How to Grow Your Ecommerce Subscription Business

How to Grow Your Ecommerce Subscription Business

Published by Charlotte Davies


So, you’ve successfully set up subscriptions on your Shopify store. Now it’s time to optimise your approach and grow your subscription business. 

Whether you’re an established subscription brand or you’re just starting out, convincing customers to opt-in to your subscription service can be tricky and hugely competitive. To help you, we’ve put together a list of tried and tested methods to grow your subscription business and scale without limits. 

1. Improve your email marketing tactics

Email marketing is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. In fact, email marketing has a return of investment (ROI) of $36 for every $1 spent. So, if you’re not including it as part of your growth strategy, start now. 

Email marketing is just as important for subscription-based brands as it is for one-off sale brands. This is because emailing your customers keeps them continually engaged and your brand top of mind. However, to be successful and drive significant results, your emails need to be highly personalised and targeted, to avoid spamming your customers. 

When it comes to email campaigns for your subscription-based business, address the following:

  1. Customer acquisition
  2. Engaging your existing customers 
  3. Turning regular customers into subscribers
  4. Gather more information about your customers so you can market effectively to them
  5. Reactivate inactive subscribers  

Any results-driven email campaign will incorporate these five tactics within their email campaign and translate them into engaging messages. 

2. Create a loyalty or referral program

Ecommerce owners who embrace subscriptions have better customer retention because of the recurring nature of subscription purchases. But you should go one step further to cultivate a community of loyal fans by implementing a reward or referral program. 

For example, you could give referred customers a juicy discount, and give those customers who are referring a free month’s subscription or discounted shipping, etc. 

You might also want to leverage your loyalty program email campaigns to help build stronger connections with your subscribers. This will help communicate your brand values, up-sell and cross-sell.

Finally, we recommend creating a tiered loyalty program, so your subscribers having a reason to stick around and something to work towards. Benefits might include:

  • Gift/discount on special occasions such as birthdays, subscriber anniversaries, etc 
  • Exclusive offers and discounts 
  • Early access to sales, member-only products, events, etc
  • Experiential rewards
  • Free trial or bonus products 

All these extra perks will help you turn regular customers into loyal subscribers and ensure you retain them for longer. 

An example of a subscription brand that implemented a tiered loyalty program and has achieved enormous success is the UK’s largest gin subscription club, Craft Gin Club. Using Loyalty program provider, LoyaltyLion’s integration with subscriptions app, ReCharge they included a subscriber tier that allowed subscribers to earn 200 points for every box they receive. On top of that, Craft Gin Club awards their most loyal subscribers with exclusive discounts on their subscription box and vouchers to use on their members-only store. For example, a subscriber who collects 1500 points can either apply for a £5 voucher or have a £15 discount on their ‘Gin of the Month Box’. 

Since implementing a loyalty program, Craft Gin Club has increased its repeat purchase rate by 46% and member spend by 51% thanks to redeeming subscribers

3. Start texting your subscribers

These days, people are constantly on their mobile phones. In fact, it’s estimated that people check their phones on average 150 times a day. That’s a lot, right? 

This offers merchants an incredibly lucrative opportunity to communicate with their customers more effectively on the channel that they use the most. And with 90% of SMS messages read within 3 minutes, merchants can be confident that customers are reading the content they’re sending.

So how can you use SMS to grow your subscription business?

Well, you can use SMS to keep your brand top of mind by sending subscribers weekly, monthly, bi-monthly reminders about their subscription. Also, you can keep customers updated on the shipping process to create a sense of anticipation and connection to your brand until their package arrives at their door. 

Other ways to use SMS for your subscription business include sending out discount codes, referral links, renewal reminders, subscription order abandonment, upcoming payment reminders, failed payment alerts, etc. The most important thing to remember with SMS is that it works best when the content included is time-sensitive and actionable. Sending text messages that fit these criteria can help you keep more of your subscribers. If you want to implement SMS into your subscription-based business or simply want to find out more about it, get in touch with our team of SMS experts today! We work closely with many industry-leading third-party SMS apps that will help you reach your customers wherever and whenever you need to.

4. Leverage user-generated content (UGC)

UGC is a great way to build trust with your customers because it communicates your brand’s authenticity and provides social proof, which customers value. For this reason, you should build UGC around your subscription business. Not only will it keep your customers coming back for more, but it will also reassure new subscribers that they’re making the right decision.

Encourage your subscribers to share photos and videos of their products on social media using a specific hashtag, as well as leaving a review on your site. And why not go one step further and reward customers with extra loyalty points if they share images of themselves using your products. 

For example, beauty brand Birchbox uses a branded hashtag #futureiscasual extensively to encourage users to create & share content around it.

5. Invest in influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is becoming an increasingly popular advertising avenue to boost brand awareness and grow revenue, and subscriptions are no exception.

Reach out to influencers and ask them to promote your subscription offerings and set up long-term partnerships with selected, relevant influencers. This is especially useful given the longevity of subscriptions. 

There are lots of subscription brands, including Bitsbox, Wild and our client YourZooki, that have grown their businesses through influencer collaborations and haven’t looked back since. 

Wrapping up

Ultimately, a successful subscription-based ecommerce business is about more than just a great product. That’s the first step. That’s what gets a customer to subscribe. But for your business to stand the test of time and really grow, you’ll need to focus on building strong customer relationships from the get-go. And the tactics outlined in this article will help you do exactly that. 

Here at Velstar, we specialise in subscriptions and have helped hundreds of ecommerce brands scale their subscription services. So if you need help to implement anything discussed above, or simply want to find out more about subscriptions in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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