No one can predict the future. But as economic uncertainty and major data tracking changes loom, now is an important time for brands to prioritize future-proofing their businesses by developing strategies to minimize the effects of any potential downturns.

Recurring revenue from subscription models can be a great way to generate predictable, long-term income. As a best practice, focusing on maintaining solid relationships with customers and ensuring a superior customer experience will help retain them in the long run. During hard times, it will be the most loyal customers who stay committed to your brand. Plus, with acquisition costs rising, focusing on retaining current customers is a much more sustainable option.

In this post, we’ll share how you can future-proof your business by building a strong subscription model that attracts subscribers and show you the tools you need to do it.

1. Focus on Subscribers

First, rely on subscribers, as they are the most loyal and valuable customers who chose your brand over numerous competitors. Keeping these customers is critical for brands, as it is much less resource-intensive than acquiring new customers. Build your growth strategy around gaining subscribers’ trust, delighting them with exclusive membership perks, and allowing them to advocate for your brand.

Throughout the subscription experience, provide flexibility and transparency to establish trust with customers. Specifically, demonstrate transparency by displaying details of what the subscription program entails, emphasizing that customers have the authority to change, skip, or cancel their subscription at any time.

You can offer the most relevant subscription options by analyzing customer buying behavior data; for instance, monitor your customer’s average frequency selection when deciding which subscription option should be defaulted on the product page. Offer flexibility from the beginning by allowing customers to adjust the cadence in which they would like to receive the product and how much of it.

Letting customers choose the quantity and frequency of their subscriptions solidifies this trust. Your customer won’t feel like they have to fully unsubscribe because they can mold the subscription program to their specific lifestyle, ultimately increasing your retention. That way, you’ll avoid losing valuable customers just because they needed fewer products during a certain month.

Tip: See how brick-and-mortar staple Grind scaled DTC sales 50x in 3 months through subscription selling.

2. Create a Brand Engagement Hub

Transform your brand’s customer account portal into an engagement hub to increase retention and lifetime value for subscribers. Providing access to a consistent, branded customer portal helps develop strong relationships with customers which plays a critical role in retaining them long-term.

Customize your customer’s account portal to adhere to your brand guidelines and craft an experience that aligns with the products that you are selling. Intuitive, straightforward tools built directly into the portal empower customers to serve themselves independently and make them more likely to continue doing business with you rather than switching to a competitor. Frictionless account management gives customers the opportunity to manage their subscription journey the way they see fit with intuitive options to gift, skip, swap, or send now.

Having an easy customer support function within the customer account portal is mutually beneficial for your brand and your customers, as it saves your Customer Service team’s time and leaves customers satisfied. Typically, customers would rather solve an issue on their own without needing to contact a customer service representative. So saving them time and avoiding any frustrations further decreases the likelihood of them churning.

3. Build Brand Champions

Take your subscriber’s loyalty and expand on it as much as possible with customer loyalty features that give customers a reason to come back. This includes subscriber-only promotions and discounts, exclusive gifts, early access to new products, and one-time add-ons.

As a best practice, use retention data to create a strategic subscription program. For example, use a retention cohort analysis to determine if you are offering too high of a discount on first subscription orders. Merchants may find customers canceling their subscriptions after the first order when the subscriber discount is too high. By keeping a pulse on these metrics, merchants are able to course correct by getting rid of large, upfront discounts and instead, reward subscribers based on loyalty.

Help improve average order value by placing strategic upsells based on data that identified top-performing products or products commonly purchased together. Then recommend these products for a tailored customer experience. Offer early releases of new products and allow loyal subscribers to give feedback, making them feel even more special and valued as customers. Try giving subscribers “X% off of their X order,” free products with orders, or birthday gifts.

Create brand awareness with referrals and gifting features built directly within the account portal. Aim to get loyal customers to continue to buy your products, buy more products, and gift products so that your brand awareness extends to friends and family.

Many brands take advantage of referrals like “Give X, Get X,” where if you refer a friend, you each receive a discount. Not only does this ensure that subscribers directly benefit from their referrals, but also that friend now has the ability to try your product and later on subscribe themselves. This creates champions of your brand who continue to spread the word and love to friends and family.

4. Littledata and Smartrr

Having subscription management software that fits with your main data reporting tool is critical in subscriptions. Google Analytics and server-side tracking give you the first-party tracking you need to understand your buyers and make data-driven decisions that benefit your store. You can use a subscription tracking service to see complete sales data, including one-off purchases, subscriptions, and refunds.

Using Littledata and Smartrr as your subscription management and analytics stack allows you to:

  • Calculate marketing attribution for all transactions, including recurring orders
  • Set up custom dimensions to calculate LTV
  • Use information to strategically use upsells, gifting, add-ons, and more
  • Send Smartrr subscriptions data to Facebook Ads via the Facebook Conversions API

Conclusion

Each of these strategies helps to build a solid foundation to retain customers and ultimately, future-proof your business.

Make strategic business decisions by tracking the key performance indicators that drive your business, such as average order value, sales by specific product, churn over time, lifetime value, and subscription revenue growth. Retain customers by crafting a seamless experience through a consumer-focused subscription program with an intuitive account portal that includes features to engage subscribers and build brand champions.

Retaining your highest lifetime value customers will help solidify recurring revenue from subscription models and ensure predictable, long-term income.

This is a guest post from Anna Jacobson, Marketing Associate at Smartrr—the premium subscription app for DTC Shopify brands. Built with your end consumer in mind, Smarter increases brand engagement and LTV with a variety of out-of-the-box subscription models, a beautifully branded subscriber account experience, member-only benefits, and more.