Boosting sales is a top priority for any business. After all, increased sales mean increased revenue. For subscription-based businesses, where customers pay recurring fees to have ongoing access to products or services, boosting sales usually requires some extra work. There is an ongoing need to convince both prospective and existing customers that a brand's products or services are worth shelling out money for.
This can be a daunting task if you’re adopting the business model for the first time or if you've already launched a subscription-based business that isn’t meeting your expectations. How do you then get back on track and keep the sales rolling in?
This post will go over seven strategies that subscription businesses can use to provide more value to their customers and increase sales.
Issues With Retention and Loyalty for Subscription or Membership Businesses
Brands are loving the subscription business model because it produces steady revenue.
It's no surprise that subscription services are enjoying such popularity. Throughout the seven-year period between 2012 and 2019, the subscription economy expanded by over 300%.
This popularity, however, comes at a price. As the competition heats up, some of the industry's biggest names are struggling to retain their customers. Just 20% of subscription-based businesses will succeed in growing customer loyalty in 2023, according to Gartner.
In addition, it is more difficult than ever to manage retention in subscription products due to the availability of flexible short-term subscription plans and customers having the option to cancel at any given moment.
This is a worry because customer loyalty is key to the success of subscription-based businesses. Keeping loyal customers is crucial for achieving long-term success, particularly for building the resilience required to survive economic downturns (i.e., a global pandemic or the current cost of living crisis).
What makes customer loyalty so important?
Let's say we have two subscription businesses, both of which charge their customers once every month. Monthly subscriber retention for Business A is at 70%, whereas for Business B is at 50%.
Each month, Business A sells 1,000 new memberships. About 8,400 clients will be retained annually if the current retention rate of 70% is maintained. With the same monthly subscription sales, Business B will have 6,000 customers after a year if its retention rate is 50%. To match Business A's total number of customers after a year, Business B must sell 200 more memberships every month.
It's easy to see that Company A has far more growth potential than Company B does, all thanks to its superior customer retention rate. Gaining new customers isn't enough to ensure expansion if those customers don’t stick around.
Your retention rate is crucial for increasing ROI and subscription sales. Keeping existing customers happy and reducing churn are the cornerstones of a successful customer retention strategy. The goal is to transform those one-time subscribers into loyal supporters.
7 Must-Try Strategies for Subscription-Based Businesses to Increase Sales & Revenue
Boosting sales shouldn’t mean providing value to your business alone. You must also provide value to your customers, both new and old. Provide clients with personalised experiences, ease of use, and other value-added features in your subscription-based and wider marketing efforts to keep them satisfied and loyal to your brand.
1. Upselling and cross-selling
Due to the nature of the subscription model, upselling and cross-selling are particularly effective methods of driving growth through ongoing customer relationships. You can maximise customer lifetime value in relation to acquisition costs by monetising these relationships with your current customers.
Adding value to a customer's contract through upselling allows for an increase in income generated from that customer. This tactic works well for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business subscription services, whether the company is shifting customers to a higher pricing tier based on feature differentials or adding exciting upgrades to existing packages.
However, it’s not always easy to integrate these upgrades into pre-existing client relationships. You'll need to persuade your current customers that upgrading to a more expensive plan is well worth it, in addition to meeting their expectations for your product’s ongoing value.
An upsell may raise the total cost of the order, but it often comes with bonuses for the buyer, such as a larger discount or free delivery. Get more people to take advantage of your offer by making them aware of the benefits.
The goal of cross-selling is to increase the average order value by suggesting additional products that complement what they have previously purchased or the items they have in their shopping carts. This tactic works particularly well if you have a number of products to sell that target different segments of your market.
If you want to see results from cross-selling efforts, it's important to try out several approaches to segmentation. Segmentation is the process of dividing a client base into subsets defined by shared characteristics. To further refine your suggestions for each individual consumer, segmentation divides them up according to demographic characteristics like age or location.
Accenture found that 91% of customers are more inclined to buy from companies that understand them and focus on providing personalised suggestions and relevant deals.
2. Offer transparent and flexible pricing
Businesses have several pricing options in subscription models. Most businesses start with a basic recurring model. Yet, markets can shift overnight as the needs of customers change. For instance, new entrants to your market may provide an alternative product or service. It's crucial to keep an eye out for these changes and adjust accordingly.
This flexibility in pricing models is essential for a subscription business to increase user acquisition and market share. Be ready to make quick adjustments to your models without blindsiding your customers. If price increases are necessary, consider giving existing clients a free bonus item or offering them a discount off the new, higher rates.
Never leave your customers in the dark about price changes once you've implemented them. If you unexpectedly raise rates, customers will be compelled to look for other options. Always inform them well ahead of time.
It's not only subscription sales that might be at risk if customers dislike the lack of control they have over their subscriptions; repeat business from existing customers could be affected as well. Keeping your pricing system flexible and transparent encourages customers to stay with your brand and spend more.
Furthermore, you should make sure that your pricing tiers are based on a thorough analysis of the different price points at which your customers are willing to buy. You can always conduct a survey asking them for feedback before committing to a new price structure.
3. Launch reward programmes with partner offers and triggered incentives
A loyalty programme is another fantastic strategy subscription-based businesses use to retain customers. By providing triggered incentives and access to exclusive offers from select partners, you can increase customer satisfaction with your product.
Over 75% of consumers prefer companies that offer rewards. The ease of use and the benefits they receive are the main reasons why customers keep their subscriptions active.
All of these can be amplified through a loyalty programme that offers discounts and other benefits to current customers for renewing their subscriptions. Renewal incentives motivate customers to trust your brand and can be significant differentials. The programme should offer extra value beyond your core offerings. It’s an effective technique for creating a community of loyalists who appreciate your brand.
Building that sense of belonging is crucial to achieving customer loyalty. Customers are more loyal to your subscription service if they have a keen interest in your brand. When there is an active user community, it sparks insightful discussions about your brand and enriches the experience you provide your customers.
Tailor the experience and rewards for your subscribers to get the most out of your programme. This will strengthen your connections with your customers, which in turn will help you retain them for longer.
4. Deliver more value with add-ons
Offering exciting add-ons provides a steady flow of income from satisfied repeat customers. Add-ons allow members to cherry-pick the things they care about most without having to commit to a higher subscription tier. This shows customers that your brand is committed to providing value beyond competitive pricing alone.
Extras provide a degree of personalisation that is appreciated by modern consumers. Expansion MRR is a subset of MRR (monthly recurring revenue) that can be accessed through a combination of upselling and add-ons. With this revenue model, you can drive growth and reduce your customer churn rates.
5. Deploy a referral system
You must create a referral system if you want to expand your subscription business and generate more revenue. The average lifetime value of a customer acquired through referral marketing is 16% higher than that acquired through paid channels.
A referral system is a proven strategy for improving brand authority and boosting profits. To succeed, you must stay informed on industry-related updates and offer relevant incentives for loyal customers to refer your brand to friends and family.
Over 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends or family , which further underlines the importance of implementing a referral system.
6. Prioritise retention efforts
To make money from subscriptions, you should ideally have stable, long-term relationships with your customers. Maintaining your subscribers' attention and showing them you appreciate their business are both crucial to the success of any membership offer.
One way to do this is to actively request customer feedback (and act on it where appropriate) or to promptly address all feedback in the form of reviews, comments, and queries. As a means of lowering churn and increasing loyalty, taking a keen interest in your customers' likes, dislikes, and other input is invaluable.
In terms of financial investment, it can cost anywhere from five to ten times as much to acquire a new client as it does to keep an existing one, and loyal patrons can increase subscription revenue by as much as 67%.
A study also found that a 25%-95% boost in profitability is possible by raising customer retention rates by only 5%. That's why it makes more sense to focus on keeping existing customers happy rather than trying to get new ones.
Leverage information about your clients, such as their location, purchasing habits, product preferences, and opinions to personalise your interactions. Developments in technology have made it much easier to gather and organise such information. You can learn a lot about your customers and their preferences using this information. Plus, this facilitates more personalised communications with them.
7. Offer rewards for spending a minimum amount
Offering bonuses for reaching a certain order total is another effective approach for getting your members to spend more on each purchase. Be as clear as possible in communicating these benefits to clients to encourage them to aim for the minimum amount for each transaction.
Here are some of the potential benefits you could offer:
- Free or discounted delivery
- Discounts for fixed percentages
- Gift cards that count towards future purchases
- Subscription plan upgrades or free trials for premium subscriptions.
Boost Subscription Sales by Securing Customer Loyalty
Subscription-based business models have the potential to generate substantial revenue and are rapidly gaining traction. However, you can only maximise subscription sales if you have a solid understanding of what drives customer behaviour. The most successful businesses are founded on solid, ongoing customer connections.
Use the points listed above to increase your chances of success, whether you're using this service for the first time or modifying an existing model. Proven strategies like reward programmes can be the missing puzzle piece you need to stand out in a saturated marketplace.
Want more information or guidance for building loyalty and retention for your own subscription based business? Give us a call or drop a line today for a free consultation.