Shopify Ecosystem

Spooky Tales For Subscription Merchants

spooky-tales-for-subscription-merchants

Warning: Though the following stories are terrifying to behold, they do have happy endings/exorcisms

It’s the spookiest time of the year with Halloween almost upon us. In celebration of the most frightful of seasons we wanted to share some spooky tales for subscription merchants.

But fear not dear reader, these frightening stories have happy endings. We’ll dig into each, identify the problem and share how to escape the grim circumstances these merchants find themselves in.

So ghosts and ghouls—let us begin…

Count Dracula’s bleeding subscribers

Our first story takes us to a modest but eloquent looking castle in Transylvania where Count Dracula’s Blood Bag subscription business is facing a terrifying conundrum. 

He is bleeding customers.

His churn rate is gravely high, with customers purchasing once or twice then leaving his subscription program. It’s a grim situation.

Churn rate, for humans or vampires unfamiliar with the term, is a key metric for subscription businesses which calculates the percentage of customers who cancel their subscription (or “churn out”) over a set period of time. 

Fortunately for our fanged friend, we know some ways to revitalize his undead business. The key here is Dracula has to discover why his customers are churning out of his subscription program. A great way to do this is to reach out to recently churned customers or provide an exit survey when a customer is cancelling their subscription.

Regardless of the precise reason, improving retention often boils down to giving your subscribers as much flexibility as possible over their subscription.

Perhaps Dracula’s vampiric customers are cancelling because they’re getting too many of his Blood Bags and they’re pilling up in the fridge. Or they’re bored of the O-negative flavor they’ve been getting for months.

Empowering your customers to manage their own subscriptions is a great way to reduce churn. Give them the authority to easily swap a flavor, skip a shipment or pause their subscription on their own. 

Another key here is making it simple and frictionless for customers to mange their subscription. A great tool for this is RechargeSMS, which lets merchants leverage transactional SMS to empower their subscribers to manage their subscriptions by text right from their message app. With RechargeSMS customers can reply to a text message and swap a product to a different flavor, skip an order, add a one time product or even change their order date. 

Another important consideration—how are you engaging with your subscribers post-purchase?

If you’re just delivering your customer their product in an empty box, you’re missing out several valuable touchpoints to provide them with additional relevant information that can help them enjoy your products and develop an affinity for your brand.

For example, what if a vampiric customer of Dracula named Lestat doesn’t realize he’s supposed to keep his shipment of delicious hemo-juice-boxes in the fridge? He tries the product once, hates the spoiled taste and immediately cancels his subscription. 

If only Dracula had sent him a post-purchase email with instructions on how to properly store Blood Bags (along with a perhaps a delicious Blood Bag cocktail recipe that shows how his brand is playful and educational).

As well, providing an informative insert (as well as a thank you note) in the delivery box alongside the product would have likely saved Dracula a subscriber. More than that, he could have gained a brand advocate in Lestat (and his cult following of Anne Rice fans) if he’d just provided some educational material. 

Have a heart (even if it yours doesn’t beat) and go above and beyond to give your subscribers the best customer experience possible.

Zombie merchant’s brand is dying 

Mortimer the Zombie has a problem (and it’s not the creaking in his reanimated bones).

His Graveyard Candles business is plateauing, with barely any growth in subscribers over the last several months. Morty’s current customers love his products but for reasons his mindless brain can’t comprehend—his business isn’t growing. 

Is Mortimer’s business doomed to rot and collapse? Or perhaps the answer to his problem is right in front of his decaying body.

What dearly departed Morty needs to harness, to grow his brand and attract more business, resides in the power of his loyal customers. More specifically, he needs to invest time and energy into cultivating a brand community.

A brand community is a group of your most engaged and loyal customers. These subscribers, when properly utilized, act as your brand advocates. Organically they will promote your brand and your products by acting as fervent supporters of your business. Why? Because they love your brand. They love your products. They love your values. They are your number one fans. They share your products to their followers, they leave positive comments on your brand’s social media accounts and/or leave glowing product reviews on your website.

That digital word of mouth support is key to growing your brand. In fact our friends at Refersion, a referrals-focused company, found that 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influence in the purchasing process. It can’t be stressed enough how valuable an engaged community of brand advocates can be for any business.

Focusing on a brand community will also improve your churn metrics, as customers are less likely to leave a subscription program when they feel like they’re part of a community. Plus, average customer value (ACV or LTV depending on your preference) increases the longer they stay in your community.

So how can Mortimer establish and grow his own brand community for his macabre candles? Let’s dig into some tangible strategies.

Social media is a great place to start. Mortimer can look for customers who have tagged or mentioned Graveyard Candles (by searching hashtags or account mentions). From there Morty can then leave authentic comments of appreciation. We stress authentic here, because an emoji or hollow “thanks” won’t move the affinity needle. Be genuine and leave a meaningful comment expressing gratitude. “Morticia, thank you so much for sharing this picture of your beautifully decrypt mansion lit so eerily by our Graveyard Candles. We really appreciate your support.”

This is where you can flex your brand tone. Where cherished subscribers and potential new customers can see your brand in a more personable and gracious light (as opposed to feeling like a cold soulless logo).

Morty can also ask for permission to reshare their review, comment or photo/video on the brand’s main account. Leveraging user generated content (UGC) like this is a common tactic the best brands in the world use to populate their social media feeds and share social proof for their products.

If Mortimer has repeat customers who are constantly championing his brand, he might reach out and offer them a discount code or send them an order of some new products to review. This could be the beginning of an influencer marketing program where Mortimer targets accounts that have followers who might be potential customers and provides that user with product in exchange for sharing the order on their feed.

Mortimer could even look at creating a network of dedicated Graveyard Candles fans that he could reach out to for feedback on new product launches or initiatives. On our latest episode of Hit Subscribe, our subscription ecommerce podcast, we learned about how LOLA, the feminine and reproductive care company, leverages their most loyal subscribers for product surveys and brand feedback.

By following these tips (and reading our guide on building a brand community) Mortimer’s business will quickly go from flatlining to resurrected.

Witch better have my money

Evillene, The Wicked Witch of Ecommerce, has been looking over her books lately (financial books, not spell books) and wishing that her brand, Potions & Poisons, was making more money off their individual orders. How can she and her coven grow their brand’s average order value (AOV)?

No deal with the devil necessary, let’s dive into some cross-selling strategies to boost AOV.

The great news for subscription brands like Potions & Poisons is that according to Invespcro the probability of selling to a current customer is 60 to 70% compared to 5 to 20% for a new customer. So how do you incentivize a customer to add to their order? The key here is personalization. Make any cross-sells you’re recommending to your customers personalized product recommendations based off their current subscription or previous purchase history.

For instance, with our wicked Evilene selling a“Make Your Own Love Potion” kit, the perfect cross-sell would be her very attractively priced “Portable Cauldron for Potion Brewing.” A more real world example, recommending a coffee grinder alongside your coffee beans subscription or a branded shaker bottle with your protein powder subscription.  

Another great tactic to raise your AOV is product bundling. Group some of your best selling products together and make it into a “Member Favorites” bundle. Or cleverly move some slower moving inventory (or incentivize customers to try a new product) by bundling it with best sellers. 

Remember the value of adding a human touch to the customer experience, so that customers feel like they’re being personally tailored to with products and options that delight them. You’re providing them with a frictionless shopping experience to purchase the products they desire.

By following these tips and leaning into personalization, Eviline and her wicked store will be back on top of the ecommerce game (and crushing their rival, Gelinda’s Good Witch Apothecary). 

And they all lived spookily ever after

We know these stories were incredibly frightening but we sincerely hope you were able to take away the valuable lessons from each of them. Personalizing the customer experience, creating brand communities and providing flexible membership experiences are best practices for all merchants whether you’re a fictional monster or hardworking human. 

And the very best part—you don’t have to wait until All Hallow’s Eve to implement them. These tricks and treats are useful all year round.

Special thanks to our friends at ReCharge Payments for their insights on this topic.
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