Subscription Retention Strategies for eCommerce Revenue Growth

Table of Contents

Welcome to the world of eCommerce! The buzzword of the day is 'subscription retention.' At Cleverbridge, we recognize the importance of forming enduring relationships with our customers, fostering value in our subscription services, and prompting renewal decisions.

You might wonder, "What exactly is eCommerce subscription retention, and why is it vital for my business?" We'll delve into these topics and more in this comprehensive guide.

What is eCommerce Subscription Retention?

Subscription retention refers to the ability of an eCommerce business to maintain its subscribers over a specific period. It is a key measure of success for any eCommerce business. 

  • What is an Average Subscription Retention Rate? It measures how well your business keeps its subscribers over a particular timeframe. The higher the retention rate, the more customers find continuous value in your subscription.
  • Why does it matter? A robust retention rate indicates business stability, loyal customers, and recurring revenue.

The Current State of eCommerce Subscription Retention

Though seemingly straightforward, achieving a high subscription retention rate is easier said than done, particularly given the market's competitive nature.

This section will look deeper into these challenges, providing a robust understanding of the current state of eCommerce subscription retention.

The Challenges of Retention

Back-Office & Finance Automation-01

Perceived Lack of Value 

The primary reason customers unsubscribe from a service is due to a perceived lack of value. This occurs when customers feel that the benefits of the service or product do not justify the price. This perception can stem from various sources - poor quality of products or services, lack of new and engaging content, or better alternatives in the market.

Lack of Self-Service Subscription Management

In the SaaS industry, customer expectations have shifted significantly towards desiring more control and flexibility over their subscriptions. If customers cannot manage their subscriptions directly, they’ll be more likely to experience frustration from a lack of convenience and transparency. 

Poor Customer Service 

Customer service plays a significant role in customer retention. Businesses that lack prompt and efficient customer support may face higher subscription cancellation rates. Customers need to feel valued and heard - when issues arise, they expect quick and effective solutions. If a business fails to deliver in this aspect, customers will likely switch to competitors.

Opaque Pricing Structures 

Pricing structures that are complicated or hidden in fine print can be a major turn-off for customers. If customers feel they are being charged unexpectedly or don't understand the pricing model, they may feel cheated and choose to unsubscribe. Businesses need to provide transparent, easy-to-understand pricing structures to avoid such issues.

Inadequate Personalization 

In today's world, customers expect personalized experiences. Businesses failing to tailor their services to individual customer needs and preferences may face high churn rates. Personalization can come in various forms, such as personalized content, recommendations, and user experiences. It shows customers that the business understands and cares about their individual needs.

Uncompetitive Offerings 

The market is inundated with numerous subscription services, many offering similar products or services. If a business's offerings are not competitive in terms of quality, price, or other value propositions, customers may opt for alternatives.

Retention Opportunities


Despite these challenges, improving subscription retention offers great potential for boosting your company's growth and profitability. Studies have shown that it's far more cost effective to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. 

Therefore, focusing on enhancing your subscription retention can have a direct, positive impact on your bottom line.

Furthermore, an improved retention rate also contributes to a healthier customer relationship and a more predictable revenue stream. With loyal customers, businesses have a better chance of upselling and cross-selling, thereby increasing the customer's lifetime value.

Industry Retention Averages 

The average retention rate for eCommerce subscription businesses varies significantly across industries. 

For instance, industries with essential services like utilities tend to have higher retention rates. In contrast, sectors with highly discretionary and competitive offerings like media subscriptions might face a tougher retention scenario. 

Understanding these industry averages can provide a benchmark to measure your business's performance and guide your retention improvement strategies.

Measuring and Evaluating eCommerce Subscription Retention Rates

Screenshot 2022-09-30 at 13.33.10


Subscription retention rate is a percentage that represents the number of subscribers who continue their subscriptions over a specific period. 

A high retention rate signifies a loyal customer base and effective customer satisfaction strategies, while a low rate may indicate problems with your service, product, or customer engagement strategy.

How to Measure Subscription Retention Rate

To calculate your subscription retention rate, you need to know the number of subscribers at the start of a period (S), the number of subscribers at the end of the period (E), and the number of new subscribers gained during the period (N). 

The formula is:

Retention Rate = ((E-N)/S) * 100%

Let's illustrate this with an example:

Suppose you start the month with 200 subscribers (S), gain 50 new subscribers during the month (N), and end the month with 220 subscribers (E).

Your retention rate would be ((220-50)/200) * 100% = 85%

This means that 85% of your existing subscribers from the start of the month continued their subscription.

Evaluating Your Subscription Retention Rate

Once you've calculated your retention rate, the next step is to evaluate how it stacks up against industry benchmarks. 

The average subscription retention rate varies significantly across different industries. To understand your performance accurately, comparing your rate with relevant industry averages is essential.

However, a retention rate should not be evaluated in isolation. It is one key health indicator of your business, but not the deciding factor. 

It's important to consider other factors such as customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), and overall business profitability. 

For instance, a high retention rate coupled with a high CLV and low CAC would indicate a healthy and profitable subscription business.

Essential eCommerce Subscription Retention Strategies

Subscription Management Hero-01

For any eCommerce business, retaining subscribers is paramount to ensuring sustained growth and profitability. To improve subscription retention rates, it's crucial to develop and implement effective strategies that enhance the overall subscriber experience. 

Delve into more detailed strategies that can be crucial for maintaining and even increasing your subscriber base.

Consistent Communication

Maintaining regular communication with your subscribers is key. 

Inform them about new products or features, updates, company news, and upcoming events. However, make sure the communication is meaningful and not just about promotions. It should add value to your customers, such as tips on using your product, industry news, or how-to guides. 

Also, remember to use the right communication channels. Some customers might prefer emails, while others might respond better to in-app notifications or social media messages.

Personalized Customer Experience

In an era where consumers are bombarded with generic ads and content, personalization can make your brand stand out. 

Personalized experiences can take many forms:

  • Content personalization: Tailor the content your customers see based on their preferences, past behavior, and usage patterns. This could be product recommendations, targeted emails, or customized content feeds.
  • Product personalization: Offer personalized products or services. For example, a music streaming service could create personalized playlists based on a user's listening habits.
  • Communication personalization: Address customers by their names in emails and other communication. Use data about their behavior to make your messages more relevant and engaging.

Investment in Quality Customer Support

Investing in high-quality customer service is a non-negotiable aspect of maintaining your subscribers. Subscribers need to feel that their concerns are addressed promptly and effectively. 

This not only involves resolving their issues but also entails proactive measures to prevent issues from occurring in the first place.

  • Availability: Customer service should be readily available through multiple channels such as phone, email, chatbots, and social media.
  • Efficiency: Quick response times are crucial. Customers appreciate when their issues are resolved promptly.
  • Empathy: Customer service representatives should be trained to show empathy and understanding. Sometimes, a friendly and understanding approach can turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Flexible Pricing Models

Offering a variety of pricing models can cater to a larger customer base. Here are a few options you might consider:

  • Tiered Pricing: Offer different levels of service at different prices. This allows customers to choose a plan that best fits their needs and budget.
  • Pay-as-you-go: This model allows customers to pay only for what they use, which can be attractive for customers who don't want to commit to a large upfront cost.
  • Freemium: This model allows customers to use basic features for free, with the option to upgrade to access more advanced features.

Remember, your pricing model should align with the value you're offering to your customers. It should be clear, transparent, and easy to understand to avoid confusion and dissatisfaction.

How to Improve eCommerce Subscription Retention

CLV Growth

Improving eCommerce subscription retention involves thoroughly understanding your customers and consistently meeting or exceeding their expectations. 

Implementing these strategies can significantly enhance your subscription retention rates, fostering long-term customer relationships, and driving business growth.

Establish a Strong Value Proposition:

A compelling value proposition is what differentiates your brand from the competition. It communicates why customers should choose your subscription service over others from the outset. 

Craft your value proposition by focusing on.

  • Understanding Your Customers: Know their needs, preferences, and pain points. Your value proposition should address these aspects directly.
  • Highlighting Your USPs: Emphasize the unique features or benefits of your service that competitors can't match.
  • Communicating Clearly and Concisely: Your value proposition should be easily understood. Avoid jargon and complex language.

Personalize the Customer Experience

Today's customers expect personalized experiences tailored to their needs and preferences. Implement personalization strategies to enhance the user experience:

  • Personalized Content: Deliver content based on a customer's behavior, interests, and preferences. This could range from product recommendations to personalized emails or offers.
  • User Experience Personalization: Customize the user experience based on individual customer data. This might include personalized interfaces, menus, and communication.

Deliver Exceptional Customer Support:

Customer Support-01

Outstanding customer support is crucial for retaining subscribers. It involves not only resolving issues but also showing empathy and understanding. To enhance customer support:

  • Offer Multichannel Support: Customers should be able to reach out via the channel of their choice, be it email, live chat, phone, or social media.
  • Ensure Timely Response: Prompt responses to queries or complaints can significantly enhance customer satisfaction.
  • Provide Proactive Support: Anticipate issues and address them before they become problems. This could involve sending reminders about renewals, offering help guides, or providing helpful content.

Implement Transparent Pricing Strategies

Confusing pricing models or hidden charges can lead to customer dissatisfaction. To maintain trust and retain customers.

  • Clearly Explain Pricing: Be clear about what each pricing tier offers and the associated costs. All potential additional charges should be transparently communicated upfront.
  • Keep Pricing Competitive: Regularly assess market trends and competitors' pricing strategies to ensure your pricing remains competitive.

Leverage Customer Feedback

Feedback can provide valuable insights into what's working and what's not. Use these insights to improve your offerings and enhance customer satisfaction.

  • Regularly Solicit Feedback: Use surveys, social media, or direct communication to gather customer feedback. Most importantly, try collect feedback from your customers who cancel, so you can immediately address this feedback and ensure more customers dont cancel. 
  • Analyze and Act on Feedback: Use the feedback to identify areas for improvement and take necessary actions. Be sure to communicate these improvements to your customers to show that their opinion matters.

Leveraging Software for Streamlined Subscription Retention Management

Screenshot 2023-02-28 at 11.17.20

Cleverbridge is a comprehensive subscription management platform built to handle every facet of your eCommerce subscription business, and is proven to increase your subscription retention rates. 

From managing subscriber lifecycles to providing invaluable insights on retention, Cleverbridge simplifies the complex process of subscription management and makes it easier for businesses to retain their subscribers.

How Cleverbridge Supports eCommerce Subscription Retention


Personalized Communication

Cleverbridge allows businesses to send personalized communication to their subscribers based on their individual behaviors and preferences. This can range from personalized product recommendations to tailored renewal reminders, enhancing customer experience and thus improving retention.

Seamless Customer Support 


With Cleverbridge, businesses can provide top-tier customer support, addressing queries and resolving issues promptly. This not only increases customer satisfaction but also fosters customer loyalty, which is critical for retention.

Self-Service Subscription Management

Cleverbridge's self-service portal empowers your customers, allowing them to manage their subscriptions seamlessly and conveniently. Whether they wish to upgrade, downgrade, pause, or cancel their subscriptions, they can do so with just a few clicks and at their convenience. This not only enhances the customer experience but also reduces the strain on your customer service team.

Data-Driven Insights 

Cleverbridge offers businesses invaluable data-driven insights to measure, analyze, and optimize their retention strategies. It makes tracking key metrics such as subscription retention rates effortless, enabling businesses to make informed decisions to improve their retention strategies.

Incorporating Cleverbridge into your subscription management process can provide a significant boost to your retention efforts. It not only streamlines the management process but also provides insights and tools that help enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately driving up your retention rate.

If you're ready to take your eCommerce subscription retention to new heights, explore the benefits of Cleverbridge. We're committed to helping businesses like yours simplify their subscription management, improve retention, and boost growth. Start your journey with Cleverbridge today.