Subscriptions can be considered to fall in two categories: boxes and bits. Boxes are about getting periodic packages from the D2C or ecommerce companies one subscribes to – for example, razors (Dollar Shave Club) and clothes (Stitch Fix). Bits are about digital goods – for example, media (NYT, WSJ), OTT (Netflix, Hotstar), and Zoom. There are also some hybrids – for example, Amazon Prime, which is about faster delivery and digital (Amazon Video and Music).
While the focus on product and pricing is core to building a subscriptions business, I believe that all subscription companies should consider a parallel track called “Plus”. Plus is about building a deeper relationship with the customers (subscribers) using engaging content. Plus ensures mental availability of the brand and hopefully, prevents churn. Think of it as the surprise that comes with the subscription, which adds to the delight. For box subscriptions, the product itself may be delivered once a month, but Plus can be delivered daily, thus keeping the brand top of mind.
Plus has 3 components:
- Push microns: a daily short mobile-friendly email, readable in 15-30 seconds, linked to the category of the subscription
- Personalisation: by asking and gleaning the subscriber’s preferences, the content sent can be made much relevant
- Progency: the product-led agency that can implement the Plus program, thus ensuring the brand marketing team is not distracted from its core functions of retention, reactivation and referrals
Push microns combine three ideas I have previously discussed – Ems, AMP and Atomic Rewards. Ems are the short, informative, story-like and sequenced emails sent daily. All emails are AMP-enabled to make them interactive. They can have atomic rewards – micro-incentives to drive specific actions (opens, clicks, feedback, form fills, and more).
Personalisation can be the outcome of analysing subscriber behaviour or using AMP to get direct inputs via the emails on preferences. This can help the brand send better curated content. Atomic rewards could be used to incentivise the subscriber to collect zero-party data.
Progency is the way to bring Plus to life. The big challenge that most brands face is time and talent. The internal marketing teams need to focus on the core products. This is where the Progency comes in. The Plus program can be outsourced to an agency which can do everything: concept, content, creative, and communications. By using a proprietary full-stack martech platform, the Progency can be held accountable for outcomes and paid based on performance.
The Plus program thus opens up a new channel for customer engagement for brands with their subscribers. It brings the brand in front of the customers for a few seconds daily even if the actual “product” is delivered at a much lesser frequency. A basic Plus program can be run for one rupee per subscriber per month – a very small investment to ensure that subscribers do not churn because the cost of reacquisition via Google and Facebook can be many times more.