Anticipating exactly what your subscribers want is always a challenge — especially if you don’t have built-in testing functionality like Stay Ai’s.
Across the team here at Stay, we’ve worked with hundreds of subscription brands, and we’ve done a ton of experimentation. That’s why we’ve got perspective on some of the best practices to lean on as you continue to build and audit your subscriber experience.
We pulled together the 8 foundational best practices for subscription programs. Let’s dig in.
1. Make your website super user-friendly.
After your ads of course, your next big customer touchpoint is your website. It’s critical to reduce purchase friction with a simple, UX-optimized subscription buy box — and make sure it works just as well on mobile! Clean and intuitive design goes a long way. A few tips:
– Auto-default selection to your subscribe-and-save option
– Make it super clear how much customers can save on subscription
– Highlight a section on subscription program benefits
2. Be transparent, clear, and proactive with all messaging.
Confused customers turn into churn customers very quickly. Your subscribers need to understand your subscription terms, pricing, renewal frequency, and cancellation policy at a quick glance. Pro tips here:
– Create a dedicated section or page on your website for general subscription program information, terms, and FAQ. (This also helps reduce CX workload!)
– Use email & SMS to inform customers of upcoming charges, stock outages, and anything else important going on.
– Restate at checkout that customers are purchasing a subscription, and include messaging on how they can make changes to future orders.
– Send a post-purchase email notification linking directly to customer portal login right after checkout, so folks don’t get lost.
3. Give customers flexible, easy-to-manage subscription experiences.
If you can, let customers build their own subscriptions based on SKU and delivery cadence preferences. And after they’ve purchased, prevent customers from churning by allowing them to to make changes to their subscription or upcoming orders within minutes. Here’s how to make it happen:
– Work through your subscriber experience yourself, from the prospective of a customer, and see how many steps it takes you to complete commonly desired actions. Ideally, a customer should be able to get things done in a few clicks.
– Check out your customer portal, and make sure it’s easy to swap items, gift an upcoming order, change the upcoming order date, or pause a subscription. These are all critical actions for preventing churn.
– Send customers emails with Klaviyo Quick Actions for applying discount codes, adding items to an upcoming order, delaying orders, or getting orders even faster.
– Educate subscribers on the changes they’re able to make, and how they’re able to make them. Just having the buttons in your portal often isn’t enough. Onboarding sequences via email or SMS reminders are both great channels for communicating this info.
4. Continue to personalize the subscriber experience.
Make your VIPs feel seen as much as you can. The more personalized your communications and offer recommendations are, the easier it is to build customer loyalty and boost conversion rates. How to do it:
– Don’t just sling random product recommendations to your MVPs. Tailor product recommendations based on customer preferences and/or purchase history for better outcomes.
– When it comes to content marketing, make sure you’re segmenting your customer groups meaningfully, so you’re floating the right things at the right subscribers. Example: your beauty brand’s moisturizer-buying customers should not be getting emails about how to best use your gel nail polish.
– Make subscribers feel special. Target specific customer groups with unique discounts, offers, and free gifts to enhance their experience. Example: create a targeted email promotion for protein powder purchasing customers to add a pre-workout sample to their next order for a few dollars.
At the bare minimum, one simple way to personalize subscriber communications is to list the product(s) a customer will receive in their upcoming order email.
5. Ensure customer support is a breeze.
In 2022, Salesforce found that 80% of consumers will continue buying from a brand even after they make a mistake — but only if they receive excellent CS support to resolve the issue. One of your core goals as a DTC brand should be offering most frictionless path to solving customer concerns as possible. Some recommendations:
– No matter what tech stack you use, give your CX agents unified channel visibility, so they always have the full context/history on each customer.
– Connect your subscription app and your CX helpdesk. Then, empower CX agents to manage orders and make decisions around returns, discounts, etc. (Stay Ai integrates with Gorgias and ZenDesk for this reason).
– Avoid canned, lifeless messaging as much as possible. From a customer’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than being frustrated, and having to communicate with someone that feels like a robot.
– Consider offering your brand’s subscribers front-of-the-line treatment in the CX queue.
6. Keep engaging with customers after they purchase.
Don’t go ghost after your customers complete checkout. Building customer loyalty really happens after that charge goes through. Ideas:
– Keep subscribers updated from order fulfillment to doorstep by providing tracking information and order updates in real time.
– Segment customers and build email flows with ongoing product education, based on the product(s) or product line(s) they’ve purchased.
– Offer subscribers the opportunity to participate in a loyalty or referral program.
– Reward subscribers for following your brand on social media, or signing up for your SMS list.
– Add banners to your customer portal with product launch information, special deals, or anything exciting going on at your brand.
7. Test, review, and optimize. Treat subscription as a performance channel.
The biggest mistake we see in the subscription market? The “set it and forget it” mentality. Your subscription program should be tested and optimized, just like any other lever of your business. Some of the biggest wins we’ve seen have come from:
– Running buy box, banner, and pop up tests on web for subscription enrollment
– Tinkering with pricing, messaging, and product bundling to see what performs best
– A/B testing upsell or one-time purchase offers with your subscriber base
– Testing discounted product or free gift with purchase offers to proactively combat churn
8. Collect feedback and review it regularly.
Nudge customers to provide feedback. Reviews on your overall brand, individual products, and your CX experience are immeasurably valuable. But don’t let that feedback go to waste. Make sure you’re collecting these learnings effectively, so you can actually review and improve your products/service moving forward. A few examples:
– Implement a cancellation survey with selectable cancellation reasons to learn why subscribers are churning.
– Integrate a post-purchase survey to gather more information on your customers and their preferences, for deeper personalization opportunities.
– Add a post-CX NPS scoring process, so you can learn how to better serve your customers.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Loyalty and retention are long game plays – but it’s always better (and cheaper) to retain a valuable customer than acquire a new one.
Looking to boost your subscription retention rate, or provide a top-tier subscriber experience? Stay Ai’s out-of-the-box tools are designed to boost your subscription revenue, while delighting your VIP customers.
Just click Get Started below to chat with our team of subscription & retention experts.