5 Subscription Marketing Strategies You Should Implement

Cari Thompson
Cari Thompson
December 3rd, 2020
Estimated read time: 5 minutes, 21 seconds

Businesses are constantly trying to figure out how to increase customer retention rates. But what if your business model is designed to create repeat customers. Essentially, that’s the beauty of subscription business models.

Subscription businesses get to profit from recurring purchases, and customers benefit from long-term savings and convenience. In a recent study, Zuora found that 71% of adults across 12 countries have subscription services. And they predict that 74% of people will subscribe to even more services in the future. As a business trying to get into the subscription game, those are pretty promising numbers.

But a subscription business model requires a lot more than just setting up recurring billing. It forces you and your team to think about your marketing strategy in a new way. You need to tweak every marketing tactic to fit in with your overall subscription marketing strategy.

But before we get into strategy, let’s talk about the basics of subscription marketing.

What is subscription marketing?

Subscription marketing refers to an ongoing marketing strategy designed to acquire new customers and retain long-term, repeat customers.

Before you can dial in your subscription marketing strategy, you need to find your subscription sweet spot. For example, when turning a one-time purchaser into a recurring customer, you need to determine the right price point, the right product features, and the optimal billing cycle to make customers want to subscribe.

But once you figure out your subscription model, you will reap the benefits. Keep reading to learn more about how you can achieve increased customer retention and consistent recurring revenue.

Benefits for Subscription Businesses

Increased Customer Retention

The best thing about subscription business models is that retention is built into the model. By offering discounts and special features for repeat customers, you have a better chance of long-term customer retention.

Consistent Recurring Revenue

Instead of a one-time purchase, your subscription business can automatically collect monthly/quarterly/yearly fees from customers.

But as with all things, there are some hurdles to overcome with subscription business models and subscription marketing.

Challenges for Subscription Businesses

Credit Card Failure

When collecting multiple credit card payments over a period of time, you’re more likely to have credit card declines. On the other hand, if you have an ecommerce partner with dunning management tools and features in place, credit card issues are significantly reduced. It’s all about preventing the issues before they happen—being proactive rather than reactive.

Customer Retention

I know, we just listed customer retention as a benefit, but that’s why subscription models can be so tricky. When you attract new subscribers with a discounted rate or a free trial, these customers are often more challenging to retain. Often, you can reduce drop-off rates with automatic subscription renewal. But again, this is something you need to address when developing your subscription marketing strategy. You can entice these users with added functionality, or extended loyalty discounts. It’s all about making sure they experience the value of your digital product or service.


It can be challenging to determine a pricing model low enough to attract new customers while keeping the price high enough to sustain your subscription business. Finding the pricing sweet spot may require trial and error as you see how your pricing strategy affects customer retention.

Now that you know what to be prepared for as a subscription business, you’re ready to jump into some subscription marketing tactics.

5 Subscription Marketing Tactics You Should Try Today

1. Win new customers with special offers.
Free trials and freemium offers are a great way to attract new customers. Free trials allow customers to try your product or service for a limited time before their credit card is billed. Freemium is a combination of “free” and “premium” and essentially gives customers basic features at no cost but allows them to access richer functionality for a subscription fee.

Just be aware, with these types of discounts, you are likely to see higher drop-off rates.

2. Reach your audience through email marketing.

Whether you’re developing a traditional marketing strategy or subscription marketing strategy, email is vital. So, start building your mailing list as soon as you can if you haven’t already.

You can use email marketing to reach new customers, follow-up on abandoned carts, send upsell or cross-sell promotions, and keep customers informed on your latest features and news.

Essentially, you should use email marketing to nurture customer relationships and keep your brand and products top-of-mind.

3. Post. Post. Post.
Create content frequently and regularly.

While you still need content to attract new customers, you also need to create content that emphasizes your products’ long-term benefits. You need to continually remind your subscribers why they chose you and your products and validate their purchase decision.

And remember, content isn’t just about website copy and blog posts. You also need to include social media and email campaigns in your content strategy.

As you create a plan for when, where, and how to post content, be sure to implement content marketing strategies to get the most out of your content efforts.

4. Partner with influencers.

Find influencers who are well-respected among your customer base, and try to create mutually beneficial partnerships.

Here are two of the best things about working with influencers:

  • Trust. When an influencer endorses your product, you gain more trust with your audience. Since the endorsement or testimonial is from a dependable third party, people are more likely to believe it than if it came directly from the company.
  • Reach. Influencers have a huge social following. Expand your reach by using their social footprint to get in front of new customers.

5. Differentiate your products and brand.
What makes your subscription better or different than your competitors? Is your product or service faster? Better quality? Easier to use?

For example, Adobe Photoshop is considered the gold standard in image editing software. But for some people, Photoshop may be too complicated or too expensive. So, for businesses with image editing software that may not be as robust, they can promote their product’s ease-of-use or lower price point as a way to differentiate themselves.

While subscription marketing can be similar to traditional marketing—it involves the same channels and tactics—you need to alter your approach and messaging to keep subscribers. Every move has to consider the long-term effects on your customers. Subscription marketing is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. So, prepare for the long-haul.

Cari Thompson

Cari Thompson

Cari Thompson is a copywriter, online marketer, and blogger. She studied marketing and advertising and—drum roll, please—music at Brigham Young University. Cari started in traditional advertising as a media buyer then transitioned into the online world through buzz marketing, blogging, and copywriting.

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