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Selling subscriptions: How content can convince

bigstock-Hands-Holding-Cellphone-Shoppi-458891717The boom in DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) brands during the pandemic seemed never ending. By directly engaging with consumers, these new ecommerce companies shaped their brand story, selling directly to their consumers and cutting out middlemen such as wholesalers, retailers, or other third-party agents.

Imagine having a direct line to your customer in sectors previously controlled by large retailers? The model was irresistible when lockdown screen time went through the roof, but as life returned to normal, it’s been somewhat tougher going.

Peak subscription?

Post-pandemic, the Atlantic asked “have we reached peak subscription”, with Robbie Kellman Baxter, the author of ‘The Forever Transaction’, explaining how subscription services blossomed:

“Online shopping desensitized people to giving out their credit-card number. Software that businesses employ to create and manage subscription programs has become widely available and easier to use.”

Profitability is now the focus

Streaming services and newspapers looking to claw back lost print revenue lead the initial push into online subscriptions, but over the past few years, everything from cat food to haircuts has been offered by way of a monthly fee.

While money was cheap, acquiring customers became the relentless focus of DTC and subscription brands, often regardless of whether they were profitable. Fast-forward to 2023 and profitability is the only goal, from the biggest brands like Disney raising rates, to smaller brands cutting unprofitable discounts.

As some consumer buying habits returned to normal post-pandemic, many large FMCG DTC brands have taken retail listings. From Huel to Trip, All Plants to Harry’s, some of the strongest ‘born online’ brands have found their way onto the high street. 

What next for DTC?

The DTC journey has been roller coaster of highs and lows so far, and while some DTC brands may have stumbled, it's not all gloom. With a focus on sustainability (profitability) and genuine innovation there's still plenty more scope for success.

It is however a crowded market – as the cost-of-living crisis bites, many are looking to cut, not increase, their monthly subscriptions. So, what's the secret sauce? Here’s 5 ways you can use content to win over new subscribers…

  1. Understanding your audience
    Before you can convince consumers to subscribe, you need to understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Conduct thorough market research to create buyer personas, which will guide your content creation efforts.
  2. Creating valuable content
    Quality is key when it comes to content. Produce informative, entertaining, and relevant content that addresses your audience's questions and provides solutions to their problems.
  3. Leveraging visual content
    Incorporate eye-catching visuals such as images, infographics, and videos into your content. Visual content is more shareable and can increase engagement.
  4. Using social proof
    Showcase testimonials, reviews, and case studies to build trust and credibility with your audience. Social proof can reassure consumers that subscribing to your service is a wise choice.
  5. Engaging in personalisation
    Personalise your content and communication based on user behaviour and preferences. Tailored content resonates more with consumers and can boost subscription rates.

Content marketing has proven to be an effective way to engage potential customers and nurture them into loyal subscribers. Remember that consistency, trust-building, and data-driven improvements are the keys to success.