4 Ways To Make Consumers More Than Just Subscribers

You’ve been burning the midnight oil for days on end, trying to scale your subscription-based DTC business. But every time you hit the jackpot with a new subscriber, one of your existing ones hits “unsubscribe”. We know. It's a vicious cycle.  

The problem? You’re focusing on customer acquisition instead of customer retention. Customer retention plays a pivotal role in lowering your churn rates, as loyal consumers feel less inclined to cancel their subscription. 

But, a customer will only stay loyal to your brand as long as it’s convenient for them to get your products.

And breaking news—they might not need your products every 30 days. But if you follow an automated cycle sending consumers products (even if they don’t need it) they may cancel their subscription, and part ways with your brand entirely.

“Most people don’t want to subscribe to recurring deliveries. And that’s even more true the first time someone orders from you. I’m not saying they won’t subscribe, but that most don’t come to your site with a deep desire to “lock themselves into recurring orders”. So, test the hell out of everything to get and keep subscribers. Your ultimate goal should be to get as much value from every customer as you can and know that subscription is a tactic, but not the only one.”
-Ryan Rouse, Chief Digital Officer at HighKey

The subscription economy is changing, so DTC brands need to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to retain consumers who don't need their products on a rigid 30 day cycle. In this article, we’ll discuss the top four ways to give consumers enough flexibility to modify their subscriptions while staying connected with your brand. 

1. Allow subscribers to pause their subscriptions

Picture this: You’ve taken a six-month sabbatical to travel across the country. Before you leave, you cancel your subscription service to a milk delivery app. But the thought of coming back home and refilling your card details, pinning your preferences, and typing in your allergen specifications all over again seems like a pain. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pause your subscription instead of canceling it? Quite likely.

Many consumers want to take occasional breaks from subscriptions. The reasons could be endless—a long family vacation, changes in lifestyle or even financial hardships. In such cases, allowing them to control the speed and frequency of product delivery can be a real gamechanger. In fact, 69% of consumers said they canceled their subscription because they didn’t have the option to buy products at their own pace. 

Now, you’re probably thinking of all the money you could potentially lose by allowing your consumers to pause their subscriptions, but that’s not the case. By giving them the option to pause their subscription, you’re not sending them the products, nor are you earning any money from them but you still retain them as a subscriber, nurture them with your offers and updates and set the course for future buying, or even referrals.

In fact, data shows that any change a customer makes (including updating the schedule) results in $65 higher LTV. That’s a lot of motivation for you to make your subscriptions more flexible!

Spotify has a very flexible subscription service, where consumers can renew, pause and cancel their subscription with zero hassle. It gives them enough space to tailor your subscriptions like they want, thus allowing you to earn brand loyalty.

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Before you introduce a “pause subscription” feature, it’s best to create consumer awareness around it. 

Tell your consumers about the upgrade, either through social media or your weekly newsletter. Make sure your website has a little explainer section that guides consumers on how to pause their subscription. You can even introduce a welcome back email for people who have resumed their subscription after a pause.  

Pro tip: Rodeo provides you with the tools you need to give the reins in the consumers’ hands, and let them manage and tailor their subscriptions with flexible, customization options. 

2. Create membership perks tailored to your consumers’ needs

22% of internet consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by a product’s brand. The rest of your consumers are driven by value propositions. This is why you should focus on providing maximum value to your subscribers with membership perks, for a significant uptick in revenue growth.

FabFitFun, a lifestyle subscription box service is a case in point. They provide members with benefits like 30-70% discounts on all sales, along with access to a sizable library of wellness videos on fitness, dancing and cooking. So, the brand treats their customers like members, not mere “subscribers”.  

Membership perks are important for churn mitigation as they encourage consumers to stay subscribed with value-additions. Here’s what you should keep in mind while creating membership perks for your consumers: 

  • Personalize your approach by analyzing your customer needs to ensure they stay subscribed, despite not wanting more product. 
  • Map your member journey for a snapshot of the various touch points they encounter. 
  • Conduct surveys, focus groups and polls to understand consumer sentiment. 
  • Ask for feedback on your subscription service and identify areas of improvement. 

You can then use this understanding to create membership perks that will surprise, delight and encourage your consumers into engaging with your brand consistently. 

Rodeo integrates with all major eCommerce tools to dig into your store metrics, website analytics and campaigns to deliver important data right to your dashboard. You can then use this information to understand consumer needs and personalize your membership perks.

3. Build and foster a close-knit community

Consumers join communities to meet like-minded people, explore interests, and receive emotional support. So, if you haven’t started building a brand community, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to retain your subscribers. 

Here’s a quick four-step guide you can implement to build a community the right way:

  • Identify community goals: Define the purpose of your community. Do you want to motivate people to stay healthy with a fitness community? Or share beauty tips with upcoming influencers? Your community purpose should be aligned with your brand voice and image to ensure consistency, and help guide consumers down the sales funnel. 
  • Finalize your metrics: Decide how you’ll measure the success of your community—traffic, leads, conversions, traffic to conversion ratio, or churn rate. Focus on depth of engagement rather than vanity metrics by analyzing how often your members return to your community.

  • Choose a platform: You can build a community with a host of popular platforms like social media or forums. There are a slew of third-party community platforms like Slack and Discord too. While choosing your community platform, consider aspects like community size, engagement and the niche your brand caters to. For instance, Discord is popularly used for gaming communities and has a limit on the number of members you can include in a server. 
  • Engage with community members: Create discussion posts and foster open discussions within your community by conducting ice-breaking sessions, jam nights and polls. This is a great way to nurture relationships with your consumers.

Outdoor Voices is an active lifestyle brand that has nailed community building for customer retention. It has a small group of brand ambassadors called “Doers”. Their job is to engage and scale the brand’s community. 

Doers get a bunch of perks like exclusive discounts, sneak peeks into upcoming product launches and rewards. Such incentives encourage consumers to invest in your brand, leading to improved customer retention. 

4. Give rewards and incentives to loyal subscribers

Would you continue your subscription with a brand if you didn’t get any rewards or incentives in return? 84% of consumers say they’re more likely to stay with a brand that offers a loyalty program, and over 60% of loyal consumers will purchase more frequently from their favorite companies.

Introducing a loyalty program is one of the greatest hacks to reducing churn and retaining your customers for longer. Even if you're skeptical about building a full-fledged loyalty program, consider including at least a few rewards and incentives to keep your consumers engaged. 

A few best practices you should keep in mind:

  • Develop a strategy with a strong focus on consumer needs. By addressing consumer pain points, you’re making them feel valued and encouraging them to stick around longer.
  • Create referral programs where you reward active consumers with a consumer-driven points system. This adds an element of gamification, which improves customer engagement. 
  • Offer benefits like discounts, free shipping and VIP service so consumers feel like they’re getting a bang for their buck

Sephora has written the playbook of building a good customer loyalty program. Their Sephora Beauty Insider program has over 25 million members, who contribute nearly 80% to the company’s revenue. Members of the Beauty Insider program can redeem rewards points for gift cards and discounts, access free birthday rewards, exclusive gifts and events.

Get into a “give more” mindset

Subscription services are no longer about a “subscribe or cancel” approach.

Consumer needs are constantly evolving and ever since the pandemic, if there’s one quality every brand needs to embrace, it's flexibility.

So, analyze your consumers’ needs, discover alternatives to provide a great consumer experience with additional perks and subscription methods and improve your retention rate by adding more value to your consumers.

Rodeo can help you create personalized subscription experiences for your customers with customizable tools that help improve revenue and add more to your bottom line. Book a demo today!

Written by
Komal Ahuja