Subscription models work well if you manage to keep your subscribers engaged! But engaging your recurring order customers, who get the deliveries at their doorstep on a regular and automatic basis, without visiting your website or app, is quite different from engaging one-off buyers.
To engage one-time purchase customers, you’d have to continuously make efforts to bring them back to your store, again and again, to make every single purchase. However, in subscriptions, those strategies become redundant, as your subscription customers are already on board, and are hooked for a long-term.
You’ll have to apply other methods to engage them, as they aspire to continue to find value in the investment they have made.
Let’s look at some of the strategies we recommend for a better ecommerce subscription model engagement.
Different ways to engage subscription customers
Offer deals and incentives exclusive to subscribers!
Subscriptions enable businesses to have long-term relationships with customers. Time helps build customer loyalty. When customers are loyal to your business, they do expect something special in turn as well.
One way to make subscription customers feel special is by offering them exclusive deals, freebies, and gifts that you don’t offer to other one-off customers.
Your subscribers should know the benefits of buying subscriptions. Here are some ways to go about this:
- Offer meaningful gifts, freebies and deals that are actually special/ exclusive.
- For it to be special, it doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you could even send a personalized, handwritten note, which would make subscribers feel more cared for.
- You might have offered discounts to first-time subscribers to attract them to join your subscription. Similarly, you can offer occasional, loyalty based discounts to keep them engaged!
- Offer them discounted shipping or fast shipping services as a part of the perk to be a subscribed customer.
- Offer them first looks and exclusive access to new and in-demand products.
- Add samples of newly introduced products for free, in their recurring deliveries, to nudge them to try and fall in love with more products in your store.
These are just a few simple ways in which you can offer something valuable to your subscribers, engage them, and extend their loyalty to your brand. You can also run surveys to understand customer expectations better, to see what they value the most.
Engage customers with cross-selling offers
When subscribers buy from you regularly, you know what products/services they’ve enjoy and have included in their life. To enhance the experience of their purchases, you can engage them with relevant and highly targeted cross-selling offers.
For example, if your customers are buying a diaper subscription from you, offer them baby creams. To make their purchase decision easier, offer them a discounted price on the subscription of the diaper and cream if bought together/bundled.
By cross-selling, you’re making your customers aware about other products that would add value to the products/services they currently buy from your store.
Cross-selling is also a great way to engage your customers with your brand, and to keep your store front and center, in their mind share. The more relevant and personalized the cross-sell recommendations that you make, the better you can engage customers.
Create engagement through upsell offers
When you sell the same products to customers over time, it might lead to boredom. Even though the products/ services are useful, they may no longer remain exciting. And so, it becomes all the more important to keep your customers engaged and thrilled to receive their deliveries regularly. Similar to cross-sells, you can engage customers via upsells.
What are upsells? Upselling is when you offer a better, more valuable, and more expensive product in place of what customers are currently purchasing from you.
Let’s look at some upselling examples for subscriptions:
Say for example you’re selling a curated subscription box of cheese, you could upsell a surprise or mystery box that includes items that customers would know only when they open it.
Another example for upsells – if you’re selling clothes subscriptions, offer laundry or dry cleaning in the upsell offers. That way you’re offering them something valuable and useful, which will keep their clothes in good condition.
- Make upsells more relevant to customers, by identifying a broader problem that you could solve through another product/ service.
- You could upsell new products that you introduce in your store. That way you can also get customers to try out new products.
- Make sure upsell offers more benefit and value to customers, and carry more $ value than what the customers currently buy from you.
- Your upsells should either improve the customer’s life, solve their problem, bring them joy or meet their broad needs.
- Upsells need not be a new product/ service. It can be an added benefit, product or service to what the customers are currently buying from you.
Engage customers on messaging channels
Managing subscriptions, especially orders, is easier said than done. Think about all the notifications and updates that are to be sent to customers. Then, what if a customer wants to swap products, change the delivery date, update billing date, or change quantities, etc?
For customers who aren’t tech savvy, performing these tasks on their own on the app could seem like a hassle.
This is where lies an opportunity to engage your customers.
- Engage customers on messaging channels such as chat, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.
- Enabling an efficient chat tool/ channel will not only help engage customers, but it will also help enhance your customer service and help you address issues faster.
- Apart from messaging channels, you could even utilize personalized emails with relevant CTAs.
Enable subscription customers to share feedback
Your subscription customers are among your most special and valued customers. You may be relying on methods such as experimentation, data analysis, testing, etc., but there’s nothing that beats inputs received directly from customers.
One way to engage them is to allow them to share feedback. Only one out of 26 customers is likely to share a complaint. This means, you will have to regularly ask customers to share feedback. Then, they’re more likely to share negative feedback. When they do, you can address it immediately, and reduce or prevent churnOne way to engage them is to allow them to share feedback. Only one out of 26 customers is likely to share a complaint. This means, you will have to regularly ask customers to share feedback. Then, they’re more likely to share negative feedback. When they do, you can address it immediately, and reduce or prevent churn.
When you care to request feedback, it enhances the customers’ experience. They feel good about the fact that their voice matters and that you’re making an effort to know how they feel. Customer feedback can also help you better your products, services or subscription models. Hence, make feedback requests a regular feature of your subscriptions.
Collecting feedback becomes extremely important even after a customer has canceled their subscription. Because when customers cancel subscriptions, you’d have to re-engage them. Even if they don’t sign up again, getting their feedback would help you understand their motivations and pulse, and make necessary modifications and pivots. Appstle Subscriptions is one of the very few subscription apps out there that offers cancellation management feature to its merchants. With this feature, merchants can direct the cancellation journey with directive questions and/or feedback loops, to gain clear knowledge, and sometimes also use it as an opportunity to convince their customers against the cancellation.
Use urgency and exclusivity tactics to engage customers
Just like you use urgency and exclusivity to engage one-time customers, you can also use them to engage subscription customers.
Let’s face the truth – subscriptions can start to seem boring and monotonous after some time because customers receive the same products every time. To bring in excitement and some life to their orders, you’ll have to introduce new products/ services or new offers, every now and then!
When you do this, you can use ‘urgency and exclusivity’ as core tactics. Here are some ways to do so:
- When you run discounts and deals or combo offers, make them time sensitive
- Run discount offers close to the time of subscription renewal
- Let customers know the offers are exclusive to subscribers only. It will make them feel more special and engage better
- When you introduce a new product or service in your subscriptions, make it more exciting, by running a limited period discount, a flash sale, or a contest exclusively for subscribers
Set up a mobile app for your subscription business
Today’s customers are mobile savvy shoppers. With an increasing number of brands offering mobile apps, customers expect brands to have a dedicated mobile app. A mobile app is especially a must-have for subscriptions.
Mobile apps with a mobile friendly customer portal can enable customers to manage their subscriptions, deliveries, and receive updates on their phones. They do not have to depend on the desktop to access information or make changes to their subscription.
Having a mobile app for your subscriptions can also help you use other communication channels such as SMS, Messenger, WhatsApp, etc., which can be accessed on the mobile phone.
One of the best advantages of mobile apps is that you can have instant communication with customers in real-time. This is a blessing when customers raise minor issues, which they expect to be resolved within a few minutes. At such times, being able to reach your support team via the mobile app can make things much faster for them.
Pro tip: Invest in the development of mobile apps only if a majority of your subscription customers come from mobile devices. It’s also a good idea to explore Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) instead, to optimize on the cost of catering to mobile customers. You can learn more about them here.
Use engagement tactics other than sales
Your subscription customers are with you not just because of the products and services but for the experience they get with your brand. And so, avoid hard selling every time. Instead, engage them with other innovative engagement activities and campaigns. Here are some ways in which you can fill the time in between the deliveries:
- Create email campaigns to share fun and informative content – videos, articles, etc.
- Organize special online or offline events for them. For example, if you’re an organic vegetable subscription business, organize an educational trip to an organic farm.
- Run referral programs to create a win-win scenario for them that is gamified to some extent
- Customers who are less engaged can be provided a downgrade option. That way, the chances of you losing them completely are less. They can simply downgrade their subscription and still be with you.
Getting customers to buy subscriptions is tough. Keeping them engaged is tougher.
Businesses have to put in a lot of effort to engage customers, retain them, and reduce churn rate. Start with the above engagement tactics. Then, add some more to your marketing plan.
But remember, always keep your engagement campaigns relevant to your products, services, and customers.
At Appstle, we build the platforms that help ecommerce businesses stay on top of what their customers wants and stay engaged.
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