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9 Tactics to Turn One-Time Buyers into Brand Subscribers

Acquiring customers isn’t easy, especially with the rising expenses around capturing consumers’ attention where they are. But once you’ve gotten a buyer’s interest, how can you move them from their first purchase into a regular subscription?

Great products hook customers, but exceptional experiences make them stay. If you want to convert one-time buyers into subscribers, here are some tactics the top-revenue generating brands on Stay Ai swear by.

1. Trial or Starter Kits that Rollover to Subscription

Hook customers by offering trial kits that seamlessly roll over into a full subscription, sprinkled with personalized tips and exclusive sneak peeks. Bundle everything your customers need to get started, then leverage a workflow automation to switch buyers to a regular subscription shipment after the trial period ends.

Clevr offers customers the option to order starter kits as a one-time purchase or subscription – but once those one-time buyers have tried a few products, they’re hankering for more each month. Product education via email and SMS goes a long way when upselling customers from a trial starter pack to a recurring subscription.

2. Free Gift on Subscription Signup

Roll out the red carpet with a warm welcome gift! It’s an instant joy-spreader and a fabulous way to kickstart the subscriber journey. For brands with high same-day or 1-month cancellation rates, offering a bonus on the second order helps ensure subscribers don’t cancel right away, just to take advantage of the initial gift or discount.

Run Gum has a very generous offer for their new subscribers – free gifts with both their first and second recurring order. This not only helps them acquire subscribers, but also introduces new flavors to their customers – flavors they’ll be tempted to add on to their upcoming subscription order, boosting that juicy AOV!

3. Introductory Discount

Entice shoppers with an irresistible introductory discount. One caveat is that this can increase your number of same-day cancellations, so only use it if “you know that people who try your product have a very good experience and your churn rate is low,” recommends Zach Stuck, Founder of top ecommerce agency Homestead.

Buoy’s introductory discount includes an “eco-friendly” welcome gift on month one, then moves subscribers to a standard shipment of just 3 bottles of product starting on month 2. This is an especially effective tactic, as it helps subscribers to begin building a daily routine with their hydration drops.

4. Bundle & Save Options

Who doesn’t love a bargain? Curated bundle offers can be a total hit, enticing customers to explore more while saving big. Customers are also far more likely to subscribe to a brand when they have the opportunity to build a bundle of just the products they love. See the example from Mad Rabbit below.

Beekeeper’s Naturals offers a variety of curated bundles for both one-time purchase and subscription, enabling customers to test out products and build the usage routine of their choice.

The Beekeeper’s Naturals team has leveraged a variety of Stay Ai’s out-of-the-box revenue-boosting features, resulting in 62% growth in monthly recurring subscription revenue. Click below to read the full case study.

Read Beekeeper’s Naturals Case Study

Another bundle technique: let customers build their own bundle and realize extra savings on exactly the products they want. Mad Rabbit allows customers to shop from a variety of curated bundles, or create a custom order using the Build Your Own Bundle tool. In building a custom bundle, they can watch in real-time as their subscribe & save discount is dynamically calculated.

5. Leverage SMS for Subscription Upsells

If we’re being totally honest, we know our customers’ email inboxes are flooded. SMS alerts stand out in a world swamped with email. A direct nudge can sometimes be all it takes to steer a one-time-purchaser towards subscription.

Kaged strategically texts their one-time-purchase customers after they’ve had some time to use the product, reminding them of the brand’s subscription discounting and promotional offers. A simple nudge like this is quick to set up, extremely effective, and an easy way to get some subscription acquisition wins with little manual effort.

6. Exclusive Subscriber Promotions

Give subscribers a VIP pass to exclusive promotions. Subscriber-only perks leverage FOMO to entice one-time buyers to take the next step. For a deeper dive into subscription program perks, check out this blog article with 15 unique ideas.

On Graza’s subscription webpage, they highlight a unique subscriber benefit – “goodies from Graza”. Goodies include subscriber-exclusive discounts, and free gifts, such as cookbooks and treats.

7. Implement a Loyalty Program

Turn your customers into fans with a loyalty program that rewards and incentivizes them at every step. Keep it personalized and aligned with their preferences for that extra special touch.

In addition to their subscribe & save program, Harmless Harvest has a robust loyalty program for their dedicated customers. The program is free to join, and enables customers to earn “Harvest Coins” with each purchase, which can be cashed in for discounts on future orders.

8. Create Subscriber-Exclusive Perks & Events

Create a buzz with exclusive events and perks. Your relationship with your subscribers doesn’t have to be about just the products; it’s about fostering a community that thrives on exclusivity and connection.

Surely’s subscription program – aptly named the Wine Club – comes with a variety of unique benefits for customers. Subscribers gain access to virtual wine tastings, an online members-only community, happy hours, drink recipes, and more. Wine Club members also get to vote on the future of a lot of these perks, like new flavors, Surely merch, and upcoming events.

9. Feature Subscriber UGC

Spark conversations and built trust with user-generated content. The purpose? “[Show] the value of your subscription: ‘Here’s why you need this product in your pantry consistently.’” — Jess Cervellon, VP of CX, Feastables

Tenzo places subscriber reviews front-and-center on their homepage, some with more “subliminal” messaging than others. A strategy like this is especially effective for products that work best when used on a regular routine – like supplements, skincare, and so forth. This messaging not only assures the customer that they’ll like what they’re about to purchase, but inspires that “Sounds really good, so I might as well get the discount!” feeling, too.

A few final thoughts from our experts in the field…

Consider the Subscriber Experience

“One of the most tried and true ways [to turn a one-time buyer into a subscriber] is to make sure they have a really excellent experience with your product that convinces them they need to use it on a continual basis. Most subscriptions offer a thinly veiled promise and don’t give the customer a true reason to ‘keep it coming.’” — Daniel Okon, Founder & CEO, Activ

💡 Pro Tip: Overpromising and underdelivering is a surefire way to boost your churn. Be mindful about your pre-purchase messaging regarding product and customer experience.

Pinpoint the Right Timing

“The best times in the customer lifecycle to send these messages is related to consumption frequency. We have to ask them to buy again at the right time, versus just being greedy and missing the mark.” — Shray Joshi, Founder & CEO, Good Peeps

💡Pro Tip: Don’t go all willy nilly with your customer communications; leverage the product usage data at your disposal.

Emphasize Subscription Program Benefits

“[Showcase] the benefits of being on subscription: always 30% off, always free shipping, free cancellations, free gifts… I think that’s helped us turn more people into subscribers.” — Ashvin Melwani, Co-Founder and CMO, Obvi

💡Pro Tip: Just because you know your subscription benefits by heart doesn’t mean your customers do. Don’t be afraid to remind them and boldly highlight benefits on any relevant brand assets.

Looking to acquire more subscribers, or scale up your subscription program’s profit margins? Stay Ai’s out-of-the-box tools are designed to boost your subscription revenue, while delighting your VIP customers.


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