In the online world, there are few businesses that can beat the recurring subscription model. Constantly searching for new customers is a hard way to run a business, but a group of paying subscribers can be enough to sustain you.
There are, however, certain challenges to the subscription model. Convincing customers to sign up to recurring billing can be tough, while delivering a quality service each month involves keeping to consistently high standards.
The following seven elements are all important factors to consider if you are starting, or already operate, a subscription business.
You price points are important in maximising earnings, and you will need to test various options to get this right.
While one payment option might appear to simplify matters, most subscription sites get better results from offering choice.
Multiple tiers can provide a choice for light or heavy users, while a freemium or free trial option will bring in more reticent users.
Too much choice can be a bad thing, but giving a few options will let you appeal to a wide range of people.
Customer relations are essential for any business endeavor, even more so when you are anticipating a long-term relationship with a customer.
Your customer service should be quick and efficient, which requires skilled employees with knowledge and direction.
Customer communication is also important, so ensure your messages are regular, your communication is clear, and your site dashboard is user-friendly.
Customers will primarily stay in a recurring membership because of the quality of the content. Content needs to stay at a high level in order to satisfy existing customers and new subscribers.
Some sites like to drip-feed content as new customers sign up, but this only works for evergreen information.
For sites that offer educational programs, it is often beneficial to provide content that can suit beginners as well as experts.
Keep your customers educated on your product and help them succeed. If they are successful using your services they are likely to continue to subscribe.
Related: What makes quality content?
While analytics won’t be visible for site members, they are hugely important for business owners.
Your analytics will detail customer retention and conversion rates, both of which are critical for your business.
If you are experiencing a problem with retaining customers, you can quickly see when most people are leaving.
Changes in process, communication, and delivery can often impact retention rate a great deal.
Conversions can also be altered in your sales message, but be wary of promising too much as this will usually lower the retention rate.
Check out our guide to Google Analytics to start to gain some insight as to how your customers interact with your site and products.
Community is an added benefit that can be used in most membership sites. While people might not join for the community aspect, it can quickly become the factor that keeps them engaged.
A forum will often be the area where people gather, but you can also hold webinars or conference calls to stay in touch. You will need to take time to moderate such a forum but you’ll gain invaluable customer feedback.
Community elements mean additional work to maintaining a site, but the benefits are usually worth it.
Over the course of your business, changes will need to be made to keep up with customer demand.
Changes may involve content, distribution, pricing, and your offer. Putting your customers’ needs first will always result in changes being made, but it is important to embrace any criticism or faults that are given to you.
Existing customers may have concerns about new changes, so make sure you treat your long-term customers well – the subscription model hinges on this.
Regardless of the quality of your membership site, some customers will eventually leave. There are numerous reasons for someone deciding to cancel their subscription, but you still have an opportunity to win them back.
A re-engagement strategy could involve a discount, a reminder of new updates, or simply a request for them to reconsider.
It is impossible to retain all your customers, but you should be aiming to minimise losses in numbers.
Remarketing is a great way to target and engage old customers and entice them back with special offers and new features. Find out more about remarketing here.
Starting a recurring subscription business is a challenge. Creating a single product is difficult enough, but a subscription requires you to always develop, create, and innovate.
While this might appear daunting, the subscription model does allow you to focus completely on your customer base.
New products have a learning curve attached to them, whereas your members will be active in deciding what they want from your site.
A profitable subscription business will become a tangible asset, with the possibility of a lucrative sale or a long-term personal endeavor.
What do you think is a vital part of a successful subscription model? As a customer what keeps you coming back to renew your services?