August 2, 2023

Subscriber Retention Aftercare: Nurturing Customers Beyond BFCM

Discover effective strategies to retain subscribers during BFCM, minimize churn, and boost your brand's long-term growth.

Alex Rosas

Marketing Manager at Tapcart

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How strong is your subscriber retention strategy? What about during Black Friday Cyber Monday?

We spoke with expert Gina Perrelli, co-founder and CEO at Stay Ai, to see how her clients navigate through the holiday season. Stay Ai is the Swiss army knife for businesses on Shopify, and they use their platform to help clients acquire new subscribers, increase average order values, and deliver an incredible subscriber experience.

Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. And while your team is likely hard at work preparing promotions to capture new subscribers, you can’t ignore your current subscribers—or else you’re risking massive churn.

To make the most of BFCM, you'll need to wade through the complexities of engaging old and new subscribers. It's not just about preventing churn during BFCM but about strengthening relationships with your subscribers and ensuring their loyalty long after the event is over.

Here’s what’s in store…

  1. Why is retention important?
  2. Preventing BFCM churn
  3. Other ways to show subscriber love
  4. Subscriber aftercare
  5. Subscriber retention takeaways

Why is subscriber retention during BFCM important?

Subscriber retention is always critical, but the stakes go up during BFCM. Other brands’ new customer discounts may tempt away your current subscribers. If they’re not feeling the love from you in the form of loyalty discounts, exclusive products, or top-tier shopping experiences, they could go elsewhere. 

But that’s not the only high-risk churn factor for BFCM. You could be unknowingly increasing your own churn rates. Steep subscribe-and-save discounts or offering new customers better rates than your loyal subscribers can also increase churn. But you have options to stop BFCM churn in its tracks.

Stop churn in its tracks by rewarding subscribers during BFCM

Current subscribers need a little love too. Subscribe-and-save campaigns (where customers get discounts for signing up) successfully drive subscriptions, but BFCM can cause a subscription exodus. You’re offering 25% discounts on your website for new customers, while subscribers only get 10%. 

“A lot of brands [will] offer this really steep discount to acquire subscribers during BFCM, and a lot of times it just backfires.”

Your loyal subscribers notice. And, unfortunately, they flee with abandon. A lot of brands will offer a really steep discount to acquire subscribers during Black Friday Cyber Monday—and a lot of the time, it just backfires when it comes to retention, which is the key to a holistic CX & growth strategy. 

You can’t pass up on the opportunity to acquire new customers during BFCM, so what’s a brand to do? 

OLIPOP shows love to their subscribers

Let’s look at the popular soda brand and Stay Ai client OLIPOP. Last BFCM, they offered 25% discounts across their site. But they didn’t stop there. They offered their subscribers 30% off their orders for the rest of November.

  • Almost no churn
  • No one “gamed the system” for new customer bonuses
  • Not losing BFCM subscribers who signed up just for the discount

OLIPOP even let subscribers buy limited edition items, one-time add-ons and bulk order their favorite beverages. Ensuring flexibility allowed this brand to beat subscription fatigue and increase loyalty.

The numbers showed just how successful this campaign was for the OLIPOP brand.

  • 10% growth in active subscribers from Oct ‘22 to Jan ‘23
  • 18% growth in new subscribers during BFCM
  • 8% decrease in churn during BFCM
  • 13% increase in add-on rev during BFCM

Subscription tip: Don’t sleep on add-ons. Increasing add-on purchases will seriously boost your average order value.

What if steep discounts aren’t a reality for your brand?

New subscriber discounts are great for spurring growth, but what if that’s not realistic for your brand? Maybe you have tight margins, or maybe you don’t want to acquire new customers looking for discounts. What should you do?

Instead, reward your existing subscribers. That’s what Surely, a non-alcoholic wine company, did.

No whining for Surely’s wine subscribers

Surely doesn’t offer BFCM discounts. But their BFCM promotion starts long before you’ve picked out the perfect pumpkin.

The Surely team told their customers that only Black Friday promotions would happen in the subscriber portal. Then throughout BFCM, they launched limited edition products for subscribers only.

They kept subscribers engaged by using Klayvio campaigns, switching out limited edition products, and updating their banners inside the portal. 

“It was a really unique experience that I hadn't seen any other brands do,” said Perrelli. “You're looking for something just a little bit more elevated. [It’s] a way to keep people engaged and reward your top subscribers, your top customers is an awesome way to do it.”

While many businesses see an increase in churn after BFCM, Surely actually decreased their churn while increasing their subscriptions. 

  • 23% growth in new subscribers during BFCM month
  • 18% decrease in churn from Oct ‘22 to Nov ‘22 
  • 32% decrease in churn from Oct ‘22  to Dec ‘22
  • 85% growth in add-on revenue from Oct ‘22 to Nov ‘22

Subscriber aftercare (how not to love ‘em and leave 'em)

Black Friday Cyber Monday is a lot. Consumers across the board are overwhelmed with marketing messages, lamenting missed deals, and assessing their credit card damage. 

On your end, you’re exhausted too. BFCM takes months of preparation—you’re building email lists, creating campaigns, promoting on social media, or even building an app

But after all your hard work to get new subscribers, you don’t want them to churn in the first few weeks, and you don’t want skips and big revenue declines. You need subscriber aftercare.

Since churn is common during and shortly after BFCM, begin by transforming your cancellation process into a feedback-gathering tool. Add reasons that fit, such as they just signed up for the discounts or found better prices somewhere else.

You can also prevent churn during cancellation by serving customers relevant offers. For example, if they cancel because of another BFCM discount, serve a promo code or a subscriber exclusive.

Always review your cancellation data to see if your BFCM discounts could attract customers only searching for a discount. You’ll also want to segment your churned customers and come up with a plan to re-engage them.

Gina Perrelli’s top 3 subscriber retention takeaways

After witnessing many successful (and unsuccessful) Black Friday Cyber Monday promotions, here are the top three tips Perrelli has seen work countless times.

  1. Leverage in-portal banners: Let your customers know they will get a better deal as a subscriber. That way, you’re capturing their attention right off the bat—even if they came into the app to skip or cancel.
  2. Promote subscriber-only exclusives: Make your subscribers feel special. Launch limited edition products; think new flavors, colors, sizes, etc. Tease them in emails and other marketing materials to build excitement and maintain that special subscriber relationship.
  3. Have subscriber aftercare: Take care of your subscribers with a cancellation flow that includes a reason-for-leaving survey, popup promo codes, and a plan for future re-engagement.

Prevent subscriber churn this BFCM 

Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) strategy goes beyond flashy discounts and enticing new customer offers. It's about understanding the importance of your loyal subscribers and acknowledging that retaining these customers is equally, if not more, crucial for your business's success.

Implementing these practices might seem challenging, but the rewards are worth it—increased subscriber retention, consistent growth, and a thriving customer base that sees value in your brand beyond just seasonal discounts.

Approach this year’s BFCM with a renewed focus on subscriber retention. Armed with these insights and strategies, you can confidently attain a successful sales season. Remember, every subscriber is a part of your brand's story, and BFCM presents an opportunity to make each chapter even more compelling. 

Want to get more learnings from Gina? Keep up with her on social like Twitter  & Linkedin.

Your brand’s mobile growth starts today.