How Leveraging Subscriptions Could Help Your Company Maintain its Edge
Price inflation, supply chain disruptions, evolving consumer preferences, and an endemic “new normal” has thrust retailers into a bevy of change. With the economic winds of a recession looming (or rather, here — just depends on who you ask!), how can retailers maintain an edge?
A report from McKinsey suggests that successful businesses are looking to transform their companies through consumer-centric, data-driven growth, estimating it to be a $1.7 million to $3 trillion opportunity across industries. Subscriptions offer a compelling opportunity for retailers and consumers alike, with consumers getting a level of extended value from brands, and retailers getting to use this solid base of loyal customers to grow and make further insight-driven decisions to support their businesses. Though to be fair, leveraging data from arguably your most loyal customers — your subscribers — isn’t just smart business, it’s imperative to maintaining an edge.
In today’s commerce climate, managing a smart, tailored subscription program throughout the entire customer lifecycle is a key toward generating scalable business growth and ensuring that customers stay for the long haul. By keeping focus on value-add management, these opportunities serve to strengthen relationships with customers and can turn even an on-the-fence consumer into a lifelong subscriber.
With that in mind, here are three core tactics for using customer-centric data to grow and maintain brand loyalty throughout the customer lifecycle:
Leverage Insights at Signup
The moment the first renewal date comes up, subscribers are a flight risk. This is further amplified given that at certain times in the year, subscribers keep a more meticulous eye on trimming costs that just don’t hit the mark. Mitigate this risk from the get-go by learning as much as you can about your customers during the onboarding process so you can personalize their experience — i.e., get to know them to ensure that they won’t want to cut you from their lives.
Leveraging consumer insights at the onset also allows you to target the right audience before they even enter the purchase funnel. When they do, it ensures you’re reaching them in a meaningful way. According to recent research, organizations that leverage customer insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and by more than 25 percent in gross margin.
For example, the dog-obsessed team at BARK, the makers of BarkBox, apply its data-driven understanding of what makes each dog special (to their owners, of course!) to design playstyle-specific toys, wildly satisfying treats, and dog-first experiences.
Engage Subscribers Throughout the Entire Life Cycle
The first 30 days to 60 days of your subscriber’s experience with your brand and service are critical. Ensure you’ve mapped out what those multichannel communications will look like, taking into consideration the different segments of your customers based on product preferences, behavior and demographics.
Beyond that, be sure to engage with subscribers as their plan progresses in a way that matters to them. Personalization and exclusive content are not only two key methods toward achieving this, they may well be the most important two. In fact, a 2022 survey facilitated by Recurly revealed that 40 percent of U.S. consumers said that having exclusive access to content or services is a main reason for signing up for a subscription service.
The more you’re able to offer value to your subscriber base in the ways that they want, along with leveraging relevant promotions and goods, the more likely they are to feel engaged and understood — and stick around, too. In fact, we found consumers feel more loyal (51 percent) and tend to spend more money (42 percent) with brands and businesses they subscribe to.
Create an Omnichannel Customer Experience
Customers expect a seamless, omnichannel experience with your brand, whether that’s in-store, online or in-app. Not sure how to deliver on this expectation? A great way to begin is to offer a promotion to subscribers who agree to stay with you, like 30 days free or even a gift option. Just because one subscriber doesn’t need your product or service any longer doesn’t mean they don’t know a friend or family member who would benefit from it.
And, if it comes to it, let your subscribers cancel, but make sure you’ve given it your all, first. The cancellation screen — usually considered an afterthought — can actually be a powerful retention tool if designed well. To discourage cancellation, offer alternatives, such as the ability to temporarily pause, a different way to pay, a new billing date or different tier, while emphasizing the value of your offerings. After all, acquiring a new customer is five times as expensive as retaining an existing customer.
Theresa McEndree is the chief marketing officer of Recurly, leading the go-to-market strategy for demand and revenue creation.
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As the Chief Marketing Officer of Recurly, Theresa leads the go-to-market strategy for demand and revenue creation. A customer champion and passionate brand storyteller, Theresa guides Recurly’s brand promise to stay at the forefront of subscription management and billing innovation. Recurly. Keep a good thing growing.TM