The Ultimate Guide to Subscription Growth, from Start to Scale - DPN
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The Ultimate Guide to Subscription Growth, from Start to Scale


Ever wondered why some subscription-based businesses thrive, while others nosedive? It’s a bustling era for the subscription economy, and whether you’re a startup or a seasoned player, there’s always room to grow.

We’ve covered subscription growth before, but we recently discovered a great outline to keep your head in the game as you scale to a 7-figure business. Coupled with our own experiences working with subscription merchants, this will hands-down be your ultimate guide to subscription growth.

5 Pillars of Subscription Growth

Let’s break this down. There are so many methods to grow an ecommerce business—whether or not it’s a subscription business model. But sometimes, you need a cheat sheet; something that just works.

These five pillars simply work, keeping you focused on growth and in a position that helps you measure success down each pillar with metrics.

1. Pricing and Paywalls

Whether you want to believe it or not, this is the first impression. Just like a handshake, your paywall and pricing strategy sets the stage. Crafting an effective paywall isn’t just about throwing numbers on a page. It’s about understanding your audience’s needs, their perceived value, and tailoring an offer that resonates.


  • Premium service deserves a premium price, especially for those high-value aficionados.
  • Ever tried explaining a game of chess to a friend who’s never played it? That’s how your users feel about intricate service tiers. Keep pricing tiers clear and compelling.
  • When your subscribers see and feel the worth of your service, they won’t just stick around; they’ll be your brand ambassadors.

2. The First Purchase

An overwhelming initial purchase experience can leave customers confused at best and lost at worst. We want our users to savor the initial purchase experience. Bombarding them with upsells, cross-sells, and ultimate-premium-diamond-star-level package upgrades can actually hurt your conversion rate. Here’s our secret brew for success:

  • Clearly lay out the benefits of each package and make sure there’s enough content in each that makes them both valuable and unique.
  • Address reservations head-on. From questions about the product to uncertainties about its value, provide those comforting answers.
  • And please, keep those checkouts smoother than silk—it’s one of the MOST important aspects that never gets enough attention. A single error or decline can ruin your business.

3. Yearly vs. Monthly Subscription Options

Choosing between short-term and long-term subscriptions can sometimes feel like picking between a snack and a full-course meal. Both have their place, and striking the right balance is an art.

  • The revenue model of short-term subscriptions is great (immediate revenue), but long-term commitments come coupled with increased engagement and retention.
  • Adjusting this mix can be your ticket to not only better cash flow but also predicting and enhancing user behavior.
  • Remember, sometimes a little nudge, like seeing how much they’ll save via a quick comparison chart, can steer users toward longer-term plans.
  • Simple subscription management will prevent customers from feeling trapped and allow them to adjust your product to their needs.

4. Streamlined Payments

Ever been to a store, picked out your favorites, and then faced a painfully slow checkout counter? That’s a mood killer. Efficient payment processing is the unsung hero of subscription businesses.

Believe it or not, this is a major part of the customer experience and can significantly affect the customer lifetime value.

  • Keep an eye out for false positives in fraud checks. A genuine customer turned away is an opportunity missed.
  • Ensure seamless and speedy transitions, especially when your subscribers are updating their payment methods.
  • Provide security-related icons at checkout, like a lock or “PCI DSS Compliance”, to give customers at the finish line the sense of security that will push then to take that final step.
  • The smoother the transaction, the brighter the smiles on both sides of the screen. A single-page checkout is typically the best option.
  • Offer the payment methods new customers current subscribers actually want to use, like credit cards, bitcoin, ACH, etc.

5. Subscriber Attrition Mitigation

For digital subscription merchants, the words “churn rate” can be as cringe-worthy as an teenager on TikTok. But fret not; with the right strategies, it’s something we can tackle together.

  • Pour love and effort into your core product. That sounds lame, but if you don’t like your own product or only see it as a potential cash cow, it will come across to the end user. Happy users stick around longer. Listen to feedback and adjust your product accordingly.
  • Ever wonder why some subscribers decide to leave? You can easily find out why. Set up a feedback mechanism. Their insights can be pure gold. You can get creative with this, too. There are so many standard “Tell us why” surveys that they feel impersonal. Make yours unique; make it sound like you will truly miss this customer.
  • At the point of potential goodbye, extend an olive branch. Address concerns, offer solutions, and give a discount (even if it’s 50%). A customer that stays with you is more likely to continue the subscription again next year, versus a customer that left last year who will likely never come back.

Selling B2C vs. B2B Subscriptions

Now, let’s pivot a bit. Think of it as comparing the lively buzz of a local farmer’s market (B2C) to the robust efficiency of a wholesale warehouse (B2B). Both have their unique rhythms, challenges, and perks.

B2C Subscriptions

  • Growth Pace: Ever observed how some things grow slowly but steadily, like a bonsai tree? That’s the B2C subscription revenue model for you. Although it might not sprout overnight, the consistency in its growth is what makes it shine.
  • Strength in Diversity: One of the coolest things about B2C is its diverse customer base. This diversity means that even if a few threads go astray, the overall fabric remains strong.

B2B Subscriptions

  • High Stakes, High Rewards: In the B2B world, the deals are often larger. It’s exhilarating, but it also means that each client holds significant weight. Lose one, and you might feel the ripple effect.
  • Depth Over Breadth: While B2C is about casting a wide net, B2B is about diving deep. It’s about building strong, enduring relationships with each client, understanding their intricate needs, and tailoring your services to be their perfect fit.

Tried-and-True Tactics for Subscription Growth

While the core elements we discussed make up the cheat sheet for a successful business, there’s a galaxy of subscription growth tactics that can complement and amplify your efforts.

Email Marketing – Your Direct Line to Subscribers

  • Personalized Outreach: Nothing beats the feeling of receiving a tailored email, making you feel seen and valued. Use data insights to tailor messages for different segments of your audience.
  • Educative Newsletters: Offer value beyond the product. Curate newsletters that provide insights, tips, or updates, making subscribers eager to open every email.
  • Special Promotions: Who doesn’t love a good deal? Seasonal offers or exclusive discounts can entice fence-sitters to jump in.

Social Media – Building a Tribe

  • Engaging Content: From behind-the-scenes peeks to user testimonials, share content that resonates and fosters a community.
  • Interactive Elements: Polls, Q&A sessions, live videos – leverage tools that foster real-time engagement and feedback.
  • Collaborations & Partnerships: Join forces with complementary brands or influencers to reach a broader audience and offer combined value.

Referral Programs – Word-of-Mouth Wonders

  • Incentivize Sharing: Offer rewards, discounts, or exclusive perks for subscribers who bring in friends.
  • Simplified Sharing: Make it super easy for users to share their unique referral codes or links.
  • Celebrate Success: Spotlight top referrers or share success stories to motivate others.

Content Marketing – Establish Authority

  • Value-Driven Blogging: Share articles that address user pain points, industry trends, or offer actionable insights.
  • Guest Posting: Collaborate with other platforms to reach new audiences and showcase your expertise.
  • Webinars & Workshops: Offer deeper dives into topics, showcasing your product’s value and establishing thought leadership.

Retargeting Campaigns – Reignite Interest

  • Pixel Perfect: Utilize tracking pixels to understand user behavior and create tailored campaigns.
  • Segmented Campaigns: Target users based on their interactions, be it abandoned carts or browsed content.
  • Test & Refine: Continuously assess the effectiveness of your campaigns, tweaking for optimal results.

The Road to Consistent Growth

Let’s chat about growth. Not the explosive, firework kind of growth rate that’s here one moment and gone the next, but the steady, sunrise-after-sunrise kind that stands the test of time.

Embrace Iteration

Subscription growth is like tending to a garden. You plant, water, nurture, and then… you wait. But while waiting, you observe. You tweak. Maybe that rosebush needs a little more sunlight or the tulips less water.

Similarly, as you navigate your subscription journey, adopt a gardener’s patience. Refine your strategies, adjust based on feedback, and always keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Engage Each Pillar

Each of the five pillars we discussed earlier are like the gears in a well-oiled machine. To ensure consistent expansion, we must engage each gear thoughtfully, addressing potential hiccups and optimizing as we go.

Whether it’s fine-tuning your pricing strategy or enhancing the user onboarding experience, each tweak brings you one step further down your growth strategy.

The Power of Community

One often overlooked secret to consistent expansion is your community. Your subscribers are more than just numbers; they’re your most passionate advocates. Foster a sense of belonging, engage them, listen to their feedback, and watch as they not only stay loyal but also become your brand’s most fervent champions.

Celebrate Small Wins

Every new subscriber, every piece of positive feedback, every successful iteration – these are all milestones worth celebrating. By rejoicing in the small victories, you’ll find the motivation and momentum to reach for even greater heights.

Are you ready to elevate your subscription venture to the next level?

Subscription services have been around for a while, but what makes them a solid business model is how flexible they are—if you allow for it.

Just look at how streaming services like Netflix and Spotify have boomed. Or Amazon Prime’s rise from “nice to have” to “complete necessity”. The model has even made its way over to food with meal kits and groceries (HelloFresh), clothing with subscription boxes, and digital applications that act as the lifeblood for most online businesses (SaaS; software as a service).

Even healthcare and wellness are becoming subscription products! The model is taking over every possible industry.

We told you how important it is to make your payment processing and checkout experience flawlessly fast. Here’s your chance to make that happen.

As pioneers in the field, DirectPayNet understand the unique challenges and opportunities of subscription companies. Opening a subscription merchant account with DirectPayNet ensures seamless transactions, robust support, and insights that can drive your revenue growth further and faster.


About the author

As President of DirectPayNet, I make it my mission to help merchants find the best payment solutions for their online business, especially if they are categorized as high-risk merchants. I help setup localized payments modes and have tons of other tricks to increase sales! Prior to starting DirectPayNet, I was a Director at MANSEF Inc. (now known as MindGeek), where I led a team dedicated to managing merchant accounts for hundreds of product lines as well as customer service and secondary revenue sources. I am an avid traveler, conference speaker and love to attend any event that allows me to learn about technology. I am fascinated by anything related to digital currency especially Bitcoin and the Blockchain.