Subscription Show Launches with a Wide Array of Industry Expertise

On the inaugural day of the first-ever Subscription Show, 400 industry professionals met to network and learn from their peers and from industry experts. Two in-depth workshops, two grand keynotes, and data-driven sessions in five tracks — Products & Tech, Retention, Strategy, Recurring Payments, Subscriber Acquisition — featured prominently on the days agenda. The Subscription Show 2019 is taking place Nov. 4-6 at the World Trade Center, located in Bostons Seaport District.

Carly Allegri, loyalty program manager at AMC Theatres, came to the show with the perspective of a well-known brand that is only recently moving into a subscription business model.

The subscription economy has been a bit of a paradigm shift for the organization, she said, Were starting to dig into retention and expanding our product line. Every subscription product is unique in its intricacies, but they share common philosophies and theories on how they can serve their customers, and learning about those commonalities can help us all do better, said Allegri.

Nelson Veiga, a vice president at Vindicia, explained that since the company has recently reconfigured its offerings, This is a great opportunity for us to get our new branding out and to meet new customers.

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Rahul Chand, a vice president at AAA Northeast said that he is looking for new ways for an established subscription company to grow.

Its really about connecting with leaders in the industry and learning about new innovations, Chand said. Typically, in my experience, a lot of the smaller shops, the smaller start-ups, are more nimble and are coming up with ideas that can help a big brand like AAA to innovate at a larger scale.

To look at just three examples from the sessions offered at the Subscription Show, consider these key take-aways for subscription-based firms.

Melanie Stout, a partner at Paul Larsen Consulting, led a workshop that focused on recurring payment fundamentals. She detailed a core learning on how optimal recovery depends on payment method. Prepaid debit cards, for example, come in reloadable and nonreloadable flavors. If you know when those reloadable cards are refilled, then you know when to run the charge. It is possible to push the gross approval rate for a prepaid reloadable card to 22%, say, while querying nonreloadable cards will in comparison be stuck at a top gross approval rate of about 2.3%.

In a breakout session Monday afternoon, Ian Tucker, associate director of optimization at the Wall Street Journal, talked about using experimentation to drive retention. He discovered that there are key behaviors, or habits, that strongly correlated with subscription renewal. For example, downloading and using the WSJ app and subscribing to a newsletter were highly relevant in driving engagement and, thus, renewal rate. After identifying 19 of these habits, he tested to see when forming these habits was most likely to boost renewal; he discovered a clear answer: the sooner, the better. Then he described how to push new subscribers toward these habits as soon as possible.

In another session, attorney Lisa B. Dubrow, a specialist in advertising, consumer protection, and privacy law, offered ways for subscription companies to safely navigate the ins and outs of marketing subscriptions. Covering the perils of deceptive advertising, implied claims, and negative options, she urged marketers to ensure that customers understand all offers and were not confused by free trial offers that come with a catch. Dubrow emphasized the importance of making it easy to cancel subscriptions, especially with recent state laws requiring specific ways to do so online.

Day 1 concluded with a sit-down dinner discussing the next wave of marketing, featuring an inspiring keynote by David Meerman Scott on the importance of “fans” for both B2B and B2C companies and how to achieve that.

The Subscription Show 2019 continues through Wednesday.

Photo by David Bruno