Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

4 steps to create a subscription service that can survive the subscription war

By Magith Noohukhan, Head Customer Engagement Evangelist at Braze

The subscription economy has exploded over the past few years, with everything from deodorant and dishwasher tablets, to adult colouring books available for a regular monthly fee. But as rising inflation causes people to tighten their belts, we’re now seeing some of these services starting to struggle. 

According to Lloyds Bank, UK customers have ditched 1.2 million subscription services since last summer. As consumers rethink their non-essential spending, companies operating a subscription model will compete not only with their own sector, but with other companies and services for the same share of wallet.

In the face of such challenges, understanding your customers and how to engage with them in a meaningful way throughout the onboarding process can prevent customer churn. But how can brands achieve this in a mindful way?

Brands must follow the steps of building customer engagement throughout the onboarding process.

Low effort actions

At the start of the relationship between a brand and a consumer, it is important to build the relationship slowly. To start with, brands should engage new users through low-effort interactions that consist of opening a message and/or an action that consists of one to two clicks. This could include clicking on a song or a feature.

Unique features

The brand should show its value to the consumer. One of the best ways to do this is to provide a personalised view of the features that may interest the individual and how this can add value to them. This deeper level of engagement is often most effective when the consumer engages with a core feature that the brand offers. One example of this would be a preview of how they may use the brand, especially for setting up a personalised account or feature.

Get users to interact with the community around a product or service

Once the consumer is engaging with the product, the brand should encourage the user to interact with the wider community that surrounds the brand’s products or services. For example, this could be leaving reviews or sharing something they created within the brand’s product, such as a music playlist within an app. When a customer engages within a brand’s community, it helps to drive customer loyalty as they begin to create relationships with other like-minded customers and affiliations with trends and themes attached to the brand. This adds value to the customer as their attachment and connection towards the brand strengthens and grows.

Upsell at the right moment

Finally, once a consumer is fully engaged in the brand and the product or service they are offering, it is essential to be patient and cautious when trying to upsell. Before the upselling begins, the consumer should have completed high-value actions which demonstrate a clear intention, and the brand must have showcased its ability to add value to the consumer. At this time, brands can up-sell by highlighting the benefits of upgrading or subscribing. Some examples of this could be showing how extra features would increase the value the brand adds to the consumer or an annual offer that comes at a discounted price. It is at this point where research from Braze suggests that consumers have a 70% probability of subscribing, which has been dramatically increased at each stage from the initial low effort action which showed a 43.5% probability of subscription.[1]

Winning the subscription war will require long-term customer loyalty, but as the cost-of-living crisis puts more strain on customer spending, this will become more difficult. Building a strong relationship and inspiring brand loyalty with customers from the start of the onboarding processes will be vital to converting and retaining customers and not losing them to competing subscription services. Brands that can fully understand their customers and mindfully do this will undoubtedly come out on top.

[1] Source: Braze – Path To Subscription – Data collected from analysis across 22 Braze customers path to subscription. Probabilities reflect a user’s average probability to complete a subscription event if an event of that type is completed (median)


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