Online subscription models are hard to maintain but come with a great reward. Today, there’s absolutely no use in trying to implement contracts or minimum subscription periods. After the crisis, people need flexibility, and even a whisper of a contract can send someone running to your competition.

This leaves you with the question, how can you implement strategies to reduce churn in your subscription business and maintain happy customers? In this article, we’ll explore 11 tactics to consider and provide some best practices to help you achieve a lower chun rate.

11 ways to reduce churn in your subscription business

When identifying ways to reduce churn for your subscription-based business, it’s often best to run a churn analysis. Among many other things, this analysis will help you identify if you have a particular calendar period in the year that customers drop off. It will also help you understand if customers unsubscribe after a certain amount of months with you. A churn analysis should help identify your what and hypothesize your why.

It’s great to get down into the nitty, gritty with data, but there are also some best practices you should abide by to keep customers with you— regardless of what your product is and its seasonality.

1. Focus on customer service

The hack for happy customers is customer service. Customer service comes in a few forms in today’s world, and with the help of technology, it’s not as time-consuming as you think.

Introduce tiered levels of customer service to your subscription model. Not every inquiry needs to go to a human, consider introducing a chatbot to your customer service options to help people find the information they need.

Glovo in-app customer service

Take your customer service a step further and introduce an omnichannel strategy. Not everyone has a Twitter account and wants to chat with a rep through DMs. Consider:

  • A website chat-bot
  • Social DMs
  • In-app chat
  • Whatsapp for Business
  • Over the phone

All of these options cater to different customer’s needs and preferences, they’ll earn a positive affinity among your current customers.

2. Get seasonal

No matter what your product or service is, it’s highly likely it will not be used the same way or the same amount throughout the year. Seasonality plays a huge part in how people interact with your product and business. Remember, your churn analysis should help you identify if you have a low-season, and suggest how to eradicate it.

Think of ways that your communication, marketing, and even product itself can adapt to the seasons. Find innovative use-cases for your product in “low-season” and encourage people to remain subscribed all year round.

3. Create a points system

Gamifying your subscription business can be just the ticket to get customers to stay with you and engage with your brand more. Try introducing a points system that focuses on customer loyalty.

Points program to reduce churn

Set challenges, micro-goals, and milestones to work toward. Build a roadmap with token rewards and badges, so people have something to visualize. In doing so, you’ll add an extra level for customers to continue using your subscription service.

4. Ask for feedback

People are happy to give feedback and support brands they love to grow. However, what you need to do is show that you’re acting on feedback. Find a feedback solution tool that works for your business and incorporate it into your communications strategy.

Once you’ve collected your feedback, share it out, and answer how you plan to act upon it.  This feedback can genuinely help your business to grow. You can write it into your product requirements document or new feature plan, and build on something you know is a need for your current customer base.

5. Build a referral program

Most businesses use a referral program to acquire new customers, however; it can also help customer retention. Offer referral rewards like a discount, free product, or free shipping. Not only are you building a customer base, but you’ll be encouraging current customers to use and buy more with your subscription business.

You’ll also be playing into customer psychology as friends will feel responsible for continuing to use your product after their friend joins your subscription. Who would refer something they don’t use?

Referral program for reducing churn

6. Remind people of their benefits

Sometimes all people need is a little reminder. Use email or app notifications to remind people of the benefits when using your product. If you’re in a position to collect data on their usage, then identify the benefits they’re not capitalizing on with your product. Amazon Prime does this really well.

Amazon prime benefits

However, you also need to be careful with how you deliver this information. If you deliver it too often or in a way that someone doesn’t see a benefit, your messaging can be a reminder for someone to cancel their subscription with you.

7. Announce new features

Show that you’re always working towards a better experience for your customers and announce new features or services you’re launching.

These should not come at an extra cost for a current subscriber; they should be a bonus to their current subscription plan. New features can increase your customer base and earn more with new subscribers, while keeping your current customer base happy.

8. Build a community

A community is not a collection of people that uses your product— those are your customers. A community is a collection of people, no matter how big or small, that come together over a mutual love or interest of something.

How you nurture that community is up to you. But, when building it, it’s essential to be conscious of GDPR law. How you handle data is under scrutiny, so make sure you’re asking people if they would like to be part of a community before you put them together.

You can build a community on a social channel, a communication platform like Slack, or build an offline community— it all depends on your product and the type for people who enjoy it.

N26 #BigBankingChat

Don’t be afraid of giving your community a platform. Too many brands shy away from connecting their community for fear of a complaint snowballing out of control. If your customer service is doing a good job, you never need to worry about using a platform to connect people. Instead, use a community platform to bring people together and keep them together.

9. Show random acts of kindness

A little kindness goes a long way— especially when it comes to positive brand affinity. Kindness acts run in Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion: Reciprocity. By gifting people randomly, messaging people a note of thanks, or giving them a perk with your product as a complete surprise, it will do wonders for how they perceive and feel about your brand.

Deliver your random acts of kindness in a personalized way, make someone feel special, and thank them for being part of your business’s journey.

10. Provide value elsewhere

If you want to reduce churn in your online business, don’t only focus on your product to retain customers. Look at what else your business can bring to the table. In what area are you in a unique position to provide value and knowledge? does a fantastic job of this as a social media management tool. They’re not only providing customers with a solid product that they’re continually adding new features to, but they also provide their customers with insights— delivered in a succinct newsletter.

This is a free service, provides value, and something that they’re in a unique position to do. Consider doing the same with your business model.

later value-add to reduce churn

11. Give an invite back

Last on our list is a tactic we hope you don’t have to use so often. It’s an exit request strategy. If someone wants to unsubscribe from your online business, you get one shot at getting them to stay. Deliver this shot wisely.

Now is not the moment to play with empathy that you can achieve using strategies already mentioned. If you’ve done everything you can, an exit is because of two reasons:

  1. Someone can no longer afford your product.
  2. Someone no longer uses your product.

Try to prevent churn by answering point number one and offer a discounted rate to stay for a certain period. If this fails, then you need to learn why that person who initially had use for your product no longer does. You can follow up with a short survey to discover what changed and why someone no longer needed your online subscription.

Learn from the answers you get, some you may be able to work on, some you may not, but the data will be valuable nonetheless.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, this article provided some insight into how you can retain customers for your own online business. What you can’t fix in a product you can fix in operations and retention tactics. Use data, get feedback, and continue to build a fierce business subscription model that people stick with, no matter what.

This is a guest post by Ray Slater Berry, content strategist at Outreach Humans. He has been working in social media and content marketing for eight years. He specializes in the tech, innovation, and travel sectors. He is also a published fiction author with his first title, Golden Boy.