4 Subscription Marketing Mistakes to Avoid There are a lot of components that go into building a subscription business — but taking care to avoid these common marketing pitfalls is an important step to laying the foundation for a successful brand fueled by customer retention and engagement.
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The subscription economy has been on the rise and will only continue to grow. With the global subscription eCommerce market expected to exhibit a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 65.5% between 2023 and 2028, it's not a surprise that so many businesses are looking to pivot to the subscription model.
But in addition to creating opportunities, the subscription economy spike is also causing some challenges for DTC founders — namely, in one area: competitor differentiation. That's why effective marketing is so important for the growth of subscription brands. And while there isn't a one-size-fits-all subscription marketing strategy, there are a few common mistakes that ecommerce brands would be wise to avoid.
Related: How to Identify and Launch a Subscription Model in Your Existing Business
1. Taking a set-and-forget approach to subscriptions
One of the biggest errors subscription brands make is jumping to marketing techniques before considering exactly how you want to go to market with your subscriptions. In other words, a set-and-forget subscription model will sabotage any effective marketing strategies. So strengthening your subscriptions is a wise place to start to lay the foundation for impactful marketing.
There are so many options for brands to tailor their subscription programs directly to their customers' lifestyles and their products' intended use. This could be a build-a-box, giftable, sequential or prepaid subscription, to name a few.
Assess the needs of your subscribers and how your product is typically used to choose the strongest subscription offering that adds the most value for your customers.
2. Not designing a subscription-optimized PDP
Your PDP (Product Detail Page) is a highly important part of your eCommerce website, as this is where consumers can directly engage with your product and decide if they want to buy it. The PDP is also where consumers can opt to subscribe — making it a stellar (and logical) spot to promote your subscription program. A costly mistake DTC brands make is creating a PDP that doesn't effectively display the subscription offering or its related benefits.
There are myriad ways that brands can optimize their PDP — whether it's by strategically setting subscriptions as the default, clearly displaying savings with a strikethrough, or illustrating the many perks that consumers can access by subscribing. It should be blatantly obvious to consumers why they would benefit from a subscription.
Related: More Restaurants Embrace Subscription Model to Drive Revenue and Retain Customers
3. Underestimating the post-purchase journey
An essential component of subscription marketing is knowing when and how to promote your subscription offering — and it's a common mistake for newer brands to miss out on optimal chances, particularly after a consumer has made a purchase.
Two obvious cohorts to target are one-time and repeat buyers who have yet to subscribe. Leaning into this subgroup by sending an informative email that outlines the many perks of subscribing can work wonders for growing your subscriber base.
However, communicating with current subscribers — not just one-time buyers — is where the real post-purchase journey can happen. This is a significantly unique component of subscription marketing; it's equally crucial (if not more so) to advertise to your current subscribers rather than just focusing on acquiring new ones. Forgetting about your most loyal audience is extremely costly; after all, returning customers spend about 67% more than new customers.
Building out a robust customer account portal complete with referrals, loyalty rewards, trending upsells, and exclusive discounts is only step one in maximizing engagement, as you have to ensure that your subscribers are aware of and participating in these engaging touchpoints. Once you have your account portal set up with the LTV-driven features you want, it's important to lean into messaging that brings subscribers into the portal as much as possible.
One strategy is to invite subscribers via email and SMS messaging to visit their account portals by sending a direct link. Then, in conjunction with this, many brands also choose to send an educational email to inform their audience of the many ways to engage after they've subscribed.
4. Keeping Email/SMS marketing impersonal
Your email/SMS strategy is a chance to get highly creative and lean into personalization; it's not just an outlet for promotions, which is a trap many brands fall into. Some founders are wary of playing up personalization for fear of invading privacy — but most consumers are actually seeking and expecting this kind of individualized treatment from their brands.
83% of consumers reported that they were willing to share information in exchange for a more personalized experience, and 88% of organizations that implemented a personalized approach saw a meaningful increase in sales. In other words, eCommerce businesses that fail to capitalize on this dynamic are missing out on a prime opportunity.
Personalized marketing can vary depending on the type of business you run — but here are some general campaign ideas:
For SMS, this might look like:
- Notifying subscribers about new products they may like
- Sending a personalized birthday message with a special perk
- Sending out order-tracking messages and giving subscribers a chance to manage subscriptions directly in the text thread
For Email, this might look like:
- A more casual check-in sent to engaged subscribers to encourage reviews
- An interactive survey or quiz to collect zero-party data (which can be used to further personalize future messaging)
- An informative newsletter with recent brand updates, including a "you may like" product recommendation section