Retention, retention, retention! That is the key to a profitable subscription business. Here are our 30 tips and tricks for you to try in your business to plug subscriber and revenue leaks!
1. A thank you video. Make the first page that your customers see a video that welcomes new members to the membership, gives a brief explanation of where they can find the content that they’re looking for and again, reinstates and reminds them that they’ve made a good purchase. Many membership and subscription businesses don’t have this welcome video or this thank you video. It’s really important to thank people for becoming members but to also give them a quick overview of where they can begin finding everything within the site.
2. Handwritten thank you notes. This may seem daunting especially if you’ve got a membership organization or business that has thousands of members. However, the impact is significant and if there is any way that you can set aside time to write them, the impact will surprise you primarily because you’re taking the digital world and you’re going offline and making it real. When people received a handwritten thank you, it has a much greater impact on their perceived value of the digital goods that they have just purchased.
3. Thank you, phone call. A phone call is similar to the handwritten thank you note in the sense that it can have a profound impact when you call to thank and welcome them and to help them get more comfortable. During this phone call, you do not necessarily want to be trying to upsell them into something else. The primary purpose of this particular phone call is to welcome them to the membership, to make them feel more comfortable and to help them get started consuming your content. The reality is that the faster they begin consuming your content, the much more likely they are going to remain a member.
4. Send a “welcome tweet.” This is a very easy way to be able to reach out to your new members who have joined and at the same time provide social proof of the fact that you continuously have new members who are joining your business. The only manual effort in this whole process is seeking out the Twitter handle of your new members. You could actually have a field as part of your registration page where they fill in their Twitter handle.
5. Quick start videos. More often than not, when people join your membership organization or business, they’re going to have questions about where to begin consuming content. People will be signing up for your business for different reasons because different elements of your business have grabbed their attention and that’s what’s convinced them to join. Business owners want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the content that they’re looking for. Quick start videos enable you to give your members a quick tour, showing them the different areas of your business and therefore making it easier for them to find the content that is most appealing.
6. Overlap content. Consider spacing out your content to keep the reader hooked on what you’re offering because psychologically we want to complete whatever we have started. You essentially compel your readers to stay to simply satisfy the itch. Overlap your content so that you start something one month and you finish it the next. In the month that you finish, you need to then start something else. By doing so, you’re going to keep your members compelled to find out how this content finishes one month to the next.
7. Tease upcoming content. Just like the tried-and-true tactics of television shows that keep you coming back for more, previewing your upcoming content creates anticipation for what’s coming up. The two most powerful words for retention are “coming soon,” where creating anticipation for your future content is a very powerful retention strategy.
8. Content contributions. Think about ways that you can involve your members within your membership or subscription to contribute content. The more they contribute to your business, the more they’re going to want to see it succeed. In this case, with content contributions, you can involve your members in a variety of different ways: through articles, tips, videos, tutorials, or any other contributions that your members could add to your business. The more members you can involve in this process, the better. If you have members who have an expertise in the niche market that you’re serving, use them!
9. Bite-sized Content. We live in a world where we have information coming at us left, right and center. Many times it can be overwhelming, especially when the content that we’re trying to consume is so lengthy. We don’t have hours upon hours to go through PDF documents and watch 90-minute videos every day. Think about taking your content and creating bite-sized versions. Take that 90-minute video and break it down into four 15-minute videos, which are very easy to consume, or take that 50-page PDF and break it into 5-page installments. When you distil down your larger content pieces, your rate of consumption will go up. When your consumption goes up, your retention rates will as well.
10. A weekly recap. As a subscription business that is providing a lot of fresh content every week, many times your members will lose sight of all of the new things that you have added in that weekly period. Begin to utilize a weekly recap where you highlight some of the juicy pieces of content that you have added to your membership organization or business in the past week. By doing so, you’re reminding your members of the value that you’re continuously providing them with their membership. If you don’t do that, all the new content that you’ve added gets lost because many times when members come back, they only seek out what is new on the front page. They don’t realize that last week you had all this other content that would have been a value to them. This allows your members the ability to quickly glance over the recap and cherry pick the items that are of the most importance to them.
11. Video recap. Similar to the weekly recap, you can model the same concept by providing it in a video format. This is effective because it brings out the personality from within your business. The key here is it also helps you to develop relationships. Many times when people visually see you or whoever is in the business, providing the content, it helps your audience build a connection with those people. A personal connection is a much stronger bond than a simple content connection. Tying the two together by providing a recap of all the things that are happening in your membership, not only the new content that has been provided but also any upcoming events that you have going on and any upcoming member benefits that your members should be aware of.
12. Removing old dates. Removing dates that are older than 30 or 60 days from your front page shows that you’re continuously adding fresh new content. After that period, it begins to date itself, so keep your content evergreen and to prevent your members getting turned off!
13. Tiered content. In any membership organization or business, you are going to have members that come in at different levels. Some are going to be beginners, some are going to be intermediate and some are going to be more advanced. Knowing that ahead of time, you can begin catering content to their specific needs. Asking up members to classify up front when they join if they think of themselves as a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Based on the selection that they made, you can then present content that is much more relevant.
14. Achievement certificates. Giving your members something to work towards by presenting them with an achievement certificate presents a sense of pride and it gives your members something to continuously work towards. This is very important because they’re now involved in a process. They’re not just consuming the content but they’re consuming the content with a purpose behind it. Any time you can do that, you’re going to increase retention significantly.
15. Technology & tools. The key with tools is two-fold. First and foremost, be clear on your process, or what do your members have to do to go from A to Z, to be successful with whatever you’re teaching them. Once you’re clear on that process and you’ve broken it down into different steps, then you begin thinking about what tools you can create to help speed up that process at each step for your members. When you break it down like that, you’re naturally going to be able to think of different things that you can create. Here is the key, when you create them, you do not provide them as downloadable tools. These are not downloadable tools. These are tools that can only be accessed by logging in to your membership organization or business. This is a great retention strategy because the more you teach your members to utilize that software or those tools, and the more they begin incorporating them into their daily practice, the more dependent they become on your particular membership. The key here is to think about what tools you can create for your members and then secondly, providing those tools, not as a download but the only way they can access them is by being a member. This is a very powerful tactic for retention.
16. Participation points. Think about different things for which you can award points to your members. For example, you could simply reward points to them just for logging into your subscription product because you want to reward that action. That’s something that you want them to do more of. Likewise, give your members points for leaving comments or posting in your forum and participating in contest and surveys. The more ways that you can find to reward your members who are taking the type of action you want to see, the higher your retention rates will go. The key here is with these points, giving your members a way to be able to utilize those points. Whether it would be to get additional member benefits, whether it would be to be able to purchase different things perhaps from a store that you may have or whatever it may be but these points have real world value. Obviously, from a digital perspective, it’s much easier to be able to provide those points or to be able to provide those benefits from a cost-benefit analysis.
17. Leaderboard. Publicly show who the top people are within your membership. Who is earning the most points because that creates a sense of pride and it allows you to also easily identify who the superstars are within your membership. With this, create two different leaderboards. One is an all-time leaderboard since you started your business while the other is monthly so you don’t discourage new members who want to take advantage of your subscription product.
18. Overlapping contests. Start a contest in month one, and announce the winners in month two. The reason this is powerful is because if somebody is participating in a contest, they’re naturally going to want to see who wins that contest. If you don’t announce the winners until the next month, naturally they’re going to hang around until next month to find out who the winners are.
19. Local Meetups. The bigger your business grows, the more you will have members who are from the same city or same geographical area who share a common interest. There is nothing that cements that relationship with you and your members more than an offline gathering. If you can help facilitate these, then you’re going to find that the retention of those members goes up significantly because now they feel much more part of a community and they’ve developed relationships with you and with others they’ve seen face to face. They’ve shaken hands, they’ve shared a drink, whatever it may be, there’s a much deeper bond and deeper connection when you’re meeting people offline. If you are a B to B, you can take some of the big trade shows or association conventions, even if you’re not involved with that association or trade show, you can have a meetup for everybody who is going to be there. Just pick a time when maybe the association or the trade show doesn’t have an official thing going on. Maybe you’re going to do your cocktail party, often a breakfast is a good time.
20. Member spotlight and Case studies. Spotlights are where you highlight a member who has done something that you want the rest of your members doing. You want to show the rest of your membership, “Hey, here are people who are implementing what we’re teaching. They’re doing a great job and let’s congratulate them as a group.” Case studies are slightly different and are much more in-depth. They take a much more detailed look into a member again, who has implemented whatever you’re wanting them to implement. A case study is much more in detail, it’s much more in depth, you’re generally in an interview where you’re asking multiple questions of those people and you’re really drilling down into what they did, how they did it and why they’ve been successful in implementation.
21. Mastermind groups. When new members join, give them the option to also join an “exclusive” smaller group of people who share knowledge and support one another as they implement what they’ve learned from your business. If you sell physical products this could be about helping them get the most out of your product. Your customers will gain added value of building strong relationships with people similar to them. You’ll see a rise in the consumption of your content or the use of your products or services will go up among those members who joined your groups.
22. Membership forums. Institute a members-only forum where your members are able to ask questions, start threads and participate in discussions. Juicy discussions in member-only forums not only help you as far as retention, but they also create a sense of pride and exclusivity for your members. One key thing to remember is to make the forum evident on your website, whether it’s in your top navigation or on the sidebar, so non-members can see what they’re missing. This will not only help you convert non-members into members, but it will also help you as far as retention because your members feel like they’re getting a benefit that’s exclusive to them.
23. Superb support. It’s not just tutorials or help guides, though you’ll need those too. It’s really the little things that make up quality customer service: simply being there every single time when your customers have questions, and helping them to find what they’re looking for no matter how difficult the request. If a customer has a request and it goes unanswered for several days, even weeks, they’re going to become extremely frustrated and they’re going to leave. If you can help them immediately find what they’re looking for and then provide helpful suggestions for their other questions, they’re going to begin consuming your products and services more often. This is the key to helping a new member become active within the membership.
24. No-brainer pricing. Typically when members join your subscription business, they do so for a multitude of reasons. It could be your content or product, or the community of peers and experts you’ve assembled. Some may join because you provide a particular bonus every month. As a subscription business owner, it should matter less to you why people are joining than the fact that they’re staying. Having the different components of your business be of the same perceived dollar value that the overall membership is worth engenders value. This is the basis of the “no brainer” pricing in that your subscribers feel they are getting a deal by getting all of the unique aspects you offer for the price they would pay for just one of those things. The secondary reasons are what really add the icing to the cake.
25. Grandfathered pricing. Everyone loves a good deal, and implementing a simple pricing strategy that rewards people with a discounted price when they join is particularly effective when you’re launching a new membership or subscription business. For example, in the first week, price your membership at $15 a month. Anybody who joins during that first week locks in that price. After that first week, raise the monthly price. Here’s where the grandfathered pricing strategy comes into play – anybody who joined at $15 will enjoy the rewards of that price for as long as they remain a member in good standing. Even if there are increases along the way, they will continue to be rewarded with the $15 price. Generally speaking, the people who join first will be your best and most loyal customers. So even if the per-month price is low, their lifetime value will be higher than your other customers who came in at a higher per-month price.
26. Surprise anniversary gift. Send your members a surprise gift they don’t foresee or they don’t know is going to come on a given date. It could be on the anniversary of the date when they’ve joined, or if they accomplished something within your membership on a given date. What’s important is rewarding members with a gift as a surprise because a surprise has a much greater impact than something they knew was coming.
27. Anniversary badges. Establish time periods in which your subscribers will be awarded badges for continuous membership. Whether it’s three, six or 12 months, you’re visually showing everyone else who your top members are. You’re giving them a status symbol while at the same time giving new members a goal to work towards, and a good reason to stay on as a subscriber. This may sound silly, but there are different social statuses that happen within that community. Your job as a subscription business owner is to create those statuses, to give members different goals to work towards, and give them ways to establish their own credibility based on the parameters that you set. Have these badges visually represented in an obvious way to your membership, like overlaying it on a member’s picture. Anywhere that member has their picture, whether on forums or in comments, this is an indicator that they have been with you the longest. It’s a visual way to give credibility to those that have been with you the longest and have paid you the most money!
28. Events or webinars with member discounts. When you hold events or webinars, make non-members pay a much higher price than members would. This creates more value for your members, specifically when the rewards are obvious, and where people of the regular public or people who are not members do not get those benefits. The key here is to make it obvious to the general public that if you’re not a member, you don’t get these benefits. Likewise, it reinforces the value to your members of being part of your membership because they’re getting ongoing discounts and rewards that the regular public is not.
29. Member surveys. You’ll be surprised at the kind of feedback you can gather from your members just by conducting regular surveys. Not only will this feedback be valuable to you in terms of helping you identify what’s most relevant to your members and how you can best serve them, but it also creates a 2-way dialog where your members feel like they are being heard. When your members feel like they’re being heard, they’ll tell you what they want to see in order to create a better experience for them, and this will positively affect retention.
30. Anniversary mailing. Send an anniversary postcard to celebrate certain dates or achievements or levels that your members have accomplished. Another idea is to send out periodic postcards that encourage your members to learn about the special features of your membership.