The Ultimate Guide to Subscription Analytics
Now more than ever, subscriptions are a huge part of people’s daily lives. Not so long ago, ecommerce stores focused on one-off purchases to scale their businesses. But consumer buying preferences have shifted — brands and customers are focusing on relationship-driven ecommerce, and subscriptions are at the heart of that change. In fact, subscriptions are now the fastest growing area of ecommerce and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. The subscription ecommerce industry is projected to be worth over $246 billion by 2025 — scaling by more than 9,400% since 2016. In two years, Shopify Plus anticipates that 75% of direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses will offer subscriptions. In this post, we’ll cover... The benefits (and shortcomings) of adding a subscription service to your ecommerce store How to get accurate subscription tracking in Google Analytics Headless tracking for subscription stores The most important metrics and tools to get your subscription service off the ground Benefits of adding a subscription service If you're interested in growing your monthly sales and revenue, adding a subscription service is a great place to start. Subscriptions pose an exciting opportunity for ecommerce stores to unlock potential revenue, build long-lasting relationships with their customers, and create a community among consumers. One of the most notable benefits of subscription ecommerce is the consistent, recurring revenue. The predictable income that comes along with subscriptions allows management to: Plan and invest accordingly Order and manage inventory more effectively Project profits with ease and accuracy As Shopify Plus put it in their article on the benefits of subscription ecommerce, “on a deeper level, ecommerce subscriptions are about strong customer relationships. Subscriptions turn customers, who already see the value your company provides, into loyal followers who become reliable sources of recurring revenue.” In fact, the longer a customer uses your product or service, the more valuable they become to you. Plus, higher customer retention rates mean lower acquisition costs in the long term.” Where subscriptions fall short Unfortunately, Shopify stores offering subscriptions consistently fall short in one area — their analytics setups. Shopify Analytics gives you the baseline data, but doesn’t give you the full picture of your customer’s journey. That’s why many merchants rely on Google Analytics (GA) to dive deeper into their data. If you’re using Shopify’s native Google Analytics connection, you’ve probably run into a whole other set of issues. From data mismatches to aggregated orders, it’s evident that Shopify and Google Analytics don’t work well together on their own. We sampled a set of larger DTC brands on Shopify, processing over 50,000 monthly orders through a standard Shopify checkout, and found that on average only 88% of orders processed are recorded in Google Analytics. That’s a major loss; for every 100 Shopify orders, 12 go missing in Google Analytics. Subscription stores face even greater data discrepancies, with up to 70% of Shopify orders being tracked in Google Analytics on a good day and as little as 7% being tracked on, well, a not-so-good day. The major mismatches you see in subscription stores are due to the fact that orders are processed without any customer interaction. Data mismatches, no matter how big or small, hurt your bottom line. Whether it be marketing spend that can’t be attributed to sales or faulty retargeting campaigns, you can’t afford to make decisions based on inaccurate data. For data-driven DTC brands, accuracy is everything! Otherwise, you’re just leaving money on the table. Lucky for you, there is a solution to fix your subscription tracking in Google Analytics. Tracking subscriptions in Google Analytics Searching for a tool for tracking subscriptions that works right out of the box and ensures accurate reporting? Littledata is it. Using a combination of server-side and client-side tracking, Littledata captures data at every customer touchpoint. I know what you’re thinking — sounds too good to be true. So here’s the rundown on how the Littledata app works: Upon installation, Littledata adds a data layer onto your ecommerce site containing all Enhanced Ecommerce events — Google’s term for each crucial touchpoint in the customer journey. Littledata then adds a tracking script to capture each event as it happens. Finally, using combined client-side and server-side tracking, the app tracks all transactions and ensures 100% accuracy in reporting one-time orders, recurring payments, lifecycle events, and everything in between. We work with the top subscription services on Shopify and BigCommerce to empower your ecommerce store with complete data. Littledata automatically audits and fixes your data right at the source, bringing you complete and accurate data in Google Analytics, Segment, or any of your favorite reporting tools. Our plug-and-play solution is as simple as that. Minutes after installing, you’ll have access to truly meaningful data and the power to make your marketing dollars work better for your store. What does this mean for you? Make marketing and sales decisions backed by data that you can trust Track one-time orders, first-time payments, and recurring transactions Accurate marketing attribution data for one-time and subscription orders Measure LTV by product, channel, or source Track multiple checkout funnels with 100% accuracy Get the full picture of your customers’ journey with tracking at every touchpoint Complete tracking for headless setups Tracking subscriptions in other reporting tools While Google Analytics may be the most commonly used reporting tool, it's far from the only one on the market. The tools below are also widely popular for analytics tracking: Segment Google Data Studio Tableau Power BI The good news? Littledata's plug-and-play solution integrates automatically with these tools as well. Segment Segment’s data pipeline lets you collect, clean, push and pull customer data from one platform into dozens of others without the difficult engineering. Then you can utilize different connections, protocols, and personas (or single-user views) to analyze that data. Littledata's source for Shopify and Shopify Plus enables you to automatically send ecommerce events into any of Segment’s hundreds of destinations. Once you've set it up you'll be able to capture metrics from every customer touchpoint and attribute results from your Facebook and Google Ads spend with 100% accuracy thanks to our server-side tracking. Headless tracking for subscription stores Headless commerce doesn’t have to come at the cost of missing data. Whether your site uses a collection of headless landing pages or a full headless architecture implementation, Littledata's Shopify to Google Analytics connection is compatible with headless setups to capture Enhanced Ecommerce events and ensure a complete data match between Shopify and Google Analytics. What metrics are the most important for subscription stores? Analytics really matters when it comes to subscription ecommerce, which is why identifying key metrics is that much more important. The three most important metrics, which indicate your store’s performance, growth, and longevity are: Average order value (AOV) Customer lifetime value (LTV) Churn These metrics will guide your sales and marketing decisions and ultimately determine the fate of your store. Average Order Value AOV — the average amount spent by customers when they place an order — measures sales trends and reflects customer behavior and buying preferences. This can be one of the trickiest metrics to increase. Boosting AOV is a priority goal for ecommerce teams as it directly impacts profits (and customer lifetime value). Order value can be maximized with upsells and cross-sells, but there’s a fine line between encouraging and annoying your customers. Ecommerce tools like CartHook and subscription apps like ReCharge specialize in incorporating unobtrusive upselling into your customers’ buying experience, providing an easy solution to one of our customers’ biggest feats. Find out if your AOV is in good shape: benchmark your ecommerce store against thousands of other brands in your sector. Customer Lifetime Value LTV is considered a “universal indicator;” it’s a comprehensive metric that encompasses the overall health of your subscription store. LTV is the best indicator of churn, best projector of profit, and best aid in decision making. When it comes to marketing and sales decisions, LTV helps you easily identify which products and channels are your top performers and bring you your most valuable customers. Find out how you can use Littledata’s custom dimensions to calculate customer lifetime value with your data in Google Analytics. Churn For subscription stores especially, Shopify stores live and die by churn — the rate at which subscribers stop subscribing to your store. Churn is the flip side of your retention rate, revealing how many customers shopped with you and didn't return. Your churn rate is a critical indicator of the health of your subscription business, reflecting its overall viability in the long run. Where to see the data Data is everywhere. But at Littledata, we believe that you should have full ownership of your own ecommerce data. Unlike reporting tools that focus on external data storage or complicated interfaces, Littledata automatically audits your setup, fixes your tracking, and leaves it where it should be: with you. From discovery at the source to events throughout their shopping experience — our combined server-side and client-side tracking captures data at every touchpoint and sends that data directly to Google Analytics or Segment. If you’re using our Google Analytics app for Shopify, you can see that data directly in Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or your favorite reporting tool that works with GA, like Google Data Studio. If you’re using our Segment app for Shopify, you can send data to hundreds of Segment destinations for analysis or remarketing. Apps to fuel your ecommerce subscriptions Both Shopify and BigCommerce have a wide array of plug-and-play subscription apps that make it easy to boost your store’s performance; Littledata has built connections with the top subscription services in ecommerce to equip your team with the tools needed to make data-driven decisions. ReCharge ReCharge is a leading subscription management app, designed to let your store offer subscriptions with a few clicks. Since 2014, merchants of all sizes have used ReCharge’s billing and payment solutions to grow their business by increasing customer lifetime value and reducing customer churn. ReCharge has helped to power the growth of industry-leading brands like Wild and Grind through their revenue-boosting tools like upsells, SMS and email notifications, and actionable subscription insights. Check out our interview with Teddy Robinson, CMO and Creative Director of Grind, and find out how they harnessed accurate data to grow their monthly subscriptions by 50x in just three months. Bold Subscriptions Bold Subscriptions helps merchants to generate predictable recurring revenue and build customer loyalty with a customizable subscription program that’s unique to your business. The app is compatible with multiple ecommerce platforms, integrates with over a dozen payment gateways, and allows merchants to craft any subscription program with API customization. Bold Subscriptions is widely used across ecommerce platforms by brands like Wulf’s Fish and Staples Canada. Ordergroove Ordergroove is a recurring billing solution that helps merchants maximize subscriber enrollment, grow their AOV, and boost customer retention. Ordergroove allows customers to create a personalized subscriber experience through promotions, rewards programs, and more. It’s a popular solution for larger brands — like Yankee Candle and Kind Snacks — and offers a range of integrations to help brands scale. Smartrr Smartrr’s subscription ecommerce app is designed for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants to offer personalized subscriptions to their customer base, allowing subscribers to manage their recurring orders, providing gifting options, and offering upsell add-ons and product swaps that increase customer satisfaction. Their no-code approach makes it easy for early-stage ecommerce stores — like Misfits Market and Sanzo — to hit the ground running with subscriptions. Paywhirl PayWhirl provides powerful widgets & tools to manage your recurring billing. Paywhirl helps ecommerce stores sell subscriptions, pre-orders, payment plans, and more. Rebillia Rebillia makes subscription easy by giving customers the option to save payment information for future purchases, subscribe to their favorite products or services, and send powerful, automatic recommendation emails according to purchase history. Rebillia empowers major brands like Charmin and Gillette to sell by subscription. Should you use Google Tag Manager (GTM)? This depends primarily on the marketing tags that you plan to use and the sources you want to collect data from. If you're looking for an automated solution, Littledata's connections can easily replace GTM tags for Google Analytics and Google Ads through server-side tracking. Littledata takes care of tracking for other data destinations like email marketing tools and CRMs as well. But, if you plan to use other marketing tags (like TikTok, Pinterest, or Twitter) then you will need to set them up using GTM. For this solution, Littledata offers a plus plan that includes a full GTM setup to make sure you have accurate tracking. So what's next? The rise in subscription ecommerce is just heating up; what better time than now to launch your subscription store? From subscription management to analytics and more — there are tons of apps across Shopify and BigCommerce to help you scale your business.Take the first step towards making data-backed decisions with your 30-day free trial with Littledata.
Is your data haunted? [Guide]
For ecommerce stores, nothing is scarier than wasting money and effort following decisions made using bad data. But, integrating Google Analytics with Shopify or BigCommerce doesn't have to be a horror story. Our Halloween-themed Google Analytics guide will help you banish the phantoms in your data and get 100% accurate analytics for your store. Don't let your data keep you up at night The best way to combat inaccurate and rotten data is to arm yourself with the right knowledge and tools. In this Google Analytics guide, we share: How to fix your ecommerce tracking The top tools to help you do it The most common issues we see in analytics setups How to start making data-driven decisions for your store That includes our Google Analytics 101 guide which covers everything from why Shopify Analytics doesn't match Google Analytics to how to calculate customer LTV and track subscriptions in the Shopify checkout. See the full guide>>> Get the checklist to banish demons from your data While ecommerce analytics can seem a scary challenge at first, remember that many Shopify stores have been in your shoes before. The checklist in our guide will show you what ghouls stores most often find lurking in their data so you can rid them from your tracking and trust that you're using truly accurate analytics. Ready to claw the inaccuracies from your data? Get the full guide. [subscribe]
Podcast: Turbocharge Your Growth With Trusted and Accurate Data
Before you make any big decisions for your Shopify store, you need to know if you're making them based on the best possible data. Having 100% confidence in your store's analytics leads to you making the right decisions to improve your store design, offerings, and promotion methods. It's also the backbone of a growth plan that will help you reach your store's revenue targets faster. In the 200th episode of the eCommerce Fastlane podcast, our CMO Ari Messer sat down with eCommerce Fastlane's Steve Hutt to talk about why there's a discrepancy between Google Analytics and other analytics sources, how that bad data can lead you down a wrong decision-making path, and what to do so you set your store up for growth instead. The episode also touches on: How to finally have 100% confidence in your data accuracy First-party, zero-party data, and why they're important to your store How to audit and fix Google Analytics to ensure accurate tracking How to get accurate marketing attribution (including cross-domain and multi-currency) How to get accurate Facebook campaign tagging and campaign cost imported to Google Analytics Get a free analytics audit just for listening eCommerce Fastlane listeners can get a hands-on look at how to use Google Analytics, Segment, or any connected reporting tool to get more accurate data on their Shopify store. Get benchmarks for your store that help you analyze your place in the market, identify areas of improvement, and then plan a roadmap for building a better data stack that will supercharge your growth. [subscribe]
Lunch with Littledata: Can an agency like Blend help multiply your revenue?
Want to learn from DTC founders and entrepreneurs shaking up their industries? Check out the other entries in our Lunch with Littledata series. Every ecommerce store wants to grow. The path toward that growth, however, can look different depending on a wide range of factors. Your revenue, your current team, your benchmark targets — they all come into play. Working with a Shopify agency like Blend is a tactic some of the most successful ecommerce businesses have used to develop their startup stores into household names. But before making the decision to bring agency help on, you need to know all the things they can do for you and how they would fit into your overall work flow. In this installment of Lunch with Littledata, we spoke with Blend co-founder and CEO Adam Pearce to discuss how he founded the agency, the approach they take to helping different clients, and what you need to know about your store to make the decision to bring an agency on and multiply your revenue. Greg from Littledata: How did you start Blend? Adam Pearce: Like every good business: a few too many beers and putting large plans into interaction, really. I met my business partner Peter about six or seven years ago in Dubai and, incidentally, we’re married to two girls who are sisters. So my business partner is actually my brother-in-law, and we’re kind of a family business. When when we met, both of us were working completely different careers — Peter was a city surveyor and I was a teacher. Over a period of time, we both went on different paths. He started out with apps and found this thing called Shopify. I went down the sales and marketing route and became a marketing director for an app company. So we knew we both had skills in a similar area. Meanwhile, people kept talking about Shopify and I'm like “yeah, yeah, whatever — it’s just another flash in the pan.” As time went on we knew it was time to actually create something together. Back then — about four or five years ago — there weren't many agencies out there giving people both a Shopify site and the marketing that would sit very neatly with it. So we both quit our jobs and that's exactly the service we created. We started our business around the kitchen table, and four and a half years later, we’re up to 18 employees in two different countries. What an awesome origin story. So how is it having that kind of family business? What are the relationships like? It's good. I mean, it isn't without its ups and downs. Over the course of those four years, we had to go from being friends to brothers-in-law to business partners, and then balance all those things. And for a period of time, our wives were both quite active in the business as well. There was an interesting dynamic there where I'd be working on something with my wife at work, and then going home and trying to switch up from that. [caption id="attachment_13461" align="aligncenter" width="550"] The Blend Commerce family.[/caption] What we learned — particularly me and Peter — is that when you have an issue or something bothering you, you have to get it out into the open. We've got a really open relationship now where if there's something that we need to talk about, we'll get it talked about straight away. Because we had a period where we both didn’t want to have any sort of confrontation or discuss anything difficult — what we would call “real conversations” essentially. We actually got to a point about ten years ago where we felt we didn't really want to be in business together anymore. But we had a very big outside discussion/argument and off the back of it, we did a thing called an Insights Profile. What we discovered is that both of us have good ideas, but we attack them from different angles. That was literally the point at which our business started to skyrocket. I would say to anyone who works with family, getting comfortable having those difficult conversations early on is by far the best piece of advice to give. How important would you say analytics are to the clients you have, and what tools do they use? When it comes to analytics, the first time you mention it to the client you're probably going to get a look of fear. I think the major issue is that a lot of people in ecommerce have fooled around in Google Analytics. They’ve been to that nice pretty GA homepage with those lovely little graphs. But then they get a little bit deeper and find all this data inside and think, “where the hell do I start?” The key thing we realized is, as an agency, there’s no point in us using a tool like Google analytics and just sending clients report after report. A lot of the clients that we work with want a smaller subset of information. "The absolute worst thing you can do is not know both the story behind the data and the rationale behind that story." We try and help tell a story with that data. Because the absolute worst thing you can do is not know both the story behind the data and the rationale behind that story. You know as well as I do that you can take data and cut it in different ways to tell different stories. But if you give the rationale to explain why you cut it in that way, you aren't hiding anything. In terms of tools our clients use, there's probably a big mix out there. A lot of people will be using Google Analytics in different ways. But there are other specific tools that have latched onto over time as well. So obviously, the pandemic had a huge effect on ecommerce. A lot of stores saw a big surge in demand. Did you guys make any adjustments during it? And do you have any plans in place for a post-pandemic ecommerce world? Yeah, we actually had a pretty big change. Initially from a business point of view, like many we were thinking “are we going to be OK or do we need to cut back a bit?” Then after a period of about four to six weeks, we were getting a lot of extra demand from clients. One of the interesting stats that we discovered — particularly for pet brands we worked with — is that in a three-month period they increased their revenue by 600% year on year. So in that context, we found that a lot of people we work with were dealing with this big level of growth that they’ve never dealt with before. Some of these brands only had a staff of one or two people. From a management standpoint, they would say things to us like, “what am I supposed to do with this traffic? I'm having problems with inventory. I don't want to lose the benefit of the analytics tracking that I've got. I'm still spending on Facebook ads, but do I need to?” They had all these different things going on. Then thanks to their increased revenue, they’re also saying things like, “we want to do a project to redevelop our website. And actually, we still need you to do the maintenance. Oh, by the way, can we get some strategic advice?” When we started out, we were very much a project agency. About a year or so in, we saw that actually wasn't working for us. We had a very famous incident where we started a project for forty thousand dollars and in the end, we lost twelve thousand dollars on it. That was it was a pretty big learning curve. We decided to switch to a retainer model which worked really well for the clients and for us. But, in the pandemic, we saw that between a defined retainer approach vs. defined project vs. defined maintenance, people want to dip into all of them, so we set things up to be a lot more flexible. That's when we had the idea of an on-demand digital department. Now if you’re a brand that's growing, when you come to work with us you’re going to have the equivalent of a full-time employee within your business. You could be using us for Klaviyo marketing or maintenance on your site or even redeveloping your product prototype. What we work on doesn't have to be that set, and equally, month-to-month people can change their priorities based on the recommendations we're making for them. But, I've got to admit that like a lot of people in ecommerce, we have been very lucky to have been able to grow. And obviously, that's because our clients have been growing right there with us. When would you say is the best time for a Shopify store to hire an expert like Blend? For me, it's all about percentage of revenue. There were some informal studies done a little while back that said that you need to spend between three and five percent of your total revenue on things like store development and SEO if you want to maintain your current level of growth as a Shopify merchant. They also found that if you want to grow, spending five to eight percent of revenue would help you move beyond where you are at that moment. Now if you're looking at those numbers and saying, “well five to eight percent, there's no way I could commit that at the moment,” then my point of view would be to continue doing what you can manage, then get an expert agency when you hit a higher revenue point. If you're looking at three to five percent and saying “yeah, we can do that now,” I would say it's worthwhile to do it because ultimately, this is a results-driven industry that we're in. If you’re between $5,000 to $10,000 a week, you’re certainly at the point where hiring an expert agency makes sense. I wouldn't say there’s a particular revenue level you need to reach either. Obviously, if you're getting $100 a week coming through Shopify, $5 isn't going to go far with an agency. But if you’re between $5,000 to $10,000 a week, you’re certainly at the point where hiring an expert agency makes sense, plus you've got the budget an agency would be interested in. For the stores that have the right budget and are trying to decide between an agency or hiring someone in-house, what do you think the advantages are for doing the agency? The main benefit for going the agency route is that when you employ someone within your business, regardless of what their skills are, you're always going to have around a six to 12-week lag before they can reach full capacity. A lot of our clients say the benefit of having one of our developers work with them is that we do a briefing session, we start planning, then we start working. If you're bringing a developer into your business, you need to bed them in, handle onboarding, all that stuff. Another benefit for the agency route is that when you hire someone full time — and this is particularly true in the past year — no one really knows what the economy's doing and what might happen. So, depending on where you’re located and what employment status you need to use, it can be a bit of a risk. If someone joins the business and you decide actually, we can't afford them, it's quite a difficult and very emotionally draining process to let them go. With an agency, if you decide you can't afford them or don't want to work with them anymore, typically speaking, it’s only a month to a couple of months before you know if you’re going to have to say bye-bye. You also haven't got that emotional aspect to deal with. An agency expedites that time to get people hitting the ground running and brings the energy and manpower it takes to actually manage a member of staff. Is there a way that an ecommerce store could audit their website and their promotion methods to determine what they might need to improve? I've always been super impressed with Littledata’s different data insights and reports. Particularly what you guys have done with benchmark rates for things like conversion, drop-off rate, bounce rate, etc. Those are good sticking points because when you're running a business, you almost operate in a vacuum. It's unlikely you're going to have a bunch of people doing exactly the same things with the same product that you have. So if you're an apparel brand, you might talk to someone that you've met who's got a food brand, but his CPM and conversion rates are going to be massively different from yours. [tip]Get benchmarks for your ecommerce business against others in your industry with a 30 day free trial of Littledata's platform.[/tip] The main thing is to get hold of some data as a benchmark. Yes, it's just a benchmark, but you need to know how close or far away you are from those targets. The ones that you’re farthest away from, start fixing that first. Then work slowly but surely back through the others. Don't try and just fix something straight away. Find the most problematic thing you've got at the moment in terms of benchmarking your stats, work on it, fix it, and move on. That's my honest advice for how to work out what you need to do. How has data helped blend grow and succeed over the years? When it comes to data, the most key information for us tends to be around the number of leads we can get from our site based on the content that we put out. The data that has always been important for us is looking at UTM codes, where traffic is coming from, and what the actual conversions are to a call. We can see if someone clicks on a particular blog post and their user journey through the site is X, they have a 20 percent higher probability of converting to a sale than if they followed through another journey. So we try and navigate people to the particular areas of our site which are successful. We then use UI and UX to navigate people through that winning path with the hope that we then get them onto a call and obviously convert them. That's from our point of view. The other side is that when we work with a new client, we're always starting with a data point. When we first meet a client, they’ll usually show us their current site and point out what they want to change. When we ask what that change is based on, they usually say “well, it just feels like that's what we need to do.” It's really interesting that when you look into the data, particularly if you're using things like heat mapping software or looking at different analytics for site behavior, there are some things that that DTC brand owners understand very well and there are things they might feel come out of nowhere. It's hard when you’re so ingrained in a business to sit back and look at things like which website pages convert compared to others. That's where agencies like us are helpful because we can be that fresh set of eyes, look at the data side, and help make fixes. The clients win and we win because it means business. So data is important through and through. Right, it helps them get to that “a-ha” moment so they can understand where they might be losing a lot of attribution or where they can make website improvements. Exactly. Exactly. Do you think there’s one client of yours that you could say has been your most successful client? If so, why have they been your most successful? I like this question. There are a few different examples, and I can actually give two. The first one is a DTC startup brand that we worked with about three years ago. The founder had to dream and came to us to make it happen. We worked with her on designing the store, running the marketing, and started her on one of the biggest promotion methods at the time — Facebook groups. At that point, they were becoming a lot more important for developing a community for marketing. Within the first six to eight weeks, we got a heck of a lot of traction from those Facebook groups. The growth enabled that one founder, within two and a half years, to build a team of 10 people. They've got locations of different countries. They’ve got excellent margins. For me, that was a tremendous success because we've helped that one person not only get their dream but then take it even further. The other client I’d mention knew that their business had a lot of potential when they started working with us. They also had some ideas of what they wanted to do. Off the back of those ideas, we did an in-person workshop and found a lot of information that we just wouldn't have covered from simply looking at their data. We worked out that they had a lot of things happening on the operations side of the business impacting their ability to sell products. Now, in the time that I've been working with that client, they've actually 6x-ed their revenue and 8x-ed their profitability. That was a massive win because we were involved with something that transformed their business. Although ecommerce can feel a little bit devoid of being people-focused at times, I really like those kinds of success stories where you hear about the impact it makes on people. Ecommerce is a fantastic opportunity to do that. Particularly when we think about people like you and me as partners, the people working on the supply chain, people that make the product — there's a lot of people's lives that it touches. For me, that’s a massive buzz. We've noticed that ReCharge seems to be growing really fast, especially in the UK right now. Has that been your experience too? Massively. We partnered with ReCharge three or four years ago now. At the time we started, subscriptions were a much bigger business in the US. But in the past 18 months, there's been a massive boom in subscriptions in the UK, particularly on things that we like. Things like beer, like gin, like food (laughs). But I think you also see it in more unusual subscription items, like clothing, for example. I think it stemmed from the fact that people have become a lot more comfortable with buying through subscriptions overall. It was a bit of an alien concept to the UK market. The great thing with ReCharge is that they have that core focus of their tool being wholly on subscriptions. Yes, there are other options out there in terms of subscriptions, but our experience has been that ReCharge really does know their stuff very well. And, importantly, they look after their customers absolutely goldenly. That's important for us as an agency because when our clients work with partners like ReCharge, we want to feel like we're passing them on to safe hands. We've always been super impressed with ReCharge in that respect. With Shopify opening up the checkout, people were questioning what would happen with subscription services. But as we've seen in the past month or so that what ReCarge is doing is very distinct from what Shopify’s doing. It's much more focused toward those higher growth merchants than people who are starting out on the Shopify side. You work a lot with Klaviyo as well. Are email campaigns for subscription ecommerce pretty different from the email campaigns for nonsubscription? They are. It’s one of the areas that a lot of people get into trouble with because they don’t always make the connection that the process you need to take with email marketing is different for subscriptions. A prime example where we’ve seen a lot of clients we work with fall down is abandoned carts. For example, let's say I’ve got a gin subscription box, you happen to be a subscription customer, and you go and look at a particular gin on my site which may be part of your subscription. Because you’ve looked at that on my site and technically “browsed abandoned,” you’re going to get an email from me saying, “Hey! I caught you peeking at X, Y, Z, gin — get 10 percent off your next purchase for it here.” That's a surefire way for me to annoy you. And it’s one of the things that you have to be very, very careful with. You need to be sure you’re taking people out of certain flows in Klaviyo who are part of subscriptions. Secondly, when it comes to subscriptions, you need to do a lot more communication on email than you do for one-time purchasing. That’s because a) subscriptions are very valuable in terms of revenue, and b) the level of connection in that subscription customer is going to be higher. They're going to expect more from you. It's a fine line of getting the communication right. But as long as you are, as a starting point, separating emails off for singles versus subscriptions, then you should be on a good path. Quick links Learn everything you need to know about subscriptions and subscription analytics Find out why so many ecommerce stores are using Facebook's conversions API See how coffee maker Grind pivoted from brick and mortar to £500,000 monthly ecommerce revenue Boost your customer retention with 11 tested and trusted retention strategies [subscribe]
Why we migrated to microservices from Meteor
Why stores are using Facebook’s Conversions API
11 Ways to Increase Customer Retention for Ecommerce Stores
Customer retention at its simplest is the ability of a business to keep its customer base loyal. It’s also a vitally important metric — one that businesses rigorously track to see if their customers rebuy the same products, resubscribe to the same services, or continue to engage with their brand one way or another. But, keeping current customers happy is not easy — just ask an ecommerce store owner! Businesses lose significant revenue every year when customers jump ship to competitors. Why customer retention is crucial A good customer retention strategy helps a business create a solid plan for increasing customer value and nurtures the sales funnel. Focusing on customer retention can yield many benefits. Here are just a handful: Bigger growth potential - you need customers engaged and interested in your offerings to grow your business, including new products and services. Lower customer acquisition cost - always remember it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep your current customers happy and buying. Higher customer lifetime value - making relentless efforts to retain customers creates an emotional bond that strengthens the buying relationship, which will result in a more engaged customer base. The “wow” factor - a satisfying customer experience can help boost word-of-mouth marketing, since 87% of customers share their good experiences with others. Of course, you need a well-planned, long-view strategy to nurture your customers and build strong relationships that achieve these benefits. Below are 11 highly effective strategies to help you build a customer retention plan that will boost loyalty and drive revenue. 1. Educate customers about your business One of the best things about ecommerce is that your customers’ relationship with your business is almost completely online. So, they’ll likely be more receptive to hearing about your products and services via online promotion. Not every customer, particularly first-time buyers, will be aware of what your business is all about. Likewise, their loyalty will depend on how much they know about — and trust — your brand and products. Your website, social media pages, and ecommerce store should have accessible, high-quality content that: Explains how your products are used Demonstrates their benefits Answers customers’ frequently asked questions For example, this online mannequin seller went to great lengths in making sure their website is packed with detailed information, including product specifications, reviews, a detailed company history, shipping information, their lowest prices guarantee, bestseller lists, and FAQs. All their current promotions are displayed strategically, and they even have a “Why Buy From Us” page. To excel at educating new customers, follow these basics: Keep it simple by writing your product information so it’s easy to understand. Use unique strategies for your buyer personas which vary in age, preferences, and buying behavior. Start blogging to provide education and value to customers while also explaining your products and services. Hold webinars to answer buyer questions, demonstrate how your services work, and gather user feedback to make improvements. 2. Optimize your website for user experience Now that you’ve taken steps to boost your content and educate your customers, it’s time to enhance their user experience. This goes beyond basic information — it’s all about making your online store user-friendly, easy to navigate, and memorable, which will win customer loyalty. Using one of the top ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify or BigCommerce, is the best way to achieve this. They’re designed for flexibility and offer the plugins you need to optimize your online store. To optimize your store even further, you could enlist the help of expert User Exerience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designers to shape specific elements of your website and improve its navigation. A UX designer is responsible for making sure your website will function the way it should, while a UI designer designs the appearance of your website. A great user interface and user experience both have a huge impact on any visitor’s buying decision. Just how big, you ask? Consider this: It only takes about 0.05 seconds for visitors to form an opinion about your website (and whether they’ll stay or leave) 88% of visitors are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience 75% of online shoppers admit to making judgments on the credibility of a business based on its website design The key to making a strong first impression is to always optimize, optimize, optimize. Here are a few extra things you can do to make sure your new and current customers will have a great experience navigating your site: Minimize pop-ups by only using exit pop-ups to reduce cart abandonment rate. Simplify your check-out process (this is critical!) Reduce the steps customers need to take before making a purchase (i.e. use shorter fill-out forms and minimize clicks for completing transactions.) Ensure your site loads in five seconds or less. Optimize your site design for mobile devices, as most traffic comes from them. Highlight pieces of content that are dynamic and of high quality. 3. Build a strong social media strategy According to a data collected by Statista, almost 92% of US marketers in large companies use social media for marketing purposes. These big companies spend a huge chunk of their marketing budget on paid social media ads. Source: Oberlo Facebook and YouTube are the two most popular social media platforms in the world right now. On just these two alone, you can share new products and establish a brand culture by engaging in conversations with potential customers. Whether you’re working with a social media marketing agency or running campaigns yourself, keep these strategies in mind to harness the full power of social media: Showcase your personality. Don’t just post content for the sake of it. Build a brand persona that makes it easier for potential customers to remember and recognize you. Use hashtags, mentions, and direct comments to monitor your customers. Hashtags serve as “identifiers” associated with your ecommerce store. The ultimate goal is to make your unique hashtags as popular as the brand itself. Form collaborations. Team up with a social media influencer your audience loves or another brand from your industry that isn’t your competitor. Collaborations can expose your store to new audiences and will also strengthen your credibility with loyal customers. Share content created by your customers. Positive feedback from your satisfied customers acts as social proof for potential buyers. Encourage your happy customers to share pictures and videos featuring your products to their social media, tagging your brand. Wild, a sustainable deodorant maker in the United Kingdom, regularly shares their customers’ Instagram photos featuring the product. This is a great example of user-generated content marketing. Just make sure you’re not violating any social media privacy policies. To be on the safe side, always let the account owner know you’re using their content. 4. Provide multiple delivery options Customers always love more options and convenience — especially when it comes to delivery. Many ecommerce stores provide same-day or expedited shipping options for customers who want to receive their orders as soon as possible. For example, this online lingerie store offers free shipping for orders over $80. That’s pretty common, right? However, they also offer free international shipping on orders over $150, as well as same-day shipping if you place your order before 4 PM EST (not including holidays). They even have a discreet shipping option that makes the package safe to ship to home or work. Making these options available will make your customers feel like they’re truly cared for. You can also consider expanding options for returns and payments, as well. 5. Incentivize customer referrals Putting together a customer referral program brings two benefits with one action; it attracts potential customers and rewards your current customers. In terms of sales potential, referral programs can be significantly more valuable than other strategies. And they’re not that expensive, either! In fact, 54% of businesses say it costs less than other marketing channels. Take for example this amazing customer referral program by self-showing rental company Showmojo. This is how it works: They give their customers a referral link When a new user signs up with that link, they immediately save $50 The customer who originally referred them also gets a $50 credit if the referral stays with ShowMojo for 45 days The customer gets another $50 credit if the referral stays with ShowMojo for 145 days Customers can repeat this referral process as many times as they’d like Source: ShowMojo By rewarding both a current and new referral customer, you build a stronger bond with both, thus increasing loyalty. 6. Use targeted and personal marketing campaigns Personalization has always been one of the strongest marketing tactics, and with good reason — the effects of putting out a more personalized message are long-term. In fact, 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their personal needs influences their loyalty. So, simply using your customer’s name or making that extra effort to collect more personal information can make your advertising copy, push notifications, or email campaigns more effective. Below are simple yet powerful examples of personalized marketing you can try to boost customer retention: Display personalized offers to returning visitors Change store navigation based on visitors’ preferences Send personalized emails or notifications based on customers’ behavior Sort recent products by level of interest Recommend product categories based on browsing behavior Remind shoppers of recent engagements Suggest complementary products or show product recommendations 7. Offer excellent customer support Studies have shown that only 1 out of 26 ecommerce customers will complain if they’ve received bad customer service. The other 25 will most likely just leave without saying anything. Source: SuperOffice So, if you want to acquire and retain customers, ensure you offer them the stellar support they need. What are some of the ways to improve your customer support? Build a customer care team for inquiries, complaints, and clarification. Streamline your order fulfillment processes to reduce common problems. Actively listen to customers so you can identify issues and create a solution. 8. Start a customer loyalty program Starting a customer loyalty or reward program is as straightforward as customer retention gets. Through cashback, discounts, and other perks, you’re incentivizing customers to do business with you. Some of the effective loyalty programs that you can include in your customer retention strategy are: Exclusive deals to loyal customers Exclusive lifetime membership Coupons Cash-back offers Welcome gifts to new shoppers Rewards points for redeemable products or perks When launching a loyalty program, make sure to only adopt personalized programs that make the customer appreciate your brand. 9. Don’t just engage for the sake of it Engaging with customers becomes more real to them if you show the desire for genuine interaction. Effective communication is the hallmark of brand loyalty. Communication can be encouraged by sending text messages, surveys, and social media invites to your customers. You should also provide information on other ways they can reach out to you, but make sure you’re willing to answer those messages. Place social media icons and integrate a chatbot on your store website to make this process easier. 10. Learn more about your most loyal customers To understand more about loyal customers’ average spend and frequency of store visits, most marketers use the Recency, Frequency, Monetary (RFM) model. The metric establishes consumer behavior using those three quantitative measures to determine how customers behave when navigating through a store. Using the RFM model, you can rank a customer on a scale of 1-5. The most valuable customer is the one with the highest score in each category. 11. Use a subscription model Following a subscription (or recurring revenue) model is becoming increasingly popular in many industries, not just ecommerce. Source: Subscribed Institute Subscription models can come in many forms, and have gained traction across a wave of industries, from coffee to fashion and beauty. If you are going to commit to a subscription model, you should prepare to track key touchpoints of your website in a different way so that you maximize the value from your most important subscription metrics. Conclusion Retaining your customers boils down to one crucial goal: making your business the obvious choice for customers over anyone else. That means you should always be willing to try new approaches — as long as they help keep your existing customers coming back. Remember, it’s easier to make current customers happy than to look for new ones. What are the steps you’ve taken to make sure your customers are loyal to you? This is a guest post from Burkhard Berger, founder of Novum. You can follow him on his journey from 0 to 100,000 monthly visitors on novumhq.com. His articles include some of the best growth hacking strategies and digital scaling tactics that he has learned from his own successes and failures.
Lunch with Littledata: How Grind pivoted from brick and mortar to £500,000 monthly ecommerce revenue
Want to learn from DTC founders and entrepreneurs shaking up their industries? Check out the other entries in our Lunch with Littledata series. Making the leap to start an ecommerce store is a challenge. Doing it while pivoting from a strictly brick and mortar business at the height of a pandemic is a whole other challenge. That’s exactly what Grind did when launching their DTC store offering compostable coffee pods. Theirs is a story about finding value in your customers’ passion, relying on your team’s adaptability and resolve, and learning from your peers to drive exponential revenue growth. In this installment of Lunch with Littledata, Grind CMO and Creative Director Teddy Robinson sat down to talk through how the company launched its DTC store, as well as the data stack and promotion methods that combined to help them scale to 50x revenue in just a few months. Ari from Littledata: When we first met a few years back you were just transitioning into the online world. But I used to drink coffee from Grind in London years before that! Could you tell us how Grind launched? Teddy Robinson: Yes! It feels like kind of a long and winding journey now. The story goes way back to coffee shops in East London in 2011. It was such a profound year of change for coffee. For most of the 10 years previous you had Starbucks as the star, and then all of a sudden you had a boom of small indie coffee shops. That boom for us came at a really big time because it also followed the integration of social media for business. When I started at Grind in 2012, it seemed strange that you’d have an Instagram page for your business, because the thought was “people have Instagram, not businesses.” It’s phenomenal the way that's changed — now Instagram is the way that we market anything and the way we acquire customers. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Grind (@grind) Before lockdown, we had 11 cafes and restaurants around London serving coffee and cocktails, with some of them doing a thousand cups of coffee a day just in take away. Our brand became a bit of a backbone to the startup culture in East London and Central London that arrived around us. People would have their product launches and funding rounds celebrating in our little coffee shops. At the same time, we stopped meeting people in real life for the first time and increasingly found ourselves meeting them online and then bringing them into stores. Digital content began leading the business to a point where when we were building a restaurant, we’d be going “oh, my God, this is going to be a great photo for Instagram.” So what kept you focused on growing from standalone coffee shops to finally going online? Over the years we built an incredible brand through brick and mortar stores and newsletters. We became a part of people's lives in a really meaningful, authentic way. As time went on, we realized increasingly that the business model of trying to get our hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers — often from around the world — to one of nine brick and mortar locations was really, really unsustainable. But at the same time, we built an incredible pedigree for being able to serve great coffee. People saw themselves as being a Grind customer rather than a Starbucks customer. At about the end of 2018, we started working on what would be become our first DTC project. At that point, DTC was in full swing. So we set up a Shopify store offering compostable coffee pods for Nespresso machines. The sustainability aspect was really important to us, and after being in the coffee industry for ten years, our expertise about coffee and roasting helped us say, “wow, we can do something different and really meaningful and use our supply chain in a way that other businesses just can't.” At the same time, we've got this brand pedigree that we can leverage for helping people make better, more sustainable coffee at home. That’s great you were able to adapt and introduce an online version of Grind coffee so quickly. Do you feel the Grind community is still growing on the ground in London as well? Running a hospitality business in London is really difficult and has become much more difficult in the last 10 years, let alone the last year. The idea of selling coffee to people at £3 a cup is nothing short of a volume game. But with that said, now there’s much more of a self-sustaining coffee culture. It was all twenty-five-year-old art students ten years ago, and now my mum won't drink a coffee unless they’ll give her a flat white. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Grind (@grind) And obviously, the big thing with the storefronts is the pandemic. We went into lockdown last year and — although we were able to move all our staff on furlough — effectively the business as we knew it just kind of evaporated overnight. We were closing the doors on all these locations in a way that we would never have ever considered doing in the past, and it just felt like the end of the world in a lot of ways. How much of Grind was already online at the beginning of the pandemic? I think less than half of a percent. Before lockdown, we had a business of about three hundred people. The only ones who were working on the DTC project were me and the founder. For us, it was really just good fun and a bit of a side project. That was also a point where we'd never spent a penny on ads. We were really just leveraging a tiny number of our customers. Basically, when people asked about our ecommerce store, we’d send them to it. It was a long time of just finding a few hours a week together to figure out setting up Shopify, setting up Littledata, and pulling all the pieces there to allow us to grow it bigger. [tip]Start your ecommerce journey using accurate data with a complimentary data analysis when you try Littledata free for 30 days.[/tip] How did you begin to build the audience for your ecommerce site? Did you already have an email list? Yes, and I think we were really lucky in that so much of our CRM was already built. We had a quarter of a million people's email addresses and 150,000 Instagram followers before we even had a Shopify site. We used things like the good old-fashioned WiFi email sign-up form to build the list. And then obviously lockdown arrived and we came to a point where around 95 percent of the business went into furlough. We gave those remaining on staff the option to choose furlough or pivot to help us with roles we needed to get the Shopify store up and running, things like email automation. And actually, we had a really incredible response in terms of the number of people who re-skilled in the last year. People were willing to try on a different hat and have become really passionate about something they never imagined doing a year ago. Also at that point, we were already working on what would what our first Facebook ads would look like. Once we’d closed all the physical doors and revenue went to zero, immediately the plan went from taking a two-month run at starting Facebook ads to two days. And they picked up really quickly. In terms of revenue, we went from doing £10,000 a month in February to doing £500,000 a month by May or June. Without DTC, this business would have died in lockdown. The fact that we went 50x in three months I think was down to loyalty. That was also a sink or swim moment for the business. I’m certain the funding that we’ve been able to secure since then has very much come off the back of that revenue growth — it genuinely saved the business as a whole. Without DTC, this business would have died in lockdown. Wow, it’s incredible you were able to scale conversions so quickly. Was your social promotion mostly concentrated on Facebook? Or were you also doing Pinterest and other channels? We hit the ground running and had to figure out Facebook, Pinterest, and Google to begin with. Then we had the challenge of figuring out what our ads should look like, while at the same time building the data stack underneath to track attribution. The ability to plug in off-the-shelf services like ReCharge to offer our subscription service, then build very strong Shopify store themes and plug that all together with Google Analytics by Littledata was really the foundation of the entire ecommerce business. We certainly couldn’t have done it without that. The ability to remain agile at the point where we most needed it was entirely built on a foundation of attaching these various off-the-shelf tools together with Littledata. It’s great to hear our GA connection was such a big piece of your growth. As you started to learn those different promotion channels like email marketing, did you look at any specific top-level stats? For subscription orders, definitely measuring the differences in customer LTV for subscribers versus “one-time purchasers.” In the early stages, though, revenue and return on ad spend (ROAS) were really the biggest top-line metrics for us. The challenge of having to build a data foundation while also building the house (the store) on top of it felt almost like life or death. The plug and playability of Littledata’s reporting tools is really what allowed us to do it. Is the main chunk of the business still going through coffee subscriptions? I’d say although we're not a “mono-product business,” a huge amount of our revenue is just through our compostable coffee pods. We're roasting a huge amount of our coffee ourselves and we can then grind that for people. I guess you could say the coffee pods are kind of our hero product; it's just an incredibly convenient way to to to make a really great, sustainable coffee at home. And since you're roasting it all yourself it’s always high quality. Oh, yeah. We have a high level of control there. Investing significantly in things like our supply chain and roasting equipment definitely allowed much of our growth in the early stages. There's a lot of bad advice out there on how to bootstrap a business in 30, 90, or 120 days. But actually, it just comes down to getting on with it, finding the right tools, and gathering people smart people enough to figure those tools out. With DTC as a whole, there's a bit of a roadmap now, right? People have done this thing before. And there are so many tools, whether it’s you guys at Littledata, or Shopify, or ReCharge, people have walked through these issues before. And in our experience, the people building those tools have always been happy to help out and to make things work for us. Bootstrapping a DTC brand just comes down to getting on with it, finding the right tools, and gathering people smart people enough to figure those tools out. Do you have any kind of advisory board or do you talk with other brands to help your growth? I know some people do and some don’t. It’s funny — when you're spending so much time looking at growth metrics, it's really easy to look at everyone as competition. But actually, there’s an incredibly interesting community of people (in DTC) and we're all on quite similar journeys. So I wouldn't say I’d call what we have an advisory board, but there's certainly a lot of people around London or even the U.K. who are at different stages on the same journey as us. Because this process is so online, it can sometimes feel solitary. But actually, there are people in the same place who are really keen to help out. And then the competition helps fuel the conversation. Quick links Build better Facebook Ad audiences by targeting the most valuable leads Boost customer LTV by tracking subscriptions in the checkout Is a headless setup righty for your store, and how do you track it? Learn everything you need to know about Shopify Analytics
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