How to Address Subscription Box Fatigue and Retain Subscribers

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The popularity of subscription boxes has been a boon to subscription commerce. But this popularity can be a double-edged sword. While recipients may love their different boxes filled with delightfully curated products or regularly needed essentials, sometimes this becomes too much of a good thing. Subscription box fatigue can happen when consumers get too many boxes, too often, and the enjoyment they get from them begins to decline, resulting in cancellations. How can subscription box-of-the-month companies respond to lessen this voluntary churn?

Let Your Subscribers Pause Instead of Cancelling

One way is to offer subscribers the option to pause their subscription instead of cancelling it. Your business gets to retain the subscriber and avoids the costs of trying to win them back, as well as the effort needed to recreate their account if they do resubscribe.

Recurly offers our customers this functionality, either as a fixed or indefinite pause option

Under the fixed option, the subscriber’s resume date is set at the time of the pause. Under the indefinite scenario there is no resumption time set. This “indefinite” pause is accomplished by setting a very high number of pause cycles, which amounts to an indefinite pause since the time-frame could be set to many, many years. In either scenario, the business has the option to resume subscriptions manually before the end of the pause term, at the subscriber’s request.

And of course, it’s important to continue to nurture subscribers who pause their subscription, to encourage them to eventually come back. Continue to email them occasionally to make them aware of new offerings or plans that might better meet their needs. Utilizing Recurly’s coupon tool is also a way to entice subscribers to reactivate.  

When subscribers cancel because pausing is not an option, businesses and subscribers both lose out.  Your business loses revenue, and subscribers lose out on all their activity and billing history along or, in the case of an OTT service, things like their product preferences or their streaming video watchlist.

Downgrading Can Also Improve Retention

Another option to retain subscribers who may be thinking of cancelling is to let them downgrade their subscription. Perhaps there’s a less expensive box option they would enjoy or a box that is sent less frequently, such as once a quarter rather than every month.

Subscription businesses know that retaining current subscribers is far less expensive than gaining new ones—or in this case winning back those who have cancelled, which requires marketing resources. And additional resources are then required to recreate the subscriber’s account information and payment method. By giving subscribers the option to pause or downgrade, your business can better meet subscribers’ needs and reduce voluntary churn, consolidating your hard-won efforts to acquire the subscriber in the first place.

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