Subscription Marketing

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QUICK POINTS:

  • UBS financial services firm predicts that this “subscription economy” will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025, more than double the $650 billion it’s estimated to be worth now.
  • Subscriptions bring in upfront revenue, strengthen relationships with customers and give companies much deeper data on what sells.
  • The rapid growth of subscriptions has created a host of challenges for the economy, far outpacing the government’s ability to scrutinize aggressive marketing practices and ensure that consumers are being treated fairly.
  • The typical U.S. consumer now has two to three subscriptions, according to user data from budget app Mint and research by Tien Tzuo.

I keep separate accounts for my business expenses and was kind of surprised when several apps, sites and publications came up for renewal. The cost was well over $500 and I decided that it needed to be reduced, substantially.

According to the Washington Post “there’s a growing trend of “power subscribers” with 10 or more recurring payments, according to budgeting app Truebill. The app’s users average 17 subscriptions and typically spend $145 a month, according to an analysis. Last spring during the shutdowns, Truebill users averaged 21 subscriptions, as people tried different entertainment, home workout and delivery services. Apple, Peloton and NBCUniversal’s Peacock video-streaming platform are reporting that subscriptions have been key drivers of revenue growth. 

Subscription businesses get to profit from recurring purchases, and customers benefit from long-term savings and convenience. In a recent study, Zuora found that 71% of adults across 12 countries have subscription services. And they predict that 74% of people will subscribe to even more services in the future. As a business trying to get into the subscription game, those are pretty promising numbers.

OK, I get it. We are locked up inside and looking for things to do, but now that many of us are getting back to normal behaviors, the dollar amount of subscriptions people have is likely to decline. Consumers will decide, by value, which ones deserve their money and which ones don’t.

63% of publishers say turning audiences into paying subscribers is a key challenge when creating subscription products and 70% of business leaders say subscription business models will be key to their prospects in the years ahead.

What’s the future of subscriptions?

My guess is that people are going to start cutting back on subscriptions once they start going back to the office and returning to somewhat normal lives. When you suddenly get an email that a newspaper you were subscribing to for a small charge all of a sudden wants to charge you over $100 it’s pretty loud “WTF?” call.

Peleton is eventually going to find that they have reached the maximum amount of subscribers and that a lot of people have stopped using their service. However, for others, subscription marketing is going to remain a key revenue driver.

Amazon’s Prime offers a LOT of benefits, and people see value in it but is it worth paying a monthly fee to Grubhub when you’re starting to eat out more? Netflix will stay strong as long they can offer programs that people want to see, but the competition is getting stronger for viewers.

The other issue that seems to growing is a publisher’s refusal to allow users who have ad blockers to read the content. Given the rise in ad blockers, it seems most people won’t disable their adblockers to read an article that might or might not be worth reading.

It’s actually simple. If you want subscribers, you need to offer value on THEIR terms, not yours. That means investing more money into your business to keep and grow subscribers.

Subscription Marketing