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The Value of Subscriptions

By: Jason Nyhus
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This was originally published on Website Magazine.

Across industries, brands are embracing the subscription model now more than ever. From software to apparel, companies everywhere are shifting to the subscription model because of the value it offers brands in terms of revenue predictability and increased customer engagement.

Many consumers, however, don’t see the benefits of opting into a subscription. They simply view the model as a new way to purchase the same old products. The challenge for brands is to add new and continuous value to subscriptions, communicate that value, and show customers that subscriptions aren’t just a new way to buy, they’re a better way to buy.

Personalized offerings for each customer

The best way to add value to a subscription service is to personalize offerings for each customer. Subscriptions increase consumer touchpoints, providing companies with a wealth of valuable customer data that can be used to tailor offerings for individual customers. Depending on the product or service, personalization can take many forms. For physical goods like subscription boxes, it may be a selection of products that more closely align with a customer’s preferences. For digital subscriptions, personalization may mean curated content or a personalized interface.

Regardless of how personalization manifests, the key is to show customers that you understand their unique preferences, wants and needs. Showing customers that your brand recognizes and is working to fulfill their needs can be the basis of a strong customer-brand relationship.

Lifecycle management and communication

When it comes to subscriptions, demonstrating value to customers can be almost as important as creating that value in the first place. That’s why lifecycle management and ongoing communications are so important for subscription providers.

Because of the passive purchasing process, subscriptions can sometimes go unnoticed, or consumers might even forget they are subscribed to a particular service. They can let payment information expire, leading to involuntary churn and service disruptions. The best way to combat this is to communicate regularly with customers in a way that adds value to the brand relationship.

Throughout the subscription lifecycle, brands should communicate with customers to demonstrate the value their subscription offers. This can be through promotional messaging or non-transactional content. The key is to continuously grow the relationship with the customer. This is particularly important when nearing the end of the subscription lifecycle. Consumers are unlikely to renew their subscription if they haven’t heard from a brand in a long time. But consistent and relevant communications can help communicate the value in the brand relationship and can thereby increase the value of the subscription itself.

Automated payment processing

Payments aren’t unique to subscriptions, but they do hold a uniquely important place in the subscription model. Subscriptions are valuable to customers in part because the passive payment process makes purchasing convenient and hassle-free. But that convenience is predicated on payment processing systems functioning properly. Any failed transaction takes away the convenience of the model and can create an opportunity for subscriber churn that brands want to avoid.

It’s important to maintain the proper IT infrastructure to ensure all transactions are processed correctly. Many companies partner with ecommerce solutions providers because they understand that payment automation is part of what makes subscriptions so valuable to customers. Having the right IT systems in place can minimize disruptions in service and ultimately increase customer retention.

Upselling and cross-selling

No customer will buy a subscription just because it’s a subscription. The product or service has to have its own value proposition, but the subscription model creates multiple touchpoints that brands can use to cross-sell and upsell additional products and services. While this may seem like it only benefits companies, brands can tailor promotions to benefit customers as well. For example, brands may offer additional services at a discount available only to subscribers. Or give subscribers exclusive access to new products. If additional services increase the usefulness of the product itself and make subscribers feel like important members of a club, the customer receives tremendous value and is more likely to continue engaging with that brand.

Subscriptions offer a number of valuable opportunities for brands to increase revenue and strengthen relationships with customers, but they can only capitalize on these opportunities if they communicate the value of their subscription offering to consumers. Brands can add value to subscriptions by personalizing offerings, communicating with customers, ensuring system automation, and promoting relevant enhancements to consumers. By adding continuous value to subscription offerings, brands increase the likelihood of customer retention and improve revenue overall.

Read more about the value of a subscription offering and 3 types that might be best for your business.