How to use the 'Netflix trick' to attract and retain subscribers
A tempting and valuable introductory offer has probably turned you into a bonafide subscriber of at least one service.
This tactic is used by convertible subscriptions, and it's a great way to attract subscribers.
The most prevalent example is Netflix. Their introductory offer of a week free (it used to be a whole month!) is likely a big part of why they have millions of paying subscribers. That offer gives people the little push they need to go from thinking about signing up to actually becoming a member — but only after entering their credit card information.
Hesitation is one of the biggest barriers to getting people to commit to a subscription. That’s why many business go convertible: offering would-be subscribers introductory offers, free trials, discounted first orders, or starter kits as an incentive to sign up.
Other entertainment streaming services do the same thing as Netflix, like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Prime, but an introductory convertible offer can work for almost any subscription.
They're a great fit for consumable or refillable products, as well as less obvious products or services. For example, a sock company could charge $1 for the first month of a sock club then $9.99 for future months.
Benefits of convertible subscriptions
Introductory offers put consumers' minds at ease and give them a reason to subscribe now and think about the cost later — usually after it converts to a standardized subscription and they've already seen the value it brings them. It can also:
- Ease the transition from one-off customer to subscriber with a strong first impression or low commitment first order, both with the comfort that it's easy to cancel.
- Allow you to test different products as subscriptions with sample sizes to measure conversions and better forecast inventory.
- Automatically convert purchases into long-term sales if customers like your product and want to stay on board.
Challenges of convertible subscriptions
A convertible subscription isn’t always a slam dunk. Stop cancellations in their tracks by keeping these considerations in mind.
- Minimize your payment collection: some people freeze up at the idea of getting billed in perpetuity. Make sure you put those minds at ease by highlighting how easy it is to cancel or that you won't charge them until they've approved of a second purchase or delivery.
- Look out for mass cancellations after the first introductory offer. If this starts happening, give subscribers who want to cancel a discounted offer for future shipments that will at least help recover some your investment into them, or even keep them on board for the long term. (You can set up custom cancellation flows with Bold Subscriptions.)
- Even with an introductory offer is at a great price, make sure the standard pricing doesn't scare customers away, especially if your convertible plan uses the high-to-low strategy (more on that below).
Generally, there are two ways to price and position the introductory offers of convertible subscriptions.
1. Low to high
Give your subscribers a lower-priced offer, like their first order for 50% off, and then charge regular price for forthcoming deliveries. You can also try offering a sample or trial version of your products before converting to a full-sized (and full-priced) item.
2. High to low
Get your members started with a higher-priced entry kit. An example could be a tea subscription: First box includes a pot, infuser, and three popular blends, with follow-up orders of (lower-priced) tea refills.
3 real-life convertible subscription examples
So even though streaming services might be the first thing that come to mind when you think about convertible subscriptions, they can work for a wide variety of businesses. Here are a few examples of businesses thinking outside the box with convertible introductory offers. Keep in mind most of these merchants use Bold Subscriptions to serve their customers, which can also help you put some these concepts into action on your own store.
Eco-friendly and all natural, Soaked, kicks off its shampoo subscription with a high-to-low introductory offer.
The first order comes with a Forever Bottle made of glass or "hard wearing plastic" that's not only reusable, but can help reduce the cluttered look of half-squeezed plastic tubes and bottles in your shower. After that, subscribers get a regular delivery of refills.
Smoothie subscription kencko offers up a shaker bottle to subscribers with their first subscription order; they even offer it with their trial-sized subscription, which includes only three smoothies.
They position it as the gift to try to give first-time subscribers a little incentive to get on board.
3. Olympia Coffee
Olympia Coffee serves up a free brew before automatically putting customers into their recurring subscription program. And if customers decide they’re not fans, they can always cancel before it kicks into a full-blown subscription, similar to Netflix or Amazon Prime’s introductory trial periods.And similar to those services, Olympia eases customers in with a free offer so they'll be more comfortable committing to long-term payments.
What will work for your subscription?
There are plenty of strategies you can use to optimize your convertible subscription, like incentivizing sign-ups with long-term savings, getting full payment up front, using bounceback coupons, and more.
You should also consider adding aspects from other subscription models to your convertible offering to create something that will appeal to and serve your customers best.
Learn about optimization strategies and other subscription models, including dozens of real life examples, in our free ebook, 7 Subscription Models to Master.
We hope this inspired some ideas for your own offering. If you're looking to launch or elevate your subscription, Bold Subscriptions can help. If you download our ebook you can try it for free for 100 days (yet another example of convertible subscription!)
Is convertible the way to go? Has it worked for you? Have you ever been hooked by a convertible subscription? Let us know in the comments below!