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Up-front, reliably recurring revenue is probably the shiny, candy-red apple that tempts you into developing a subscription model, but it’s the long-term advantages that pack the most punch for business growth, says Emma Clark, senior product manager at subscription platform Recurly.
“The benefit of moving to a subscription model is that you’re able to develop a relationship with the customer,” Clark explains. “You’re able to learn more about the customer that you wouldn’t be able to through a one-time transaction — and really maximize the value of that relationship.”
But the biggest mistake a subscription business can make is underestimating the complexity of payments and billing, which directly impacts customer retention.
“Companies think about churn traditionally as the customer not wanting to use their service anymore, but they forget about what we call involuntary churn,” Clark says. And that happens when a customer’s credit card payments fail and the customer drops your service, either because they don’t notice or because it’s not convenient to update their info.
“You put a lot of investment up front to acquire customers, so the value you get from them is the most important revenue driver,” Clark says. “Over the lifetime of the subscriber, if you’re not managing your churn, then your LTV or your subscriber lifetime value is always going to be lower than you want, and that costs a lot to the business. You may not even get a payback on that customer.”
There are two steps to manage this, says Clark, both in-house and with the help of a subscription platform.
“On our side, we work with the credit card companies and we automatically update the credit card information for the customer, so that the next time the payment is run it will automatically go through, assuming the information is accurate,” she says.
The other is by always staying on top of those payment failures, and make re-upping as frictionless as is possible.
“When either payment information is out of date or when a customer cancels, proactively reach out to those customers before they churn,” Clark says. “Reach out to your customers and say hey, remember the value proposition? We do want your business, we want you to re-enage with us, please reach out to us.”
And then, she says, make that really simple for them. “So no going online, clicking five steps to update your credit card information,” Clark adds. “Either make it a one-click process to update it, or give them one number for them to update their information. We see a lot of success with our customers out there who are trying to minimize that friction.”
For more essential best practices for customer retention, what data you need to stay on top of and why, plus the latest research and benchmarks on key subscriber acquisition metrics, don’t miss this interactive VB Live event.
Don’t miss out!
Register here for free.
In this VB Live event, you’ll:
- Identify the most effective subscription plans and promotions
- Compare your trial program performance against industry benchmarks
- Use best practices to create a frictionless subscription experience
- Capture the key metrics for measuring acquisition performance–plan performance, MRR, LTV and more.
- Emma Clark, Senior Product Manager, Recurly
- Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat