Subscription businesses are not only thriving, but are truly enjoying explosive growth.
According to McKinsey, subscription-based businesses have been growing 100% year-on-year over the last five years.
Even so, the question often turns to not only how you attract new subscribers, but how do you retain those hard-won subscription box subscribers once they do buy in?
Before we get to 5 easy steps to do so below, one thing is clear: Just as sure as the subscription box trend continues to grow, so will customer churn.
In short, subscription box customer churn is the rate that you lose subscribers.
Customer churn is the chief enemy of all subscription-based businesses.
As well as attracting new customers, an active goal needs to be to keep your subscription box subscribers for longer, so they don't leave your business.
You need to figure out every possible imaginative and creative way to boost customer retention and maximize your profits.
Personalization is the 'it' word today. Customers want services and products that are specifically tailored to them.
If this isn’t the case, they will vote with their feet (or their wallets) and drop your subscription box services faster than you can say “Stay, please!”
The good news is that, if you run a subscription box business, you already have big data and artificial intelligence at your fingertips. This information isn't just a 'nice to have.' It’s vital in fighting (and winning) the war on subscriber churn.
Making use of these analytics can be your secret weapon into your customer insights and give you a way to tailor your subscription box products to meet their needs.
You can use this data to not only personalize products, but also find out which parts of your business are irritating customers and at what point they churn.
Using data from different sources, like social media, historical data and customer feedback, should be part of your strategy when combating subscription box churn.
For example, Birch Box, a beauty subscription box company, uses data to drive personalization. They offer box customization options, which include curated boxes where beauty products are hand-picked as well as the opportunity for subscribers to pick one of their samples.
A lack of big data shouldn’t stop you from personalizing your subscription box. A simple questionnaire at sign-up can help you to tailor your customers’ products.
This is a simple way of getting your subscribers to tell you what they want. For ease sake, it doesn't involve a deep-dive analysis either, just a simple feedback question-and-answer form.
Firstleaf is a wine subscription that sends customers six bottles of hand-selected wine every month for $90 per month.
To ensure that customers get the best wines to match their taste, Firstleaf offers a quiz to customers and uses technology to curate the perfect wine.
Your customers will reward you if you spend time and make the effort to try to get to know them. Even though this may seem like a hassle, it will be worth it in the long run because this will make your customers feel special.
Customers wants to feel like they matter and any data points you can use to your advantage should be explored to the fullest.
When running a subscription box business, it’s not all about getting the subscriber and then forgetting about them.
You have to continue to engage your subscribers throughout their term of subscribing to your box. It's not a given that just because a customer signs up with you, they will be with you for life.
You need to keep your subscriber engaged, which goes beyond just giving them the products they signed up for.
You can take a leaf out of FabFitFun's book by building streaming content channels. FabFitFun listened to their subscribers who wanted more content and developed FabFitFun TV.
This level of engagement helps to build a closer relationship with subscribers, so the time in between the subscribers getting their box is filled with useful and fun content.
Retaining your subscription customers doesn't have to be something so sophisticated as streaming content. It could be simple strategies, like providing discounts or sending coupons. You can retain subscribers through content marketing, for instance, by providing a special tips newsletter.
The key is to ask your subscribers what they want. They’ve paid money to get the goodies in your box, so they probably won't be shy in coming forward in letting you know what they want.
The more value you give your subscription box subscribers, the better.
As well as providing them with what's promised in their normal membership, you can offer additional rewards and incentives as an extra surprise.
Some of your rewards could be:
You can also provide incentives for customers who have been loyal. For instance, you may be able to provide a discount or a chance to earn free products when your customer has been with you for a certain amount of time. You could say that, after a customer has been with you for six months, they will get the seventh box free of charge.
You can also add complimentary items to your boxes. Let’s say you have a beauty box subscription business, you can add a free guide as to how your subscribers will get the most out of a particular beauty product, say, “101 ways to exfoliate for the smoothest skin.”
For customers who have churned or show signs that they're about to cancel their subscription, you can also have welcome-back discounts or coupons.
Just because a customer has churned doesn’t mean you will lose them forever. Again, send them special discounts after they cancel. This might encourage them to re-subscribe. For this to work, you have to be on top of your churn numbers. You also need to keep an eye on every subscriber who has missed a payment.
The fact is that people like rewards. So, you can also set up a simple reward program where your customers will be eligible for a gift or an upgrade if they accumulate enough points. These points can also be linked to different actions, for example, sharing your subscription box on social media.
Financial reasons are one of the top reasons given for canceling subscription boxes.
So, this means it has nothing to do with your product, but the customer's financial position may have changed. Rather than just accepting this, you can do something about it. You can offer different levels of subscriptions to suit different pockets.
Start with the most expensive option, but you can also offer a cheaper option so your subscriber won’t feel they lose out altogether. Plus, you will still be collecting a subscription payment.
For example, Candy Club is a candy subscription box. It offers two pricing levels. The fun box is $29.99 per month and the party box at $44.99 per month.
Your downgraded option should be noticeably different. You should ensure that the box with the more expensive price stands out more. Even though both boxes should be branded, the cheaper options should be smaller.
Make sure your subscribers know about the different options that are available, so they know they can downsize their subscription box as opposed to canceling outright. Who knows? They may choose to re-subscribe to the full-sized box if their financial position changes.
Some subscription box subscribers leave because the billing practices aren't very clear. Ensure that the billing program you use is transparent in relation to when (and how) charges are applied.
As well as taking the payment every month, you can also send a monthly invoice. A monthly invoice detailing what your subscribers have received in the box will remind them of the treats they have got that month for their money. This is preferable to customers just seeing a charge on their credit card and not being immediately reminded what it's for.
Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that your customers won't churn (irrespective of the reason) but, when churn does happen, you should already have a plan in place to combat it.
With Gravy, we are the first line of defense against subscription box churn. We step into action straight away to ensure you retain your customers and your payments are reinstated.
We go way beyond traditional dunning software and use the human touch with proven scripts and templates to ensure your subscription box subscriber remains with your business.
If you want to find out more about how to keep your subscription box dollars and your customers, book a fast, free and painless chat with our solutions consultants today.