Increase Subscription Member Retention with Subscriber Emails: Lessons from the Subscription Boxes

Lessons from the Subscription Boxes

While there’s nothing more exciting than when that monthly subscription box arrives, there are a lot of days each month between subscription boxes. These are days when your customer receives their credit card statement, which is often larger than they expected. And she may be tempted to try to trim her monthly expenses, possibly sacrificing the monthly box she loves.

How do you avoid the chopping block? Obviously, by making the box experience surprising, engaging, and pleasant. But that’s only one day a month. What about all the other days?

The first answer is subscriber emails. Unfortunately, there appears to be two extremes in the subscription box industry — either few emails or a deluge. Too few can be zero. Or perhaps no emails beyond the administrative billing and shipping confirmations. Where’s the excitement in that?

Most often subscription box companies deluge their subscribers with offers, promotions, and the mundane.

Below you’ll find a handful of the best emails that subscription boxes or any other membership program can use to learn how to create emails that intrigue, engage, and delight all month long…

1. A Simple Explanation from Someone Who Cares

Oh my goodness, a clear, concise, and kind explanation of how things work around here. Too many subscription companies allow someone in accounting to write these emails. This was written by someone who cares at Candy Club, the subscription box that delivers specialty candy to you each month. Candy Club made my son very happy, let me tell you. I’m glad I’m dropping him off at the University of Florida this month so I no longer have to share my Candy Club.

2. Give Members an Incentive for Feedback

How would you like ComicCon delivered in a box each month? That’s the concept behind Loot Crate, one of the largest subscription boxes in the industry. My clients grow bored with me asking about their member engagement; I’m always urging them to encourage feedback from members. Many subscription boxes do ask for feedback, but what I love about Loot Crate is that they promise a benefit to the member for taking time to provide feedback: better crates. It’s not much, but it’s consistent with the brand and positions the “reason why” for the survey as a tool to help the member, rather than something the subscription box needs or wants.

3. Encourage Your Members to Share Their Experiences with You

The only thing better than having an intimate evening with your special someone is the anticipation of an intimate evening. Your mind comes alive at the possibilities. Datebox is a monthly subscription that delivers a date you can enjoy at home, to better engage with your special someone. It’s sexy, but not focused on sex — it focuses on growing a closer relationship. Their teaser emails sent a few days before your box is shipped are excellent. They’re whimsical and build the anticipation. “What will they have us do with 2 cups of heavy cream and a dry erase marker?” Another bonus is that Datebox always encourages subscribers to share. How can you increase your sub-scriber excitement about what they are about to receive and encourage them to share that excitement with their friends?

4. Engage New Subscribers Immediately

Of the dozens of subscription boxes I’ve subscribed to, only one shipped a box so it arrived within 48 hours of joining their program. For all others, I had to wait for the next box. Where’s the fun in that? I subscribe, I’m excited to get something special, but instead I wait, sometimes for weeks. Let’s give you something to do so you can experience some fun immediately. This is especially important in situations where the box is a gift and the giver wants the recipient to have some immediate fun with their present. Bitsbox is the only box I’ve received that engages new subscribers before they receive the first box. Bitsbox teaches children programming (or coding) by giving them a lesson each month along with an online platform to learn. If you’d like your nephew to build an app for your membership program, buy him Bitsbox and it’ll teach him how to get it started.

5. Building the Value in What You Deliver

One of my subscription box pet peeves is that few of them give much of an explanation of what’s in your box. Most leave it to you to assess its value. Yes, almost all include a little post card with a one- or two-sentence explanation. But that’s not a value build. Why not a video explaining why the product is curated for you, why it’s remarkable, and what you can do with it? Birchbox goes the furthest in building the value of what’s in their boxes, plus, they even do it in advance to build the anticipation for the day with the box finally arrives. I’m sure my wife would poison my dinner if I canceled her Birchbox.

6. Make Your Communication Fun

How about a little personality with your emails? BarkBox is a subscription box for dogs and their people. It’s filled with treats and toys for each. BarkBox is one of the few subscription boxes I’ve found that incentivizes subscribers to refer others, and does it in a fun way. Dog owners know other dog owners. Your members know others who would be great members. How can you incentivize your members to recruit new members into your community in a fun and whimsical way? The only thing better would have been to also incentivize members to give gift subscriptions to their dog-loving friends.

About Robert Skrob

The problem with subscription membership programs is that members quit, I fix that problem. For more than 20-years I have specialized in direct response marketing for member recruitment, retention and ascension in diverse subscription members environments including non-profit associations, for-profit publishers/coaching, subscriptions and SAAS companies. For an evaluation of your current churn rate and how I can improve it, contact me here. I discover there are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a week to lower churn immediately, let’s talk about your quick wins.
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