Dose #108: My Secret to Uncovering Subscription Growth

Team brainstorming session - don't knock it until you've tried it

Matt here with your weekly Subscription Prescription 💊

Looking for that next piece of the subscription puzzle to unlock for more growth? This week’s dose is a thought exercise you need to run with your team. We start by walking through why this approach is so successful for my clients and brands, get into good data collection practices, and how you can sift through the data to find what to focus on next. That’s how you find growth. Read to the end for a special offer you can use as part of this process too.

This week’s dose is worth listening to or watching as well as I walk through the process and how to think about your program. Links at the bottom!

New Tool in Subscriptions

One of my partners and an amazing subscription mind is Jordan Salvit. He’s worked with some great brands, like Hunt a Killer and Mid-Day Squares.

He’s founded his own subscription company, agency, and is now rolling out a tool to help subscription brands understand what to focus on next.

It’s coming out this summer, so if you want to get on the list, email them at [email protected].

You can also learn more about what they do here:

It would be an understatement to say that I’ve talked to a lot of subscription brands. From my days running marketing at to content creation and now consulting, I’ve seen a lot of the good and the bad in subscriptions.

The funny thing is that brainstorming usually unlocks new ideas, focus, and, ultimately, growth for my clients and brands.

We sit there and talk through what’s working and what isn’t. I connect a few dots for them. Keeps things simple. This process gave a 25,000-subscriber supplement company the means to reduce churn by 40% in 3 months. From just brainstorming with me.

But since I can’t join everyone’s team meetings, this week’s newsletter is designed to walk you through that process to find what to focus on next.

I can guarantee that taking a few minutes reading this and another 45 minutes with your team will result in some clear next steps to improve subscriptions.

🤔 Brainstorming for Better Subscriptions

I like whiteboards and talking with my hands. That’s just me. But no matter how you like getting the team together, the idea is to walk everyone through some basic questions about your program.

Here are the first questions to run through with your team:

  1. Identify Purchase Motivations: List all the reasons people buy your product. What are the compelling features? What specials or offers have done well in the past and why?

  2. Analyze Subscriber Behavior: Why do some customers subscribe while others make one-time purchases? What differentiates these groups?

  3. Map the Onboarding Journey: What happens after the customer subscribes? How do they interact with your product and brand initially? Do they know how to use it? Are they skeptical of how it will work?

  4. Understand Churn and Retention: What are the common reasons for cancellation? Conversely, why do loyal customers stick around?

  5. Know Your Prime Use Cases: What are some main reasons people keep using your product over time? What makes these people different than the rest?

Now, crack open some of your customer data. If you feel like you aren’t getting enough feedback, you may want to focus instead on getting some of these systems implemented and working well:

Gathering Customer Insights

Information is power. To fine-tune your offerings and enhance customer satisfaction, gather data at every opportunity. These are must-haves for me:

  • Pre-purchase Quizzes: Use tools like Formtoro or Alia to collect first-party data. When users sign up for discounts or offers, ask them insightful questions that help you understand their needs.

  • Post-purchase Surveys: Go beyond the basic attribution surveys. Ask about what excited them about the purchase, their intended use of the product, and their overall experience. Find out if they’ve tried something like this before.

  • Cancellation Feedback: Regularly review your cancellation surveys. Simplify the options, focus on relevant questions, and understand why customers are leaving. This feedback is crucial for reducing churn and figuring out what to fix.

But these are the areas I like looking at to see what people are selecting and saying about the product and subscription. Add anything you’ve missed to the list.

Pens Down, Eyes Up

Now that you have all that information, what patterns start to emerge? Here’s a short key for how to think about different pieces of the subscription puzzle:

  • Initial churn is usually from bargain-seekers or people who are just curious

  • People who have too much product are either ordering on the wrong schedule or just have never used the product

  • People who cancel over price either aren’t using the product or don’t see enough ‘value’ in what they’re getting

  • Most brands have high churn in the first 3-4 months and settle down after that. Can you get into some of the reasons why people churn initially?

Here’s an example of taking some of your information above and what to do with it:

Feedback - Confusion from customers about how to use the product. Churn information telling you that people aren’t using the product.

Solution - Invest in some better emails and inserts for inboxing. Look for ways to get better adoption right away.

🧠 Actionable Takeaways

Look for one thing you can do to improve. This is often how potential subscribers discover the product (landing page, quiz, product page), how you communicate with them about it (welcome emails, unboxing), or issues related to the product itself.

Sometimes it’s a simple upsell at the point of purchase or at month 2 of the subscription. Sometimes it’s adding another segmented email series for a different type of product user.

But again, if you aren’t getting a lot of data from your program then focus on that first and regroup with another brainstorming session once you have some data!

Final Thoughts

The answers are there. Sometimes it just takes some practice looking at the problem in its entirety to see what to do next.

If you’ve made it this offer, I’ll make a special offer for you and your team. This is a 30-minute meeting link; we can do this all together. Schedule some time for free. Normally I charge $500/hour for these calls, and I can guarantee you’ll take several things away to work on next.

That’s it for this week! Stay tuned for next week’s dose out on Tuesday.

 - Matt Holman 🩺

The Subscription Doc

This week’s dose is one you need to follow along with: