This month I’m traveling to Germany to visit with the country’s largest subscription publisher, VNR. I’ll meet with their 498-member team, conducting training sessions and workshops focused on reducing churn and improving retention rates. This is the kind of proactive action many of my clients have been taking.
Last month, I had the privilege of leading a workshop at the headquarters of Money Map Press, an Agora affiliate in Baltimore. Over several weeks, I worked with two editorial teams. With one task force, we focused on new subscriber onboarding, aiming to lower refund rates. The second task force worked on improving editorial efforts, in order to improve subscriber renewals. Then, I led a workshop with the entire editorial team, where we shared our lessons learned, what we did as a result, and our breakthroughs.
One of the key lessons we focused on with the onboarding task force was just how hard it is to get your new subscriber to take action. Your new member has a lot of habits and relationships — each of which is a thin, invisible thread. Together, these relationships, customs and habits hold your new member in place, preventing him from making changes. Your sales material convinced your new subscriber to ignore all those threads long enough to pull out his credit card and buy. However, your new-member onboarding must motivate your customer enough to mentally cut enough of those treads that are tying him down, so he can take action.
On the editorial side, we all devote too much time and energy on delivering excellent content. An editor at a financial publisher wants to deliver comprehensive investment information. These analysts know a lot about markets and companies, so it’s natural to want to share that information. On the other hand, a subscription box company puts a ton of energy into selecting the right items to delight their subscribers. However, better content doesn’t lead to improved retention.
To stop out-of-control churn rates, you must connect your subscriber with other members like them, so they can see they are part of a community. You must channel an interesting personality to build an ongoing relationship. And it’s critical to entertain as much as you inform.
There’s nothing more powerful than a subscription business where your customers pay monthly, as opposed to those buy-once-and-done business models. With subscriptions, the sales you made last month are added to the new customers you get this month, ultimately growing next month’s revenue. Each month builds the next, but only if you slay the churn monster.
The churn monster lurks within your business, distracting you and your team from what really multiplies your recurring revenue. This monster encourages your members to quit. Building a subscription business isn’t hard, but it is different from growing a business model built based solely on individual transactions.
Subscription customers want a relationship. They must be part of a community and feel like they are part of a vibrant tribe. The answers are hidden right in the open. Training your editorial team is critical if you want to help them lock up that churn monster and keep him from wrecking your subscription growth.
I’m dedicated to helping you grow your subscription business. Turn the page and let me illustrate how you can slay the churn monster, so you can expand your monthly recurring revenue.