5 Keys to Building a Successful Online Subscription Business

recurring business model

Millions of businesses around the world operate with a subscription business model. The subscription model has become increasingly popular – eCommerce businesses, in particular, thrive on it. Subscriptions keep your customers on the hook for automatic repeat purchases and creates a reliable source of recurring revenue. Starting a successful subscription-based business, or adding a subscription to your existing product offering takes careful planning, knowledge of your customers’ needs, and willingness to experiment.

If you’re considering the subscription model or already using it in your business, here are some tips that will help provide the best opportunity for long-term success.


1. Give Customers Control over Subscription Quality

Don’t make the mistake of limiting your subscription options. If your pricing is too expensive and you don’t offer a free trial, it may turn prospects away. Lower your prices too much and people will look for greater value elsewhere. Fortunately, there’s a happy middle-ground – give customers control over subscription quality.

Most subscription offerings are tiered, with higher level tiers costing more and offering more features. You can go that route, or offer something more customizable. Offer a base package, then allow customers to select features, with each feature increasing the subscription price. Consider letting them adjust their needed features every month. Try and make sure that you have something to offer everyone, no matter what their budget is.


2. Subscribers Must Have Control Over Privacy

Trust and loyalty are important to your business. If you can’t earn it from your customers, your subscription model will fail. Subscription services, by nature, require consumers to trust you enough to commit to your company. To do that, you must give up some control to them.

Subscribers must have control over their privacy settings. If you need anything from them that is optional in the grand scheme of things, give them the option to opt out. It may cost you a little in terms of knowing your audience, but it pays for itself by developing trust.

While this seems like a small thing, giving customers control over their information helps develop a positive experience. If the experience is poor, they’ll look for a business that will treat them. Giving them this freedom could be the difference between customers returning or choosing an alternative solution.


3. Stay in The Customers’ Minds

The greatest threat to your subscription model is being forgotten. If customers can’t remember why they chose your service, chances are they’ll eventually opt out. The good news is it’s easier than ever to stay in the hearts and minds of your customers, especially with an online business.

Many businesses balk at this, thinking that it requires an immense investment of time and energy. But it requires much less time than you may think. Start by building an email list to keep in touch with your customer base. Occasionally send tips, tricks or other content they would be interested in and provides real value.


4. Offer Customization Options

One of Apple’s greatest accomplishments is creating a family of products that work well together. That’s part of the reason they’ve developed so much customer loyalty – every time you buy one of their products; it increases the value of the rest. While your business isn’t likely to have the same resources on hand as Apple, strive to provide a similar customer experience.

If you have the resources, build integrations with other apps or technologies your customers have. Study your audience and look for any trends or software they’re already using and integrate them into your product.


5. Never Stop Improving

When an online business uses a subscription model, an important question changes. You’re no longer looking to give people a reason to buy the next version of your product. Instead, you want to give subscribers a reason to stay with you. It’s more difficult than it sounds. Just like any other business, there’s a ton of competition out there. All it takes is one bad day to make your subscription service look bad in comparison.

Don’t give them a reason to leave by giving them something to look forward to. Constant innovation and improvement builds faith in your company. Old flaws vanished, replaced by features and benefits. Depending on what you create, you could offer them at an additional cost, or bundle them into the base package. Generally speaking, you will want to add fixes and improvements to the base offering, while selling brand new features as additions.

Running a successful online business using a subscription model is all about giving them reasons to trust you. A subscription represents a monthly cost, upkeep for their preferred lifestyle. The moment it’s not worth it, or they think your business isn’t trustworthy, you will start losing customers. Don’t give them a reason to leave! Keep improving your offering. Give them control over their privacy and let them customize the experience.