In whichever way your software-as-a-service company defines success – through the number of subscriptions, volume of customers, or sheer dollars and cents – there’s no better way to position your company for continued growth than by retaining and increasing the number of contract renewals.
In fact, your renewal rate is a key metric indicating both the current level of customer loyalty as well as the overall quality of your product or service.
Let’s explore some best practices to ensure your company is implementing the necessary strategies to maximize renewal opportunities and reduce churn.
Automate Your Renewals
Whether you’re speaking to a B2C or B2B audience, one of the most effective ways to renew your customer’s subscription is to automate it, preventing the customer from having to reconsider their buying decision and manually re-enter their payment information.
We’ve discussed the whys and hows of renewal automation in a previous blog post, which explores better customer organization, segmenting high- and low-value customers, understanding the “long tail” concept, as well as the Land-Adopt-Expand-Renew process. You can find that blog here.
Optimize Your Touchpoint Timeline
Whether your business takes an automated or manual approach with regard to renewals, you should carefully consider the timeline of your customer outreach, including emails, phone calls and every other means.
Imagine a business whose customer base operates on a year-long contract. Sending renewal messaging to a customer who’s used the product for only a month may deter them from renewing – given that their experience with the product is still in its infancy and they likely haven’t made any long-term decisions.
But sending a notice to a customer who’s used the product for 11 months may be too late in the game after they’ve considered other options, including a similiar offering from one of your competitors. This may cause them to churn.
There’s an opportunity here to segment your current customers based upon how long they’ve used your product within the yearly cycle, and deploy an A/B test email campaign to identify the “sweet spot” during which time renewal communication should be sent – not too early, and not too late.
First-time Subscribers Versus Long-term Subscribers
Not unlike the above example, there’s also a difference between customers who’ve never renewed and customers who’ve renewed multiple times already. It’s important to note that neither are equal in terms of their likelihood to renew, or why they renew.
For newer (and not yet loyal) customers, it may be helpful to provide discounts or other offers – three months free if they renew for a second year, for example – to entice the re-upped subscription. These customers may not yet be completely sold on your offering and need that extra push.
Longer-term users, on the other hand, are likely satisfied with the current price point (or else you wouldn’t have retained them for the time you have). To keep the more committed customers in the fold, consider offering free add-ons and functionality to continually extol the long-term benefits of using your product.
Develop a Data-driven Early Warning System
This idea pairs nicely with the previous two. Maximizing renewals all comes down to understanding where you customer is in their journey, what they’re doing and why, and responding appropriately.
Whether they’re early or later in the yearly usage timeline, a first-time or multiple-subscriber, it’s vital to keep tabs on the behavior of your customer base across the board in an effort to identify early warning signs of churning.
Yet another A/B test opportunity is to separate your customer base by retention/churn metrics to better understand your customers’ experience with your product.
For customers who’ve stayed with you for the long haul, look at their interactions with your product in terms of usage level, engagement with your customer dashboard, add-ons, and outreach to your customer service or customer success teams, and identify common trends.
Likewise, do the same for those customers who have churned.
Once you’ve identified these patterns based on segment, you can develop a richer outreach program to reduce churn and support retention.
Real-time Answers to Real-time Questions
A fairly easy way to support renewals is by providing real-time answers to customer inquiries, and a community within which customers can engage in conversations about their experience with your product.
A clearly displayed contact phone number and email address is key, as well as creating a customer community or online user group where customers will discuss user benefits, frustrations, bugs and potential solutions to the product experience.
You can also develop an email campaign in which you directly survey your most satisfied and least satisfied customers on these very issues.
This is free intel that you can use to identify exactly how best to optimize both your offering and the overall customer experience, and maintain and grow your renewals.
Underscore New Features and Use Them to Upsell
In lieu of sending an overt communication designed to continue a subscription, a potentially more effective email is one that communicates the continued benefits of the product, a new release announcement, new or forthcoming features, and opportunities for your customers to take advantage of them.
These may be features that your customer didn’t even know they needed, and may trigger not only a subscription renewal, but an opportunity for your team to upsell or cross-sell for increased revenue.
In the software space, customer acquisition is no doubt an integral part of the success of your business, but retention through subscription renewal is even more so.
Taking advantage of these six key strategies can be the frontline of defense to keep your customers satisfied with your company and your product.
The cleverbridge platform can help manage, monetize and optimize your digital business as you continue to grow globally. We take responsibility for recurring billing, global payment processing, compliance, customer service, and more. Contact our sales team today.
Kyle Shamorian is the content marketer for cleverbridge. Connect with him on LinkedIn.