you won’t have a viable business. This is why customer retention is so important. You’ll need to be able to keep your subscribers happy so they can stick around and continue making repeat orders. Retention is customers staying, while churn rate is customers leaving. The goal is to have a high retention rate and a low churn rate.

On-Boarding New Subscribers
The on-boarding process is crucial. Customers should feel like they are well taken care of, and have zero doubts about their subscription. Creating an FAQ on your website can help answer common questions your customers might have. This helps create a smooth on-boarding experience for new customers, which encourages them to continue subscribing.

creating a marketing plan ecommerce

Advantages of Subscription Marketing

Higher Profit A repeat customer is the best type of customer. Selling subscriptions helps you get repeat orders which leads to higher profits. Instead of a one time transaction, it become a recurring transaction. By continually growing your subscribers, you’ll be able to reach higher profits.

Up-Sell The opportunities for up-selling to a subscriber are endless. Subscriptions are also great because they give you a loyal fan base of customers who love your products. Through up-selling to your current subscribers, you can grow your profits significantly.

Revenue Growth When people visiting your site choose to buy a subscription instead of a one time purchase, this helps you grow revenue. Overtime you end up with many subscribers paying recurring subscription fees on a regular basis. All these subscription fees add up to a larger sum than if you were just selling a product one time.

Lower Acquisition Cost
Acquisition costs are the amount of money you spend on trying to attract new customers. With subscription marketing, the golden rule is to sell more to your existing customers. Lean into your current subscribers and try to encourage more purchases from them.

Automatic Recurring Billing
Recurring billing is basically repeat charges. When a customer initially signs up for a subscription and enters their credit card information, they are automatically charged on a predetermined schedule.

Loyal customers
Having loyal customers is the perfect recipe for any successful business. But having a loyal customers in a subscription business is pure gold! Loyal customers will happily give you feedback about your products, leave reviews, and join online communities.

Recurring Revenue
Subscription marketing can help you earn money on a repeat basis . This is called recurring revenue. Recurring revenue is basically repeat income. It’s relatively stable. You can depend on it. What’s not to love? You earn more, more often.

Automatic Payments
When customers are charged for a subscription, the recurring payment is processed automatically. Make sure you use a subscription app who handles recurring transactions seamlessly. It should successfully process orders from all around the world with a secure payment processor.

Lower Administration Costs
A Subscriber Portal reduces your administration costs because customers can easily answer their post purchase subscription questions. No need to email the merchant. Ongoing has a built in Subscriber Portal where customers can easily track and manage their subscriptions.

Happy Customers
Subscription marketing is all about making your customers happy. Delivering a high quality product. Creating a memorable experience. Making sure the customer is satisfied so they continue to renew their subscription.

growing subscription business

How to Start your Subscription Marketing Journey

So where should you start?

Any where you’d like. There’s no right answer.

Do what feels more comfortable to you and go from there.

We recommend trying out one subscription marketing strategy at a time.

Once you’ve aced it, then you can move onto the next. It’s not a good idea to tackle too many at a time. This can lead to burnout. The idea is to start slow and work your way up so you don’t get overwhelmed.

If you start experimenting with subscription marketing, you’ll gradually see what works well for you. Keep doing that. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient with yourself and have some fun.

ongoing subscriptions

Best Subscription Marketing App

Ongoing is the best app for subscription marketing.

It handles recurring transactions seamlessly. With Ongoing, you can instantly convert any regular product into a subscription product.

When website visitors visit your product page, they can choose from different subscription plans.

Ongoing lets you create subscription discounts which help incentivize shoppers to subscribe and save money.

Ongoing handles recurring payments automatically so you can earn recurring revenue. Subscriptions renew automatically which helps you grow your revenue and scale up your business.

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