Why CMOs Can’t Treat Subscription Marketing Like Everything Else: Part II

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

By Matt Cronin

Check out part 1 of Why CMOs Can’t Treat Subscription Marketing Like Everything Else

How to Boost Subscription Retention Rates

Beyond shifting customer service toward a consultant approach, how can businesses keep subscribers coming back for more?

  1. Diversify, diversify, diversify. Many first-time subscription efforts tackle subscriptions like traditional e-commerce, but they’re not the same. Though they may be receiving a standing order or a curated box, subscribers want choices. Companies have to offer a variety of products and pricing options to see growth.

This can take the form of tiers, with different numbers of products or selections offered for set price points. Other subscription-based businesses opt to provide “swap in, swap out” models that enable members to ditch the things they don’t want and add similarly priced items in their place. Many offer multiple pricing platforms, allowing subscribers to determine how often they receive shipments or to self-select out of particular shipments. Every choice develops affinity.

  1. Create subscriber feedback loops. Subscribers want a say in what’s marketed to them, and with reason: They’re providing ongoing revenue with their loyalty. One big drawback to traditional e-commerce data collection is that the data is transactional in nature, meaning marketers have to assign meaning to different actions and infer motivations.

Subscription marketing gives marketers a direct outlet for speaking to a captive and alert audience — subscribers want to provide feedback on what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what would make their lives easier. This can occur through surveys and individual phone calls, as well as ratings and reviews of received shipments. Members have an incentive to offer honest feedback — their next shipment — and marketers would be remiss to not keep that door open.

  1. Be open to evolving product lines. Subscription companies can sometimes go wrong at the very end by failing to implement subscriber feedback. While some of the changes subscribers request are easy to manage — shifting cadences, adding questions to personalize shipments — some, like new product offerings, are not.

That doesn’t mean subscription-based businesses can overlook requests for new products or capitalize on the requests only when they’ve peaked in the broader consumer market. Pivoting to test new products can reveal that an original offering — say, skincare products — sells better when paired with accessories or haircare products. These kinds of discoveries are worth evolving beyond a brand’s original vision.

Subscription marketing is making its mark on consumers, but to keep them, marketers have to go a step beyond. CMOs who embrace subscribers as members and treat them as partners will see much more growth than those who treat subscription marketing like everything else.

This post was updated February 27th, 2022.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.