One of the greatest differences - and challenges - between one-time sale and subscription models is keeping customers engaged over the long-term. Subscription businesses not only have to get customers to make that initial purchase decision, they also have to convince them of the ongoing value of remaining subscribed. Consequently, reducing churn becomes just as important as getting initial signups.
To keep subscribers on board, the key is engaging them quickly and maintaining good relationships. This requires an efficient onboarding process and an investment in ongoing service delivery to continually meet the needs and wants of customers.
Here are some foundational concepts to help keep customers happy and prevent them from unsubscribing or jumping to a competitor.
A crucial component to retaining customers is getting them engaged with your product quickly. On top of a solid product design, an easy onboarding process that teaches customers how to use your product so they can start seeing the value immediately is vital.
The exact way to do this varies between consumer and business-focused services. Consumer products need to be intuitive, easy-to-use and available right away. Business-focused subscriptions can be a bit more specialized and complex. Access still needs to happen as soon as possible after sign up but you might also need to offer more support to get these customers engaged. This support can be offered in the form of team members made available or user guides to demonstrate how things work.
The ultimate goal is getting customers in the habit of using your subscription product frequently. If there’s a lag in sign-ups actually using your product, send reminders or, for business-focused services, have team members ready to reach out to see how they can help them get started.
Customers are likely to remain subscribed if they see good value in your service. To understand why customers use your product regularly, it’s important to track some key metrics: how often they access your service, how much time they spend using it and what features they are actually using. If you’re discovering low usage rates, you will likely see higher cancellations.
Selling subscription services requires a paradigm shift from a product lifecycle focus to a customer lifecycle focus. As your prospects cross the threshold and become engaged customers, they demand a certain level of continued nurturing, attention and engagement. Depending on your service and payment cycle, customers are most likely to unsubscribe at renewal time or, for ongoing monthly subscriptions, as soon as they decide they are not getting the value they are paying for. However, if you have a good understanding of your customer’s profile, product consumption and usage, you can prevent that from happening (and expand customer value across your entire customer base).
For example, AT&T and Netflix have made significant investments in lifecycle marketing programs. The business strategy is simple: keeping customers engaged with their services to maximize customers’ lifetime value.
This is where relationship marketing comes in which is often done via engagement tools to proactively understand what customers want and expect.
Thanks to the subscription services model, companies can use the information derived from the customer’s interaction with the service or product to create richer connections. Customers have the expectation that companies are smart and will personalize what they communicate to each customer.
Subscription services require continuous investment to grow and retain their customer base. Make sure that your entire subscription experience is simple and straightforward - from the information stage through onboarding and beyond to upgrade offers, feature improvements and so on.
When you increase customer insight for your product, you open up all sorts of revenue doors: the ability to provide new tiers as well as opportunities for upselling and referrals to your customers’ networks. The nature of the subscription model allows you a ‘direct line’ to deepen client relationships - learn to use it like an expert.