Subscription products present challenges different from those of other kinds of goods and services. Of course, all good businesspeople want customers to be happy with their purchase, but subscription-based companies can't stay viable unless enough customers are sufficiently happy with their purchase to buy again... and again, and again, and again.
When your product is a subscription, people can reconsider their purchase every day.
That's why I invited Wendy Connell of Storyblocks—a subscription-based provider of stock video and audio—to talk with me for Marketing Smarts. She started her marketing career at AOL, so she's well versed in direct marketing, customer acquisition and retention, and minimizing churn.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Focus your acquisition efforts on the right people, and you'll boost customer retention as well (06:29): "What I like about a subscription-based business is you really see the effects of acquisition and retention and how they go hand in hand. Not only do you want to bring in new customers—and that's always going to be a focus—but, to the degree that you can profile which of those new customers are going to be the quality customers, the ones who are going to stick, that just ends up making your life so much easier when it comes up for renewal time. We do a lot on both sides.
"We have different types of customers...and we know who are our...most valuable customers. We'll do lots of lookalike modeling and stuff like that so when we're going on Facebook or different platforms to acquire, we're trying to get those best-quality customers in here. On our retention side, we're doing a lot in the product to just develop as strong a product as we can to make sure people stay."
Want to know your customers? Go see them. (08:42): "We do a lot of surveys and going out to customers to find out from them what they like what they need more of, what we could do better. We have a group here that works on surveys, and one thing we've introduced in the last year...is we're doing customer field trips now, where we'll go and find a local customer, sit with them and talk with them, see how they use the product. We usually send a small, cross-functional group and we come back with pages and pages of notes. We get ideas for different things we could be saying in our advertising to different product enhancements we should be making. Those have been terrific, as well.... We're trying to figure out if we can do more face to face stuff with our customers."
B2B and B2C marketing share certain fundamental principles, but you should address the needs of each audience where they differ (21:51): "The basics of good sales and good marketing are still the basics and still apply, so you don't want to forget that. But we've more recently...created more of a B2B offering and an enterprise sales unit, where we're going after companies where we could do an API integration or they're at a scale where they would need a huge volume of assets from us and approaching that a little bit differently....
"B2B is more people-intensive, so you're still doing good email marketing and doing what you need to generate leads and define your market and figure out how to reach them, but the fact that you have sales reps and directors...going back and forth, talking on the phone, it makes it slightly different.... Now I have a growing number of people on my team that are talking with customers every single day, and that's so exciting."
Wendy and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by CrowdCompass by Cvent:
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.