How to Build a Loyalty Program in the Subscriptions Industry

February 7, 2017
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No matter what you’re into, there’s probably a subscription service to fit your needs.  For years, people have been subscribing to monthly wine and book services that delivered products right to their door, and since the birth of Birchbox in 2011 the craze has exploded to include brands in virtually every industry.

By making recurring purchases easier, subscription services have made shopping convenient again.  Now, customers are able to enjoy new, top-of-the-line quality products every single month without having to leave their home.  This convenience contributes to exceedingly high customer lifetime values that are immensely profitable for any brand lucky enough to secure them.  But what does it take to secure those types of CLVs?  While it may not be a monthly recurring delivery it’s just as convenient: a loyalty program.

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There are very few people out there who actually enjoy shopping.  While they might enjoy the end result, planning an outing and fitting it into their busy schedule often feels more like a chore than a leisurely activity.  This makes the convenience of subscription services overwhelmingly appealing.  Removing this barrier makes it even more integral to rise above your competitors in order to secure these guaranteed repeat purchases.

loyalty program in the subscriptions industry overview

(Find out how to increase your customer lifetime value with a loyalty program HERE!)

While this might seem like a tall order, your customers’ behaviour gives you many opportunities to woo them.  Social media is a huge influencing factor in this industry.  People love to share their lives with others, and opening a new product is the perfect experience to share with friends.  These types of shared experiences create a strong affinity and relationship with a brand, amplifying the customer experience and increasing their desire to return in the future.

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This desire to return will save you from falling victim to the ever-increasing host of competition.  With relatively low shipping and product acquisition costs, many brands have taken an interest in subscriptions with no intention of slowing down.  Getting ahead of these competitors with a well-established loyalty program can make all the difference between staying ahead and falling behind in this quickly-evolving market!

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(Increase profit, build community and more with a loyalty program designed with our FREE guide!)

The concept of “unboxing” has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years.  New and returning customers alike get excited to share the joy of receiving new products and have built thriving social communities around the act of discussing and examining new products with every subscription renewal.  Rewarding customers for this action demonstrates a keen understanding of your audience while also increasing your advertising reach – the more people share your products, the more potential customers you have!  This win-win provides the basis for building a strong loyalty community that engages with your brand on a regular basis.

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(Discover how to acquire, retain, and nurture your best customers in the full guide!)

Although social share rewards are a highly impactful way to combine acquisition and retention marketing, you can take that even further by rewarding for referrals as well.  Customers who are new to the subscription marketplace will most likely have no idea where to start, and will be happy to receive recommendations from their friends and family.  When you reward your existing customers for referring their friends to your brand, you associate your brand with a strong sense of credibility that can’t be ignored.  This increases their desire to continue exploring your brand.

You can further boost retention rates by keeping your rewards fresh and engaging.  Promising your customers new transactional or experiential rewards every couple of months will keep their interest peaked and have them engaging with your store more often.  Similarly, introducing status-based rewards and customer tiers will ensure that your best customers stay motivated to spend more in order to get more, increasing engagement levels in your most profitable customer demographic.

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(Learn how social sharing and referrals can work together to boost your acquisition marketing campaign.)

With such high engagement on the table, you need to make it worth your customers’ while.  After all, if your rewards aren’t viewed as valuable what’s stopping your customers from jumping ship to another subscriptions provider?  The subscription industry’s potential for high margins should make this relatively easy for you as a brand,  giving you plenty of wiggle room to offer your customers rewards with highly visible (and easy to understand) value.

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(Find out more about the impact of smart discounts in the Loyalty Program for the Subscriptions Industry guide)

Transactional rewards is the easiest place to do this.  Whether it’s free shipping, dollars off, or a percentage off their next purchase, customers are always eager to redeem their rewards for something with clear, easy-to-measure value.  

Alternatively, offering your customers the chance to redeem rewards on special perks takes your program to a whole new level.  Rewarding your customers with free products, special events, and member exclusive products simply for referring a friend or sharing on social media elevates your loyalty experience to a place that’s hard to compete with.  Now, your brand is clearly equating value and accessibility, making participating in your program very hard to pass up and all the more appealing for anyone looking for an easy, convenient subscription service.

loyalty program in the subscriptions industry summary

So what does it take to build the best loyalty program in the subscriptions industry?

1. Develop a program strategy which places excellent value and customer service at the core of your program.

2. Reward your customers for sharing your brand on social media and referring friends to establish trust between new customers and your brand.

3. Provide multiple ways to earn rewards, focusing not only on dollars spent but on the complete experience.

4. Use transactional and experiential rewards to acknowledge profitable customer actions that help promote your brand to potential customers.

 

With these four tips under your belt, you’re setting your brand up for long and continued success in the exciting, fast-paced world of customer subscriptions.  So sign yourself up for recurring profitability, and get started with a subscriptions loyalty program today!

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