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Your Subscription Service, Just More Successful These five tips can help build a subscription service that keeps customers coming back.

By Brad Crescenzo

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Through trial and error, this knitting subscription service Knitcrate has built a customer base and tapped into the subscription service trend.

Subscription services are the latest ecommerce trend, with a business to match every hobby and interest. KnitCrate tapped into the movement with its 2012 launch. With no paid advertising, the two-person team of Joe and Andrea Raetzer built a company that saw an average month-over-month growth rate of 37.5 percent since its first crate. Of course, such growth is won by trial and error and hard work. This husband and wife team shares the lessons they've learned in these five simple tips.

1. Encourage loyalty. As a subscription service, KnitCrate is dependent on subscribers sticking around. Unlike some subscription services, KnitCrate subscribers can cancel at any time. KnitCrate monitors any unsubscribes, using those as real-time feedback on the service. To keep customers coming back, the company has also implemented a points rewards program, and added a product review system.

2. Sort out your S&H. Before launching KnitCrate, Joe and Andrea went online and looked at retail price points with all the major shipping companies. They priced out as many scenarios as they could, such as shipping a two-pound package bound for the UK or a three-pound box to California. They then compared cost with service level by calling the carriers directly to discuss logistics and commercial price points. After their launch they revisited their shipping options, once they had a better sense of their needs, in an attempt to lower costs even further.

Your Subscription Service, Just More Successful
Joe and Andrea Raetzer of Knitcrate
Image credit: Knitcrate

3. Create an experience. KnitCrate "puts creativity in the customer's hands" not only by providing a user experience through a single knitting project, but by exposing knitters to the "world of fiber arts." KnitCrate tries to educate the customer about the artisans who created the items in the crates, where they come from, and why they are special. Posting photos on social media is an important part of this process, encouraging one-on-one interaction and a sense of community. Something Andrea hears a lot from customers is, "we hope you guys don't get so big that I don't feel like you're my friend anymore."

4. Don't pay for advertising, earn it. Andrea and Joe praise social media marketing stating, "Facebook helped us grow faster than any other platform." KnitCrate uses social media not to sell product, but to attract attention to the brand and to communicate with customers. Through consistent giveaways, Facebook has helped KnitCrate connect with younger 20- to 30-somethings who are active on social media and can help do KnitCrate's marketing for them. An October 2013 giveaway reached more than 13,000 people and grew the company's overall likes by 8 percent. Leveraging fan bases of brands included in KnitCrate kits also contributes to healthy Facebook growth. "We could not have spread the word about our service so quickly without having other brands tell their customer base about us."

Seek help and influence. Early on, Joe and Andrea identified individuals in the industry who could help KnitCrate grow by reaching out the old-fashioned way, by phone. A call to Trisha Malcom, editor-in-chief at Vogue Knitting International, led to the online yarn retailer being featured in Vogue Knitting International and Yarn Market News, creating huge buzz for the brand. Other calls paved the way for merchandise later sold through the store and promotion through yarnmakers' social media profiles. The duo learned that even if influencers refuse or can't help you, they might be willing to direct you to someone who can. "Our customers and vendors have been very supportive helping us to connect with their friends. We would not be where we are without such support."

Brad Crescenzo is a freelance writer in New York.

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