Subscription Commerce: Getting Your Messaging Right

Every web experience is dependent on messaging. This includes the words on the screen as well as the messages in your marketing repertoire; they’re all important tools for customer acquisition and long-term retention, particularly where subscription commerce is concerned. When you already have customers on the hook with a recurring service or product, it’s your sale to lose – and the right subscription commerce strategy can be just the thing to keep them coming back for more.

Why Does Messaging Matter for B2B Subscription Commerce?

Of course, messaging of any sort is critical to a website’s user experience. Every aspect of website design sends a message to viewers in one form or another, from the way your page is laid out to the pricing or discounts included in your promotions.

But let’s focus on the specific messaging around subscription commerce and the messaging needed to maintain those touchpoints, build loyalty, and handle basic subscription management

In subscription commerce, better messaging directly relates to more business. The better and more engaging your messages, the longer you’ll keep customers invested in your service. But not just any messaging will do the trick; you’ll need to leverage customer data and insights to inform your messaging and then deliver those messages across all channels. There’s no other way to deliver messaging that resonates with your market.

Locking down these communication channels is one of the best ways to build relationships of mutual value between your company and your clients. Forrester predicts that subscription commerce will make up 17% of all B2B sales by 2023 and reach a market size of $1.8 trillion, so there’s plenty of value to be had.

If you’re still not sure that marketing messages are worth investing in, consider this: Up to 80% of B2B buying decisions are based on a buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience rather than the price or product itself. In other words, the right messaging approach can help you directly compete with others who offer similar products or even better prices. It’s all about how you sell yourself to keep customers invested in your service.

Key Takeaways:

  • Retailers should prioritize regular communication with subscription customers as a key method of relationship building and value exchange.
  • The subscription commerce market is growing, and retailers need a way to compete.
  • Research shows that a majority of B2B buying decisions have nothing to do with prices or products; instead, their direct/indirect customer experiences move the lever.

What Types of Subscription Commerce Messages Do I Need?

This depends on your specific subscription commerce goals and what types of outreach best supports those goals. As a best practice, you’ll want to outline several categories of eCommerce messaging to begin:

  • Reminders
    • “Your subscription expires in one week.”
  • Notifications
    • “We’ve renewed your subscription!”
    • “Your monthly subscription box arrives today!”
  • Post-purchase follow-ups
    • “Don’t forget to update your product preferences.”
    • “We miss you” messages
    • “You canceled, and we miss you!”
  • Special promotion templates
    • “Upgrade to a Premium Membership today!”
    • “Add more to your monthly delivery.”
  • Order confirmations
    • “Thanks for subscribing!”

Each of these buckets could have several varieties of messaging built to support them. For example, retailers can set up unique email templates for various types of post-purchase outreach, complete with product recommendations based on the initial purchase. There are numerous ways to increase user engagement with your marketing messages, you just need to find the options that resonate best with your market.

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so we recommend creating a Messaging Map to outline your core messaging goals. A Messaging Map is a framework-specific to subscription commerce that asks you to identify your company’s key offering as well as how that offering benefits your market. From there, you’ll develop a variety of supporting statements as offshoots of your core message. These statements can be related to any part of the offering in question:

  • Key benefits
  • Proof points
  • Focus areas
  • Related services

From here, you might be thinking “Why worry about renewal reminder notifications? The customer is already sold; why bother explaining the key benefits?”

This exercise provides an important framework for messaging creation. It’s easy to pull a few well-crafted slogans or benefit statements out of thin air, but haphazard approaches to subscription commerce messaging won’t take you too far.

It’s not enough to have a good message; you need to be able to validate that message and understand why it works. Only then can you start to understand what types of messages resonate with your market to drive results.

Your primary goal here (aside from keeping customers on board with their subscriptions) is to help them stay engaged and informed on what your company can offer. By doing so, you’ll deepen your relationship and make it less likely that they’ll turn to others for any new subscription commerce products they may be interested in.

Key Takeaways:

  • Subscription commerce message generation begins by outlining your core “buckets” of messaging frameworks and deciding where to focus your attention.
  • Messaging Maps provide structure and visibility into this process, and they encourage you to develop messages that align with key value propositions or other validated proof points.
  • Customers can get caught in “subscription auto-pilot” where they simply don’t think about your brand. It’s critical to leverage functionality in your subscription commerce platform to deliver messaging that can spark additional interactions.

Leverage Their Data to Refine Your Messaging

Messaging efficacy is a two-way street. Every time a customer becomes a subscriber and engages with a message or promotion, you gain insight into how to further craft your promotions to align with their interests. For example, If you can capture this data and analyze it, you’ll have great feedback for future incentives, loyalty program initiatives, or new product launches.

Use your system’s eCommerce data to determine additional opportunities to craft messaging that supports your goals. Suggest complementary products they haven’t tried, or offer shipping discounts for bulk orders. The idea here is to determine which products or services match the various subscriptions they’ve purchased, and then pushing those items.

For example, consider the customer who just purchased a recurring delivery of pet food. What additional products could you sell to them? You’re probably not going to get them to buy more pet food (unless their pet gets really hungry) — but can you sell a premium pet food with a better nutritional profile? Or luxury treats?

There are lots of options at your disposal. Your goal is to look into your transaction data, observe your customers’ buying habits, and look for ways to sell more (or higher value) products.

The idea here is to deliver more deliberate, contextualized experiences to each subscription buyer – all fueled by the data you glean from your messaging.

Key Takeaways:

  • When customers subscribe or engage with promotions, fold that information back into your subscription marketing to further encourage their participation. The subscription isn’t the end of the transaction – it’s just one step.
  • Customer data can be used to refine your messaging, improve loyalty programs, and overall, create more personalized shopping experiences for all customers.

Deliver the Right Message at the Right Time

The above strategies are a great place to start – but keep in mind that messaging efficacy is highly dependent on your market. What works for one brand may fail outright for another. Put some time into the process and test several variations of each messaging category, both in terms of content and message timing. A methodical approach backed by a clear plan or Messaging Map is the easiest way to develop subscription commerce messaging that keeps customers hungry for more.

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