6 Foolproof Ways to Grow Your Subscription Business

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So, you’ve created a subscription offering with some really great products. Congratulations! Setting up subscriptions is no easy feat, but gaining traction and converting your existing and prospective customers over to subscriptions is the most challenging component yet.

Although subscriptions boast a wide variety of benefits, like convenience and efficiency, it will still take some work to convince people to opt-in, while reducing the customer churn rate and improving customer retention rate. But don’t worry, we’re going through some tried and true methods to grow your subscription business

Ready to amplify your subscription business?

From improving your email strategy to creating engaging online content, here are six foolproof tips you can’t ignore. 

1. Improve your email strategy

If you haven’t already sent emails about your new subscription business model, it’s time to get started. 

If the subscription pricing model is a recent addition to your business, start by emailing your current customers to let them know.

Been offering subscriptions for some time? It’s time to hit them with a strategic, well-timed email with an incentive. 

Offer your customers a discount to get started on your subscription service. A tried and true method of converting customers is offering a convertible subscription. There are several different ways of doing this. For the first order you could offer:

  • The first subscription price at a discounted rate,
  • a free trial sized version which then converts to the regular sized product, or 
  • a free gift 

Emails should always be sent at strategic times based on user behavior to avoid spamming customers. In fact, 69% of customers will unsubscribe if they receive too many emails. 

So, what’s the right amount of emails to be sending your customers?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you think. In fact, it depends on your business. A good rule of thumb is to email when you have something of value to share with your audience. This will ensure you don’t jeopardize customer relationships.

2. Upsell

One of the classic revenue-increasing strategies subscription companies use is  upselling and cross-selling. An upsell is when you offer your customers an add-on or a better, upgraded product to the one that they’ve chosen, while a cross-sell is when you offer your customer a complimentary item to the one they’ve chosen.

Why does this work so well? Simple — it adds value and can help improve the customer experience.

As long as the products you’re offering are relevant to the products your customers were originally interested in, upsells can work wonders. 

They can come in a number of different forms, but there are some upsells that perform better than others.

Upsells on the product page have traditionally converted well, but upsells on the cart page have produced even better conversions since customers are further along in the sales funnel. However, upsells after checkout have the highest conversion rates.

That’s all well and good, but how does that relate to subscriptions, you’re asking?

You can add value to your subscription offerings by allowing customers to buy both recurring and one-time products together. When a customer adds a subscription to their cart, upsell them with a one-time product that compliments their subscription. The customer doesn’t have to go through two transactions just to buy both!

Another great subscription upsell trick is upselling via email. Send targeted email offers to subscribers that they can add to their next order with just a few clicks! There are numerous benefits to upselling via email, including a high conversion rate, increasing average order value and a feeling of exclusivity for your customers.

3. Go social

One of the greatest tools you have as a business owner is social media. There are 247 million people who use social media in the US alone, and a lot of consumers find out about their favorite brands using popular sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

Plus, 71% of social media users who have a good experience with a brand on social media will recommend that brand to a friend.

By creating a business account, you can use this as a method of communication for your existing and potential customers, and you can spread the word about your subscription business by hosting fun giveaways and creating viral hashtags to share user-generated content.

Subscription box service, Fabfitfun, is very active on social media, sharing user generated content, giving sneak peeks and fun photos they think their target audience would love.

ecommerce growth - social strategy

Being active on social media also helps increase brand recognition and gives you a ton of valuable insight into your prospective customers visiting your page. This leads to easy forms of social commerce

4. Prioritize mobile first

In 2019, 89% of Americans own a smartphone, and over half have used their phones to browse and shop online.

Shopping on mobile

If that alone doesn’t convince you, the most popular shopping events of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, both saw over one billion dollars in mobile purchases for the first time in 2018. The trend is likely to continue as shopping becomes more and more convenient each year.

So, how do you prioritize mobile on your store and through good mobile email design to ensure your subscription customers are able to easily order from their phones?

There are actually a lot of ways, but these are the most successful we’ve seen:

  • Use accordion-style lists for menus to give shoppers an overall view of your site’s navigation, with the option to dive further upon clicking. Having a very “natural” menu in terms of position can also help as most users are used to having the menu on the left, home logo in the middle, and cart link on the right. This intuitive design can really help speed things up.
  • Make sure your CTAs are large and have enough padding/space that users don’t have difficulty trying to click on them. The last thing you want is a customer abandoning their subscription order because they’re frustrated they can’t add to cart properly. You can also create CTAs that are bold and easy to locate, in the middle or lower portion of the screen where mobile users naturally have their fingers placed.
  • Have an easy-to-use checkout experience. Multiple pages can have slow load times, and mobile users tend to be less patient than desktop users, resulting in higher abandon rates. Streamline the process with a one-page checkout that customers can easily navigate on a mobile device.
  • Ensure your page has ample white space. Too much information can quickly become overwhelming on a smaller screen, but organizing your information appropriately and using legible fonts and colors can combat a busy page. 

5. Create engaging content online

Create a draw for your clients by having a blog that dives into your niche offering. Running a blog is a great way for your customers to learn more about your niche and show that you’re a trusted, knowledgeable source in your industry. You can also offer a download like eBooks or guides. A blog provides another avenue for engagement with your audience.

4Ocean is a successful subscription company that offers bracelets that help remove waste from the ocean. They have an active blog to keep customers up to date about their latest projects and to share information surrounding the very thing that drives their business — caring for the ocean.

subscription - engaging content online

You can even create exclusive content for your subscribers. Fabfitfun, for example, provides subscribers with an online magazine relating to beauty, fitness and women’s issues only available to their subscribers. 

You can also use your subscriber mailing list to send out great content, quizzes, exclusive discount codes, or sneak peeks to make your subscribers feel like they’re getting access to private content that’s sent right to their inbox.

6. Offer gift subscriptions

When you offer gift subscriptions, you’re giving people an opportunity to buy subscriptions for a friend or family member as a present. Your particular subscription offering may not be what they’re looking for, but chances are they’ll know someone who would love it. It’s a unique gift for any occasion as it’s a great surprise on the day they receive it, and they’ll have more gifts to open again and again.

If a current customer loves getting the subscription products or box you’re offering and may decide to gift the subscription to a friend. Since they have received the product(s) themselves, they trust and like your brand, so gifting a friend the joy they get from the subscriptions isn’t a hard sell.

A well-timed email can remind customers that you offer gift subscriptions, especially around the holidays. A quick “did you know we offer gift subscriptions?” email might be the unique gift idea they’ve been searching for! 

The best thing about gift subscriptions is once the gifted subscriptions end, the person can decide if they want to renew that same subscription, putting in their own credit card details to keep it going. 

If customers want to cancel their subscription, be sure to have a solid exit strategy in place. With a cancellation flow, you can ask a series of questions or prompts to help customers along the right path and may be able to solve an issue they’re facing so they don’t have to cancel. For example, you may learn that they find your subscriptions too expensive, so a 15% discount may help you retain them as a customer.

To wrap it up

You don’t have to implement every one of these strategies; the most important takeaway is that you try out multiple strategies to grow your subscription box business. Testing a few at a time will keep things simple and allow you to easily see what’s working, and what’s not. Each business is unique, so take your time and eventually you’ll find the right combination to really escalate your subscription business!

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ShipBob is a fulfillment company that works with the leading subscription tools to streamline fulfillment and shipping of recurring orders. Request a pricing quote below to see if we’re a good fit for you.

Grow your subscription business FAQs

Here are the answers to the most popular questions about growing your subscription business.

How do you grow a subscription-based business?

There are a lot of ways to grow a subscription business. In this article, we’ve covered six different strategies: emails, upselling and cross-selling, social media, mobile-first experience, content marketing, and gift subscriptions.

Are subscription businesses profitable?

If done right, they sure can be! Subscription businesses work both for digital industries, like SaaS, and more traditional industries, such as Dollar Shave Club and their grooming subscription service.

What is a successful subscription business model?

Many different successful businesses utilize the subscription model. For example, two of probably the most recognizable subscription businesses are a grooming products subscription company Dollar Shave Club and a meal kit company Blue Apron, but there are also many more successful subscription software companies such as Adobe, Netflix, and Dropbox.

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Written By:

Amy is the Partner Marketing Manager at Bold Commerce. Bold is focused on developing powerful e-commerce solutions designed to enhance the online retail experience. They empower over 100,000 active customers and are trusted by global brands like Zippo, Microsoft, NFL, NBA, and Procter & Gamble to help take their online business to the next level.

Read all posts written by Amy Polowy