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GUEST COMMENT 3 ways subscription business can retain subscribers

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The popularity of the subscription model skyrocketed during multiple lockdowns. Consumers who were no longer able to shop in physical stores subscribed to food, entertainment, and other ways of spreading joy. 

In March 2021, research found that nearlyone in five consumershad signed up to a physical subscription service that delivers goods to their (or others) door. Total retail subscriptions jumped 50%in lockdown, and almost 19% of consumerswere turning to subscription services to tackle loneliness.  

For a while, subscription services were enjoying their newfound popularity. But now lockdowns have lifted and the world has opened up again, subscription businesses are facing a challenge – how to keep the subscribers they earned in lockdown. How do you remind the large cohort of people how they enjoyed receiving something in the post each month?  

Already, popular streaming services like Netflix are reporting a 2million gapin their user forecast, which brings doubts to the claim that the subscription economy will grow by30% in the next 12 months. If subscription businesses are going to cement their position, they’ll need to retain their lockdown subscriber base. But how? 

Strong Offering

83% of subscription retailers have launched an average of three new subscription products, or services, since January 2021. At TouchNote, we’re one of them. Our gifting service, which combines our traditional card sending subscription with an optional gift, was launched earlier this year, alongside a range of new services.  

We know that subscription businesses are not just competing with each other, but rather in the main competing with traditional retail for consumer’s attention. To maintain attention and loyalty, and ensure evolving subscription value provision, new product offerings are essential. New product offerings ideally expand on current propositions, generating additional value to the customer first and foremost and to the business as a by-product. 

Don’t get us wrong, getting it right takes time. Whilst most subscription retailers may have launched three new products this year, they have also trialled, and binned many more than that. These trials focus on exploration into what a customer needs.  

By getting the process of research, trial and error right, companies can ensure that their subscription is worthwhile, and avoid voluntary churn from their customer base.  


When everyone is offering a subscription service, how can you make yours different? It’s a difficult question facing all subscription businesses in our crowded market. The answer? Make your product engaging throughout the customer’s experience of it.  

When people talk about subscriptions, they don’t just talk about the product, but the customer’s entire interaction with it from start to finish.  For a subscription box service, this might be the unboxing process – a recognisable box, some added extras inside each month or a video they saw of someone unboxing it. For other services, this might be the delivery process, an online event to coincide with the delivery, or even watching/ reading groups.  

If you assume that customers are always considering when they might end their subscription, you will always strive to give them a reason to stay. Creating a wider experience around the product doesn’t just deliver them what they paid for but makes it memorable in the process.  



The relationship between customer and service is a unique and challenging one for subscriptions. Unlike traditional ecommerce, the customer makes a repeated, constant connection with the brand. As a result, the bar is set higher for standards in these relationships. 

For any successful relationship you need a mutual understanding. This is true in real life, and it should be the same in the subscriber/subscription relationship. Through your brand, product and marketing you reveal your business to the customer.  As a business you need to know a few things about your customers as well, such as who they are and what they are looking to get out of the service.  

For companies, one way to do this is through multiple feedback loops. At TouchNote, our app reviews, and customer analytics partners, are a goldmine. They help us better understand who is using our product, what they’re using it for, and what else they’re looking for from us and the product.  

Retaining subscribers isn’t an easy task. Churn, both voluntary and involuntary through credit card failures, is bound to happen, but that doesn’t mean companies can’t do their best to retain subscribers in the event of a subscription slump. Companies have every opportunity to create strong products that innovate and take into account a deep understanding of customer needs. 

If these are done right, a strong customer base can be maintained, and the sky remains the limit for subscription companies.  


Dan Ziv, CEO of TouchNote

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