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10 Subscription Marketing Strategies to Start Building Your Customer Base

The subscription business model helps companies retain more of their customers and gain loyalty, but that doesn’t mean customer acquisition just goes out the window. Subscription companies have the most success when they bring in repeat customers. There are many great strategies that can help you do this, but each one has the same common objectives:

  • Provide value to your customers without a purchase
  • Build trust
  • Don’t be too sales-y
  • Keep things customer-centric.

Keeping these things in mind will help you have more success with these 10 strategies.

What is A Subscription Marketing Strategy?

A subscription marketing strategy refers to the systematic approach and set of tactics businesses employ to attract, acquire, and retain customers for their subscription-based products or services. In a subscription model, customers pay a recurring fee at regular intervals, such as monthly or annually, to access and use a particular product or service.

Benefits of Choosing the Right Subscription Marketing Strategies

Implementing the right subscription marketing strategies can offer a variety of positive outcomes, both in terms of increased customer retention and improved revenue levels. Here are some of the benefits: 

    • Increased Customer Retention and Loyalty: Subscription marketing strategies have the potential to become an integral part of your marketing strategy. Offering customers a convenient way to obtain regular and ongoing access to your products or services could be just what they need to stay loyal and engaged with you for a long period of time. 
    • Consistent Recurring Revenue: Companies that have a subscription model based on their popular service or product are more likely to enjoy a steady stream of income that they can count on month after month. 
    • Increased Sales and Referrals: Having dedicated customers can lead not only to increased sales but also to more referrals. 
    • Increased LTV: As customers will be more inclined to stay with you if you have a strong subscription marketing strategy, this can lead to an increased Lifetime Value (LTV) of your customers. 
    • Lower Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC): With a great subscription model, your cost of acquiring new customers can be lower compared to other business models. 
  • Easier Financial Forecasting and Inventory Management: The predictability that a subscription model offers can help make your financial forecasting and inventory management easier. This ensures that you can stay on top of your operations. 

It’s important to remember that to reap these benefits of successful subscription marketing, you need to focus on customer retention and creating a helpful and easy customer experience. 

What Should be the Objectives of your Subscription Marketing Strategies?

The objectives of subscription marketing strategies should align with both short-term and long-term goals to ensure sustainable growth and customer satisfaction. Check out some of the key objectives that your business should typically aim to achieve:

  • Customer Acquisition: Attract new customers and encourage them to subscribe to your service. The goal is to build a solid and expanding customer base.
  • Conversion: Convert potential customers, such as free trial users, into paying subscribers. This involves convincing users of the value your subscription service provides.
  • Retention: Retain existing subscribers by continuously delivering value, maintaining customer satisfaction, and addressing any concerns or issues promptly.
  • Loyalty: Foster customer loyalty through loyalty programs, exclusive perks, and personalized experiences. Loyal customers are more likely to stick with the subscription long-term and become brand advocates.
  • Brand Awareness: Increase awareness of your subscription service and its unique value proposition. This involves creating a strong brand presence through various marketing channels.

1. Create a Thoughtful Content Strategy

According to Hubspot, 2021 saw 82% of marketers utilize content marketing, an increase of 12% from the year before.

Content gives you a chance to offer something valuable to prospects and customers, without them having to buy something. It also helps you build customer relationships by getting them engaged with your brand more often.

This dynamic can be critical for landing sales in today’s market. Hubspot reports nearly half of all customers consume three to five pieces of content before making a purchase.

Success in content marketing comes down to three things:

  1. Posting killer content that entertains and engages customers
  2. Posting it often, on a predictable, scheduled basis
  3. Tying your content to your buyer’s journey and guiding customers to the next stage

If you can consistently deliver these things to your target audience, you’ll build a solid base of repeat customers.

2. Send Meaningful Emails

Emails have been a powerful tool since the dawn of the internet. Think of all the fads that have come and gone: AIM, Myspace, whatever.

While they all faded away, email has quietly done its thing in the background.

There’s no better way to directly connect with customers for a subscription-based business. You can use email for many things:

  • Getting feedback through surveys
  • Upselling or cross-selling
  • Helping mitigate buyer’s remorse
  • Extending and improving the customer experience.

Like content, emails are only successful if they mean something to your audience. Don’t just send something to check it off a list. Make sure everything you send meets your customers’ needs.

3. Utilize Influencer Marketing

The 2020s seem to be marked as the age of the influencer. These social media personalities have a notable, loyal following that brands can tap into through partnerships. There are different categories of influencers to consider, including:

  • Mega Influencers: A large-scale celebrity with over 1 million followers.
  • Macro Influencers: Influencers with a following between 100 thousand and 1 million.
  • Micro Influencers: A person with a lower but engaged following of 1 thousand to 100 thousand.
  • Nano Influencers: Someone with a highly engaged following of less than 1 thousand in a narrow niche.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, Micro influencers are the most popular choice, making up at least 90% of the market, so they might be the best place to start.

4. Set Your Brand Apart

It’s hard to stick out in the subscription game these days, but a little creativity can go a long way. Take the first Dollar Shave Club video as an example. They took a risk by making something different, but it established their strong brand voice that is still thriving today. In the process, they paved the way for a new style of advertisements that captures an absurd sense of humor and straightforward information.

Their choices wouldn’t work for every brand, but they knew their target audience well. That’s the most essential part when you think outside the box. You have to know what your customers will enjoy versus what will scare them away.

You don’t need to make everyone happy. Just those you want as customers.

5. Use Existing Customers as Evangelists

Got happy customers?

Great. Make them part of your marketing plan.

Social sharing – whether through user-generated content or online reviews – has become a proven way to attract more buyers. Just check out some of these stats:

Encouraging customers to share photos, videos, and reviews of your product will help you reach a large audience as their followers discover your brand through their digital network.

Don’t be afraid to create contests or give some direction on the content creation. More than half of consumers want some guidance on types of content to create. Throw out some ideas and see how they respond.

6. Consider a Free Trial Model

To draw in new subscribers, some companies choose to offer a free trial or even a freemium version of their subscription services.

This could mean offering complementary products before customers commit to the sale. At the time of writing this, the meal subscription company Hello Fresh is running a program for 16(!) free meal boxes just by giving them your contact info.

Many brands that offer digital products have a lite version with reduced features for free. Customers can try the product until they reach the limits of the freemium version, and then convert to a subscriber.

7. Create a Loyalty Program

A subscription business thrives when they have loyal customers. Creating a program that honors loyalty will show them that you appreciate their business and help foster the relationships you have with existing subscription customers.

It also has added perks for your business. More than 70% of consumers say they’re more likely to recommend brands with a loyalty program, and those recommendations can go a long way in customer acquisition.

Your current subscribers are also your most valuable customers. Treating them well will only help you grow, since most of your sales happen with a small portion of your audience.

8. Referral Programs

Referral programs tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing, leveraging the existing customer base to bring in new subscribers. By encouraging your current subscribers to refer friends or family, you not only reward your loyal customers but also harness the trust and influence they have within their social circles.

Consider you manage a subscription-based fitness app that provides personalized workout routines, nutrition plans, and progress tracking. To implement a referral program, you could create a system where existing subscribers earn rewards for each successful referral.

Implement a user-friendly referral dashboard within your app, allowing existing subscribers to easily share personalized referral links or invite friends directly from their contact list. You could also encourage users to share their fitness achievements on social media and include a referral link for interested friends and followers.

9. Offer Limited-time Offers

The Limited-time Offers strategy relies on the psychological principle of urgency and scarcity to drive potential subscribers to take immediate action. By presenting a special promotion or discount that is available for a limited duration, you create a sense of urgency, encouraging users to make a quicker decision about subscribing to your service.

For instance, you operate a meal kit subscription service that delivers fresh, pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to customers’ doorsteps. You could launch a promotion called the “Seasonal Special” where new subscribers receive a 20% discount on their first three months of subscription.

You could run this promotion for only two weeks to enhance the sense of urgency, emphasizing that the discount is a one-time opportunity available to those who sign up within the specified timeframe. Promote this offer through various channels, including your website, social media platforms, and targeted email campaigns.

To make the limited-time offer even more compelling, you might consider including an exclusive bonus for subscribers who sign up during this period, such as a free gourmet spice set or a bonus recipe book.

10. Bundle Packages

The Bundle Packages strategy involves offering customers a combination of services or features at a discounted rate when bundled together. This approach aims to provide added value, making the subscription more attractive and enticing for potential customers who may be looking for a comprehensive solution to their needs.

Regularly communicate the benefits of the bundled package through email campaigns, social media posts, and on your website. Share success stories from existing subscribers who have experienced enhanced productivity and efficiency by using the complete suite of tools.

By implementing Bundle Packages, you not only make your subscription more enticing by offering cost savings but also simplify the decision-making process for potential customers, providing them with a comprehensive solution that addresses multiple aspects of their needs.

Closing Thoughts

These subscription marketing tactics can help you reach your target audience and build a strong customer base.

Because of the recurring revenue model embedded within subscriptions, that will continue to bring in money for as long as you can excite and delight them with your product.