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7 Ways to Improve Your Subscription Offering

  • Matthew Holman - SUBTA Operations Committee Co-Chair
  • Dec 13, 2021
  • 6 minute read

Matthew Holman runs growth at QPilot.cloud, a subscription software company that focuses on great delivery outcomes. He loves creating educational content and consults on branding, marketing, shipping, and subscriptions.

A subscription should be special. Subscribers need to feel like they’re constantly getting value out of your product or service — otherwise, why would they continue to pay for it? So, how do you keep your customers happy? Two words: Subscription offering. 

Crafting an incredible subscription offering takes time, but it’s not something you need to worry about every day. However, there are some key areas that you should consider on a regular basis to ensure you are delighting customers and improving profitability.

Product Value

Ask yourself: Why do people sign up for my subscription? Am I making a clear and compelling offer? Here’s how you can easily add value to your offering: 

  • Discounts. Higher discounts are associated with higher churn; lower discounts are associated with lower churn, according to ProfitWell — only loyal customers will purchase them. Should you increase discounts to drive conversions or decrease to improve retention? 
  • Free shipping. Consumers hate to pay for shipping. In fact, a RetailMeNot survey shows 82% would prefer to avoid it. If you’re able to offset the cost of shipping in other ways, offering free shipping can help you attract and maintain more customers.
  • Freebies or samples. Not only will free samples appeal to your customers (who doesn’t love free stuff?), they’re also a great way to promote new products and generate even more sales. Brands like Brandshare have experienced tremendous success with this strategie, and you can too!
  • Points and perks. Loyalty points can encourage your customers to make more purchases and refer your business to their friends and family. Likewise, perks like free consultations, VIP customer support, members-only products, and content from top experts (like AMAs, Q&As, or FB Live events) will make your customers feel valued.

To determine which value add-ons work best for your subscription business, look deeper into your business category. What other products are your customers buying? Can you include that as part of a more robust subscription offering?

Notifications & Communications 

There are two schools of thought around communications: Those that like to send as few as possible (and hope you won’t cancel), and those that see any communication as an opportunity to build trust. To engage. To build rapport. 

When customers pause or cancel their subscriptions, ask them why. When you send a notification about an order set to process, offer an upsell.

Don’t let an opportunity pass by to engage with your subscribers. Make sure you’re engaging with them on their preferred medium of communication — can you send a text instead of an email to let them know their order is on the way? 

That being said, only communicate when you have something of value to say. Your customers will start to feel spammed if you’re emailing them frequently just to showcase new products and remind them you exist.

Churn 

 

There are plenty of tactics for keeping customers longer. You need to know why they’re leaving if you want to convince them to stay, though.

Ask your customers why they’ve decided to cancel their subscription, and then address that feedback. Are they running out of product (or receiving their subscriptions) too quickly? Are they not seeing value in the subscription? 

You may not be able to address every concern, but improving where you can over time will add value to your customers and your business.

Subscription Frequency

To find your subscription’s perfect frequency, take a look at how many customers are pausing or canceling because they have too much product. If you offer multiple subscription frequencies, do your default offerings match the most common consumption patterns? 

To help your customers determine how often they should subscribe to your product or service, consider including a simple chart with recommendations. For health-related products, you can even make this outcome-based (for example, “For a healthier gut, take two pills every day. That’s one bottle every two weeks!”).

Shipping Options

For subscription box companies, shipping is a major cost to consider. 

For non-perishable items, using the lowest-cost shipping option is a must. For perishable items, however, make sure you update customers on order processing and shipping times so there aren’t any surprises. 

No one likes to pay for shipping, and for some, free shipping can be the push they need to hit “subscribe.” If possible, stick to set box sizes so you can anticipate the cost beforehand and build shipping costs into the subscription itself to simplify your operations. 

It should be noted that subscription software does not take shipping into account. There are limitations on what your customer can change for shipping addresses, and the software will not recalculate shipping charges over time. You’re stuck with what you charge at checkout, so you want to be sure you’re charging the right amount. 

QPilot offers a way to work around this issue through its Autoship Cloud plugin. Customers can change shipping methods, addresses, and shipping recalculates every time the order changes.

Subscription Management

Proper subscription management and frequency are the keys to keeping your customers happy. Effective messaging and notifications can clarify any recurring customer’s concerns, which in turn can increase your subscription’s profitability. 

A customer portal — where your customers can manage their subscriptions themselves — should also be a prime consideration for any subscription business. Customers should be able to access their orders, make changes, and even add to their orders without having to constantly contact the company.

Your Data & Software

Understanding which products drive the most subscriptions gives insight into what you should be promoting on your website and in other channels. To gain a better understanding of where you should invest more time and money and where you should scale back, track the following data points:

  • Conversion rates
  • Most and least selected products 
  • Average order value per subscriber 
  • Churn rates
  • Count of active, paused, and cancelled subscriptions 
  • Average length of time per active subscription 
  • Customer lifetime value

It can be challenging to keep track of so many numbers. What you need to remember is that discounts will get you more subscribers but increase churn. And while churn is not ideal, a solid core of customers who love your product is better in the long run. Find ways to keep incentivizing and rewarding those subscribers.

The bulk of this list is designed to give you points to consider when choosing a subscription software. If you identify one or two areas that need to improve, evaluate your current software and see if an alternative would serve you better. 

By focusing on the right product(s), the right subscription offerings, and the right way to engage with your customers, you can improve your customer retention and increase your sales.


If you want to learn more about how QPilot powers incredible subscription experiences, visit our websites Autoship Cloud and QPilot. To see Autoship in action, meet with me and my team on a demo today!


Want more insights on how to optimize your subscription? SUBTA is the only professional organization built by subscription business owners for subscription business owners. Join today to get access to our supportive community, shared resources, new content every month, virtual events, and discounted tickets to our annual world-famous conference, SubSummit.