Member journey 101: Optimize your subscriber experience
When it comes to optimizing subscriber experience, your work is never really done. Subscription motivations and priorities are constantly changing; however, customer experience remains a top driver for revenue.
Over 90% of consumers said they’d spend more money with businesses that offer streamlined experiences. Given the importance of customer experience in acquisition and retention, it’s critical for companies to prioritize it.
Where to start? Let’s review five effective tactics you can implement today to enhance your subscription experience.
What is subscriber experience optimization & why is it important?
Customer experience is the relationship your subscribers have with the customer-facing aspects of your business: customer success, customer support, the sales team, your blog, social media, and more.
Subscriber experience optimization balances what your consumers want vs. what your company can offer. It means identifying your subscriber’s needs and designing a dedicated strategy to solve each, rather than using a blanket strategy to address them all at once.
According to Adobe, experience-led businesses enjoy 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.7x higher customer retention, and 1.6x higher satisfaction rates.
For subscriptions, your value proposition is related less to single purchase decisions and far more to the promise of delivered value over time.
While it's important to differentiate your subscription business through new features or competitive pricing, many DTC subscription brands focus on enhanced customer experience to keep their recurring revenue growing.
Optimize your subscriber experience to maximize revenue
The best way to revamp your subscriber experience is to understand where your customers are coming from and where they want to go. Then build levels onto your current experience to be a step closer to what your subscribers want.
Here are five things that you start trying today to get a better handle on your subscriber experience:
1. Create a member journey map
One of the most effective ways to understand your subscribers is with a customer journey map–or, in the case of subscriptions, a member journey map.
These maps are a visual representation of subscribers’ interactions with your brand, pre and post sale. It outlines the delights and pains your subscriber experiences and how your product fits into their lives.
To design one, map out buyer touchpoints with your business, from first contact to reviews.
Subscriber segmentation is handy in this case. Separate your subscribers into smaller groups to identify all your consumer types, and amplify their LTV through higher-value subscriptions.
Possibilities are endless for segmentation–plans, acquisition channels, location, demographic, interests, behaviors, churn likelihood, and more. Analyze all consumer pain points and assign priorities to address them. Lastly, measure the impact of solving your subscribers’ inquiries.
2. Understand consumer motivations
Leverage your member journeys to identify the drivers behind subscriptions: what makes consumers subscribe to your product?
Understanding motivations and pain points help you customize your subscriber experience for each cohort. It’s no secret that personalization drives subscription success. According to Forrester, 77% of consumers prefer brands that offer tailored services and experiences.
Customization in subscriptions lies at the heart of flexibility–in plans, billing, payments, and promotions. It’s all about targeting the right customer, with the right offer, at the right time.
Analyze your buyer’s journey and make the most of your touchpoint interactions to design unique experiences. Here are four proven strategies you can implement to boost subscription experience and acquisition:
Plan & billing models
Let longtime customers add one-off purchases, decide on billing cadences, and plan length. Design a pricing strategy with various billing models—prepaid, fixed, usage and quantity-based, ramp pricing, and hybrid models, all across different billing frequencies.
Learn more about pricing your product: Monthly vs. yearly pricing: An analysis
Don’t think of payments as another infrastructure component. They’re actually growth catalyzers. 92% of consumers prefer to make purchases in their local currency, and 1/3 of consumers are likely to abandon a purchase if pricing is only available in U.S. dollars.
Consider localizing payments–allowing multiple payment options and currencies to streamline checkouts. Recurly, for example, integrates with 22 gateways, offering 140 currencies and 18 different languages to make cross-border transactions easy.
52% of customers expect customized offers. Acquire new subscribers and drive loyalty with free trials, coupons, discounts, and gift subscriptions.
Trial periods let cautious customers test before they buy. For this, you’ll have to decide whether or not to require a credit card to start the trial.
Asking for payment information creates a seamless experience where the prospect becomes a subscriber automatically without entering any additional information. However, by not requiring a credit card, prospects may be more inclined to sign up as they perceive the trial as risk-free.
Coupons & discounts
It may seem counterintuitive to give discounts; however, everyone loves discounted pricing. Coupons are a great way to maximize revenue, awareness, and adoption.
U.S. subscribers redeemed 18.8 million coupons in 2021 alone. The most popular discounts among consumers are 20%, 50%, and 10%–something to keep in mind when designing your strategy.
Gift subscriptions & cards
Let raving fans spread the love with gift cards and gift plans. Gift subscriptions are popular, especially during the holidays, because they're budget-friendly and easy to purchase and deliver.
Additionally, they let you reach potential subscribers. If you’re not offering gift cards and subscriptions, you’re missing out on the opportunity to maximize revenue and signups.
Subscriptions are a top driver of loyalty and revenue growth for brands looking to grow. However, there comes a time when consumers may consider canceling their subscriptions.
31% of U.S. consumers plan to cancel some subscription services this year, while 46% canceled a subscription due to price increases in the last year.
Canceling should always be an option, but you can encourage consumers to stick around longer with a subscription pausing option.
Learn why pausing memberships is a powerful retention tactic.
3. Ask subscribers for feedback
Avoid assuming consumer preferences based on their actions within your product. Instead, ask them how they feel, what they enjoy, what they don’t, and the improvements they’d like to see.
The results of these surveys don’t just benefit your customer experience team. They help your engineering team spot product deficiencies, marketers understand what drives behavior, and the product team know what is most or least impactful for subscribers.
4. Test, learn, iterate
Experiment to discover successful acquisition and retention strategies. Testing goes beyond your product. Subscriber experience extends to your website, social media, emailing, support experience, and all customer-facing channels.
You can test dozens of things within your subscriber member journey–quick wins include A/B testing with pricing, plans, and promotions.
Every test you run should have a great end goal: delivering greater value. Ensure the same ease of experience and consistency across every touchpoint for a holistic, omnichannel approach.
5. Measure your results
Alongside your marketing campaign KPIs, measuring the effectiveness of optimizations requires analyzing the right metrics.
Lifetime value (LTV)
Subscriber LTV is an essential metric to keep an eye on. This is a forecast of the total revenue you can expect from a single subscriber over the period they remain with you. It helps identify your most and least profitable subscribers and how much money you should spend on acquisition to maintain profitability.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
This essential metric calculates all the costs associated with acquiring a new subscriber, including marketing, sales, and related headcounts. Your CAC will tell you the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts and how long before you can expect to start profiting from your subscribers.
LTV: CAC ratio
A great way to measure subscription customer acquisition and your optimization efforts within the first stages of the member journey is to analyze the ratio and impact of lifetime value (LTV) to customer acquisition cost (CAC).
When combined with CAC, LTV will tell you if you’re spending too much to acquire consumers in relation to what they’re worth.
LTV that exceeds CAC helps identify your most profitable acquisition campaigns. Aim for a 3:1 ratio as your standard. A 5:1 ratio, for example, means you could be growing faster and should invest more in your marketing efforts.
Get the guide: How DTC brands are driving growth and LTV through subscriptions
Keep track of your optimizations. Create performance reports by cohort to analyze performance and identify high-profitable subscribers and trends.
Pro tip: Recurly lets you capture key marketing and account acquisition data from marketing and CRM systems to present a full view (both cost and revenue data) to empower better decisions.
Supercharge your subscriber experience
Leading subscription brands like BarkBox and Twitch focus on a holistic approach to drive loyalty and revenue. Optimization plays a significant role in that strategy.
Understanding the power of customer experience on acquisition is key to growth. Revamp your subscriber experience strategy with the subscription and billing platform built to support a variety of acquisition methods, provide insights into performance, and maximize revenue.
"Unlock growth with customer service" - Zendesk
"Personalization" - Forrester
"What Are Customer Expectations, and How Have They Changed?" - Salesforce