There’s a distinct advantage to being first: First in line, first to market, or first to try a successful business model. However, there’s also a distinct advantage to not being first: You can learn from the mistakes and achievements of those who’ve gone before you.
To an extent, all subscriptionpreneurs learn as they go, but sometimes all you need is to watch and learn. In SUBTA’s Subscription Review series, Chris George and I leverage our experiences in the industry to review popular subscription services to identify what works — and what doesn’t.
Each episode of this monthly show features one of a variety of subscription brands with practical examples of both effective techniques to implement in your own subscription business and costly mistakes to avoid.
In 2021, a few of the brands we reviewed included dog-treat subscription box KONG Box, streaming service HBO Max, personal styling service Stitch Fix — which, interestingly, claims it isn’t a subscription at all — and anti-subscription-fatigue app Truebill.
Despite each having different offerings, all four had common themes and lessons that can help you create long-lasting customer relationships within your own subscription services.
5 Subscription Service Tips to Strengthen Your Offering
Use SEO to Answer Common Questions
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful tool that can be used to improve brand awareness and increase traffic on your site. By figuring out what questions customers are Googling, you can tailor your subscription offering to be their holy grail. That’s SEO in a nutshell.
Truebill’s SEO is powerful. Its website already ranks on Google for several questions related to cancelling subscriptions. What Truebill needs to do now is identify keyphrases that its website does not rank for, then create content around those keywords to generate additional traffic.
When looking for keyphrases to boost your SEO strategy, don’t overlook the obvious opportunities. “How do I cancel my Netflix subscription?” is a very common question, but Truebill (as of yet) does not rank for it.
Ask yourself: Is your brand also missing out on high-traffic SEO opportunities?
Another subscription service tip is to create unique landing pages for each of your company’s frequently asked questions (FAQs). Many people, for instance, aren’t sure of the differences between HBO Max, HBO Now, and HBO GO. Though HBO Max answers this question on its site, the information is difficult to find and doesn’t offer much clarity.
If HBO Max were to create and optimize a specific landing page just to answer that question, that landing page would bring more users to its website. It would also very likely increase buyer confidence, thus resulting in higher conversions.
When common questions arise, prioritize answering them. You’ll take advantage of SEO to corral internet traffic to boost your website traffic, retain current subscribers, and avoid confusion for potential customers.
Make the Signup Process Easy & User-friendly
If there’s one takeaway every single one of SUBTA’s Subscription Review shows highlighted in 2021, it’s that people will abandon the signup process if it becomes too difficult or time-consuming. Don’t overwhelm new customers with a wall of questions — instead, ask for a few critical pieces of information that will elevate their subscription experience.
Additionally, it’s vital to let your customers change their information prior to checkout in case they made a mistake or changed their mind.
When Chris and I began the signup process in SUBTA’s Subscription Review of Stitch Fix, it prompted us to take an interactive styling quiz — which is fantastic. But, we unknowingly entered the styling quiz for women’s clothes instead of men’s.
By the time we realized our mistake, we had to not only start the entire process over, but actually go and find the quiz designed for men. We went with it for the sake of the video, but customers who hadn’t already made up their mind to buy would likely give up at that point.
The lesson? Use quizzes, but make sure that you don’t assume user information.
The Stitch Fix signup process has its flaws, but it also has some great features that every subscription brand should aim to replicate. For example, the company captures its customers’ emails early in the signup process. This way, if we hadn’t completed the signup, Stitch Fix could still reach out to us and sell at a later time.
Create Engagement Whenever Possible
Your goal is not to lock customers into the subscription and convince them never to cancel; it’s to build a lasting relationship that they don’t want to cancel. To do that, you have to engage with your customers.
Every email you send is an opportunity to create engagement. For example, thank-you emails upon signup are thoughtful touchpoints that build excitement for the subscription. You might also consider sending additional content — like blog posts — for customers to engage with while they wait for their order to arrive.
Look for ways to create engagement on your website, too. During our review of HBO Max, we found the streaming service’s confirmation page to be sparse and uninteresting. A simple addition of social media “share” buttons would spruce it up and simultaneously encourage user-generated social proof.
Gather Data & Use It Well
Any customer data that you gather is useful for future (and ongoing) marketing efforts. Really, you want to use data to personalize your subscription.
McKinsey’s Next in Personalization 2021 Report found that 78% of consumers are more likely to make repeat purchases because of personalization, while 76% of consumers get frustrated when companies don’t use personalization.
KONG Box’s signup page is a fantastic illustration of how your brand can leverage user data to offer a personalized product. After inputting your pet’s name, KONG Box updates the questionnaire to display your pet’s name instead of a generic label. The change is small, but it makes the process more personal.
However, while KONG Box effectively gathered our dog’s name, size, and other information, it neglected to ask about the breed — a key piece of data. Each dog breed has different needs; a chihuahua requires a very different box than a great dane, and marketing content should reflect that.
Review your data gathering process to be sure you’re not missing any key information (like dog breed if you’re a dog company). Then, use that data to learn more about your customers, diversify your product offerings, and build long-lasting and meaningful relationships.
Don’t Just Let Customers Cancel
During SUBTA’s Subscription Review of HBO Max, we were disappointed in how easy it was to cancel — with no questions asked. As a business, you always want to show interest in why your customers choose to leave, and then give them plenty of chances to change their mind.
If a customer starts the cancellation process, ask if that customer is sure about the decision. This will make the customer really think about what to do next. Then, extend incentive offers to encourage your customer to stick around. For example, Truebill offers to extend its free trial from one week to one month.
The app’s free trial extension encourages customers to continue using Truebill at least a bit longer. Having more time with a subscription gives users a chance to form a habit and make it part of their daily routine.
If your customers are set on cancelling, a subscription service tip is to (at the very minimum) use the cancellation process as a chance to gather data and perfect your offering to minimize future losses. Find out why they’re leaving. Then, improve your service and products based on that feedback.
SUBTA’s Subscription Review: Bottom Line
Ultimately, whether or not potential customers sign up for your subscription — and stick with it — is determined by two questions:
- Do your customers understand the value your product adds to their life?
- Did your customers have a positive experience on your website and with your products?
Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to enhance the user experience and create a relationship with subscribers so that your brand can answer “yes” to each of those questions.
Consider the strengths and shortcomings of the brands featured in SUBTA’s Subscription Review, then take a step back and analyze your business based on our subscription service tips — and create action plans to overcome any of the shortcomings you may have identified.