Subscription eCommerce Marketing: Keeping Customers Engaged

Whether someone becomes a customer by subscribing to your service, opening an account, or simply signing up for your newsletter, the key to keeping them around is engagement. However, marketers often jump the gun and start blasting away with heavy-handed sales messaging and discounts. This is a mistake. First impressions are even more important in the digital world, this is why the first few touches a consumer has with your brand need to be properly planned out.

We don’t have to tell you that each one of your customers is different. For example, sending discounts in your first few emails or retargeting ads might appeal to a bargain shopper, but it will cheapen your brand in the eyes of a shopper looking for quality products. You might get an initial conversion boost, but lose out on higher value customers. Segmenting is a must, even from the beginning.

Not All Personalization is Created Equal

Personalization in marketing speak can mean a few different things. Some marketers inject a consumer’s first name in subject lines or email content, and call it a day. This approach, however, falls short of the kind of personalization that actually makes an impact on long-term sales and customer satisfaction.

Personalization has to go beyond injecting basic customer information in emails and take into consideration a consumer’s buying profile (discount shopper, high-value shopper, etc.) and lifecycle stage (prospect, new customer, engaged, at-risk, etc.). In the following sections, we’ll give examples of two campaigns that take these factors into consideration.

The Subscriber Lifecycle

Unlike the basic eCommerce business model where pinpointing the exact lifecycle stage of a customer can be challenging, subscription eCommerce has three well-defined stages:

Prospect
Consumer who has engaged with your brand but not subscribed. They might have signed up for an email newsletter or created an account.

Subscriber
Consumer who has subscribed to your service.

Churned
Consumer who was previously subscribed but has unsubscribed, or a subscriber who is showing signs of churn (i.e. no longer opening emails).

There are corresponding campaigns for each one of these lifecycle stages. We’ll go over the first campaign, Welcome Series, in this post.

Welcome Series

The welcome series begins by acknowledging that consumers have only signaled they might be interested in a specific product or an aspect of the brand. They are curious and open to hearing more, and have willingly made the first move to engage. This initial goodwill on their part must not be wasted by aggressive marketing.

For brands, making a good first impression is crucial for starting engagement off on the right foot. Your first message sets the tone for the rest of the relationship, so make sure it’s memorable, engaging, and tailored. Personalized communications with your customers should start from Day One.

The Welcome Series focuses on educating new email subscribers or customers about your brand, including your products or mission statement. This series of emails, sent over the course of a week or so, is key to captivating your customers and introducing them to your brand values. A good welcome series covers the following four bases:

Introducing Brand Values
Include a message from the CEO or founders that summarizes your brand value, promises, and clearly highlight what the subscriber should expect from your ongoing emails. Resist sending an offer in the first email. This trains the subscriber to expect discounts in every communication.

Testimonials & Reviews
Testimonials and reviews help build brand credibility and trust. Make sure they are relevant and credible by providing the name, hometown, age, or other important information about the customer. Lay out reviews so they are short, quick, and easy to read.

Social Media Engagement
Dedicate one email in your Welcome Series to encourage subscribers to engage with your brand through multiple channels. This allows them to interact with you through their preferred platform, which builds longer-term relationships. Use images and screenshots of each social network rather than generic icons to increase click-through rates.

Product Categories
Often times subscription companies have multiple product lines or eCommerce components. This is an opportunity to educate your new subscriber about your brand’s product offerings.

honest-welcome-email
The Honest Co. Welcome Email

Coming Up Next Week

Next week, we’ll go over some ways you can predict which customers are at risk of churning and what you can do about it.