Is your subscription business hovering around a few hundred customers? Can’t quite seem to crack the code on customer acquisition?
There may be a few simple, cost-effective strategies you’re overlooking. “Customer acquisition” relates your strategy of finding and attracting new people to your business, ultimately converting them into paying customers. Developing a robust customer acquisition strategy is probably the most important element of your business, as your customers are your single greatest asset.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure – Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, dedicated newsletter placement, and a PR firm can help scale your business, but they aren’t the only means of doing so, especially when you want to avoid spending cash.
We’ll discuss 5 methods to grow your base:
- A strong prelaunch
- Regular promotions
- Word-of-mouth marketing
- Content production
- Business partnerships
Let’s start at the beginning: your launch.
Starting strong is one of the best moves for your subscription business. Building a customer base early sets you up to better pitch to vendors (making procurement easier) and provide yourself with the cash flow of a healthy business. This also means you’re able to get valuable feedback from your customers early on, identifying the key areas you need to develop in your business to improve retention and increase conversion rates of new customers.
By proactively growing an audience on social media, you’ll increase the eyes on your advertisements down the line. Fortunately, a culture of reciprocity exists on most social networks (just like in real life!), and it’s free. By following people in your target audience and interacting on their posts –– by liking their pictures, commenting, or reposting –– you can gain a lot of followers.
That being said, make sure your profiles have a clear call to action. Some examples are “Join our community at url.com!” or “Reserve your subscription now: url.com.”
Get customer information, or payments, early
Make early social media connections!
Even if you’ve only got a basic launch page set up to gather customer emails, you can still build media relationships. Work toward making connections with bloggers and reviewers, and see about advertising on shout-out pages. Start by either building a comprehensive directory of your media contacts, organized by media channel, size, and type, or actually contacting them. If you go the latter route, make sure you have prepared reviews or giveaways for your first month’s launch.
Remember that you chose these influencers for a reason: they’re compelling and relate to your brand! Don’t be afraid to compliment them and point out a few things you love about their channel/blog. We recommend building a strong rapport with influencers –– and not just for media purposes. Because they are often people who will value your brand, they can be a great source of feedback and inspiration.
Stay in touch with presubscribers!
As you build up your prelaunch list, remember to keep in contact with the customers you have. That means sending weekly promotional emails, status updates, sneak peeks of the first month’s box, and fun ways to keep them engaged (like giveaway contests).
Push your prelaunch list to interact with you as much as possible on social media. Getting involvement up increases the amount of user-generated content around your brand, and it’s something prospective customers love to see. When a user talks about your brand online, it’s like digital word-of-mouth.
With a successful launch and (hopefully) a few hundred customers in your pocket, now comes the real battle: you vs. attrition (also known as churn).
What’s churn? Learn about KPIs for subscription businesses!
While we suggest you read more about churn rate and how to calculate it, the basic rule is that you need to gain more customers than you lose each month. This may seem obvious! But if you’re not diligent with monthly promotions, you’ll notice that your subscriber base creeps down each month. To combat this, I suggest the following:
Nuanced Promotional Campaigns
There’s a lot you can do with your robust social media channels, and one of them is to share compelling content that advertises your business. These only cost your time.
For example, if you have an art-related subscription box, you might create 20 or so custom shareable images or memes that profile an artist or an artistic fact, with your logo in the corner of the image. When this is done well, you can increase brand awareness, improve your brand’s authenticity, and reach new eyes through reposts.
Giveaways and Contests
These are great ways to engage with customers and prospective customers.
Giveaways: Consider holding giveaways for boxes, free temporary subscriptions (like 3 months), or bigger prizes, like vacations. Make it easy and fast to enter, and ensure that as many people can enter as possible. This keeps your brand in their mind and, when you announce a winner, will infuse your community with a positive narrative.
Contests: Consider running contests (within the rules of the social media platform!) that get your followers to engage and work for your brand. Maybe you ask customers to share a post or answer a question you posed on your page. This has the same benefits as a giveaway.
Bloggers, vloggers, and other influencers can be incredible sources for new customers. Even better? Often, they do not charge for reviews.
Incoming Requests: These are the influencers who email you asking to do a review. You might see these come in after you launch. Implement some best practices to make it easy for your team to organize and handle these requests with speed.
Proactive Outreach: We recommend setting up a few reviews each month. Use those connections you built during your prelaunch phase, but don’t be afraid to tap into new communities either. Take time to build rapport with influencers. When you do, your results will greatly improve.
Thresholds: Set thresholds to ensure conversions that make it worth it. For example, we suggest only working with social influencers who have a following over 5,000 members. Look at post interactions, though, as this isn’t always the best hard-and-fast rule to follow.
Studies show that when customers recommend a product to others, those new potential customers are both more likely to convert and more likely to have higher lifetime values (i.e., they’ll be your customer longer). If you take away anything from this lesson, it’s that you need to enable your customers to work for you.
- Create easily shareable graphics (like those nuanced marketing campaign graphics)
- Incentivize sharing through an affiliate program (by offering cash, free months, or other prizes)
- Ask users to share in order to enter contests (for example, “Tag a friend who needs a monthly surprise!”)
Want to learn more? Read about building a referral program that works.
There’s an incredible currency that exists on the internet: content. The more you have, the more eyes you grab and the more chances you have to acquire new customers. There are some best practices you should follow, but in general, the lesson here is to write and produce a source of content that drives organic (i.e., free) traffic to your subscription business. More traffic = more customers.
First, think about your niche.
What’s my niche? Check out the Cratejoy’s article on concepts to consider when you start your subscription business.
When you understand your audience and place in the market, you should be able to pin down what kind of content will attract your target reader. For example, if you’re running a gourmet food subscription, having a blog with recipes, thoughts on cooking, or even reviews of kitchenware would attract readers interested in this type of content. It’s fair to assume that these readers would be more likely to want your subscription box, too. And that means you’re in a unique position to market your service.
When thinking about content, keep these things in mind!
- Develop content that closely relates to your target market
- Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the proper ways to utilize your content
- Plan on marketing and pushing your content to readers through social media and newsletters
- List your main selling points (aka value propositions) to customers, and then come up with examples of related subject matter you could create content around. For example, in the case of the gourmet food box, let’s say you deliver 4-6 gourmet food items, 1-2 pieces of kitchenware, and always source local foods. Your list would look something like:
- Gourmet Food –> Articles on baking, ingredients, professional chefs
- 1-2 Pieces of Kitchenware –> Articles on how to care for cutlery, design and purposes of difference kitchenware
- Local Food –> Articles on local businesses, interviews with local business owners and artisans
Over time, you can build a strong base of content that draws new eyes to your website. Plus, as a nice bonus, increasing the amount of time your existing audience spends with your brand helps foster a stronger relationship, adding value to the customer experience.
Essentially, you’ll negotiate a split between you and the deal site, and offer a deep discount to their members in an effort to grab customers quickly. You may not make any profit on some deals, and you may even have to “float” the costs of extended subscriptions, depending on how long it takes the deal site to release the funds.
But this method does provide great exposure and help boost your numbers quickly.
Keeping Costs Down to Grow Your Business
By employing the techniques above and committing to their daily operations, you’ll better position your subscription business to hit the 1,000-member mark in short time. What’s more, most of these methods have long-term benefits when executed properly –– in short, their operations become easier over time.
For example, monthly promotions can be refined and set up with templates. Customer advocacy will become more natural, content will be easier to produce, and as a result, deal sites will be easier to negotiate and plan with. From there, your business will be better able to afford more costly forms of marketing, and scaling by the 1,000s becomes the new goal.
Cratejoy is an all in one subscription commerce platform that includes everything you need to start your own subscription commerce business online. Try it free for 14 days.