Peter Cunningham
Peter Cunningham 17 August 2015

I May Spend $32,354.87 On Subscribing For Stuff This Month!

That's what it would cost me if I accepted all the subscription offers that landed in my email inbox, Facebook newsfeed and Tweet stream over the past year.

Well, of course I won’t. Trust me, I don’t earn nearly enough! But it’s what I calculate it would cost me if I accepted all the subscription offers that landed in my email inbox, Facebook newsfeed and Tweet stream over the past year.

Of course that would mean I would not be just be subscribing to magazines, newspapers, gyms, mobile phones and satellite TV subscriptions, but also for:

  • Films (Netflix and Amazon Instant Video)
  • Music (Spotify, Deezer, Pandora)
  • Online training (Lynda, Udemy)
  • Healthy snack boxes (Graze, Nature box, Smile Snack, KlutchClub)
  • Cigars (Cigar of the Month Club, Cigar Connoisseur)
  • Razor blades (Dollar Shave Club, King of Shaves)
  • Recipes and ingredients (Blue Apron, Simply Cook, Spiceboxes)
  • Cosmetics (Birchbox, Glossybox, Mumtreats)
  • Teas and coffees (Whittard, Rave Coffee, The Cozy Mug)
  • Vitamins (Bulubox, Koge Vitamins)
  • Cake (Cake Slice Club, Sponge, Cake Nest, Hobbs House Bakery)
  • Socks (London Sock Co., HenryJSocks, Sock Fancy, FootCardigan, Nice Laundry)
  • Knickers (Lacybox, Secret Envelope, Knicker Club, Briefd, Blacksocks)
  • Ties (Freshneck, The Tie Bar, Rootbizzle, Tie Cargo)
  • Flowers (H.Bloom, Bunches, Bloom and Wild)
  • and even ………….condoms (DollarRubberClub) and tampons (Pink Parcel, Juniper)

As well as getting a mild case of schizophrenia, I would have to move to bigger house and I would not be popular with the local postman.

Awareness Is Only Half The Battle

With so much subscription advertising brouhaha out there, just getting my attention is a huge challenge. But with limited disposable income, my choice is often more which type of subscription service rather than which brand of, say, cigar subscription box.

So even those subscription businesses that do manage to cut through the noise and make me notice them then need to convince me that they are more worthy of my cash than all the others! Clearly deluging my inbox has not convinced me to sign up to all of these services and, in such a competitive market, throwing more dollars at paid search and affiliates is unlikely to be more effective either.

We all know that word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing, with Nielsen finding 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. For this reason most, if not all, of these subscription businesses have some sort of ‘refer a friend’ scheme that encourages existing subscribers to evangelize and bring in their friends, family and co-workers. It is typically something like a ‘$X off your next subscription and $X off for your friend’. However, these simple schemes typically fail to deliver big bang subscriber acquisition and their performance tends to drop off after a while as they all look the same and fail to excite.

After having implemented subscriber-get-subscriber programmes for over a hundred of the World’s leading brands and retailers over the past four years, I think we have some simple but valuable tips to share as to how a subscription business can fix its scheme and make referrals really drive the business.


How To Super Charge Your Subscription Referral Programme

  1. The first insight first to share, is that less than 20% of your subscribers will bring much more than 80% of all your referrals. If that sounds obvious, then why do subscription businesses offer the same rewards to each subscriber regardless of the effort they are capable of undertaking or are willing to make?
  2. A minority of your subscribers, if properly motivated, can bring hundreds of referrals. Key to getting new subscriber acquisition at scale is identifying, challenging, celebrating and rewarding these ‘super referrers’. This can be done by using gamification and leaderboards where super referrers are pitted against each other to win ‘money can’t buy special rewards’.
  3. While some subscribers will only ever refer one friend, by using smart rewards and communal targets a decent number of subscribers can be motivated to go the extra mile and bring three or five referrals each.
  4. To avoid referral programmes getting staid and looking ‘me too’, businesses should change the rewards regularly and reward the subscriber topping this month’s referral leaderboard with a special prize.
  5. A referral programme is likely to be more successful if subscribers are regularly reminded of the rewards they stand to earn. So the excitement can be kept up by emailing subscribers when a friend joins as a result of their recommendation and invite them to check where they are on the leaderboard.
  6. Referring is much more than just a post to Facebook or a tweet. Can you can remember the person who first told you about Netflix or Uber? It was probably the office evangelist you had to tell you three or four times before you gave it a try. In other words, an evangelist will probably first tell their friends, then send an email invitation, then check their friend got the email and pester again a few days later to see if they did sign up. This means you should make it easy to send personalised referral messages through media like email or whatsapp.

Let’s Talk About How We Can Improve Your Refer A Friend Scheme

Hopefully you found my shared learnings insightful. Of course, it took us several years of trial and error to discover this and we have lots more we can and would love to share with you.

Original Article

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