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Subscription Marketing: Getting More Recurring Plan Signups

Subscription marketing has one goal: to get more buyers to buy your subscription plan.

Some businesses are designed for repeat orders. Think health supplements, meal services, coffee, etc. For these businesses, it’s ok to not make a profit on the first sale. The idea is that once the buyer signs up they will likely continue buying in the future. The marketer has opportunities to monetize the relationship over time. These brands need subscription marketing.

Then there is a whole other group. Things like dog wheelchairs, room air purifiers, steel plates to bake the perfect pizza, etc.

People don’t typically buy a dog wheelchair more than once. These brands don’t need

subscription marketing.

But if your business depends on repeat, ongoing orders you are going to love this idea. Say you are the marketing manager at zonediet.com (made-up example) and are working on PolyphenolRx Plus page. Buyers on this page have two purchase options:

Subscription plan optimization. Our goal is to maximize the number of people who signup for the recurring plan.

Looking at the analytics data and notice that 60% of buyers purchase the one-time plan. You also notice that people who take the subscription plan have a much higher lifetime value. Our objective is to get people to buy the monthly auto-ship plan (and not the one-time option).

On the current page, everything is laid in front of the user. This can cause analysis paralysis (too many options). Also, the shopper is likely to pick the one-time option because they don’t want to get into a monthly membership.


I had an idea to make this better

We added a priming treatment. The idea is to activate System 2 for the shopper. Where System 1 cares about the short-term (impulsive emotional side), System 2 cares about the long-term (rational side).

Now when the user reaches the product page we show a welcome message and ask them to make a selection (click to see zoomed image):


This activates System 2. We fully expect most shoppers to select, “I want to change my life for the long term” option. Who wouldn’t? When they do that we show them this screen (click to see zoomed image). Notice we’ve eliminated the one-time purchase option.


The user will be surprised but immediately remember, “Oh that’s right, I did say I wanted long-term benefits”. It’s now 7% more likely people will stick with this choice.

If the shopper had selected “I’m looking for benefits on the short term” they would have seen this:


Revealing It All

We hope you liked this subscription marketing article.

We’ve spent the last 14 years in our marketing lab, experimenting on online shoppers. We’ve learned a crap ton and are ready to share those learning.

We want more marketers and CEOs to know about it.

Eventually, we’ll make this into a book. If you want to get an unfair advantage over your competitors now is the time to steal our ideas because once they are published the cat will be out of the bag 👜 for all to see.

Each chapter in our forthcoming book will feed into the next. Click the link that best describes where you want to start the story:

Chapter 1: is all about conversation rate optimization (CRO). It talks about the history of CRO, statistics of CRO, and describes how most agencies do CRO. We need to describe how most are doing it before we reveal our process, which happens in Chapter 4.

Chapter 2: For every 1,000 product pitches encountered the shopper buys one item (and we’re being generous). If you want the consumer to choose your product your need to understand their selection criteria– you need to understand their buyer psychology. Marketers who nail this will always outrun their peers.

Chapter 3: Conversion optimization work typically focuses on design and layout changes. We don’t limit ourselves to design and layout. Through extensive experimentation, we realized that the thing that moves the conversion needle 🧭 are the words and ideas being expressed on the page. Therefore, conversion copywriting is where it’s at.

Chapter 4: Marketers make a fatal mistake. They focus on optimizing the whole site. We focus on the tip of the spear. The most important page on your entire site is your product page. To understand why this is, read this post: Product Page Optimization.

Comments 3


Interesting. Note that I think your bottom two pics are filpped.


You’re totally right. I just made the switch. Thank you for pointing this out.



Interesting, yes, I think this might work!



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