Editor’s note: Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
Good Ranchers, a high-quality meat subscription box, has seen tremendous success since migration from a home-grown subscription solution to Ordergroove’s dedicated platform. In fact, after launching a subscription experience with Ordergroove in May 2022, their customer lifetime value (LTV) increased by 56%.
In a recent webinar, Ordergroove’s Customer Success Director Angela Orbon sat down with Good Ranchers’ COO Jermain Gil to uncover the brand’s playbook for subscription success and how to drive better customer relationships. Below are the biggest takeaways from the discussion.
Good Ranchers background and subscription story
In 2017, Good Ranchers CEO Ben Spell recognized that purchasing quality and affordable meats was a challenge. He established Good Ranchers a year later to provide superior and affordable meats sourced exclusively from independent farms in the U.S.
The new brand sold their product at pop-up shops around the country but soon pivoted to exclusively selling online. As the company grew, they launched a home-grown subscription solution to give their customers a better shopping experience and drive retention.
However, Good Ranchers’ internal subscription solution wasn’t robust enough to achieve their goals. Less than half of their subscription orders were processed, and Good Ranchers’ team spent valuable hours on tedious tasks.
“We attempted to build our own subscription software at the beginning – don’t do that,” Jermain said. “We tried and failed pretty badly.”
After a quick search for a tech partner, Good Ranchers migrated to Ordergroove and has never looked back.
Good Ranchers subscription playbook
Good Ranchers credits their continued success to initiatives that bolster their subscribers’ experience with the brand. They go out of their way to ensure their subscribers receive the highest quality meats at affordable prices.
1. Offer lock-in subscription pricing
Before launching with Ordergroove, Good Ranchers sought a differentiator to set them apart from competitors. They found it with a lock-in price guarantee. With this strategy, the price of a subscription remains the same for as long as the subscriber stays with the brand.
The inspiration for this unique strategy was multifaceted. It was a way to convert shoppers who continually purchased one-time orders to subscribers. It was also an effective means to attract consumers who were worried rising inflation would lead to higher prices and bare aisles, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We announced we were planning to raise prices, but if you subscribe now, you can lock in your price for the remainder of your subscription,” Jermain said. “It was a way to let our customers know that a price increase was coming but that we were giving them some relief.“
While other brands might balk at a locked-in price, Jermain said it’s been highly successful.
“When we launched our program, we saw a huge jump in revenue and subscriptions because we hit the messaging at the perfect time,” he said, adding that the brand’s churn rate also decreased.
2. Ensure first-time subscribers have an excellent experience
Good Ranchers believes their product is so good that if they can get into a consumer’s house, it will continue to sell itself. They put this faith into action by ensuring first-time subscribers have an excellent shopping experience.
Good Ranchers offers steep discounts and other incentives for first-time subscription orders. Also, their customer service team sends follow-up emails and will even call new subscribers to ensure they enjoy the product.
“We will, without question, replace a product if a first-time subscriber doesn’t like the product because you can only make one first impression,” Jermain said.
Jermain also offered advice for brands who are considering this strategy. He said there will always be consumers who will game the system when you offer deep discounts. However, this shouldn’t deter brands.
“Fifty percent of our churn rate is people who have never received their first recurring order,” Jermain said. “They subscribed for a discount and then canceled. We understand that the majority of those people are gaming the system. But we feel that the number of subscribers who get the product and continue to subscribe outweighs the gaming.”
3. Give subscribers complete control over their orders
To drive brand loyalty and increase LTV, Good Ranchers sought a subscription solution that would give their subscribers complete control over their orders. It was one of the primary reasons they moved off their home-grown solution to Ordergroove.
“We love Ordergroove’s Subscriber Management Interface,” Jermain said. “Here’s the thing about subscriptions: Customers, whether they are looking to cancel or not, just want to know they can do it.”
Ordergroove enables subscribers to easily pause, skip, or swap their orders and cancel. Our data shows that subscribers last 71% longer when they can swap a product and 135% longer when they can skip an order.
“For us, it’s about peace of mind. We are big on hassle-free subscriptions. There are no cancelation blockers, and subscribers can cancel anytime,” Jermain said.
4. Say thank you – a lot
Positive customer interactions are the bedrock of Good Ranchers’ success. They instituted a weekly practice in which they call subscribers to thank them for their support and update them on the brand’s philanthropic efforts. For each box sold, Good Ranchers donates ten meals to food banks. They call the campaign “thank-you Thursday.”
The campaign started when a customer tracked down the CEO’s phone number and called to talk about a recent order.
“We were in the office talking, and Ben got a call from a weird number. He answered it, and it was a customer. They talked for a while, and Ben realized the interaction was amazing.”
Jermain said he encourages subscribers to call him at any time so that he can answer their questions.
“I’ll have customers call me at 7 o’clock at night and ask why their order is delayed or to help them cook a flat iron steak. If you spend 20 minutes on a call helping a customer, they’re a customer for life.”
Bonus: What does the future hold for subscriptions?
During the webinar, Jermain and Angela were asked how subscriptions will evolve in 2023.
With inflation rising, brands will focus on further extending LTV, and many will launch prepaid subscriptions, Angela said.
Prepaid subscriptions allow consumers to subscribe to a product for a longer term in exchange for a steeper discount. For instance, La Colombe, a specialty coffee roaster, enables consumers to prepay for three deliveries and receive an additional 10% off their order. This is on top of an initial 10% discount, free shipping, and early access to La Colombe products.
“I think prepaid subscriptions opens up the potential for companies to offer stronger discount incentives to customers who are feeling the impact of rising costs,” Angela said. “In exchange, they can get guaranteed savings.”
She added that prepaid subscriptions also help brands by driving upfront, predictable, and repeatable revenue, allowing them to create business resilience in a volatile market.
Brands will evolve their subscription messaging in 2023, Jermain said. They will shift their strategy to highlight the experiential aspect of subscriptions.
“The product isn’t going to be the big difference maker next year – the messaging, the customer experience, the things you’re doing after they subscribe will make the difference,” he said.
He continued: “Brands need to be customer focused. The customer service team needs to understand that. The marketing team needs to understand that. Operations needs to understand that. Everybody needs to understand that. Because without customers, you don’t have any revenue.”